Name: Malik Bomani
Born: Havana, Cuba
Place of residency: Miami, Fl
Occupation: Youth Mentor/ Care Coordinator
I spent a good chunk of my upbringing around my grandmother. She’s a savvy and headstrong island woman. She was always loving, supportive and tried her best to steer me in the right direction. I got most of the game from women. All the women in my family were go-getters and hustlers. So coming up, I was always crafty. I didn't always have a strong work ethic but I always found a way to get it. Just getting what we need by using what we have.
I met the mother of my children when I was 18 through a mutual friend. It was at a house party. She had this wild, untamed hair and she was always talking shit. I was really attracted to her. She got pregnant about 3 months after we met. She was 20, I was still 18. I was happy and scared. I felt unprepared. We were young, didn't have any money at the time. I ended up working some odd jobs. I felt like I didn't know the first thing about parenting, but I knew we were ready to do whatever we needed to do to provide a life for this baby.
Some of the the most difficult aspects of becoming a parent is learning to forgive myself. I think as first time parents, we put so much pressure on ourselves to get everything right. Especially if you didn't come from a traditional household. We had to let go of the fear and just be consistent. We knew that as our baby was growing, we were growing with them too. I think we all have that natural intuitiveness that kicks in when we need to provide and protect the people and things we love. We just have to learn to trust that instinct. To me, parenting involves preparation but much of it is instintctus
When we were expecting our second child we were going through it. Financially, emotionally, spiritually. I'm not religious at all, but we knew that our second child had divine timing. It tested our bond. I felt like it made us stronger as a unit because we really had to kick everything into an extra gear.
Fatherhood changed me completely. I don't know where I would be without my children. I think it brought some things out of me that I didn't think were there. It's taught me to give of myself freely and completely without expecting anything in return. And that is the most liberating type of love to feel. It's always interesting watching them move. They are complete opposites. But they provide such a unique balance to our lives and we derive great pleasure from watching them develop their own identities and idiosyncrasies. I think by the time we had our second child, my son Elijah Kimathi, we were more comfortable and secure about our parenting styles. But both of them are very creative and vocal. As far as what they get from me, I think just that inquisitiveness. I try to instill the value of education in them and not just in the traditional sense. I let them know the world is their classroom and you can learn from everything and anybody. I encourage them to explore alternative narratives and see things from different perspectives. To form their own opinions and foster their own voices.
My hopes for my children are I just want my children to be happy and free. I want them to be aggressive in their truths, and to live fearlessly and selflessly. My biggest fear is feeling like they can't come to me with something. They are whole, little beings. A world on to themselves. So I try to talk with them, not to them. Coming from an immigrant family, there is sometimes that cultural gap there. Coming to a new country almost forces the children to be the parents when it comes to navigating certain things. So that keeps a lot of us from fostering the type of relationship we might have wanted with our folks. So I make it a point to always keep our lines of communication open and transparent.
I want brothers to know that just because the situation is not ideal, that doesn't mean you can't make ideal things happen. You are the sole controller of your universe. You can't always dictate what happens, but you have autonomy over how you react to it. And honor and respect the mother of your children. Don't strive to be right all the time, strive to be understanding and compassionate. I was taught that love is the highest form of understanding. That's the best part.
Manhood means accountability. It means knowing you are responsible for the well being of not just your family, but your extended cipher. That means your community and nation as well. Protecting and setting a better example for the babies. Manhood means to boss up.
Fatherhood means always being a student. It means service. Above everything, a father is a great servant. It means knowing when to lead and guide, and when to sit back, listen, observe and respect. It means allowing yourself to be vulnerable, but also be a pillar of strength. And fatherhood means love. I always say that I don't give my babies tough love, because love is tough enough.
Malik Bomani is a father, youth mentor and community organizer raised out of Miami, Fl. As a behavioral health professional, he has dedicated his time providing care coordination for youth and adults with a variety of mental and behavioral health issues. He is also a brand director for The New Caribbean™, a fashion and multimedia company showcasing entrepreneurs and independent artists from the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora.