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Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): How have your daughters challenged your perspective on the idea of masculinity?
Rodney Robinson (RR): I’ve learned that real masculinity is not achievable unless you add femininity to masculinity. So when I had my daughters it just gave me a whole different perspective and outlook on my feelings. Every man wants a son, to see himself all over again. When my wife got pregnant with our first child, which is Londyn, I wanted a son. However, when Londyn came it was just one of the most incredible things. I was just so attached to her. I’m attached to all of my children, but there’s just a different bond with a father and daughter.
I’ve learned how to be a nurturer as well as a provider and still maintain my masculinity. I feel like my daughter made me a 360 degree man! I’m sure it’s not just me. I’m pretty positive that any man, any righteous man, would feel the same way as well. It’s just a whole different feeling.
EM: Beautifully said! Since I’ve known you from high school, you’ve always come across as being very responsible. So to hear you express what you’re saying right now is awesome.
When it comes to your daughters understanding their self-worth from you first, for you to set that standard, is that something that you’re thinking about and already putting into practice with them? How important do you see that?
RR: I’m learning as I go. I can’t really tell you a set plan on how I’m going about doing that. The only thing I’m doing is loving them as hard as I possibly can; being respectful, being a gentlemen at all times to their mother where they can see that. A lot of the way that I think and feel and the way that I love stems from my father. It’s not only for my daughters but my sons as well.
EM: Let’s talk about that; your understanding of fatherhood from being a son. What was your experience like growing up with your father?
RR: It was wonderful! My dad would massage my mother’s feet when they hurt. It was wonderful seeing my dad cook for my mother. It was wonderful seeing my dad go to work, come home and still make it to all of our sporting events. It was wonderful seeing that. That is my example of how a man is supposed to start being a provider, father and a partner.
I see my father as “the book” and I see my mother as “the narrator”.
EM: Please expound on that.
RR: My father was the one instilling the morals and self-worth and value and what it is to be a man. Also how to not only treat other people, but how to treat himself. My dad is my manual, he is my instructions. My mother, being a nurturer and also a provider and help-meet; I see her as Phylicia Rashad telling a story. A graceful woman telling a story tastefully. My mother told my daddy’s story gracefully. She was the narrator and my dad is the book. That was a perfect combination.
EM: That is a very remarkable outlook, and I can only imagine how having children can pull all of that out of you.
What are some of the greatest accomplishments that come to mind when you think about your daughters?
RR: The only thing that comes to my mind are their faces and the feeling that I get when I come home and hear them run to me and scream “Daddy”! They all do it. They come from upstairs and the back of the house. As soon as they hear me walk in the house, they greet me running to me screaming my name and they jump all over me. The taller ones jump on my shoulders, and the shorter ones jump on my knees. But there’s the little one, my three-year-old. She’ll run down the hall first, but all of the older children will beat her to me, and she’ll stand there and wait until I’m finished with everybody. And then when they walk off, she’ll run and jump in my arms and squeeze me by my neck and say, “Daddy I missed you”. That is my greatest accomplishment.
EM: Yes sir! What a mighty accomplishment at that!
RR: For them to acknowledge me like that every day of my life when I come through the door, that would be my greatest accomplishment… for my children to love me that much.
EM: Absolutely beautiful!
When you said that you do your best to love your daughters, to instill self-worth in them, what does that look like for you and to them?
RR: It’s spiritual. It’s in my cells. It’s in every atom in me.
EM: Aside from the emotions, we are taught that love is an action. How are you expressing to them that which can’t be seen so that they can understand what you feel toward them?
RR: Children can be very, very annoying. (laughs) But what we have to realize, as adults, is that they don’t see it as being annoying. They see it as showing love and affection. So when I’m sitting on the couch and I’m reading or watching T.V. and my seven-year-old (son) comes up on my shoulders and I say, “Stop Rodney, stop”, and he keeps on doing it, I’ll find myself getting a little annoyed. Then I have to go inside of myself, and I have to remember what it was like to try to express love without even knowing it. Trying to express affection to my mother and my dad without knowing exactly what I was doing would come off as being annoying, but I was really showing affection.
Therefore, I try to be very mindful not to get annoyed, not to get frustrated with my children when they start doing that. It’s just the fact that they are showing me attention and showing me affection. I welcome that and I embrace that, to answer your question. It makes me feel when they continue to do that they understand that, “Daddy does not have a problem with me loving on him or with me showing him affection”.
With that comes open honesty, that they can talk to me about anything because they don’t feel as though I’ll just shew them off. Does that make sense?
EM: That makes perfect sense.
RR: So I am just trying to open that door for later on in the future when they start getting into different levels of maturity and learning how to express themselves as young adults, that’s how I prep my children to be open and honest with me.
EM: What would you want other brothers, fathers or future fathers, to be mindful of?
RR: That’s an excellent question… Patience. Be mindful of just being patient. Not only is it frustrating in this world we’re living in, but trying to provide, love and maintain family can also be frustrating. Sometimes we tend to let outside things affect how we function in our home. I would just tell brothers to leave all that at the front door. When you walk into your house, you are walking into a situation of infinite love. So when you walk into a situation of infinite love, embrace it infinitely.
EM: Thank you for your time and insight Rodney. May God continue to bless you and your family!
RR: Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience. I appreciate that!