When it comes to parenting advice, everyone’s got an opinion – whether they have kids or not. There are plenty of mommy blogs, parenting guides, videos, tips, advice; you name it, it’s out there. Everyone has a different opinion, and every family is unique, which means that what works for one person may not work for the other. Culture, financial structure, history, and religion all play a role in a child’s upbringing, which can make things….confusing for new parents.
Jamie Foxx’s new book, Act Like You Got Some Sense, provides broad brushstrokes on what it means to be a good parent, regardless of what religion you follow, or where you come from. The book isn’t a parenting guide per se – there aren’t hard rules on how to best parent your child – but larger lessons that Foxx incorporates into his life stories.
His life is fascinating, and his experiences with the Hollywood elite are incredible to read about, almost bordering on the absurd. He fully admits to enjoying life to the fullest, including attending parties across the country (and across the world). However, he also talks about being there for his family, putting his daughters’ needs before his own, and constantly learning about what it means to be a good dad.
The biggest lesson he imparted, and one that he reiterates throughout the book, is to simply be there. This goes beyond physically being near your daughter. He talks about a time when he brought his daughter to Miami, in an attempt to bond with his daughter. However, he also went to Miami to party with his friends, and though he tried to spend quality time with his daughter, he ended up being distracted.
He later admitted that it wasn’t the best move to bring a young girl to a trip like that, mostly because he wasn’t there for her; even when he was, he was distracted. Being there for your child isn’t just about sitting in the same room with them, or about taking them on trips where they aren’t the priority. Even if it’s something as silly as going to Target, it’s about quality time, instead of just co-existing in the same space.
His book is part autobiography, part motivational – he talks about his struggles as a child, including his complicated family history. He was adopted by the same parents that adopted his mother, which meant that his ‘sister’ was his mother and that his ‘parents’ were his grandparents.
Growing up in a foster family, with a disciplinarian for a grandmother, meant that he didn’t have much freedom as a child, but it also made him fiercely independent, understanding of what’s important in life, and valued the power of hard work. Having to go for piano lessons instead of concerts with friends resulted in an illustrious career as a musician. Working part-time through high school and having to give his money to his mom instead of spending it with friends, meant graduating high school with savings, and a safety net underneath him.
The best part of his writing style is how self-reflective it is; he freely admits his flaws, how he’s changed as he’s grown older, and how he continues to change. Personalities aren’t static, and it’s vital to admit when you made a mistake because that’s how you grow. He talks about instilling discipline in kids but also learning to be flexible, that every situation is different, and there’s a time to lay down the law, and a time to back down, and let them make their own mistakes. He also talks about the importance of trust, and of keeping a family together in, well, unusual circumstances.
Having two daughters from two different women and being married to neither of them has created some challenges, but it’s admirable to see him rise above that, and do what he must to show his kids how much he loves them. And he does love them. It pours out of every word, a palpable feeling when you read his book. His pride and love are evident in the way he talks about them, though he does admit that he feels frustrated at times, but who doesn’t?
Having seen him in Django Unchained and Baby Driver, I didn’t realize that he was also pretty funny, and an impressive writer. His writing is hilarious and honest – he’s not afraid to talk about his parties with Leonardo DiCaprio, or his time spent hustling at comedy clubs when he was younger, looking for a way to break into the scene.
Despite his unique family structure, he’s able to make it work – though it does take years of work, and therapy. It’s not perfect, but no family is. It doesn’t have to be perfect, either. You just have to be there.
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