Although Doyin Richards’ book Daddy Doin’ Work is subtitled “Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood,” this book is as much for fathers as it is for our spouses and partners. It’s the type of book my wife and I should both read and discuss.
Richards received much media attention earlier this year after posting a picture of he and his daughters on his blog, also titled Daddy Doin’ Work. He was multitasking: doing one daughter’s hair with his youngest daughter strapped to his chest. Richards spends time discussing this time “he broke the Internet.” This insight is fascinating.
Of the people who viewed this viral sensation, he writes “approximately fifteen percent were racists who offered their enlightened opinions on what they thought of black fathers and people who marry outside of their race, or individuals who commented on unrelated items, such as the crappy baby brush I was using or the shower curtain in the background. Twenty five percent were pissed off parents who thought I was trying to get attention for doing things that every good dad should be doing; and about sixty percent were people who thought I was a hero for setting an example for what a good dad should be like.”
Doyin Richards’ photo that ‘broke the Internet.’
As a father, and a black one at that, I was especially interested to hear his perspective on his experience as a father. Richards has a playful style, but is also unafraid to pull punches. One of the first examples of this is in the introduction, where he describes an eye-opening event. During an assignment in which students were asked to share his or her desired profession, Richards wanted to be a rapper. Although his rhymes did not rival those of Pac or Hov, he did notice that several girls shared their desire to be a mother, while none of the boys wanted to be a father as their profession. “The first little boy I come across who says his goal in life is to become a dad when he grows up will be the first … because many boys and young men don’t equate being a dad to being something that requires work.”
Work, not surprisingly, is the key word in this book. Richards reminds us simply that fatherhood and parenting in general requires work. My favorite chapter “The Division of Daddies,” gives us a litmus test for folks to judge just where parental efforts land. There are “Daddies Doin’ Nothing,” who might talk big, “but when the chips are down, one hundred percent of the parenting responsibilities fall on the shoulders of his wife, girlfriend or baby mama.” “Daddies Doin’ Something” are best represented by the Stone Age antics of Fred Flintstone. He is there, but shouldn’t he be pushed to do more for Wilma and Pebbles? Finally, there are the “Daddies Doin’ Work.” These dads get it. “The common theme with these men is that nothing is more important than ensuring their families are happy and loved.” He goes into much more detail on these levels of fatherhood, sharing compelling anecdotes, tough questions, and advice in additional chapters throughout the rest of the book.
Richards does not claim to be an expert on parenting, and says, “I’m here to share my personal experiences and those of my readers in order for you to enjoy a fresh and modern look into the world of fatherhood.” There are some truly great parenting books written by experts, but what I enjoyed most about this book is that it is a change of pace. It’s real. The examples are real. The language is real and honest. Daddy Doin’ Work deconstructs fatherhood and really affirms the efforts of so many of us who are earning that title of a “Daddy Doin’ Work.”
“Being a good dad requires work, too,” Doyin writes. “Work that is often tedious, exhausting, and frustrating. Work that will not pay a man a dime for the amount of time he puts into changing diapers, giving baths, helping with homework, being a shoulder to cry on, being an active and willing parenting partner with his spouse, and being the primary male role model in his kids’ lives.”
I couldn’t agree more.