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A Conversation with Anwan R. Wesley

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Twenty-four-year-old Anwan Wesley of East Liberty is about to publish Fatherhood magazine -- with some emphasis on the hood. He is an unmarried father of two sons, ages 6 and 1 ½, and a student in business administration at Duff's Business Institute. The first issue is planned for the second week in February.

 

 

Where did you get the idea?

When I was having my second son, going to doctor's appointments. I was looking around for some literature to read for myself. I couldn't find some for men, period. I decided then I was going to do it myself.

 

What makes you believe you can give good advice?

I have countless nephews and nieces I have taken care of. I've run after-school programs [for] ages 5 through 17 -- Operation Nehemiah in the East Hills. I did pre-school teaching at UPMC Matilda Theiss [Health Center in Oakland]. I've worked with special-needs kids, ages 6 months to 5 years, and run a summer arts camp through Petra International Ministries in East Hills for kids 7 to 14. I also work with the Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Larimer in their mentor program for Reizenstein Middle School.

 

Fatherhood, your brochure says, is especially for "young, minority and expecting" fathers. What's particularly important for these fathers to know?

These young fathers grew up with absent fathers, without any examples. They're just winging it. They really don't know how to ask for help. We will focus on the racism issue because it is relevant. America is real diverse: When you're raising the child, you want his mind to be diverse also. It's important for the minorities to notice it's OK to associate with different races and religions. There's so many things you need to prepare for -- clothing, doctor's appointments, talking to the baby, just so many things the average man doesn't know. One of the things is being present, so the baby knows who you are.

 

You don't have custody of your sons. Are there special child-rearing issues there?

As long as I am doing my part, having my hand in raising them, there's no problems with them. I have good women behind me. They're strong women, great mothers. They know that I'll always be there for them. We're adults and we try to act like it. We don't expose them to anything negative.

 

Is a magazine the best aid for fathers?

A class isn't going to do it. They need to see something in writing. They need to see somebody in action. They want to feel like they're not alone.

 

What articles are planned for the first issue?

We're going to be talking about what a father means, your health and your kids, helping your spouse with [her] pregnancy. We'll be giving legal advice, some inspiration. We'll definitely go into parental rights for fathers, grooming tips for men and their children, and quality-time tips, and also crib and fire safety. We'll also give book reviews and age-appropriate books and activities. We have a music section. We'll definitely have a write-up on the Steelers and all the hometown sports. I have an interview with my brother, Ahmad Wesley, because he's a young father like myself and we are both doing our part, getting involved in the community. He's a supervisor at the YMCA in Homewood; he supervises [at] the Brightside Academies. He has a daughter with disabilities, going through some things. ... That's what the fathers need to know -- that somebody cares about [his] children. He's doing the right thing.

 

Some people would say doing the right thing would be marrying one of your kids' mothers.

I would hope to marry for love, not for children. You don't want to have them seeing you with a woman you don't truly love. Half of the marriages in the U.S. end up in divorce anyway. You're better off making it work out.

 

And you've never been to court to establish official custody or support payments?

Dragging me through the court system is not going to do for my child what I'm doing. In fact it's going to drive people away. Every relationship can't be like mine. I'm definitely fortunate. I grew up in a home with my dad part of the time, so I know how married people act with the kids. It doesn't matter if you're married or single; we all go through the same thing. Being a single father, I get that one-on-one time with my kids. I believe it helps more. I believe I understand more and he can open up more. As a child gets older, he gets more independent and keeps more to himself. We're going to give some strategies for helping the parents understand their child more. The times are changing, and we have to change our parenting style.

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