Our guest this week is Stewart Perriliat of San Anselmo, CA, who is the father of three, a former U.S. Marine Sergeant, Founder and CEO of Perrilliat Enterprises, a general contracting and engineering firm, an author, ordained minister and founder of Man2Man Urban Youth Advocate.
Stewart is father of three: Jessica (34), Stewart Jr. (18) and Destiny (15).
Stewart is a man on a mission — helping dads be better dads — whether they’re incarcerated or just needing that extra push. Stewart and his team also help men be better men. It’s an inspiring story and one we’ll hear this week on the SFN Dad to Dad Podcast.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/man2man-urban-youth-advocate-1250b247/
Man2Man Urban Youth Advocates – https://www.man2man-uya.org
Please take the SFN Early Intervention Parent Survey and as a token gift, receive a Great Dad Coin – https://tinyurl.com/5n869y2y
Tom Couch: Special thanks to Horizon Therapeutics for sponsoring the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast, working tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics’ mission at HorizonTherapeutics.com.
Stewart Perrilliat: Kids, they don’t care about how much stuff you have. They don’t care about anything more than just being with you. And it doesn’t cost money. We’re talking about going for a bike ride or going fishing or going for a walk or just playing a board game or watching a movie. They just want you. And so that’s the thing that I would say to fathers. Make sure that you’re present, make sure you’re engaged, and make sure that you’re consistent.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest this week, Stewart Perrilliat, former Marine Sergeant, head of Perrilliat Enterprises, author, and ordained minister, and founder of Man 2 Man Urban Youth Advocates. Stewart is a man on a mission to make dads be better dads. Whether they’re incarcerated or just needing that extra push, Stewart and his team help men be better men. It’s an inspiring story and one we’ll hear this week on the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Say hello now to our host, David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to The Dad to Dad Podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs, presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.”
Tom Couch: Now, let’s hear this incredible conversation between David Hirsch and Stewart Perrilliat.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Stewrt Perrilliat of Santa Rosa, California, who’s a father of three, a former US Marine Sergeant, founder and CEO of Perrilliat Enterprises, a general contracting and engineering firm, an author, ordained minister and founder of Man 2 Man Urban Youth Advocate. Stewart, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you, David, for having me.
David Hirsch: You’re the father of three: Jessica 34, Stewart Jr. 18, and Destiny 15. You were also a single dad for the better part of eight years before remarrying more recently. So let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Stewart Perrilliat: Yes. I grew up in East Oakland, California. I am the youngest of three boys. My mom is from the south, from Pensacola, Florida. And my father is from Berkeley, California, whose family migrated from New Orleans. So the Perrilliat name that you have comes from New Orleans is “black” in French. So my grandfather was from France, lived in New Orleans, and that’s how my family came to California.
David Hirsch: Excellent. How long did you stay in Oakland? And then when did you leave?
Stewart Perrilliat: I stayed in Oakland all the way until three days after high school, and then I moved up to Washington State to attend college. But I wanted to learn my way around Seattle, Washington before attending school. I attended school, from that point, just a year. And then I went into the Marines. Came back to Oakland. And at that time, Oakland was the murder capital. And so it was a lot of killings, a lot of drugs, and I just felt like I needed to get out of that environment.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. We’ll come back to that. Out of curiosity, what did your dad do for a living?
Stewart Perrilliat: My dad was a warehouseman. He worked in the warehouse and drove forklifts.
David Hirsch: And is he still with us?
Stewart Perrilliat: No, my dad passed away 10 years ago.
David Hirsch: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. And how about your mom?
Stewart Perrilliat: My mom is still with us. She still lives in the same house that she purchased when I was five years old. I talk to her every day.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. How would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Stewart Perrilliat: My dad and I had a very strange relationship. My father was very abusive, physically as well as verbally. And so we didn’t get along very well. We had many times that we clashed. As I went into the military and in my adulthood, it began to get better.
