Occupation: Owner of O’Neil’s Barber & Beauty Salon, Line4Line nonprofit, and Always on Time Transportation Co.; truck driver
Children: O’Nya Curtis, 16
Hobbies: Watching boxing matches, going to daughter’s sporting games, teaching kids how to play sports
Devoted, supportive, and understanding–it’s no wonder anybody who knows O’Neil Curtis says he is the best dad. As a dad and local business owner dedicated to community service (check out his nonprofit, Line4Line, which provides free haircuts, food, and a book to young boys who read to their barber), O’Neil understands how important it is to be there for children. He cites his own father as his inspiration, who opened his eyes to the importance of proactive fatherhood; now, O’Neil makes sure his daughter knows he is always there for her as he prepares her to be a successful young adult and motivates her every step of the way.
WHAT DOES A NORMAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
O’NEIL: I wake up, say my prayers, take care of the dogs at the kennel I run, and make sure my daughter is situated before I go to the barber shop and make sure everything is running right. I’ve made sure my Line4Line learning center is in the same parking lot as the barber shop. At the end of the day, my daughter has some sort of game, and I find a way to relax at night, usually by working out. Then, I start the day over again.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF RAISING YOUR DAUGHTER?
O’NEIL: One of the joys is being able to teach her something at a young age, seeing her use it as she grows up, and watching her become successful because of the things you instilled in them as a kid–from something as simple as cleaning up their room to getting straight A’s.
The challenging part is when they’re around the ages of 13-15 years old and start wanting to challenge you and thinking the parents are talking too much. At that point, we have to sit down and get a real understanding of these kids, because they grow up to be their own little selves. As the parent, you have to know how to adapt to the kid so you don’t lose them.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A DAD?
O’NEIL: I’m loving, attentive, and a provider. They say I’m the best dad, so I guess I have to believe people when they tell me that. I’m really understanding with my daughter; I started letting her make a lot of decisions early on and asking her what she thinks to try and challenge her. I know once she graduates high school, we’ll have to take her to college, so I want her to make a lot of decisions now so when I drop her off at college I can come home and not feel so miserable about it. I’m also a very motivational father; I try to make sure she knows I’ll support her no matter what.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY?
O’NEIL: I like to get all the kids and family together and take road trips. We’ve been taking road trips since O’Nya was a child, like going to water parks and to the beach. I like to show them there’s more things going on outside of Baton Rouge, expand their mindframes, and let them meet new people. I also like to play Monopoly with my little girl to show her how to buy real estate.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A DAD?
O’NEIL: My favorite thing about being a dad is putting a smile on my baby’s face and just knowing she knows I have her back. I’m doing a lot of things with her so that, when I get old, we can reverse it, and she can start changing my diapers and give it all back to me when I’m 99-100 years old.
WHAT HAS PARENTHOOD TAUGHT YOU?
O’NEIL: You have to be there. You have to listen to your kid. You have to spend time with them and see what they like, because they might not want to do what you do. They might want to go a whole other way, and you just have to support them.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU HOPE TO TEACH YOUR DAUGHTER?
O’NEIL: I want to teach her to have faith and find ways to pray to God to keep herself sane. I want her to be loving and respectful to adults, how to get money instead of asking for money all the time, and to have a work ethic. A lot of kids want to play on their phones right now, so I tell her, “if you want to be on your phone all day, at least work to be a phone person!” Might as well make a career out of something you love.
HOW DO YOU TACKLE ANY CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A DAD?
O’NEIL: I pray a lot and have faith. I also lead by example; I don’t really look for anybody else to take the lead. If I can go first and try to figure something out, I like to do that. I surround myself with good people and a great team that is more positive and motivational than me, that way I can look to my circle when I can’t figure it out.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
O’NEIL: My own father, O’Neil Frasier. I didn’t really know him when I was little. I was angry at first not knowing my own dad, but when I finally met him when I was 12, he taught me things my mom could not teach me. The day I met him, he took me to meet my sisters, and by the next week he asked me to move in with him. From that moment, he made up for all the time he missed by putting me in church, making sure I had a conscience, all the things he needed to do from ages 12 to 18. He showed up and made me see the importance of fathers, so I want to give him his flowers.
WHAT PERSONALITY TRAIT OF YOURS DOES YOUR DAUGHTER ALSO HAVE?
O’NEIL: O’Nya acts just like me. She’s very helpful, and she doesn’t walk around with an attitude. Nobody should know your problems just by looking at your face. She also does not stereotype anyone. I’ve been watching her take charge of things on her sports teams as well; she clearly wants to be a leader and figure things out. She’s easy to work with, too, and pulls the best out of other people.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER PARENTS?
O’NEIL: You can’t think about the way parenting was in the past because kids are different today. We need to listen to them more, see what they love, and try to promote that. You can’t force these kids; they’ll do the opposite. So, motivate them and get them ready for the real world, and try to be more positive with them. With my nonprofit, we help kids for two to three hours and send them back home where the parents can be so negative. It’s important to stay positive with your children and keep your mind open to learning from them.
My favorite TV show is…Martin Lawrence.
My favorite food is…spaghetti and corn bread with hot wings.
My guilty pleasure is…taking trips every chance I get and not posting pictures, so no one knows where I am!
The first thing I do when I wake up is…thank the Lord for waking me up.
My dream travel spot is…Hawaii.