Growing up in the 80s and 90s I enjoyed shows that represented black men as good fathers. You had The Cosby Show, Good Times, Family Matters, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I’m sure I left some out, but these were my favorite. Each of these fathers had a daughter and she was a daddy’s girl. It didn’t matter how many times she messed up, he still loved her. These shows displayed what a hard working black man is. It didn’t show the father abandoning the family when times got hard. He wasn’t cheating on the mother. There were no affairs being had or babies being born by the side chick. Even if he had to work multiple jobs, he made sure his family was being cared for.
There was The Cosby Show. Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable was the father of the year. I am not talking about Bill Cosby, but Dr. Huxtable. He had a career as a doctor. When Vanessa got out of line, he kindly stepped aside and let Claire handle her. Even when Vanessa tried to get him on her side when she snuck off to Baltimore, he wasn’t having it. Vanessa was daddy’s girl, but he knew she was trying to play him. I remember when Denise returned from Africa with a husband and a daughter. The look Cliff gave her was memorable. He looked at her like, are you stupid? I can clearly see the look on his face as I’m writing this. Claire was the disciplinarian parent most of the time, but he was a stern father. He didn’t allow them to think because they had good careers, they could be spoiled. He was the father that was present in the household. Dr. Huxtable attended parent/teacher conferences. He knew his children friends, their weaknesses, their strengths, their struggles, and he knew how to love each of them individually.
Even though Good Times started airing before I was born, I still loved watching it. James was different from Dr. Huxtable. He didn’t finish school, barely could hold down a job, when he did work it was for minimum wage, and he could never get a break. Despite these struggles, James was there for his kids. When times got tough he didn’t walk away and leave Florida to be a single mom. He wasn’t running to accept assistance from the government. James made sure no matter what, Thelma was going to college. He knew her dream was to graduate from college and if he had to work five jobs, she was going. James was strict, but that’s what kids need. He didn’t allow them to get away with things, but he also protected his kids. James Evans Sr died trying to make a better life for his kids.
Officer Carl Williams was the man. Everyone remembers Family Matters because of Steve Urkel and him being a silly dork in love with Carl’s daughter. I remember it because of the family values. Carl was a police officer, husband, and father. Not only did he protect the community, but he protected his family. His kids were far from perfect, but he still loved them. He displayed what a family that helped each other out looked like. His mom lived with them and helped out. He allowed his sister-in-law to live there with her son. Family Matters was the perfect title of this show because Carl showed exactly what it meant to be a father.
One of my favorite shows from the 90s was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Uncle Phil did not play with those kids. Not one of them was exempt from his parenting. Phillip Banks was an attorney, husband, father, and he took in his nephew. He stepped up to the plate when his sister-in-law asked if her son could come to California for a better life. Uncle Phil didn’t ask her for any extra money. He didn’t say yes, but I’m not going to treat him like my son. Will didn’t go to public school while the other kids went to private school. He treated Will like he was his son. This family didn’t struggle with money like James, but they all had their problems. They dealt with racism, they talked about sex, and one of the best episodes is when Will father walked out on him again. Uncle Phil was there and stepped up to be the father Will needed. Through everything this family went through and they went through some things, Phillip never said I’m done being a father.
I could go on about each of these fathers and their great characteristics. Each one had their flaws, none of these men were perfect. They mad mistakes as fathers and husbands. Even though they were T.V dads, I would have taken any of them to be my dad. I wanted James as the hard worker, Cliff as the father that didn’t give in because of the sweet look on my face, Carl that was willing to do anything to protect his family, or Phil that worked his butt off to make sure his kids life was better than his. None of these dads were perfect men, but I would have given each of them the father of the year award. Why? I wanted a father like them. My father wasn’t a hard worker like James that would have worked five jobs to be sure we were taken care of. No he walked away when things weren’t going his way. My father wasn’t like Cliff that showed his kids money wasn’t everything. They had to work hard for anything they wanted out of life. My father never had one conversation with me about working hard or money. Was my father Carl? Heck no! He wasn’t around to protect his family. He has no idea the things I saw growing up and how it affected me as an adult. My father was not even close to Uncle Phil. He wouldn’t even take care of his own daughter, why would he take in someone else’s child?
Most of my life I yearned to be a daddy’s girl. I wanted to be able to curl up in my father arms as a child and tell him about the kids that picked on me that day. I wanted to talk to him about the crush I had in high school, for him to only tell me that boys were trouble. I dreamt of going on college tours with him and eventually him moving me into my dorm room. What a joy it would have been for him to be there when I gave birth to my son? Instead of my future husband asking him for my hand in marriage, I constantly think about who will walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. How would my life have turned out if I was a daddy’s girl?
I often wonder if my life would have been different if my father was there. I know it would have been because so many other things could have gone wrong. I had to start looking at it as if God was protecting me from something. Did God know that I needed my father to be removed from my life to become who I am? I will never know the answer and honestly I don’t care. Being a daddy’s girl would have been nice, but I have a heavenly father that’s always there when I call. I can cry to him and he will wrap his arms around me and tell me not to worry. He made a promise on the day I was born to never leave me and at 38 years old, he’s still here. I don’t have my earthly father, but my heavenly father is 10xs better.