By: Ebony T.

What is your definition of a “cool dad?” Do you have a “cool dad” or “cool” male figure in your life?

Bayou Beat News spoke to the co-founders of Cool Dad, Kevin Barnett and Arvy Lim, about what they are doing in the community for kids or young adults who do not have a positive male figure in their lives.

Bayou Beat News: What is Cool Dad and why did you two decide to collaborate?

Kevin: Cool Dad is geared towards having a major influence, specifically to men of color, to become emotionally and physically present fathers. Arvy and I are both fathers. We met at a previous retail job. Before I became a father, I recognized how great of a father Arvy really was [still is] — between his work life and family life — how it transcends to fatherhood. During that time, I couldn’t find information and resources that would help me with my next chapter — fatherhood. I reached out to Arvy with my ideas and that’s how Cool Dad came about. We wanted to help other men in our community by providing them with valuable resources.

Bayou Beat News: Arvy, you have a son, 5, and a daughter, 12. Kevin, you have a 3-year-old daughter. How is it raising your kid(s) and what lessons have you learned so far — due to the age gap and genders?

Kevin: I didn’t realize how much I needed a daughter. My daughter has changed my life completely. I’m more emotionally connected to myself — thanks to my wife and daughter. The things I’m learning from my daughter will help me to better support her as she grows. She will need a dad who is empathetic.

Arvy: There’s so much love in my household. I’m always hugging and comforting my daughter — as well as my son. They are exposed to so many things in the world right now. I’m teaching my daughter tough love, but showing affection and support. For my son, it’s second nature to have tough love. I want to teach him now to clean up after himself and don’t fall into the stereotype that men/boys are messy.

Bayou Beat News: What advice would you give to another man/young boy who doesn’t have his father in his life? How do you teach them about forgiveness and breaking cycles?

Kevin: I think because I am a product of a broken home — my father was in and out of my life. My best advice to give to a man, child, son is “you are someone and you are loved.” That was a void in my life, due to my mom being the only one in my life. Just because your parents are not together, that doesn’t mean it’s your burden to bare. It will be great for young men to have self-love and find a mentor who cares. Every man needs to know and understand that we are in control of our narrative.

Arvy: Every broken man needs to know that they are not at fault for any decision their father is responsible for. Healing takes time and they need to be around someone that understands them and could help guide them toward a healthy life and future.

Cool Dad is hosting an initiative this month, Color Box, designed to ensure underserved kids receive Christmas presents this year amid the pandemic.

Now through Nov. 30, a number of businesses in the greater Houston area will host drop off sites for donations such as toys, electronics and new clothing. Gifts will be wrapped by Cool Dad members, then donated to children at the Allen Parkway Boys & Girls Club.