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Antoine Butler, Sr. - Story of Fatherhood

A little about Antoine…

Antoine is a father of 3 and a Senior Developer for HZDG. He blogs about technology and promotes diversity in its space. Recently, he was invited to speak at an industry conference this spring. He prides himself on maintaining a great work-life balance. He spends a large of chunk of his free time dedicated to his children’s activities, including karate and gymnastics.

What’s your philosophy on fatherhood?

Above all else, my philosophy can be summed up as “be there.” All of the money and luxuries in the world pale in comparison to just being present. I try and make sure I do something one on one with the kids. I play chess with AJ, checkers with Mia, and tag with Nathan. I make it to more practices than I miss, and try to ensure that there is always someone around to cheer them on in the adventure we call life.

What’s one of your favorite childhood memories with your dad?

I honestly don’t have one and perhaps that’s what motivates me now. We didn’t have much money growing up, so I’ve never thought that was the key to being a good father. Being raised by a single mother, I just want to make sure that I’m better at it than my dad was.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had in being a father?

Leading by example while acknowledging I am not the epitome of a “man.” Whether it’s showing my sons what it is to be strong, emphasizing the importance of honor and bravery, or showing my daughter that emotion isn’t weakness, I want them to take cues from my behavior but also understand that I’m not perfect.

“All the money and luxuries in the world pale in comparison to just being present.”

How have you managed balancing parenthood and career/entrepreneurship?

When my eldest was born, we had the best balance ever. I worked seven- hour days and my wife worked from home twice a week. Then, I went into management and worked further from home. My office time and commuting time both increased. Now, I work from home when I need to ; otherwise, I’m 20 minutes from home in a kid-friendly office. I don’t freelance as much as I used to, and I accept that it’s OK to divide and conquer at home. Sometimes I take AJ to karate and she takes Mia to gymnastics, or vice versa.

What was something unexpected about parenting/fatherhood you learned after becoming a father?

Your time is never truly your own. it takes a great deal of planning and scheduling to create a block of time that’s 100% for you. A healthy and active family means a turbulent schedule, but that turbulence shouldn’t keep you from having “me” time. It just makes it harder to find. But even though it can be difficult on your calendar and your conscience, it’s OK to be selfish every now and then.

Are you living your dream of fatherhood or are you chasing it?

Most days in most ways, I’m living the dream. The kids are healthy, happy and generally well-adjusted members of our community. I have a house, reliable car, and a job I enjoy. A son who hates confrontation, but is capable and willing to end one. A daughter who values her strength and intelligence above her beauty. And another son, who at 19 months old is following in his older siblings’ footsteps. I’d love to travel more, a lot more—but that’s more or less my only complaint.

What one piece of advice you would give to other fathers?

The same advice I give mothers: “Don’t read too much.” That translates to, “Trust yourself.” Trust your instincts and learn from your mistakes. Parenting books are designed to make you feel inadequate. Be a good person, and make your one goal for your kids to be even a little bit better than you.

You can see Antoine speak at the 2014 CSS Conf, May 27th, 2014 Amelia Island, Florida you can also follow him on Twitter @aebsr

Honor Badges are one on one interviews with real dads. The series features successful entrepreneurs, working dads and stay at home dads. Interviews cover topics like work life balance, parenting, and lessons in fatherhood.

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