How I Parent explores the ins and outs of modern day parenting with moms and dads from all over the country, 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 email@example.com.
Name: Michael Worthington Jr.
Location: Dallas, Texas
Occupation: I work in marketing and advertising and I also run @icemikeloveasia.
Family situation: I have a girlfriend named Aaliyah and we have been together for three years. I have two children: one who is seven, Asia, and one in heaven, Bentleigh. I’m currently coparenting with Asia’s mother. We alternate watching Asia on a weekly basis.
Parenting philosophy: My mission is to ensure that Asia gets to enjoy her childhood comfortably. I want her to thrive and to be happy and healthy.
What was your journey to having the family life you have today?
I’ve been an active father since the day my daughter Asia was born. She’s seven now. Her mother and I aren’t together anymore but we’ve been coparenting for about five years. We alternate taking care of Asia every other week. I have her this week and her mother has her next week. It hasn’t always been easy and it may never be but I try to take things day by day.
Becoming a father really changed me. It’s kept me focused on what’s important so I can stay positive and make a great life for my family. It’s forced me to mature and to become a great provider but it took a while to figure out how to get where I am today.
Years ago, when I was figuring out how to become the provider I wanted myself to be, I felt like nobody had faith in me, especially my daughter’s mother. She didn’t think I could do it. So I decided to prove to myself and to everyone else that I could be a great dad.
In the early years, I wanted to be able to do everything myself, including doing my daughter’s hair. That was something that was really tough because I never have to do anything with my hair. I may put a hat on or brush it, but that’s it. But when I had to get my daughter dressed and ready for school, I just left her hair alone and sometimes, it would look a little crazy. That’s when I decided to learn how to manage at least a few hairstyles so I could have at least one go-to style I could do for Asia. I started searching on YouTube for hair tutorials and started from there. I was also using water at first but now I’ve learned which hair products work best; I still use YouTube to learn and get better.
In the beginning, I was a little skeptical about posting what I was doing because I knew it wasn’t my best work. But over time, I learned so much online and I got a lot of pointers and insights from my friends and followers, which made me feel more confident to share. Now, when I deal with people online, I’ve learned not to care about what people think; there’s always going to be someone who has something negative to say and you need to accept that. I just try to be myself. After a while, I started getting into this pattern of learning a new style, getting confident with it, and then starting over again with a new style. That’s how it was for me back then and it’s the same for me now. Learn, get confident, then start again with something new.
I think I’ve gained a huge following on social media because people enjoy being a part of my life. They see my drive and how long I’ve been doing this. They also see that I’m a straight guy, doing my daughter’s hair and being a family man. People may not expect that from me because I’m a straight black guy with tattoos. Maybe that’s what they felt at first but now they see I’m pretty genuine and they see that it’s my real life. They get that I’m trying to stay positive. There are a lot of non-genuine things that are all over social media but my followers know that I’ve been doing this for a long time. They’ve watched me grow year by year, and I think that’s why people continue to follow.
Through my social media, I’ve learned that I’ve inspired many fathers and even more mothers. Many moms write to me saying how I’ve inspired them to want to do hair and create new styles. They also give me advice on what types of hair products or accessories I should use. You have to try a bunch of different things because every child has a different type of hair. I also get fathers who send me videos or tag me in their videos of them doing their daughter’s hair.
Before my daughter, I had no interest in hair at all. Sometimes, I look at how far I’ve come and I just feel so surprised. I started this because I really wanted to do this for Asia. I wanted to be an active father and now I’ve found something for us that really bonds us. It’s the perfect time to talk about school, life, and what’s going on when she’s not with me. It’s like an open stage for us to talk about anything for at least an hour and a half to two hours sometimes.
How did your upbringing influence your parenting style?
My parents have been together for more than 40 years – not everyone gets to grow up with both parents. We have a great relationship and I see them almost once a week. I know that being raised by two strong parents and also being raised in the church has gotten me to where I am today. I also have two sisters. I’m the middle child. The way my family is has definitely influenced my parenting style because I try to be the same with Asia.
Our relationship is pretty open and real. We spend a lot of time together talking and filming videos. I don’t go out as much, I just do things with her. We have similar personalities because we’ve been around each other for so long. We kind of act alike, talk alike. We have our own inside jokes and things like that. I don’t have to say too much for her to understand me because we understand each other. We’re like best friends in that kind of way.
What’s your favorite thing about parenting?
I love seeing joy on my daughter’s face. I like being able to get what she needs for school and being able to provide whatever she wants. I love seeing her happy every day. I want to give her more than what I had growing up so being able to do that makes me happy. I might be a single father but I can do 95 percent of what a mother can do. She tells me all the time that I’m a great dad and that she loves me and that means a lot to me.
What’s the hardest part?
The hardest parts for me are coparenting and preparing meals. Being a coparent might be the hardest thing I’m doing right now but also learning how to cook took a while. Being a single dad, I knew I had to learn because I can’t order out every time. It’s definitely gotten easier though, but those two are still pretty tough.
How do you find time for yourself?
I try to find something for all of us to do — me, my girlfriend, and Asia — so we can all enjoy each other. For example, we’ll go to the movies or go to a trampoline park. If I need more time for myself or my relationship, I’ll find time while Asia’s asleep, at school or with her mother for the week.
What’s the best advice you can share with new parents?
The best advice I can give to a new parent is: Be consistent. Be there for your kids, show them that you’re trying and be genuine. Show effort, pray about it and have the drive to be able to provide for your family. Just try and try and pray. That’s what I did and it got better and easier over time.
How do you embrace the most unpredictable moments of parenthood?
I try to be calm. I have a bunch of old clips of me and Asia that I like to look at. I have a lot of memories stored on my iPad so I can show her when she gets older but when things are hard, I like to watch them. When Asia and I look back at some of the memories we have together, we end up laughing about it. These are precious memories we get to share together.
What would you want your kid to say about you as a parent?
I’d want her to say that I’m lovable and I’m a great dad. I love Asia a lot and I’m trying to make the best life for her. I want her to be able to say that her dad loves her and he tries to make her a better person.
I’m also going on tour this summer with Asia. We’ve teamed up with iHeart Media and we’ll be visiting eight cities in the U.S. [Editor’s note: Get more info by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.] I’ll be teaching other parents how to do hair live so they can participate while I instruct them at the same time.
The purpose of the tour is to show people how important it is to bond with your child and that you can do it through an activity. Hair is a great way to do that and it’ll help you in the long run, especially if you’re a single father or mother. I just want to get people together to have fun and learn at the same time. Anyone is welcome to come and I hope people get to have the same daddy-daughter/family experiences that I’ve gotten to have with Asia.