When gospel music favorite Marvin Sapp suddenly lost his wife MaLinda to colon cancer in 2010, he took on the role of being a single parent to their three teenage children. Since her passing, he’s spoken out often about stepping up to the plate to continue raising his kids as best he could while simultaneously dealing with the often overwhelming grief of losing his wife.
Marvin recently opened up about the challenges and rewards of being a single dad in a quick chat with The Huffington Post just ahead of Father’s Day.
Speaking to the outlet, he admitted that he was initially apprehensive and shocked when he realized he’d be a single father. “It was a shock, just simply because I had to try figure it out while I was trying to heal at the same time,” he said. “And when you’re dealing with the whole process and aspect of mourning, as a single father I had to put my personal emotions on the back-burner in order to make sure I was raising healthy young people. So it was a time of literally prioritizing, ‘Am I going to deal with my emotions, right now, or can I just put my emotions to the side and make sure that I’m raising healthy, productive young people?’ So it was a time of prioritizing and going back and forth. And I think I did pretty well. My kids are well-rounded, they’re healthy, they’re doing exceptionally well, and I think that I’m doing well emotionally, also.”
The couple’s children, who are now 17, 19 and 22, were all still teens when their mother passed, making Marvin’s task as their lone parent that much more trying.
Speaking specifically on some of the challenges he overcame with raising two teen girls who were growing into young women, he went into candid detail about his experiences guiding his daughters through things like their first menstrual cycles and dating as best he could. “Man, that was the challenge. Boys are different. I was a boy, so it was kind of easy with my son, but with the girls I had to tap into the maternal side and be a little more sensitive, and going to the store and purchasing things that I’ve never had to purchase before,” he told the outlet. “Doing a lot of Googling and reading about cramps and things of that nature so that I can have some understanding of what my daughters were going through. And also having those very direct conversations with them about dating. I couldn’t depend upon their mother to be there and I just had to, for the sake of a better word, “man up” and have those direct conversations with them about what my expectations were as their father.”
He went on to acknowledge the bad rap that single Black fathers often get, but emphasized the need for more of society to become aware of the large number of Black men who are holding down households or remaining active, committed figures in their children’s lives. “Every black man out here doesn’t have multiple children by multiple women. Every black man out here isn’t a deadbeat father who has tens of thousands of dollars worth of back child support that he’s not willing to pay and won’t get a job to do so. But there are some African-American men out here who are doing the very best they can, be it, if they’re single fathers like me, because they’re being a widower, or if their wife made the decision to walk off and leave with the children. There’s a lot of us out here that are serious about being integral, strong, upstanding men who are serious about making an impact in the lives of their children.”
Marvin also gave his thoughts on the importance of parents exposing children today to realities outside of the Internet, social media and television, solutions for decreasing misconceptions about single Black fathers and much more. You can read the full interview here.
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