Our 272nd Dad in the Limelight is author Rick Johnson. I want to thank Rick for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
My name is Rick Johnson and I have been a full time writer and speaker for the past seven years. To date I have published nine books with several of them being bestsellers. I am a popular speaker at men’s retreats and conferences on marriage and parenting. I am also the founder and director of an organization called Better Dads (www.betterdads.net) whose purpose is to inspire and equip men to be more involved in the lives of their families. However, my books have expanded our work to include influencing the whole family, with life-changing insights for men and women on parenting, marriage, and personal growth. Prior to that I owned an environmental engineering firm for 16 years and worked at writing and speaking on the side for the last four years.
2) Tell me about your family
I have been married to my beautiful wife Suzanne for 31 years and we have raised two adult children. We recently became grandparents for the first time, as my son and his wife had a baby girl.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Having been raised in an alcoholic home, I would say the biggest challenges I faced were overcoming the negative fathering examples that were modeled for me as a child and learning (reprogramming) what my role as a husband, father, and even a man really were. We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s difficult to know positive behaviors when you’ve never had them modeled for you. Couple that with the frustration and pain of trying to heal from my own wounds and I can understand why some men struggle mightily with fathering.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Find good male role models and friends to both learn from and be accountable to. I learned all the good things I know from good men. I was also able to hear feedback from men I respected that I might not have received very well if given by my wife. Also, to young dads—relax and enjoy your children when they are little. There will be plenty of time to make your mark on the world later. Finally, as men I do not think we truly understand how important we are to our children. No, you are not perfect, but you are just important enough to be indispensible to them. Always remember—you matter!
5) Seeing that you (or your position) are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? If you are currently not in the limelight per se, please still answer this in regards to how you balance parenthood and outside life.
Fortunately, I did not start traveling extensively until my children were older, but I did have to learn to balance my time between operating a business and having a healthy home life. It took me awhile to learn that the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. We only give our time to the things we truly believe are valuable. By not spending time (my most precious commodity) with my children, I was sending them the message I was indifferent to them.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
One of the best lessons I’ve discovered is to never stop learning. Many men never read a book after they get out of school—they are missing out on being able to be the magnificent creature that God created them to be as a man. Take classes, read books, attend conferences, listen to tapes. Also, that we all struggle with the same issues. Most of us go through the same challenges and that’s why being involved with other men is so important. Their perspective and experience is invaluable.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Fathering is the most difficult role a man (especially one who did not have good male role models—or any at all–growing up) will ever undertake, yet also the most rewarding. I had thought fathering would be easier as my kids got older, but it seemed to get harder (and frankly, in many ways, it’s still difficult even with grown children).
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
So many—Boy Scout campouts and huntingtrips with my son, barely surviving my daughter’s roller coaster teenage years, epic family vacations and trips, and going through the ups and downs of childhood with my kids. Perhaps the most personally rewarding experience is being able to speak together with my daughter at Father-Daughter events. It has brought us closer together and bonded our relationship in ways I had not expected to ever be able to accomplish. Seeing your children growing into the kind of adults you hoped they would become (even with all the struggles and fears while they were growing up) is immensely rewarding.
If you have any questions for Rick, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!