Growing Up Daddy

This month the groundbreaking one-man play about fatherhood, Growing up Daddy, returns to the stage. Written by spoken word phenomena Kraal “Kayo” Charles, the play uses poetry and hip hop to explore what happens when a rising artist-entrepreneur is  faced with becoming a father. Performed on three nights at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe, the play is sure to leave an impact on all who attend.

The official Facebook page for Growing Up Daddy is also hosting a ticket giveaway. Three winners will be chosen to receive a pair of tickets to see the show. Visit here.

For tickets and additional information, visit

BronxMama had a chance to ask Kraal “Kayo” Charles some questions about himself and the play, and explore his views on what it means to be a father in today’s society. Can you give me a little insight to the year you found out you were going to be a father?
Kraal “Kayo” Charles: The day I found out I was going to be a father was a scary one. Knowing that I will have to take on a new responsibility was something I just wasn’t prepared for. Daunting.

BronxMama: You have spoken about how being present is a key factor that fatherhood encompasses. Why do you think so many fathers believe other efforts to be the most important? Why do you think being a provider is usually the first thought when a father comes to mind?

Kraal: A child knowing that his/her father is there I believe is most important to a child’s development.  His/Her understanding that she is on solid ground. Most mothers are present, but sometimes we don’t under stand how important and necessary a father is to a child’s upbringing.  Many are not around because of their financial situation.  They feel since they can’t contribute financially they might as well not be there at all.  Growing Up Daddy speaks about that in depth.  Some fathers are always in altercations with the mother(this is often financial also).  They constantly argue and sanity doesn’t kick in,  which causes the father to exit the situation to recover his sanity.

Most men believe that their entire responsibility is financial. In this society the man is suppose to be the provider. It’s in their DNA.  Of course in today’s society that isn’t often the case.  There are in fact stay at home dads or the mother just may make money than the father.  Overall, I don’t think a man necessarily has to be the sole provider, but he does need to contribute financially to his child’s well being.

Bronxmama: Aside from the obvious affects being a present father has on a child, what are some of the affects you feel it has on a child once once they become an adult?

Kraal: As an adult, knowing where you come from gives you an amazing confidence and a firm standing in today’s Society.  Absent a father, children are more likely to be lost in societies negative indulgences.  Absent a father leaves questions unanswered as an adult, which may lead to a self esteem problems.  “Why did he leave?”  “What is wrong with me?”  The statistics don’t lie the “Fatherhood Factor” affects Education, drug & alcohol abuse, crime, incarceration & child abuse all facets of life.
BronxMama: For men who grew up without a father, where can they look to for inspiration or support when it’s time to raise their own children?

There are several father organizations out there in support of fathers.  Two of the organizations I am affiliated with are The Real Dads Network and the Furthering Fathering Corporation. These are two organizations created to support and provide resources for single fathers.

BronxMama: Do you feel like because of so many cases of fathers who are not involved with their children, it has lowered our standards and expectations for what it means to be a father? Why or why not?

Kraal: I remember a joke by Chris Rock talking about men with low expectations. Men that say in a boasting way “I take care of my kids!”  Then Chris Rock goes on to say “Your suppose to take care of your kids!”  We are suppose to take care of our children.  It should be the norm and not the exception. So yes, we have lowered our standards.

BronxMama: In addition to spoken word, the show has a large hip hop component, do you feel there is a lacking influence from hip hip artists on the subject of fatherhood? What would you like to see more of?

Kraal: I can agree with that statement.  The last time I heard a song dedicated to fatherhood within hip hop was in the early 90″s (Ed O G and the Bulldogs “Be A Father To Your Child”).  There may be other songs that exist today, but they are not getting the radio play.
BronxMama: What do you hope the fathers in the audience will bring home from seeing Growing Up Daddy? What message should women and/or mothers take home from this?

Kraal: I believe there are several messages within my play.  I want the men to leave knowing that there are other men that go through the same situations.  I want the women/mothers  to look inside the mind of man and see the internal as well as external struggles he may encounter.  But overall a father needs to know that his experiences in life is what would better create an understanding of the world for his children and he needs to be present in their lives for them to receive that message.

BronxMama: They watch the show. They feel inspired. What’s next? Do you have any plans for upcoming projects involving this initiative?

Kraal: Yes, I plan to continue traveling this nation performing the play and facilitating workshops on this subject.  I would like to speak to primarily men of color as so many social issues in America affect African American men and statistics show that the problems/ issues they encounter stems from their fatherless upbringing.

BronxMama: How has writing this play changed you?

Kraal: I often say that this play was written to continue the conversation of fatherhood, but its much more than that to me.  Initially, this wasn’t mean to be a play.  It started off as an internal conversation that I put to paper.This play is a reminder to me that no matter the trials or tribulations in life I go through as a man, I have to be there for my children.  It also pushes me- I have to be more responsible.   I have to be as PRESENT as possible.  I have to be…

This play has been my therapy.

I have been approached by several men of my age and younger who has told me that this play has encouraged them to be better fathers.  So I can say this play has not only changed me, but changed others.

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