What I noticed was that was pretty much the same cycle when talking to my grandmother and my mom. That he and his dad had a very rocky beginning during his adolescent and high school years, but when he became an adult, he had a really good relationship with his father. So I didn’t have a really good relationship with my father, but I can say before he left, he and I had reconciled some things and I was able to tell him about what had happened and how that had affected me as a child.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your transparency. And everybody has a different relationship with their parents, moms as well as dads. And the dad relationship seems to be a little bit more complicated for most. Is there an important takeaway or two, a lesson you learned from your dad that you’ve tried to incorporate into your own parenting?
Stewart Perrilliat: Yeah. I think that with my dad, one of the things that I took away from was that, and I didn’t recognize this until I was older, that my father didn’t really have the best of parenting skills, but he was trying to do what I would call a reverse psychology. And I think my dad… And I tell you why I say that, he would do the opposite and say the opposite about me, to want me to do better than he did.
And so he would tell me that I’m not gonna be anything, you’re useless or certain things like that. But he really was trying to say, you know what? I want you to be better than me. But he doesn’t know how to say that. So he will push me the other way to make me do the opposite. You know what I’m saying?
David Hirsch: Oh yeah. I get it. Yeah.
Stewart Perrilliat: Yeah. One of the things that, for example, he would stress the fact that having a friend, that everybody’s not your friend, and that he only had one good friend. And you can’t call everybody your friend, and you can’t trust everybody. But you gotta have one person that you know is for your best interest and that was my father’s training to me. Very militant, even though he has never been in the military.
I can give you this real quick story. When I went into the Marines and I was in boot camp, it was not culture shock for me. [laughing] It was actually what my dad did every day. So I would see other people… Really I would hear them really panicking and going off. But for me, I was like, this feels like home… throwing stuff, garbage cans, hollering and screaming. So he prepared me for that. I don’t know if he knew that. My dad was a really tough type of guy and he raised tough boys.
David Hirsch: Yeah. You can only look back and realize that you can’t connect the dots looking forward. There’s the intended message and then there’s the unintended message. That’s the way I think about it. And it sounds like he was a character, if you’ll allow me to say that. He was challenging you. And maybe an unorthodox way of parenting. But you know that reverse psychology was a way of challenging you to prove him wrong.
Stewart Perrilliat: I agree.
David Hirsch: And maybe that was some of the rocket fuel that you had in your veins, that you took into the military and you realized that hey, inadvertently he had prepared you for more difficult or challenging situations, like I assume serving in the Marines…
Stewart Perrilliat: Yes.
David Hirsch: …must have been a pretty challenging situation to get through bootcamp. So thank you for sharing. I appreciate it.
So from an educational standpoint, my recollection was you took a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Phoenix. You also have a Master’s of arts degree, MA and Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary. And then you just recently completed your doctorate. Congratulations!
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you so much. Thank you. It’s been a five year journey.
David Hirsch: We’re gonna have to refer to you as Dr. Perriliat now, not just Stewart.
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you.
David Hirsch: I love it. My observation is that you have an innate curiosity, right? And you’ve been able to nurture that over your lifetime, which is really important that we are lifelong learners, right? I think it’s an important message to send to your children and those that you know, you mentor, right? That you’re a role model, too. So my hat’s off to you.
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you.
David Hirsch: But along the way, you did some ministry work and I want to focus on that because you started working with street people, that’s your word, not mine, back in the mid ’90s. And I’m wondering what prompted you to do that?
Stewart Perrilliat: [laughing] I didn’t plan on it, I’ll tell you, David. I was dating a woman and they went out for outreach and she invited me and I said, sure I’ll go out. Because I’m with her. And we did a lot of things together and I found that was a natural thing, me being able to relate to homeless people, to people that didn’t fit in the society. And I was preaching to them as if this is something that I had done all my life.
Let me just back up. After the first day that I went out with them, about two weeks after that, the woman who was over the ministry actually told me that she thought that I should be over this ministry and that she was gonna step down and I take over. She wasn’t gonna leave the ministry. She just thought that I would be better at it than her and that was a God thing because, I didn’t know that was what I was good at, which really actually paved, this conversation, David, to how I even got into doing the work that I do now with men. Cause that is what opened up the door. That I saw that there was a gift here for men and for fathers.
David Hirsch: So what was the name of that program way back when?
Stewart Perrilliat: I renamed it. It was called the Harvest Outreach Ministry. It was Maranatha Evangelism Team, but “evangelism” scared people because they thought that they needed to… [laughing] Oh, you’d be surprised. Just words.
David Hirsch: Oh, yeah.
Stewart Perrilliat: And so when people heard “evangelism,” that means that I have to be a preacher. I have to be a minister. I have to know the Bible. Somebody’s gonna ask me something that I don’t know. And so it was very intimidating for them. But when we changed the name to Harvest Outreach, then they was like, I think I can do that. And so that really actually expanded that team from about five people to about 50.
David Hirsch: Oh wow. That’s fabulous. When you say street people, give me a sense for the demographics of the group of people that you’re working with.
Stewart Perrilliat: Okay. So there was a lot of people that lived in remote areas. They lived on the streets, they lived on the freeways. They lived on the sides of freeways where there would be woody areas. They had tents back in those areas. They lived in creeks. They had mental health issues. They had substance abuse issues. And they were just people that you would find in a survival mode. They didn’t have a place to stay. Every day they were surviving just to eat. Some were living in, not even tents, but cardboard boxes. Are digging out of garbage cans to eat. So they were really living way beyond the poverty level.
David Hirsch: Yeah, that’s pretty incredible. And I guess it’s more of a phenomena that you would have people in California living like that year round, as opposed to northern climates where it’s pretty harsh if you don’t have a place to go. And I really admire the work that you were doing as a younger guy because you would’ve been just a young dad during a good part of this experience, right? So you’re married, you have a daughter, and you’re spending a fair amount of time reaching out to other people. That’s not typical that somebody would have that as a calling. And when did you realize that it was a calling for you?
Stewart Perrilliat: I think I realized it was a calling for me when the Lord put this dream in me. And it was a dream that we were going up a hill one day and it was three guys. And they were talking and they were saying, we can’t reach this guy, Stewart, but you can. And I’m like why do you think I can and you can’t? And it’s because I believe this is what you’re supposed to do.
And then there would be other times when we would go out and minister and these individuals would try to win these people to Christ and they couldn’t. And then they would go with me and they’ll see the same people they tried to win. In two minutes, I can win them. God gave me that gift.
For example, I remember one time we was at a bus stop and I was trying to talk to someone and they didn’t wanna talk to me. I said I tell you what, how about you and I have a conversation until the bus comes? Whenever the bus comes, conversation ends. And they said, okay. And we was having this conversation and I started asking questions about common grounds. Do you have any kids? Or where you from? Which team do you like? Just to open up the conversation. And finally this individual gave their life to the Lord.
And this was like in a minute, about, maybe about 10 minutes. And the bus was coming right when I was leading them to Christ. And so that is, I think that would tell you right there if you didn’t know that you were called, that is a full sign that says, this is a special gift that I have, you know.
David Hirsch: Yeah. That’s an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. And I’m assuming that it’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s not like you have one way of doing what it is that you’re referring to, right? You have to size the situation up very quickly and find a common point of connection and try to figure out, not how to shovel the medicine down somebody’s throat, but to open up their mind. And it usually doesn’t happen in 10 minutes, right?
Stewart Perrilliat: No, it normally does not. But once you do it, it’s just like anything else, David. You understand the gift. You understand how you’re supposed to present the gospel. And it would be times that we would take a van, I would call it a drive by, and we would drive by the neighborhood. There would be some guys on the corner. We’d get out the car, we’d ask them, do they have any prayer requests? Pray for ’em, and then get ’em saved and get back in the van and go to the next spot. So it turned out to be a way that God had made it very easy in presenting the gospel, but also connecting with men in a way that was very unusual. And it wasn’t intimidating, it was welcoming.
David Hirsch: Yeah. That’s one of the very first times I’ve heard the phrase “drive by” used with a positive connotation.
Stewart Perrilliat: [laughs heartily] That is totally correct.
David Hirsch: And when I think of the phrase “drive by,” it’s usually with like, “Duck!” Something bad is going down.
Stewart Perrilliat: Yes.
David Hirsch: And anyway I’m hoping we’ll have a chance to dive a little bit deeper, but thank you again for sharing. My recollection was that you’d started doing this work and then it didn’t morph into a formal not-for-profit until around 2015 or 2016. And I’m wondering what was it that prompted you to go from just doing this work to incorporating and trying to do this in the name of a not-for-profit?
Stewart Perrilliat: I actually started it in 2007, David, and it was at Alon College. And a friend of mine asked me to work with the basketball players. And they weren’t graduating and she asked me to mentor them. And she actually came up with the name “Man 2 Man” and she had funding at that time for us to hold these sessions, have dinner.
These individuals were from all over the world. They were from Africa, they were from Philadelphia, Chicago, New York. And we just had a conversation and the conversation was very organic. It was a conversation that you could tell was not rehearsed, but the individuals that were participating were very genuine.
And at that point I’m thinking, that’s really what I’m called to do is really actually reach men. And so in 2016 it became a nonprofit. Our nonprofit is “Man 2 Man Urban Youth Advocate.” So I’m thinking that our goal is really actually to reach the youth until I did the research, as you and I have discussed. And that’s when I found out that it wasn’t the youth. The youth was only a byproduct. The fathers was the issue, the root cause. And that’s where Man 2 Man became more father friendly and really teaching all the aspects of fatherhood along with the issues that men struggle with.
Tom Couch: We’ll be back with more of the conversation on the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast in just a few moments. But first, this quick message. Please help 21st Century Dads gather research on families raising children with special needs by having them complete the Special Fathers Network Early Intervention Parents Survey. A link to the survey can be found in the show notes. As a token of our appreciation, each person, mom or dad, who completes the survey, will receive a Great Dad Coin. Thank you. Now back to the conversation.
David Hirsch: From some humble beginnings and over a nine-year period of time, it morphs into a more formal organization with a variety of programs. And I’d like to run through the programs briefly. I’ve identified five and I think your website is fabulous.
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you.
David Hirsch: Fatherhood courses. What are those and who’s taking those courses?
Stewart Perrilliat: So we have collaborated with some organizations in Oakland. One of them is called the Cypress Mandela Training Center, which is an apprenticeship program for men. We teach conflict resolution. We teach men and emotions. And we teach an emotional intelligence class.
Those participants are also fathers, but not all of them are fathers. So we take the ones that are fathers and we teach them the fatherhood classes on a Saturday. San Quentin State Prison is another one that we were helping fathers while they were incarcerated, teaching them how to be engaged in their children’s life while still being incarcerated. Showing them how to write letters. Showing them empathy and love and how to communicate. And so we have San Quentin, we have Cypress Mandela Training Center. And we have some other organizations that we collaborate. So a lot of these nonprofit organizations are very good at what they do as far as the reentry program or a church that has a men’s program.
But the one piece that they’re saying that they’re missing is that fatherhood component. They’re saying, you know what? We don’t have that fatherhood component and we know we need it. And so would you be willing to collaborate with us? And so it’s not like a standalone, David. It’s more like a collaboration with many organizations. And I always say, I think our program helps enhance other programs that are missing this fatherhood piece.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So is there a multi-week curriculum, the standard course or courses? What does it look like?
Stewart Perrilliat: So for the Cypress Mandela Training Center, it could be a 16-week program. And then we would teach for three weeks Men and Emotions, and then we’ll teach another, I guess it would be four weeks for the Men and Emotions, and then we’ll go right into the Conflict Resolution class, and that would be a six-week program.
Now, all of these classes, David, feeds on each one of them. And sometimes they overlap, but what they all are doing is teaching them how to reach out and have that emotional component that they have cut off. It’s being more vulnerable. Being more transparent. Being able to express how you feel. Being able to effectively communicate. Being able to effectively listen and to recognize miscommunication. Because as we know, miscommunication leads to conflict.
And so we use that in the context of, let’s say if it’s a father and the mothers and I together and you guys are not on the same page, how can you communicate to be on the same page? You want to be able to first listen to what the person says, be able to reiterate and then be able to communicate with them, not because you are trying to be in a relationship with them or you know anything about that. The common ground here is that you all have something in common and you want to be able to work together in raising that child, whether it’s a boy or a girl or whatever.
And so these classes, like I said, they build on each other, but they help in many aspects of the developmental process of really helping these young men in pieces that they lack because they didn’t have fathers.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I was gonna ask you that question, which is, do you poll them at the beginning to get a sense for that issue? By a show of hands, how many of you grew up in father-absent homes?
Stewart Perrilliat: Oh, yes. That is definitely a question. I’ve done this for so long, David, that I already know what the answer is, but I still give them an opportunity to share with me because I could be wrong. But I can say more than about 90% of those classes didn’t have fathers. And then we can start talking from there. That would be the baseline to say, hey, look. Okay. Now we understand that you didn’t have a father. How did that impact your experience of you being incarcerated? You not having a father. How did that interfere with you having bad relationships, but making bad decisions, being on substance? Drinking or whatever the situation is. Because that plays a major part. And they don’t see it, David, until we start talking about it. That’s why the Men and Emotions class is so important, because without that class they’re not gonna be able to open up to you. But what you do is you allow them to be in a safe environment, letting them know that it’s okay to be transparent. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to express yourself. It’s also okay to cry. And now they feel safe. They open up and then they start telling you about their relationship with their dad, how it affected them, how it impacted them, the decisions that they made, why they made those decisions, and then we can build on that.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I love it. And what I heard you say, if I can paraphrase, is that you’re like showing them a blind spot that they have.
Stewart Perrilliat: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: Something that they were unaware of, right? You’ve helped them put things in perspective. They have a framework now for better understanding how they got to where they are. And most of us dads want the best for our kids. And if you didn’t have a good father role model, it’s a little bit more difficult to be a good dad, right? Because you’ve had to get those skills or develop those skills somewhere else. Not impossible, but just one more obstacle to overcome.
So those are the fatherhood courses. Then another program is the Overcoming Man Program. And what is that about?
Stewart Perrilliat: So the Overcoming Man program is really actually showing them what it means to be a man. What are some of the characteristics and attributes of being a man? Now, mind you, David, a lot of these men have grown up without fathers so they have a false identity of what it means to be a man. So they take on the former identity that many people tell them that they are because they don’t know who they are. For instance, you grow up in the area and it’s drug infested and they’re selling drugs. And guys tell ’em, man you’re the shot caller man. You’re the one. You’re a drug dealer, man. And they don’t know who they are, and they like that because it gives them some kind of recognition. And so it’s yeah I’m a drug dealer, or man, you’re a killer man. You’re a killer. Yeah, I’m a killer. I’m a pimp. And so they take on this false identity because they don’t know who they are.
And so overcoming this stereotype of what society says what a man is, we start telling ’em what a real man is and start showing them the characteristics of a man. A man is being responsible. A man is a provider. A man is a person who’s not afraid to express how he feels. A man is a person who’s humble and just everything opposite than what society says, what the characteristic of a man is.
David Hirsch: I love it. Thanks for sharing. So a third program is something you’ve created an acronym around. The acronym is FAST, which stands for Fatherhood Advocacy Support and Training. And what’s that about?
Stewart Perrilliat: Now that’s just our complete fatherhood program. It’s all fatherhood. We’ve created our own curriculum, but we also work with the National Fatherhood Initiative. This is really actually asking questions about how you engage with your children. What do your children talk about? How do you hug your kids? What was your relationship with your father? What was the relationship growing up with your mother and your father, or if you had not had a mother, how did that make you feel? If you didn’t have a father, how… Again, it’s the transparency. It’s a lot of exercises, it’s a lot of role playing. It’s really getting them to really be able to think about fatherhood from a perspective that they never imagined.
