To commemorate the annual celebration of Father’s Day, Marvin Sapp opened up to The Huffington Post about what it’s like being a single dad, his thoughts on the negative stereotypes out there about black dads, and he shared some advice to all the men out there who may be adjusting to single fatherhood.
The Huffington Post: After your wife’s passing, what was your initial reaction to becoming a single father?
Marvin Sapp: It was a shock, just simply because I had to try figure it out while I was trying to heal at the same time. And when you’re dealing with the whole process and aspect of mourning, as a single father I had to put my personal emotions on the back-burner in order to make sure I was raising healthy young people. So it was a time of literally prioritizing, “Am I going to deal with my emotions, right now, or can I just put my emotions to the side and make sure that I’m raising healthy, productive young people?” So it was a time of prioritizing and going back and forth. And I think I did pretty well. My kids are well-rounded, they’re healthy, they’re doing exceptionally well, and I think that I’m doing well emotionally, also.
As a single dad you’ve also managed to sustain a successful career. In what ways have your kids helped you with balancing parenthood and music?
Well obviously, my kids kind of took on the role of what my wife did, as it pertains to my music career. Raising millennials, they’re very honest and they told me when my music was wack. [Laughs] And when I did something that they enjoyed they let me know, “Yeah, that’s hot.” So from a career standpoint they kind of helped to shape the sound that this last record [“You Shall Live”] had to keep it relevant as it pertains to millennials to understand all the way up to me being an Gen-X’er. They’ve helped in that way.
I never tried to be their mother. I think that’s the key thing, because one of the things that always bothered me is when women try to take on the responsibility of being the father and mother, and the reality is, that’s your mother and I’m daddy. And I like being dad. You don’t have to celebrate me on Mother’s Day. I’m happy being the daddy. So I’ll leave Mother’s Day to the mother’s, and I’ll just enjoy Father’s Day, because my goal is to be the best father I can possibly be.
What do you think more people should understand about single black dads, since the focus and narrative is usually centered on single black moms?
Every black man out here doesn’t have multiple children by multiple women. Every black man out here isn’t a deadbeat father who has tens of thousands of dollars worth of back child support that he’s not willing to pay and won’t get a job to do so. But there are some African-American men out here who are doing the very best they can, be it, if they’re single fathers like me, because they’re being a widower, or if their wife made the decision to walk off and leave with the children. There’s a lot of us out here that are serious about being integral, strong, upstanding men who are serious about making an impact in the lives of their children.
I do think we don’t get the recognition that we deserve, because many folks believe that it’s a scarcity, but the reality is there’s a whole lot of men out here that are holding it down just like women.