Serving a guide and source of strength, “The Provider” is the go-to manual for single fathers when they try to figure out how to manage the varying situations faced in their pursuit of successful co-parenting. With effective tips and concrete strategies learned through Barry Cooper’s personal journey, “The Provider” is a safe space and sounding board where men can share the challenges and triumphs of their very own experiences. We had the opportunity to interview Mr. Cooper, author of “The Provider”.
Has society changed in terms of how important a father is to their child?
I believe that society has always recognized the importance of a father-child relationship. But because we live in such a capitalist society, the powers that be make a lot of money creating negative propaganda that has brainwashed many to believe in this concept of the deadbeat dad. Now, do absentee fathers exist? Absolutely. However, that’s not the complete narrative. What I do think has shifted in the perspective of fatherhood, is the rise in social media. Because fatherhood movements surface consistently, many fathers are being more vocal about their involvement in their children’s lives. One other component to consider is that social media has also changed the idea of what “fatherhood” entails. Today, I think more and more fathers understand that involvement in a child’s life does not solely mean writing a check. Many understand that there is also the nurturing aspect. I see so many brothers making the effort—going to open school night, spending quality time with their kids, using social hashtags like “proud father moment” to show that they understand their presence is significant to their child’s well-being. These sparks of involvement forces society to acknowledge the positive narrative of how fathers are portrayed.
What are your thoughts on Child Support?
Child support is mandatory. Whether it’s court ordered or an agreement made between the parents, I believe that is a requirement. In my book, The Provider, I teach men who question why they should pay child support, that regardless of the agreement it is our duty to pay. In my opinion, I strongly believe that court mandated amount is better than my children’s mother determining the amount and frequency I give. As a separated couple, it is likely that our personal lives are different from one another and that difference is why I feel it best to protect ourselves as providers. And whether we want to accept it or not, the court helps to protect us from the potential of any situation that may cause us to question the integrity of our child’s mother.
Can men truly win full custody of their child?
This Custody issue is very serious. When it pertains to going after full custody, I teach fathers to have a clear understanding of what the end goal is and why they think they should be the sole decision maker and caretaker for their children. The courts generally do not prefer to give either parent sole custody of the child. The goal is to balance the visitation and award joint custody in which both parents share rights. When that is in question, the courts often favor the mother in custody battles. So, I won’t say that we cannot win full custody, I will say that it is based on the situation at hand. There are instances, however, where there is neglect by the mother. That neglect is documented by social workers and serves as evidence that the mother is unfit to care for the child in which the court will rule in favor of the father.
Visitation and being the primary caregiver/decision maker for your child are two separate things. When you are working out the decision, you put in that clause in the visitation agreement. But keep in mind that sole custody is very difficult and can ultimately affect the dynamic of your relationship with your child.
How does a single father bond with their children?
Many of us parents feel that just because our children come from us that a bond is automatic. Well, I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true. That baby of yours is a human being and as humans, they have a choice of whether they will like us or even trust us. Especially if we have not been trustworthy. I believe the only true way to build a strong bond with your children is to spend time with them. I would even go further and say that you need to sacrifice your time. When I say sacrifice, I mean you must be willing to do what our children want to do. Watch their shows, learn their world, engage with them, sit and ask them questions to help them think critically. Be genuinely interested in who they are. Don’t break promises with them, be there every step of the way, after a while, they will trust the relationship. This will support the process of a building a strong relationship.
In “The Provider”, I encourage new fathers who have not been raised by a father and may not have a positive context of a father’s presence, to think back to the pain they felt. Within that self-reflection, I challenge them by asking if that is a pain they wish to pass on to the person they brought into the world. If they can say no, then I urge them to spend every day of their life making it better for their children.
How do Fathers effectively communicate with the mother of the child?
This is a simple answer– we must remove the resentment. The work required to get to that point, however, is the challenging aspect. The goal is to work with our children’s mother from an objective point of view. Meaning this is a job we must do and that job is making sure our children grow up healthy, balanced and loved. The sentiments the parents have towards one another are no longer the focus. So, during those day to day things that may happen, it becomes important to assess matters at hand as it pertains to the well-being of the children. Don’t fight to prove who’s right or wrong but instead focus on making the best decision for the children and developing the bond. That’s why I stated earlier that going to court and gaining joint custody is so much better because no matter what our children’s mother may feel, we have rights as fathers so we don’t have to be subjected to her control if she is unwilling to compromise.
What inspired you to write “The Provider”?
Funny enough, the provider started off as just a journal. LOL. I had so many questions myself, as a father and as a man. It was a time in my life in which I faced so much frustration because of things that weren’t working out for me in life, that I began to put it down on paper. One day, I went back to the journal and the questions I was asking myself sparked this urge to write more and there began the journey of The Provider. Over 4 years of seeking answers to my questions and shifting my own perspective and learning from the personal experiences with my children’s mother, I began to shape it into this guide. I just did not want men to feel the way I felt. I wanted men to feel like they have a voice and could connect someone who was vulnerable enough to share their learnings from overcoming some of the challenges in his personal journey. So, after four years of molding and great editing we have a piece of work that will aid us in managing the struggles of co-parenting, cultivate a more positive relationship dynamic with our children’s mother and be more effective with our children.
What can we look forward to from Barry Cooper?
Well, I have a ton of projects coming after “The Provider”. I host co-parenting workshops for fathers and plan to use the tools from the book to enhance the work we do in managing the challenges of that relationship dynamic. I also work with young men on changing the trajectory of their lives and build new legacies and plan to continue that work within the community. I will continue to be an ear, a voice, and advocate for young men. With this platform, I am excited to push the movement to a bigger stage. My goal is to consistently expose the greatness of what we can do as men and as fathers. I believe that with the tools and resources of The Provider, my brothers and I will continue the good fight reclaim our legacy.
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