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10 Things to Know About BlackLove.com Resident Dad Jeff Johnson
by Jeff Johnson
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March 15, 2019

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9 Minute Read

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10 Things to Know About BlackLove.com Resident Dad Jeff Johnson

BlackLove.com contributor Jeff Johnson

Audiences across the country have become familiar with Jeff Johnson as the activist and award-winning journalist seen and heard on BET, MSNBC, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and more. Now, after years in the spotlight as a sociopolitical commentator, the Principal and Chief of Strategy of JIJ Communications is bringing another aspect of his life to the forefront — fatherhood.

This proud husband and father of five — Madison, Myles, Malcolm, Baldwin, and Garvey — is opening up about his perspective on fatherhood and the lessons he’s learned about being a family man by swapping stories with other prominent dads and sharing right here on BlackLove.com.

But why listen to him? Jeff gets very honest with us about how he’s grown as a father and a husband through raising five kids. Here are 10 Things to Know About Jeff Johnson, in his own words.

—Black Love Staff

Crib to College Dad

I am a “Crib to College Dad” with my youngest being 4-months-old and oldest being a 19-year-old sophomore in college.

Birth of First Child

One of my most important memories was the birth of my first child and only daughter, Madison. My baby knew my voice when she was born. [Until that point,] I had no idea how powerful and important the prenatal relationship is for dads.

I firmly believe that no matter how toxic a relationship is, it’s not an excuse to disconnect from your child.

Don’t Disconnect

I was too distant and inconsistent with my third child, Malcolm, for much of his early years. I was a coward and struggled with being the father I needed to be because I poorly managed my relationship with his mother.

I firmly believe that no matter how toxic a relationship is, it’s not an excuse to disconnect from your child. It should be the motivation to work harder, and it took me too long to get that. My inconsistency is one of the biggest regrets of my life, but I have worked hard to ensure it is no longer a part of my relationship with Malcolm.

Jeff Johnson and his sons.

Parent-Child Communication

I am probably inappropriately direct with my kids. Their access to information and the things kids are saying and doing at ages way earlier than when I was [their age] requires it.

I also worked with young people most of my early career, so I have seen it all. I can’t pretend like my kids are different, so we talk honestly and openly about everything — even my stuff, within reason. At a certain age, your kids should know some of your failures and how you navigated them. They don’t have to know the details, but we can’t hide stuff from them that they already know is on us.

Intergenerational Family Dynamic

My wife and I have had multiple generations living in our home for the better part of the last 9 years. My father came to live with us for his last 2 years of a 7-year fight with stage 4 cancer. My father-in-law has lived with us for the last 5 years. In addition to that, my mother-in-law and grandmother are a consistent presence and source of support in our home.

The intergenerational dynamic is so important for all our kids who have, at different paces, embraced the blended family we have created. Having granddads in the house brings a different dynamic, a pool of wisdom, and an energy that adds so much to how we send our kids into the world. I am so thankful, because they all help make me a better dad.

I am a bootleg doula.

Doula Dad

I am a bootleg doula. My wife and I decided to home birth, primarily because of her anxiety connected to hospitals. We went from considering a birthing center to me saying, “Why don’t we just do this at home?” Baldwin and Garvey were born in our bedroom with the support of a midwife. 

It is hard to fully explain the peace and joy of creating the environment we wanted, comforting my wife as she prepared for birth at home vs. hospital hallways, and being the first person to hold my youngest sons. Blessings on blessings.

Jeff Johnson and his daughter, Madison.

Daddy-Daughter Quality Time

My daughter and I have done date nights for years. We try to do it monthly and it has extended into her college years, and we have even done one overseas. I can’t expect her to know what healthy love, adoration, attention, and courting looks like if she doesn’t get it from me. I was afraid that when she went to college, she was going to want it to stop, but thank God she didn’t. I know I love date day or nights more than she does.

Raising Black Boys

I’ve learned the meaning of tenderness and I love loving my boys. We box with each other, I am hard on them, and I push them in ways I know they don’t always appreciate. But, there is not a day I don’t hug and kiss my boys. They have to get both from me. It ensures they have healthy and intimate relationships with men and, as a result, healthy intimate and romantic relationships with women.

Teaching Mastery and Integrity

When it comes to mastery, I don’t care if my children go to college or not. I am not here to decide what they do, but I do want to be a guide and counsel them to maximize their gifts, establish a work ethic, model behavior that teaches them how to treat people, and be transparent when I fail. I want them to master something and then identify the vehicle to share it with the world and earn a living. I don’t want them to just live, I want them to build a legacy.

Being a father challenges every character flaw.

Growth Through Fathering

My kids have made me better. Being a father challenges every character flaw. It forces me to be honest about things I haven’t done and don’t do well. Being Madison’s father has softened my heart and look for hers. Being Myles’ father has taught me to pay attention to the little things in your babies — it tells you everything they cant. Being Malcolm’s father taught me that my ego was so much smaller than my children’s needs. Baldwin taught me that every new day is a new opportunity, and Garvey reminds me that love is infinite, so give it with abandon.

Want to hear more from Jeff Johnson? Take a look at his fatherhood conversations with Michael Ealy, Russell Hornsby, Sean Patrick Thomas, and more here on BlackLove.com.

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