Stay-At-Home-Dad’s Guide to Engaged Parenting
When Devonte Bennett Bey suddenly found himself unemployed after an illness, he found himself at a crossroads. The ex Marine veteran from California wanted full-time work again to support his young family, but he was also keen to take some time to enjoy fatherhood.
So, he became a stay-at-home dad to his three boys. And, he told ABC News’ Good Morning America, it was “the best thing that ever happened to me and set me on my path.”
In researching what it means to be a good father, he discovered that engaging with your kids is the “number-one way to stop problems.”
So, he did that — and started small.
“I just knew I wanted to have a really strong bond with them, ” he said.
Today, Bennett Bey’s family, has a lot less money than they did when he was working long days. In fact, he told GMA, they are in between places to live. But, even though they are in a transition period, he said his family is the “happiest homeless family ever” because of “living their dream” of a close-knit family and great relationships with his boys.
In a video on his Instagram, Bennett Bey shared his four-step process to becoming an engaged parent.
Bennett Bey’s road to being an involved dad started with taking over the kids’ nighttime routine. He told GMA one of his children was having a hard time going to sleep.
“I started encouraging him with something I called ‘Daddy Power’ and it worked,” he said.
Once Bennett Bey realised an impact he could have on his boys, the wheels started turning.
Grow From There
Building on the success of ‘Daddy Power’, Bennett Bey began to look for more ways to engage with his kids. He didn’t have to look far: Bennett Bey said he started thinking about his own childhood. “I think of the boys as mini versions of me, so I reflected on my own childhood and what motivated me.”
One of his sons, he said, much like himself, liked to make everything a competition. So whether it was sight words or marital arts, Bennett Bey put a competitive spin on everything they did — and it worked to bond them closer and push his son to reach his potential.
Find the Time and Make Plans
Bennett Bey said actually implementing the plans he had was harder than he thought. Once he was no longer working in a traditional job, he found himself with more time.
“I had to set aside the time and plan activities out,” he says.
It went from an hour to “Daddy Saturdays,” and now, he said, “whatever I’m doing, they’re right there doing it with me.”
Take Care of Yourself
The dad of three said self-care is hugely important to staying strongly bonded to your kids. He recalled the weight he put on once he left the military and a back issue that kept him from keeping up with his kids.
“You have to think of your body like a car. If you don’t put gas in it, if you don’t do the maintenance, it’s going to fall apart,” he said.
The best part of Bennett Bey’s change, he said, is the changes he sees in his family.
“Just like in the Marines, I think of the family as our unit. And when I see [the kids] succeed, when I see a light bulb go off, I’m so proud. Watching your children grow is outstanding,” he noted.
A version of this article was published on EverettPost.com