How do you balance life with work and kids? An age-old question that every parent asks themselves at one point or another. Rocky Parrish, dadpreneur with 7 kids takes that question to another level.
Rocky Parrish from Alexandria, Virginia is a local celebrity who is probably best known for his role as an on-air radio personality with the sports talk show 106.7 The Fan back in the early 2010s. Right after he left the show, he drew upon his previous employment experiences as a sneaker consultant for Nike to develop his own brand of athletic shoes and clothing known as ROCKDEEP. Ten years after he created his own business, Rocky is busier than ever negotiating new deals with high-profile clients in the music industry. Despite Rocky’s many accomplishments, however, he is simply known as “Daddy” or “Dad” to his seven children.
From youngest to oldest, Rocky’s seven children are: Filomena (age 3), Brock (age 11), Xavier (age 12), Lil’Leon (age 14), Alissa (age 16), Grey (age 24) and Darion (age 26).
Becoming a dad
Rocky had his first child right after graduating college. Though he was scared, he was working for the government and had the means to support his child. “My dad said [fatherhood] will come natural. I knew we were having a boy. I was really excited. It was going to be like a mini me,” says Rocky, recalling feelings of anxiety that rushed upon him when he learned he was going to be a first-time father.
As Rocky had more children, he continued working through different industries in government contracts, marketing, advertising and athletic shoe consultancy until reaching his current role as business owner of his own brand. Rocky laughed as he talked about his children going through the different phases of Rocky’s employment and being amused with all the things their father was working on.
Raising seven children has not been the easiest for Rocky, particularly as his relationships with the children’s mothers changed. But the one constant that has marked Rocky’s individual relationships with each of his children has been honesty. Rocky is adamant about keeping the door of communication completely open with his children, making it impossible for secrecy or doubt to creep in. “I tell my kids I love them, even though I didn’t hear it a lot when I was growing up,” says Rocky.
Rocky was born to two military parents in Vicksburg, Mississippi, moving to Alexandria, Virginia as a child. Within the last nearly 20 years, Rocky’s relationship with his father was somewhat strained. His father was bedridden and could not travel. Rocky took his children to see his father, but not all of them could see him. After being sick for a long time, Rocky’s father passed away earlier this year, unleashing many mixed emotions inside Rocky. Though he had issues with his father, at his core was always love for the man who raised him, taught him everything he knew and turned him into the man he became. Despite being at odds with his father, Rocky never lost sight of that. After Rocky’s father passed away, he said his one biggest regret was that his children were not able to see their grandfather or get to know him.
After his father passed away, Rocky spent some time mourning and then got right back into work designing sneakers, creating TikTok’s for his brand and showcasing nearly 150 styles of sneakers during live Instagram sessions. Being a business owner has meant being on the receiving end of jealous and derogatory comments by others who want to see him fail, Rocky reports. Yet he has bounced back with a keen sense of humor to break the ice with uncomfortable situations in business, as well as with his family, gaining respect from his children.
Firm but fair
Rocky says he is firm and fair with his children. He is the first to insist he loves each of his five boys and two girls equally. But at the same time, he created a fun little game called “Who is the favorite of the week?” joking that he loves one more than the others. Rocky also loves to compete with his children in a good-natured way through basketball games and other outdoor sports, along with the classic of one-upping each other with Yo Momma jokes. Nothing spells Parrish family fun greater than the children getting in the last laugh during their comedy sessions.
Together with his wife, Desiree, Rocky cares for his youngest child, Filomena, at their home in Alexandria. The other six children live elsewhere. Rocky sees his other children several times each year and is closely attuned with their lives. For example, Rocky is ecstatic that Darion is very much into computers and gaming, that Grey is playing basketball while he’s getting his master’s degree, and that Brock, Lil’Leon and Alissa are all doing well while they are homeschooling.
A love like no other
Nothing stands in the way of Rocky’s relationship with his children. Not his booming sneaker business, not distance, not even the fact that two of his children are grown adults with lives of their own. Rocky is the first to tell you he will always be a father first, a husband second and a businessman last. Rocky’s children mean the world to him and he is proud to express that to anyone who listens.
“It can wear me out at times, but it’s nonstop energy when we’re together,” says Rocky. Despite any challenges that he might face in caring for his children, he wouldn’t have it any other way. He calls it a controlled chaos and everything about fatherhood is his favorite part.