Fatherville: Tell us what motivated you to start using Twitter as @FatherPresence. Tell us why you have a heart for fatherhood.
Keith Amador: I created the @fatherpresence twitter account in order to provide an ongoing reminder of the importance of fathers and their active involvement in the lives of their children. Mypassion for helping fathers stems from my own family of origin experience. Although I had a father, he was not a part of my life in consistent, meaningful ways. I never developed a secure attachment bond with him and that left me with many doubts and insecurities about who I was. As a result, I felt inadequate to connect with my children in meaningful ways. Although I have taken personal responsibility for my own lack of connection to my children, I know that my father’s lack of connection and involvement with me played a major role in my own inability to bond and connect with my own children. Therefore, I don’t want other dads to feel hopeless or ill equipped, as I have, tobe the dads they truly want to be. I desire to help fathers become more wholehearted in order to give more of themselves to their families.
FV: How long have you been promoting fatherhood?
KA: For almost two years. My awareness has steadily grown through a few events I have been a part of in the last four years. First, earning my masters degree in counseling psychology was not just gaining knowledge but it was the catalyst of a personal journey of reflection and learning regarding not just my understanding generally of what it means to be a man, but specifically a father. Second, I accepted a project at work whichinvolved facilitating a fatherhood curriculum, On My Shoulders, for parenting groups offered to noncustodial parents in partnership with the Child Support Services. Both of these events challenged me to reflect on and grow in my own fatherhood experience and fueled a desire, which I believe began years ago, to help other fathers grow as dads too.
FV: As a parent yourself what have you learned about fatherhood.
KA: I have learned that being a good father is a moment by moment intentional choice. In other words, being a connected father to my children does not come naturally. I have to be aware of my need to connect and then initiate actions that allow for quality relationship-building time with my children.
FV: What are some of your favorite fatherhood books?
KA: Two books I have gained from in becoming the man and father I desire to be are writtenby Brene Brown, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. Although these books are not specifically about fatherhood, they deal with core issues regarding shame and vulnerability that many fathers face.
FV: What in your opinion is one of the biggest challenges of being a father?
KA: I think being a good listener has been one of my biggest challenges as a dad. I continually remind myself that the biggest gift I can give to my children is making sure that I just don’t listen attentively, but make sure they know I’ve heard them by telling back what I think I’ve heard them say.
FV: What is the most difficult challenge Keith Amador has had to face as a father?
KA: I think the feeling of being “lost” as a dad when I reared my three sons. I was truly ill equipped to be the father my children needed. I regret “hiding” emotionally from them through my job at the time. I wish I had the knowledge and skills that I possess now back then. The good news is that I have been able to slowly build rapport and trust with two of them and establish meaningful relationships. As of today, I am estranged from my youngest son. I hope to someday have a meaningful relationship with him too.
FV: In your opinion what are some of the biggest challenges that parents, in general, face today?
KA: I think today’s world has many distractions (TV, internet, computer games, smartphones, etc.) that can potentially leave parents with little time to truly connect with children. The challenge for all parents today is to make active choices to foster better communication and opportunities to strengthen parent-child relationships.
FV: Growing up–who were your childhood heroes?
KA: My childhood hero was my uncle. He epitomized what a father should be through active engagement with his daughters and strong emotional connection with them. I remember spending time with him and his family during summer vacations and I would admire the way he was as a dad.
FV: Who are your heroes today?
KA: My fiancé is my hero. She loves me and accepts me like no one else has before. Similar to a sentiment expressed by screen actor Jack Nicholson in one of his movies, she makes me want to be a better man (and father)!
FV: If being an engaged and caring father is your #1 biggest challenge–what would you say is #2?
KA: Keeping an open mind and retaining a non-judgmental attitude toward all my children.
FV: Keith, what would you say are your biggest accomplishments to date?
KA: I would say earning my masters degree at the ripe age of 48. Having such a terrific support base in my fiancé and family was a crucial part of my being able to reach this accomplishment.
FV: Tell us a little bit more about yourself: your passions, hobbies, and goals for the future.
KA: I love food, travel, reading, and cigars…not necessarily in that order. My current goal is to gain licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist, after that I would like to use my passion and skills to help fathers in as many ways as possible.
You can follow Keith Amador on Twitter: @FatherPresenceTweet