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Fathers of the year: Expectations are the key
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For the Children Partners in Prevention’s Fathers of the Year are Howard Chism (second from left), nominated by his daughter, Samaria Chism (left), and James Joyce (second from right), nominated by his daughter, Maranda Joyce (right). (Bulletin photo by Holly Kozelsky)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Accent Editor

Setting clear guidelines for children makes family life about enjoying each other’s company instead of worrying about rules and punishments.

That seems to be the experience of the two fathers of the year, Howard Chism of Martinsville and James Joyce of Axton.

The awards were given by For the Children Partners in Prevention at Friday’s Fatherhood Summit at Moral Hill Missionary Baptist Church. About 100 people attended the event.

Chism was nominated by his daughter, Samaria, 11. Joyce was nominated by his daughter, Maranda, 13.

Samaria described being a good father as “to be a man and to hold responsibilities.” A father should live in a way that his child would “like to be like him,” she said.

She describes her father as outgoing, hard-working and fun-loving. “When he loves somebody, he just loves them hard,” she added.

Maranda said her father always makes time to join her in what she wants to do and to help with anything she needs. She said he takes her shopping, plays softball with her, watches TV with her and cooks often. “If they don’t want to do anything with you, then the child will be unhappy,” she added.

Both fathers said they don’t have specific plans for punishments because their children know the rules and expectations — and that they have to follow them.

“At times he’ll put his foot down,” Samaria said. “There’s guidelines of what to do and what not to do.” For example, they are not allowed to eat in the living room, she said.

Maranda said her father is “kind of easygoing,” but she knows his boundaries. She has to be home when she is expected. If her father takes her somewhere, she has to make her requests before they leave. He can’t be talked into switching plans on a whim.

Fathers “don’t let you do whatever you want,” Maranda said, only “what’s safe for you. They help you understand why or why not” you can do things.

“It’s a new age,” Howard Chism said. When he misbehaved as a boy, “I used to get my butt whipped. I do more fussing at them (his children) than anything. They have it made now as kids,” he chuckled.

Both fathers pointed out that a man must set strong limits for his children, because adults know about dangers and troubles that children cannot imagine.

They said society is different now from when they were young. When they were boys, they had many more chores to do, such as chopping wood. They also had greater freedom to play outside away from their parents’ view.

Children today have an easier lifestyle, they said, with more entertainment and less work. On the other hand, they can’t play freely outside. There are too many potential dangers.

Thanks to the Internet, many new dangers are accessible from home, both fathers agreed. “Now you watch in a different way,” James Joyce said.

Both men said they keep a close eye on their children’s online presence. Chism watches how Samaria uses the Internet. James is “friends” with all of the contacts his daughter has on Facebook and Instagram so he can see what they all are talking about and looking at. Maranda said his involvement prevents her from posting too much online.

When it comes to money, neither girl gets an allowance, but both said their fathers give them money for chores. Both said their fathers expect the house to be clean. The men keep their homes tidy and expect their daughters to do the same.

“My mom taught me a lot when I was growing up,” Chism said, such as “cooking and cleaning and knowing how to raise children. It’s what makes strong families.”

Joyce’s family includes his wife, Lisa, and daughters, Kasey Joyce, who was just graduated from Roanoke College, and Kerri Joyce of Bassett. Chism’s family includes his wife, Fredricka, and two sons, Domunique, 17, and Xavier, 13.

Chism said he has noticed he is stricter on Samaria than he has been on her older brothers: “I only have one little girl, and I’ve got to watch out for her. It may not be fair, but that’s the way it is.”

Patricia Carter, executive director of For the Children, said the strong role fathers play protects children not only in the present time but also for the future.

“You teach them that you love them, and they don’t have to look for that attention in bad place,” she said.

The awards program was funded with a grant to promote responsible fatherhood from the Virginia Department of Social Services, Carter said.

Nomination forms were sent to churches and all area schools.


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