Why Single Dad Defined? Because dads matter.

I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if not for my father, Richard Elliot Hopson. Throughout my life, people are always surprised to meet him because, honestly, he doesn’t look like a typical father or a grandfather, for that matter. He wears baggy clothes off the racks at Macy’s and Foot Locker and owns almost every pair of Jordans the basketball legend dunked in. He bobs to the beats of rap and reggae and everything in between, including David Banner, who we recently hung out with at a client event.

My dad is often spotted playing fetch with the puppy in the backyard, cheering on the Steelers game, or reading a book about a new conspiracy theory. He sported a Steven Seagal ponytail up until a few years ago, and when he was younger, he even put alcohol in his hair to transform the natural curls into an afro! A laid-back look and personality, that’s him. He gets along with EVERYONE and always makes people laugh. So he naturally served as a mediator between my daughter’s dad and me.

I Learned Countless Lessons From My Father

He reminded me of the important role a father plays in the life of their children, even if they aren’t under the same roof. He was my protector and provider and taught me. No matter if I broke curfew or broke the law (that almost happened when my friends and I got into a fight at Denny’s), my father was always a phone call away. Dad told us to pick up the phone, no matter how late, if we were ever in trouble or needed a ride home. He promised to wake up and come and get us, no questions asked. He also protected me from disrespectful boys. If you’re going to date Richard’s daughter, you better knock on the door. My father told us to never run out to a man’s car who beeps the horn and won’t come inside to meet your family.

My father rarely commented on someone’s looks but always spoke out about their manners. He treated my mother with kindness and admiration. Opened doors, didn’t curse or smoke in front of her, and paid for every meal or family outing. He set a high standard. He reminded me that money can’t buy love, and although I was financially dependent on my parents for longer than most, he taught me how to be a financially stable single mama.

The Hardest Lesson

The hardest lesson of all–he taught me to accept people for who they are. You can’t change people. You can only change yourself. My father reminded me of this when I was frustrated about an outcome or irritated over my daughter’s dad’s behavior. He says you have to accept people for who they are and don’t waste too much time trying to figure them out or tell them off. Perhaps that’s one reason why my dad is very laid back and filled with peace. He doesn’t try to change anyone. He changes how he deals with them. Dad loves while tolerating someone’s flaws.

Black Dads- Single and Married- Matter

Perhaps the best thing about him is that he always showed up. Attending every softball game, even though I was on a losing team. He led the standing ovation when I wrote and directed my school play. He moved me into almost every dorm room and apartment building throughout my entire life. Even moved me after a hurricane hit in the Cayman Islands, where I worked as a television reporter.

He worked to combat stereotypes about Black men not showing up for their kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Black dads were the most involved with their children, no matter if they lived with them or not. When compared to white and Latino dads, a higher percentage of Black fathers spent time with their children daily–eating meals, reading books, playing games, feeding, bathing, diapering, or dressing their kids. Not only does my dad show up for me–he comes through with my daughter, learning TikTok dances and letting her paint his nails blue.

Single Dad Defined Launches

But unfortunately, Black dads, especially single dads, rarely get the recognition they deserve. While my dad was never a single dad, he reminded me just how important my daughter’s dad was. He helped me to grow, learn, compromise, and forgive to establish a cordial co-parenting relationship and healthy environment. Although my daughter’s dad isn’t where we would hope to be–he denied my request to be featured in the single dad series–we’re in a good place. A much better place than when we broke up during my second trimester. Hindsight, I would have changed a lot–maybe we could have avoided child support and custody court. But even though we don’t always see eye to eye, he’s a good dad. A great dad. He deserves recognition and appreciation. Perhaps one day, he’ll share his story on the site.

Until then, I’ll share stories of other single dads showing up every day for their children physically, financially, emotionally, and more. So we are launching a sibling site–Single Dad Defined. We hope to help heal the relationships between single parents through informative articles, single dad spotlights, and events, such as the annual co-parenting picnic. If you are a single father with an inspiring story to share, complete our survey to be featured!