Beleaf in Fatherhood's Glen Henry on the Power of Parenthood: 'My Children Helped Me Become a Man'
How I Parent explores the ins and outs of modern day parenting with moms and dads from all over the world, who are raising their own unique families and sharing their best advice and most heartfelt lessons with PEOPLE. Want to be a part of it? Email what makes your family so special to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Glen Henry
Location: Vista, California
Occupation: Digital storyteller for Beleaf in Fatherhood
Family situation: I have been married to my wife Yvette for ten years and together we have four children: Theo, 8, Uriah, 6, Anaya, 3, and Uziah, 20 months. Until our daughter Anaya was born, I was a full-time stay-at-home dad. As our business grew, this changed and my wife became the stay-at-home parent. Now, with multiple ventures between the two of us, we have recently employed nannies to help us but remain largely involved.
Parenting "philosophy" in a sentence: Be present and let your presence be a gift.
What was your journey to having the family life you have today?
I started dating my wife in 2009, and we knew we weren't just dating to date. We wanted to get married and start a family. We wanted to plant roots and be a part of a community. We got married in 2010 and then we were on our way to having our first baby.
Once we had our son, I pledged to work my butt off so I could provide financial security for our family, but soon after we had our second son, things started to get harder. I had maybe two weeks off for paternity leave and our childcare fees were going to double. My wife was a math teacher and was making a lot of money for us at that time so she suggested that we could probably break even if I stayed home and took care of the kids while making money off of music. That's when I decided to take a creative approach to spending time with my boys by making videos, which grew into what I do today.
When I started vlogging, I wasn't documenting the kids for entertainment. I was doing it for education. I was a new parent so I didn't know what was normal or abnormal. I would capture video and then post it to see if I was the only parent dealing with the things I was going through, and people started responding to it. They would encourage me and affirm me as a father.
The more I kept posting and getting out there, the more I understood how valuable it was to be a part of a community. And if you couldn't find one, you could build your own.
As far as family or friends, a lot of them looked at me and asked when I was going to get a real job or when I was going to get it together. They went from asking that to: How did you do that?
How has it been parenting four young children during the pandemic? How do you practice self-care while at home?
I'm a homebody so I like having my family at the house, but my wife is not. She loves to be out and loves to have people over, so it's been tough. I'm trying to be as supportive to her as I can. We started to do breath work, which is a form of meditation. You can regulate your mood just by breathing and it's been really good for us. I also started to go to therapy.
My wife and I have gone to couple's therapy but I'm in solo therapy now. I meet with my therapist twice a month and we dig deep, trying to understand why I'm having trouble letting go and why I'm having trouble growing in certain areas. It's all about growth and self-discovery for me.
How have your kids adapted to this new type of living?
They do not like it at all. They call it the boring virus. I've had to make huge adjustments around the house. It was all dirt in the backyard, but now we have turf back there, and I added a basketball court. I'm trying to make things better, but they still ask when they'll get to see their friends.
In your recent "Setting Intentions for the New Year" video, you talk about wanting a mentor, which is interesting because you've become a mentor to so many people who watch your content. What does mentorship at this stage in parenthood mean to you?
I don't know the bumps in the road before they come. I often crash before I know how a situation will need to play out. I want someone to help me grow and find balance with my business, family and my relationship with my wife. It's not only business advice that I seek, it's also spiritual.
Every day, I'm learning how to move forward but I need a guide because I'm serving as a guide for many people. To know that I am that guide to many, but I don't have one for myself, can feel very scary.
How did your upbringing influence your parenting style?
I grew up in Baltimore in a single parent home. My mom was the primary caregiver and my dad had joint custody. I would go to California to live with my father during the summertime.
Once my dad married my stepmom and had my sister, he continued to pursue his life out west. That meant that I only had time with him for about two-and-a-half months out of the year, and I needed him more than that. I really wanted him to know how valuable his presence and attention were to me at that time. Now, as a father myself, I am very intentional on trying not to be distracted. I try to focus on being there, even when it gets hard because I'm working a lot.
My children helped me become a man. They are the reasons why I put my fears aside and dove into fatherhood. I know they're looking up to me.
What has your father's response been to everything that you've built with Beleaf in Fatherhood?
After he started to see different publications writing about me, my work with Dove Men+Care and the feature film I was in called Dads on Apple TV+, alongside celebrities like Will Smith and Neil Patrick Harris, he understood the work I was doing and everything I had put into it. He told me the other day, as we headed off to the airport in the car, "Man, I sometimes wonder if you're really my son."
At first, I was waiting to see what else he was going to say but I knew what he meant. He was really saying, "You're a hustler. You're such a hard worker that it's hard to believe that you're related to me," because my father likes to chill. He's laid back. We're very different people.
He's told me that he's very proud of me and that he's really impressed and blown away. Now, he's always watching. He doesn't miss a beat. He's a fan and he's really interested in finding ways to bond with me. It made me realize that, even if things don't start out the way you want them to, it doesn't mean you can't finish the way you want to finish. Your legacy is being written and as long as you're alive, you have an opportunity to change things for the better.
What's your favorite thing about parenting?
I could tell you my favorite thing about parenting now, but I know it's going to change in a year. Each year brings something different out of each child.
I love being a father to my daughter. She and I have a very close connection. She's very sassy. I love that she picks up all of our attitudes and facial expressions. She tries to mimic our words and phrases and they come out all wrong.
My favorite thing is when my son will say, "Yeah, I think I saw that before but I didn't reneckorize it," and it's so funny, I don't even correct him. Reneckorize is now his word and it's my favorite thing. They're so serious as they try to join in on conversations, but their words are all wrong. It's just good stuff, man. That's the good stuff right there.
What's the hardest part?
The hardest part for me is forgiving myself when I fail. Children are very forgiving. If you apologize, they will forgive you immediately. As parents, you should be able to apologize to your kids. It'll teach you humility and it'll help them learn to become adults who know how to apologize to others.
What's the best advice you can share with new parents?
Be present and let your presence be a gift. When you're around, be around. Be a blessing.
What would you want your kids to say about you as a parent?
I want my children to say that I really cared. When it was time to put a Band-Aid on them, I cared. When it was time to hear about things they loved, I cared. My hope is that they'll always know that I love them, and that I'm here, and I care.