And I’ll just give you this story. I like giving stories. But there was one guy, he runs a nonprofit, a very successful nonprofit in Oakland. And a mutual friend of mine told me to reach out to him. Maybe we could do some collaboration. And then the guy went through a divorce and they told him he had to go through some parenting classes. He says, do you teach these classes? And he would tell you in a minute that he was like, this is a bunch of mess. I don’t really wanna take this class, but they’re making me take it. And he said after the very first time, he was like, man, this is great. And he’s one of the greatest advocates for us. I kid you not. He tells everybody, anybody who’s a father that’s going to court that they need to take this Fatherhood Advocacy Support and Training.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I love it. Thanks for sharing. So another one of the programs is entitled Second Chances. And what’s that about?
Stewart Perrilliat: What we do is we teach the fathers in prison how to be fathers. We’re really trying to, and this is what I tell people all the time, my job is to change the way they think. The Bible says that we cannot be conformed to the world, but we have to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We have to start with their mind, because their mind is what makes those kind of bad decisions. Their mind is the one that, you know, even when you talk to ’em that says, you know what? I thought about what I did. And I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. And so it’s about helping them to make the right decisions. It’s about helping them pause for a minute and breathe, walk away from the situation, go back and revisit it. We’re getting men mentally prepared for the transition back into society.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I love it. And it’s really challenging if you have a felony record to get a job. A lot of employers, most employers, will just take a pass, just as a non-starter. So I’m wondering, does the scope of the program include job-readiness or is that really another organization’s responsibility?
Stewart Perrilliat: You’re asking some really good questions, David. I kid you not, I don’t hear people asking these questions, but they’re really good. So what it is when we are mentally preparing these men to transition back in society, it’s the whole man. So we’re getting them prepared mentally while they’re incarcerated. But when they come out, we already have a place for them to stay. I’m working with other organizations, that’s what they do, and so we can work with them. These are some of the collaboration organizations that I work with.
And so they have housing, they have halfway housing, they have stipends, and so we get them in that to start. But of course we gotta make sure that they can work. So then now we have the apprenticeship program, giving them skills in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, cement masonry, and now watch this. This is a 16-week program. They leave that program and then they can go work for PGE, which is Pacific Gas and Electric, or they can go work for BART, or they can go work for Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Now watch this, David. They’re not making minimum wage. These guys are making like $50,000 a year, and the people that hire them know that they’re felons.
David Hirsch: Wow.
Stewart Perrilliat: So they’re taking a chance on them.
David Hirsch: I love that.
Stewart Perrilliat: Yeah. So this is the thing that I tell you that we are really trying to make a difference to the point that everybody’s gonna be successful. The only way that you’re not gonna be successful is because you don’t want to.
David Hirsch: Yeah. There are a lot of guys that get in their own way, right? They just can’t get out of their own way, I should say. And that’s unfortunate. But it seems like you’re giving them all the opportunities that somebody could possibly want to succeed. And then it’s up to the individual to wanna make that happen. So my hat’s off to you.
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you.
David Hirsch: So there’s another aspect of what you do which is, “Can We Have A Conversation?” And I’m wondering where did that start and how has that transpired?
Stewart Perrilliat: We’re having, “Can We Have A Conversation” right now. And the only difference is it’s your show [laughing]. And I’m being honest, I know you’re laughing, but it’s really how we started this program.
I believe that the Lord put this on my heart years ago. Cause I was really praying and crying out to the Lord and saying, I can’t reach them. I don’t seem like I can reach these guys. And I felt like the Lord told me, give them a platform where they can talk. Give them a platform where they can talk about stuff that they never talked about before.
He says, because if you give them that platform, that would de-escalate violence. The only reason they’re killing one another or shooting one another or having the violence is because they want to be heard. And so I came up with, “Can We Have A Conversation?” And they’re not rehearsed conversations. They’re not conversations that are premed. It’s raw. It’s straight. We talk about everything and we don’t hold back any punches, but it’s not rehearsed. However I’m led to have this conversation, we have it as we go. And it’s been very effective. And we talk about all subject matters.
David Hirsch: So you record the conversations. Are they both audio and video?
