Advice to fathers: Love your family

DeShean Garrett plays with daughters Tiana, 4, and Tiera, 11 months, at their home in Summerville.

Becoming a father is a fairly simple biological process that requires little effort, but being a father, a good father, one that is well regarded by his offspring, takes perseverance, love and dedication, according to two local dads.

In honor of Father’s Day, The Post and Courier asked two local pastors to recommend men from their churches to share their views on what it takes be a good father.

Although the two men are in different stages of their lives and of fatherhood, they had similar suggestions when asked what advice they would offer to other fathers.

DeShean Garrett, 35, of Summerville, has two daughters, Tiana, 4, and Tiera, 11 months. He and his wife, Tasha, met in church in Fayetteville, N.C., and have been married for eight years. Garrett was born in Maryland but grew up all over the world as his father was in the Army. He is a computer engineer at SPAWAR and his wife is a schoolteacher. Garrett is a deacon at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, where he, his wife and children attend services regularly.

Rhett Iler, 62, of James Island, is retired from the Air Force. He and his wife of 37 years, Linda, moved from Nebraska to Charleston in 2008 so they could help take care of Linda’s mother, who needs assistance.

They are living in his mother-in-law’s house in Riverland Terrace. He has a 30-year-old son, Andrew, who lives in Nebraska, where he is married and has a 5-year-old son. The Ilers attend James Island Baptist Church in Riverland Terrace.

We asked the same six questions of each man. Here are there answers.

Q: What do you think of your own father? Is he still alive? Will you see him on Father’s Day?

Garrett: “I thought he was great. He was in the Army. He’s retired now for 30 years.”

The family moved all over the country while Garrett was growing up. But his parents were active in church, Garrett said.

“I was raised in the church, singing in the choir, being part of youth groups. My father is a deacon and my grandfather is a deacon.”

His father serves as a deacon at the church in Fayetteville where Garrett met his wife. His mother’s father, who is 93 years old, serves as deacon at a church in the Upstate. Though Garrett won’t be seeing his father this year on Father’s Day, he and his wife often go back to Fayetteville, where her father also lives, Garrett said.

Iler: “He did a great job. He was responsible. He set a good example.”

Iler was born while his father was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base. His father died in 1970 while Iler was still in high school. Iler chokes back tears when talking about his father. He wishes he had lived longer, he said.

Q: When you were a child, what did you imagine your adult life would be like?

Garrett: “I knew I wanted a job where I could be in one place. I didn’t want to move around. But I do like to travel.”

His job as a computer engineer at SPAWAR, where he’s worked for 13 years, gives him opportunities for travel but also has allowed him to put down roots, he said. He and his wife have lived in their home in Summerville for seven years.

Iler: “I wasn’t sure I was going to have children. My father had trouble feeding six children on a master sergeant’s salary.”

Iler and his wife waited until they felt they could afford children before they had their son.

Q: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Garrett: “That there would be more love. Especially now with social media. People should encourage each other and lift each other up rather than be so quick to tear each other down.”

Iler: “I wish that more people would know Jesus Christ. That would change the word significantly.”

Q: What do you think your children will say about you 20 years from now?

Garrett: “I think they’ll say, ‘He was a loving father, a loving husband, a strong man of God, a hard worker and a caring person.’”

Iler: “I’d like for him to think of me the same way that I think of my dad.”

5. How does your faith shape the way you act as a father?

Garrett: “It makes me conscious and aware of not just what I say, but what I do. And it gives me guidelines for how I should raise my children so they will grow up to be well-rounded, respected, healthy, good individuals.”

Iler: “It shapes everything you do. It permeates your life. It’s like a fall-back safety that helps you evaluate what you’re doing and what to do next.”

Q: What advice do you have for other fathers?

Garrett: “Love your children’s mother. They get to see what love looks like, what a healthy relationship looks like, and, by extension, by loving their mother, you are loving them also.”

Iler: “Love your family. Be responsible. There are so many opportunities to run away, to quit. That’s what drives the divorce rate. And look to the future, the long-range. The first answer that comes to mind isn’t always the best one.”