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Bigging up Father Steve

Gercine Carter

Bigging up Father Steve

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OTHING OR NO ONE is allowed to come between Steve Blackett and his boys. The debonair parliamentarian says so, and his three his sons Steven Jr,  Shane and Shakir confirm the claim.
Observing the four of them together, there is no mistaking the strength of the father/son bond, and one immediately understands why 24-year-old Steven Jr would say, “I think my father is an exceptional man.”
It is clear Steve takes fatherhood seriously and, despite a divorce from the mother of his two older boys, the only thing he says has changed is that he does not sleep in the same house as they do. And contrary to the widely held belief that divorce is always harder on the children, in this case Steven Jr and 22-year-old Shane are quick to point out there was “no difference at all” in the relationship with their dad since their parents’ separation.
“Shane and I were old enough to understand the situation. My father and I always had a good relationship and that definite understanding, and I don’t think divorce impacted our relationship at all,” Steven Jr explains.
To which his father adds: “I did it in the best possible way not to disadvantage them or discommode them or to make them feel uncomfortable about anything.”
He goes on: “The only thing that has changed is that I don’t live with my boys . . . . As a matter of fact, I think we have even become closer since then. We make it a point once a month to go out to lunch together just to talk man talk, and they run things by me that would be affecting them in the normal course of their domestic life, just to use me as a sounding board.”
Here he is referring specifically to the two older boys. Shakir, the 13-year-old son “from another relationship”, is a second former at Harrison College and he cannot leave school to join the others for these lunchtime dates.
But he is not left out, and he certainly does not feel short-changed. Judging from the way he speaks about the relationship with his dad, it is clear Shakir dotes on his father, whom he describes as “a great father to me . . . a good father figure”.  
This is because Steve makes a point of setting aside some quality time on the weekend for the youngest of his sons. He is the one most likely to be spotted tagging along with his father at certain functions and he loves it when dad takes him to the barber, relishing yet another opportunity for a one-on-one conversation and bonding.
You can almost see the chest of this father swelling as he proudly talks about his sons. For him, “the highlight of being a father has been watching my boys grow into three wonderful young men”.
They have not disappointed him in his hopes for them, and he feels rewarded for the time he has invested in their development. He vows: “Whatever experience I have I will impart it and share it with them.”
 “Even when I had stopped living with them, every single morning I travelled from my new home and took them to school and from school, and from that point of view I always had daily contact with the boys at all times, and even now I still have a good relationship with their mother because I maintain that life is too short to be filled with contention and acrimony and bad blood, and I am not about that at all.”
 Of the three, he is especially pleased with the progress of his second son Shane, who was born “with a few disorders”, though he makes it clear he loves them all.
Steve told EASY magazine: “When he (Shane) was just months old we (Steve and his first wife) had to travel to Northshore Hospital in New York with him because he was born with a congenital heart problem, which was corrected when he was just about six or seven months old. So he has always been really the one to look out for as a young child and also at primary and secondary school . . . . He had some learning difficulties, so it is really a pleasure to see that he is now at university and competing with his peers and learning very well.”
All three boys speak about their dad’s strong influence in their life, particularly as it relates to their education and the lessons he constantly imparts about the foibles of life. There is nothing they feel constrained about discussing with their father.
And it does not escape Steve how lucky he is to have three well grounded sons who continue to heed his lessons. He explains his fortune like this: “I live a very uncomplicated life. The kinds of challenges that I hear other fathers talk about, I certainly don’t have those challenges. If the boys want me, I tell them I am just a phone call away.”
Steve’s style of parenting is largely grounded in his own religious upbringing in the Bank Hall Nazarene Church. He continued to worship there after his first two sons were born, while they accompanied their mother to the Garden Church of God. But every Father’s Day he joins them at the Garden Church of God for the special Father’s Day service there.
 “That religious grounding is extremely important. If I might use myself as an example for that kind of solid religious grounding, it helps you to redirect your life, especially when you are being confronted by peer pressure.”
Brought up by his paternal grandmother, Steve met his father for the first time at his grandmother’s funeral. Though he was 26 by that time, the two did a lot of catching up on the lost years, and in the process Steve discovered in his dad “some wonderful family values that although he came into my life late, I still emulated”. That experience continues to inform the way he relates to his sons and the example he sets them.
“I am very strong on the question of fatherhood and fathers being responsible for their children and looking after their children.”
He is careful to impress on his sons the true meaning of brotherhood despite their being born of different mothers.
“I am trying to instil in them that regardless of who their parents are, they should always acknowledge each other as brothers and live as brothers. Nothing would make me rest easier in my grave when that time comes than to know that the three of them are living as brothers looking out for each other.”   
It must warm this father’s heart hearing his eldest son say, “I really do love my father. He has been there for me in all my troubles and also when I am on top. He has been there guiding me throughout life in terms of relationships with women, making the right decisions in terms of where I should go with my studies – in all, being the best father to me.”
The other two boys nod in agreement as Shane adds, “Yes, my father is a very extraordinary man. I look up to my father. He taught me to respect my mother and other women, always be a man of your word . . . . I can go to my father with anything.”
 Shakir interjects: “He taught me how important schoolwork is, how it would be beneficial to our growth. He taught us about honesty is the best policy . . . . He helped me with my sports too, especially with my football playing for Harrison College.”
 Steve is remarried, but he advises other divorced fathers to “try at all times to stay close to your children and remind them at all times who you are, what role you want to play in their lives, and not only indicate it to them, but live it.”