2010 Interview with Keith Wilkins - part 2

Published in: Examiner.com - San Antonio edition
Published on: October 6th, 2010.
By: Rebecca Alizadeh, San Antonio Single Parenting Columnist

This is the conclusion to the interview with Keith, a single father to a seven-year-old cutie named Kayla.  In case you missed it, you can read "Interview with a single dad, Part 1" where Keith gives a brief background history and his experiences, to date, with raising his daughter by himself.  His answers are refreshingly candid and, at times, force you to examine the double standards that exist in society when it comes to single parenthood.
In this particular interview, part two, we begin by discussing dating; continue through other topics like having the "sex talk" with a girl; and, most importantly, what the best part of being a single dad is.  Keith, once again, comes through with sincerity and interesting insight.  Read for yourself:
Q: How do you handle dating? Do you feel pressure or an obligation (whether it's from yourself or society) to provide your daughter with a mother or mother-type figure in her life?
Pressure? No, not at all. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the fact that my daughter does not have a regular, stable female/ mother figure or role model in her life. She needs that female role model in her life. But I am not going to rush into a relationship with someone just to try to provide her with that mother in her life.  That could backfire and be worse in the long run.
In the past three years since I have been with her mother, I have dated and have been in one serious relationship that lasted for about six months. Unfortunately, the woman I was seeing was jealous of my daughter for some reason, and I had to end the relationship. It just wasn’t healthy for me, and especially my daughter.
I don’t really date that much now for [several] reasons.  I am trying my best to raise my daughter the best that I can, with a strong moral code of conduct. The last thing I would want my daughter to remember when she is older and looking back is that Daddy had a lot of women coming in and out of his life. I also don’t need her to become attached to someone, only to have them taken away from her because things didn’t work out between us. Even when I do date, my daughter knows little to nothing about it. She has know idea when I am going out on a date. My love life and my daughter are two separate issues and at this point do not need to intersect. Another reason I don’t date too much is simply because being a single dad, I really don’t have the time or opportunity to date that much. My daughter comes first, and raising her is my number one priority, even above my own love life.
One of these days I am confident that I will meet someone again, and even remarry, but being a single dad, I have to not only be picky about who I get involved with for myself, but for my daughter, as well. Any woman I settle down with not only has to be good for me but she would have to be good for my daughter.
Q: You being a single father to a girl, have you prepared yourself for the things that come up in life that are uniquely female? What I'm wondering is if you think you are ready to handle "the talk" or issues that might come up with the female reproductive system or dating even?
I’m totally comfortable with having those kinds of discussions with my daughter. Granted, some topics are better discussed between a mother and daughter, or between a father and son, but just because my daughter will not have a mother to discuss those things with her, doesn’t make the topics go away. Life goes on -- mother or no mother.
If she does feel a little uncomfortable discussing certain things with me like the changes a young women goes through when they go through puberty, then I am sure that her godmother, or one of my other close female friends (who she is also close to) would be willing to talk to her about them.
As far as "The Talk" is concerned, I was never one that believed in waiting until your child is a teenager and then having one big talk about where babies come from and what sex is. I believe that is something you talk to your kids about gradually on a level they can understand as they grow up throughout the years. I have been having discussions with my daughter about where babies come from since she was four years old. As she gets older, the discussions get more in-depth. It’s an ongoing process.
It is too bad that she doesn’t have a mother to discuss those things with, but she still needs to be educated on them, and that is now all my responsibility. I am 100% comfortable in doing so.
Q: What is the hardest part about being a single dad for you? What is the most challenging issue(s) you deal with?
I think the biggest change that being a single parent made for me was the fact that I had to give up my career in order to raise my daughter on my own. I worked in Casino Management and loved it, but it was too demanding....my daughter spent more time with the babysitter than she did with me so I had to give it up so I could focus on what was truly important, being with her.
Outside of that it's, for the most part, no different then being a single mom. I don’t have that "tag team partner" to help me out. I have to be both mom and dad to my daughter. I have to be both disciplinarian and nurturer. I have to work, clean house, cook, take her to school, ballet and karate classes, go to PTA meetings, play Barbie’s with her, braid her hair, etc... I have to play both roles.
I think the hardest thing about it, though, is that I am afraid she will become too much of a tom boy from living with me, and not having that positive female role model around her. That’s why I try so hard to do "girly" things with her that a mother would do with her, to compensate for it.
Q: What is the best part about being a single dad? Other than your child, what do you love most?
That’s simple, the best thing about being a single dad is how close my daughter and I are because of it. We have always had a special bond, and have been really close....after all, I delivered her. But the fact that it’s just me raising her, has only made us closer. Don’t get me wrong, I wish that things could have worked out differently with her mom and I, but that was beyond my control.
You always have to find the positive out of a negative.....and the closeness that my daughter and I have is that positive.

I think Keith sums it up best when he says "you always have to find the positive out of a negative."  We are so quick to judge others and make assumptions about them when the reality is when it comes to the children of this world, regardless of what their home life looks like, consists of and where in the world it is, they are the most important thing.  They need to be nurtured and given the opportunity to grow and thrive in this world of ours.  They deserve it, don't they?  And the future depends on it.

To learn more about Keith, you can find him at St. Petersburgh Live Music Bar Scene Examiner and on Facebook