The most frightening words a Father can hear from his daughter are, “Daddy, can you do my hair?”
Darious Bland, a Single Dad and a valuable member of the Blended and Black community, recently sat down with me to share his journey to becoming a Daddy Hair Guru! Darious has been featured in Huffington Post, Vibe, The Root and countless news outlets! Check out the gems he shared with B&B!
We all know that necessity breeds innovation, so what led to you becoming so good at styling your daughter’s hair?
My mom would style my daughter’s hair for the longest, then one day my mom was nowhere to be fouund and I couldn’t do a ponytail so I knew I had to learn the basics. My mom taught me the basics, but friends and family members, as well as trial and error, taught me what types of products to use and how to do new styles. It took me an entire summer to learn how to part, twist, and put different types of hairbows on. My daughter actually prefers me to do her hair above anyone else now. My mom was styling my daughter’s hair one day and she called to tell me that my daughter told her, “That’s not how my daddy does it, it’s not coming out right, call my daddy.” I style my daughter’s hair in different ways to encourage her to love her hair. I do styles such as afros, 2 strand twists, flat twists, and twist outs. I tell her how beautiful she is and that I love her curls and hair texture. I also put pictures in front of her to reinforce positive self-imagery like the coloring book called “Color My Fro” which I gave out during the “Can Daddy Do My Hair?” class. I will be posting videos to encourage men to try different styles, as well as find different ways to spend time and encourage their daughters to love their natural selves.
What inspired the class?
What inspired us to host the class was other women honestly. My daughter would get many compliments from various women about her hair while we would be out, only for her to say, “My daddy did my hair!” with a grin. The looks the women gave me were of complete astonishment. They would tell me about the time their father did their hair as if it was a horror story. So, we figured if I was in this position before, that other men would be also, and if I wanted to learn, then so would they. We want it to be in a comfortable setting where they know someone that could relate to their struggles. The class is aimed at changing the horror story of “the time daddy did my hair” into a “happily ever after.”
You mentioned that you’ve been a Single Dad for 7 years. Do you have your daughter full time?
Yes ma’am! She’s been with me since she was 3. I was awarded custody in 2014. She is 10 now.
Aside from doing hair , what’s the toughest part about being a single dad?
Availability. There are times where I need to be in 10 places at once and I have to decide what are the most important things to do. I am thankful for having a big support system in my family and friends!
What are your views on marriage, relationships?
I love seeing people in love! Relationships have their ups and downs, but should be enjoyed. Relationships and dating also shows you what you are and are not willing to accept in a Spouse. Don’t be afraid to let a person go! Marriage is a commitment to the person you exchange vows with. You are partners and that should support one another. The intention should be to grow together so that your relationship can handle the many issues that life will bring!
When should dads introduce a new love interest to their kids?
I really think that there is truly no right time. There should be a foundation in your relationship so that you expect to be in each other’s lives for the long haul. Anywhere above 3 months if I had to make a call. Test the waters with things like dinner, trips to the park, ice cream, etc. Be cautious of bring multiple love interests around your child(ren), because attachment issues can arise. Be patient because not all kids are open to their parent bringing in someone new.
How is your co-parenting relationship currently?
It has its ups and downs, but I try to do what’s in the best interest of my daughter no matter what life throws my way. Communication resolves a lot of issues. Keep everyone informed. Even if it’s a co-parent’s family member that doesn’t care for you, they’ll come to appreciate your efforts as to being informative of the child’s schedule and life events!
Let’s talk about hair! What’s the 1st thing you say to dads that are intimidated by styling their daughters’ hair?
Jump in! Most girls are going to love the fact that their dad is doing their hair! Mistakes are going to be made. You’re going to do something that might make her yell “OUCH.” Girls usually are used to things like this because women aren’t as forgiving when the girls say “OUCH”. Growing up in my home it was always an “OUCH YOU’RE HURTING ME!” followed by a “Girl, be quiet, you’ll be OK!” or a “Hush and turn yo’ head before I pop you with this comb.” Sit down with someone that you can be a remedial student with. Start with the basics: proper detangling techniques, parting, correct products to use, and the many uses of hair supplies. The ponytail might look easy, but it is one of the hardest styles to master! Don’t start off on day 1 wanting to be a master at braiding.
Have you experienced Dad guilt? If so, how did you overcome it?
I never really thought of it actually being dad guilt. I do recall being unhappy because I had to work instead of spending time with my daughter on many occasions. One in particular was when she was first born; it was the Wednesday before Father’s Day. We left the hospital on Saturday and I was back at work on Sunday. I didn’t get to truly enjoy my first father’s day with my child. It is truly hard to turn down a child who wants you to take off from work just to spend time with you. I planned time out and set money aside for things she wants to do. During my free time and off days I go to her school and have lunch, or throw her a pizza/ tea party on my birthday because her birthday is in the summer. I find ways to make memorable moments.
What advice can you give a man on how to successfully raise his Black daughter?
In the world we live in our girls constantly stare at images of beautiful women that look nothing like them, unattainable images, so their beauty standards are conditioned by what they see. Put images of successful and beautiful women of color in front of them to help show them their natural self is beautiful! Speak to them about what you see. Phrases like “You are beautiful”, “I love your curls/hair”(especially in its natural state), “Your beautiful brown skin is amazing”, and “How do you look so amazing everyday?!?!?”(when she wakes up). Also, be sure to constantly remind her of how academically smart she is! Everyone loves compliments, and to get them from the most important male figure in her life will stick with her as she grows. This allows her to know that she is beautiful and that she’s enough!
What’s the end goal with your company?
Our goal is to reach every man that wants to learn a new skill while finding a unique way to spend quality time with their daughters. We hope to teach LeBron James, Steph Curry, J. Cole, Chris Brown, Chance the Rapper, Jay-Z and any other infleuencer that has a daughter. I would love to work with big hair brands as well! The sky is the limit!
I really wish I had superpowers. If I had to choose one super-power, I would love to be able to teleport. That way, I could have cheese eggs, bacon and grits with my Grandma in Memphis every morning, go for a mid-day swim in Antigua while listening to God, have lunch in Rome with perfect strangers and be home in time for dinner with my Husband in Harlem, NYC. I also run MissNaja.com- a blog dedicated to Redefining The Domestic Woman.