Stewart Perrilliat: They start off live on YouTube and Facebook and then I transfer them over to our podcast show.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. I know that you’ve built up a pretty significant library and there’s a lot of really rich information there. I just commend you for creating this content, which has a shelf life. So if somebody didn’t participate live, that’s okay. They can go back and listen to one of the recordings or watch one of the videos. And that’s the beauty of podcasting or creating YouTube videos is that they have a evergreen life. And I’m hoping from your lips to God’s ears that, you know, that information will continue to provide people with inspiration and continue to transform people’s lives.
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you. Thank you, David.
David Hirsch: I’m thinking about advice and I’m wondering if there’s some advice you can share with parents and I guess specifically dads about being present.
Stewart Perrilliat: Okay. Let’s just put it this way, David, and most fathers can say this. There’s no manual to fatherhood. There’s no way that we can parent one-size-fits-all. We have to be one, consistent. Two, we have to be engaged. And three, we need to be present. If a father is engaged, if he’s present, if he’s consistent, that’s half the battle because kids want a father that’s involved. Kids want to feel like their father loves them, and even if he makes bad mistakes, we all gonna make bad mistakes. But that’s how you learn by making mistakes. But as long as you can show that you’re consistent, as long as you can show that you’re present, and as long as you can show that you’re engaged, you are 90% past the other stuff. Because kids, they don’t care about how much stuff you have. They don’t care about anything more than just being with you. And it doesn’t cost money. We’re talking about going for a bike ride or going fishing or going for a walk, or just playing a board game or watching a movie. They just want you. And so that’s the thing that I would say to fathers. Make sure that you’re present, make sure you’re engaged, and make sure that you’re consistent.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I love it. Thank you for emphasizing that. I’m wondering, is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Stewart Perrilliat: No, I’d just like to say I think fatherhood has been underrated because we don’t talk about it much. I heard Dr. Blankenhorn, he said the most destructive trend of our society today is fatherlessness. And he says, in every country, fatherlessness is the root cause to 90% of our social ills. And I believe that if we can fix this fatherhood piece, we can heal this country and we can heal this world because we can stop this teenage pregnancy. We can reduce it, I should say. We can reduce the incarceration and the high school dropouts, and the human trafficking and the mental health issues and the suicides and the public health and the public safety issues. If we could just do this part right here. And when fathers understand that and mothers, because some mothers will stop the fathers from being engaged, but they don’t know how that’s impacting their children and at what level. And so that’s why it’s important that fathers and mothers work together and find a way, even though they may not get along, but find a way to work together for the common cause of raising those children so that they can grow up to be productive and healthy.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I love it. Thank you for sharing. Let’s give a special shout out to our mutual friend, Maurice Moore, for making the introduction.
Stewart Perrilliat: Absolutely. Maurice is a good guy, and I’m glad that he introduced me to you. But he said it, he said, once you meet my friend David, you’ll know why I connected you. And it was a great connection and I pray that we stay friends and that it won’t stop with this podcast, but we’ll continue to do the work that we are doing.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Maurice and I go back about 25 years when he was at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore. And we hit it off, right? It was just like, birds of the same feather. And they were an early supporter of what we had started back in Chicago, which was the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. And we’ve maintained our friendship over two and a half decades. So I’m very grateful for that friendship and that he’s introduced us, and I’m hoping that our paths will continue to cross. So if somebody wants to learn more about Man 2 Man Urban Youth Advocate or to contact you, what’s the best way to do that?
Stewart Perrilliat: They can contact us on our website. They can see if they wanna read more about it. It’s Man2Man-uya.org. If you want to send us an email, we can be emailed at Man2Man@Man2Man-uya.org.
David Hirsch: We’ll be sure to include those in the show notes. That’ll make it as easy as possible for somebody to follow up. Stewart, thank you for taking the time and many insights. As a reminder, Stewart is just one of the dads who’s part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st Century Dads Foundation is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tax-deductible contribution? I would really appreciate your support. Stewart, thanks again.
Stewart Perrilliat: Thank you, David, for having me. Appreciate it.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children match up with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support other dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.” Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story, please send an email to David@21stCenturyDads.org.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast was produced by me, Tom Couch.
Thanks again to Horizon Therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives. That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics at HorizonTherapeutics.com.