When Devonte Bennett Bey suddenly became a stay-at-home dad, it was "the best thing that ever happened to me and set me on my path."
He found himself, he told "Good Morning America," unemployed after an illness. Bennett Bey, also a Marine veteran, was also dealing with an injured back.
The dad of three boys drove for a time for Lyft, he said, but he still wasn't getting the quality time he was looking for with his sons. "I just knew I wanted to have a really strong bond with them, " he said. The trouble was he wasn't quite sure how.
So he started doing research on what it meant to be a good father, Bennett Bey told "GMA." He read books and found out engaging with your kids is the "number-one way to stop problems." So, he did that -- and started small.
Today, Bennett Bey's family, he said, has a lot less money than they did when he was working long days. In fact, he said, they are in between places to live. But, even though they are in a transition period, he said his family is the "happiest homeless family ever" because of "living their dream" of a close-knit family and great relationships with his boys.
In a video on his Instagram, Bennett Bey shared his four-step process to becoming an engaged parent. He also shared his plan with "GMA":
1. Start small
Bennett Bey's road to being an involved dad started with taking over the kids' nighttime routine. He told "GMA" one of his children was having a hard time going to sleep. "I started encouraging him with something I called 'Daddy Power' and it worked." Once the Riverside, California, dad realized what an impact he could have on his boys, the wheels started turning.
@theycallmepapabennett 3 Reasons why every parent, who wants to be a better parent, should homeschool! Reason 1, Homeschooling helps you build better bonds with your child. As Cash continues to learn and succeed in his education endeavors it give me such great pride knowing I’m directly responsible for it. Cash and I have formed a “team” that is focused on making him as intelligent as he can be, and successful. We have grown extremely close as we continue to set eduction goals and knock them out the park. He gets a huge smile that warms my heart everytime he learns a new word or we play a new learning game. All of which drive me to be the best educator I can be. Reason 2 Homeschooling helps you learn your child’s strengths and weaknesses. As a father I personally feel its my duty to know my kids better than they know themselves. For the simple fact that I made them lol. That being said homeschooling Cash has afforded me more opportunities to observe him and really get to know him. Ive learned and had a chance to help cultivate so many of his natural skills like reading and gymnastics. But also had the chance to directly influence and adjust his negative traits like his anger issues that come directly from me. Or how he is easily frustrated when an assignment is kicking his butt. Reason 3 Homeschooling allows you to notice traits that come straight from you. Perfect example, like I said earlier Cash gets frustrated easily. He also gets easily distracted when the schoolwork is boring. Because of this Cash and I would butt heads when we first started homeschool. I soon realized that he was displaying traits that I myself had when I was in school. I came to the revelation I was calling the kettle black by being upset with my son and instead made some teaching strategy changes and updates to my parenting style that have since improved Cash and I’s relationship. #homeschooling #blackfatherhood #homeschoolingfathers #fatherhood #fatherhoodfriday
A post shared by Devonte Bennett Bey (@theycallmepapabennett) on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:52pm PDT
2. Grow from there
Building on the success of "Daddy Power," Bennett Bey began to look for more ways to engage with his kids. He didn't have to look far: Bennett Bey said he started thinking about his own childhood. He said thinks of his boys as a "mini version of me" and so, thought back to his own childhood to recall what motivated him.
One of his sons, he said, much like himself, liked to make everything a competition. So whether it was sight words or marital arts, Bennett Bey put a competitive spin on everything they did -- and it worked to bond them closer and push his son to reach his potential.
3. Find the time and make plans
Bennett Bey said actually implementing the plans he had was harder than he thought. Once he was no longer working in a traditional job, he found himself with more time. "I had to set aside the time and plan activities out," he told "GMA." It went from an hour to "Daddy Saturdays/ And now, he said, "whatever I'm doing, they're right there doing it with me."
Fatherhood Not for the weak nor the soft or undisciplined Not for those who cannot find strength within This is a mission like no other as it is written That a father in the human family has been positioned At the bottom as foundation for the building of nations That means fathers must strive in education Have Physical characteristics of strength for preservation Create reservations of Currency for Generations And make preparations for many before expiration this a different mindset we put the games away to prepare for another gauntlet to raise a child in that way that they should go takes a will that doesn’t sway never exhausted Gotta use internal resources to battle external forces that are trying to push your child out of orbit #fatherhood #fathers #fatherandson #blackfathers #fatherhoodpoem
A post shared by Devonte Bennett Bey (@theycallmepapabennett) on May 5, 2020 at 5:59pm PDT
4. Take care of yourself
The dad of three said self-care is hugely important to staying strongly bonded to your kids. He recalled the weight he put on once he left the military and the back issue that were both keeping him from keeping up with his kids. "You have to think of your body like a car. If you don't put gas in it, if you don't do the maintenance, it's going to fall apart."
@theycallmepapabennett Are Fathers staying in their lane...? Back in the day, Men worked, and women took care of the home and children and that was OUR LANE. But In todays society, the likelihood of fathers becoming stay at home dads is more common, especially post pandemic. You know what that means? Yup, we have an UPDATED lane and many dads are having to learn how to adjust to this new role. But listen, it’s not changing, so we might as well get comfortable 🤷🏽♂️ One of the most important things we need to understand about being a stay home parent, is how important it is to ENGAGE our children and not just be a warm body fulfilling their necessities. DID YOU KNOW that children whose fathers engage in regular play with them, are predicted to have higher IQ scores? And don’t make excuses guys, because engagement can be as simple as talking to your kids or taking an hour out of the day to just spend time doing an activity of their choice. The point is to ENGAGE and to do it as often and consistently as possible. Our kids need it just as much as we do (FuncFact: Having fun with your kid actually decreases stress 🤔 go figure) Remember your lane is bigger, but it’s also better, stay in it so you and your children can reap the benefits. #fatherhood #menwithlocs #blackfatherhood #blackfathersmatter #dad #blackdads #involvedfathers
A post shared by Devonte Bennett Bey (@theycallmepapabennett) on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:42pm PDT
The best part of Bennett Bey's change, he said, is the changes he sees in his family. "Just like in the Marines, I think of the family as our unit. And when I see [the kids] succeed, when I see a light bulb go off, I'm so proud. Watching your children grow is outstanding."
Influencer dad shares 4 viral tips to live an engaged fatherhood originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com