A good parent is an honest one. It’s okay to say I don’t know when they ask life’s complex questions. My children ask me questions all the time that I’ve never thought about. My answer is usually, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Hashim Lafond.
Hashim is the artist, director, producer and brand influencer in Los Angeles, California who everyone wants to meet. As a renowned mural artist, Lafond’s large-scale street art has attracted thousands of viewers to LA’s busiest spots such as the famous Melrose Arts District, NBCUniversal and to businesses throughout the area who have commissioned his works. Hashim, the triple threat, also acts in blockbuster movies such as Ted 2, The Equalizer, and The Purge 3 as well as TV shows including: Forever, The Mindy Project and This Is Us. Hashim’s success in producing versatile films is a testament to his visual creativity and ability to attract a great audience through his diverse artistic pursuits, for which he has gained thousands of followers as well as interest and commissions from major brands like Nike and personalities such as Kevin Hart and Ariana Grande.
As of recently, Hashim has been featured twice on People Magazine for his Kobe & Gianna Bryant murals.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I come from a large family in Boston, Massachusetts. I am my mother’s sixth child, but my next sibling is 11 years older than me. Being the youngest, they all told me what to do. My mother, who was an art teacher, brainwashed us all to be artists. Whenever I said I was bored, she would challenge us by saying “artists don’t get bored.” My father, who was also a perfectionist, would critique my childhood drawings, sending me back to work on doodles two and three times. Today I am a multi-disciplined artist — a producer, painter, actor, musician. I take pride in my work and make sure that I go back several times to get it ‘just right.’ As it happened, my parents were right.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
There have been a lot of great mentors and many teachers who have supported me through my career. My wife, who I met in the Boston Academy of Fine Arts, is a classically trained dancer who has a similar drive and work ethic. We do a lot of joint projects, brainstorming, and always work as a team. There is great strength in numbers, and this is our outlook as we raise five little artists.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
It varies. One day I’m painting a mural in Hollywood. Another day I am filming. Another day I am modeling with my wife and children. Whenever I get some down time, I’ll write and prepare for the next time I have enough time to do my own projects. Whatever I’m doing, I’m always extremely busy and meeting deadlines.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?
I have worked with children for most of my career. As a father of five children, a Former Disney Host, a Sunday School teacher and the Performing Arts Director for the Boys and Girls Club, I realized how much children truly need attention early on. While writing this, I clapped for my youngest son as he made his first two steps and the joy that he expressed to know that his daddy was proud of him is indescribable. A few minutes before that, I showed my five-year-old how I draw on my ipad. She created a masterpiece that she tells everyone about. Their identity is dependent on what we build and cultivate in them.
On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?
They are watching, whether I like it or not. They are so much more observant than we give them credit for. Whenever I look at my one-year-old, he’s looking at me. When I hold him, he’s feeling me breathe. When my children do things, they know I don’t like, they look at me to see how I will react. When they make an accomplishment, they want me to be proud. I am now aware of this. They want my approval.
According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?
When I first found out we were expecting. I immediately sought counsel from any noble father in the community. I asked one father in his seventies for advice. His response was simple but impactful, “spend time.” I beckoned for him to elaborate because he wasn’t going to get away with just that. He explained, “I took my daughter to Disney World, took her to every amusement park, bought her all types of things, but the thing she remembered most was, ‘Daddy, remember you used to push me on the swings’.”
I took that advice, and though we live an event-filled life. I have learned and continue to learn to be fully present in those moments, to fill those moments with life.
One time I caught my three-year-old drawing on the wall at Staples while I was talking. I was very embarrassed that she found one of the nearby markers. She watched me paint murals in the city, so she wanted to show me that she could do it too. She looked at me with her wide eyes and said “Daddy, look.” I had to react immediately. I wanted to be sensitive to her artistic aspirations, so what did I do? I took a marker and drew with her and said we did it. We left that store so swiftly.
When my first child was born, I told her I have never had a child before. And you haven’t had a father before. So, we’re going to learn this together.
My son really loves sports. He doesn’t know how good I am at basketball, but he turns everything into a sport. Yesterday, he threw his underwear at me to play catch. We played catch with his superhero underwear and it was everything for him, and clearly, I’m still talking about it — so the underlying advice is: make memories, be thoughtful and mindful.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.
Pray together. I include my children in my faith. I tell them what I am talking to God about, what I am praying for, and I ask them what they are asking for. We pray for those things. When those things happen, it’s a wonderful experience. When we were praying for a home in California, I wanted a house. My daughter wanted a building with a pool. She won. She said, “Daddy, this is exactly what I prayed for.”
I love their mother. I let them see that I am in love with their mother. She’s pregnant now and I let them see me care for her as she cares for the baby inside. I want them to know that I loved them and was proud of them before they were born.
I cuddle with them. I take time to kiss on every last one of them. When watching a movie together, I hold them tight. The minute they were born, I removed my shirt so that their body could be warmed by my body. Our breathing began to synchronize. They made eye contact with me to connect the voice with the person.
I keep my promises. I am very intentional about this because I never want my words to lose its value. When I say, after you finish your school work we’re going to the park. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, we’re going to the park. I notice that they don’t ask me about it anymore, because the very fact that their father said it means it’s going to happen.
My work centers around them. My great grandfather was a farmer and owned 68 acres of land. His son and grandson have lived off of that land. There were horses, cows, pigs, goats and chickens. There were trees as far as your eyes can see. The land sustained them. Not that I am into farming, but I plan to build with my family. I don’t separate my work life and my family life. When I am making creative content, it is about me and my family. They inspire my work and I am reaching a balance where it’s sustainable.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
A good parent is an honest one. It’s okay to say I don’t know when they ask life’s complex questions. My children ask me questions all the time that I’ve never thought about. My answer is usually, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.” I learned that from being a teacher.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I can’t inspire them to dream big if they don’t see me doing it. They see me face my fears. I am honest with them about what I am fearful of. I am honest about telling them what my dreams are and how I strategize to make them a reality. They have seen a few of them become a reality which inspires them to go after theirs.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
I define success in joy. I define success in laughter. I feel success when I can laugh from the depths of my belly. I define success when I happy-cry and get those tears of joy. Success is seeing my children love and care for each other. Success is when my daughter comes and says “Daddy, I love you” for no reason at all. I can fail at anything else, but I can’t fail at being my wife’s husband or my children’s daddy. They are depending on me.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I started my own podcast, interviewing the people I admire. It’s called the Hashim Lafond podcast. In my first podcast, I’m interviewing my mentor; a father of eight children, grandfather to over 30 grandchildren, married for over fifty years. That inspires me.
Can you please give us your favorite” Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The only one I can think of that I thought was important enough to put in my baby’s nursery is “Today are You, that is Truer than True. There is No One on Earth that is You-er than You.” I encourage my children in their uniqueness. For me, no one has gone the path that I am creating. No one knows the dreams in my heart. Only I know that. People only know what I am capable of after I actually do it. My job is to get what’s in my imagination to be in my hands.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Parents, love your children. Husbands love your wives. I can only lead by example.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!