Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Charlie Seymour Jr. ( @Grandsonlessons ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 429th Dad in the Limelight is Charlie Seymour Jr.. I want to thank Charlie for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

Charlie Seymour Jr., #limelightdads1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)

Little did I know at age 11, when a Dupont scientist (whose job was to invent VHS tape) taught me video directing at our local theater, that I’d grow up to use my producing skills to help people profit through online marketing and video. Now I’m a husband, dad, and granddad. I know in my heart how powerful video is (I’m often called the Video-Crazed MBA Marketer). Oh, sure – I have an MBA from Wharton and an award-winning sales and marketing record, but it’s this early learning that sets me apart.

Not long after losing my father, I started a website, LessonsFromMyGrandson.com, so that my grandson would never grow up not knowing who I was. He won’t remember my Dad, but he’ll remember me: we will live forever on the Internet, and video is the best way to do it.

And in my own little world, I guess my 15 minutes of fame come from a best-selling book, years directing theater (in a theater where 5 generations of my family have acted and directed), my activities at church, and through the many videos I create for my own work and for clients’ success.

Charlie Seymour Jr., #limelightdads2) Tell me about your family

Growing up in a stable family of three kids, a dad, a mom, and many relatives close by, family has always been important to me. Holidays were huge – lots of food smells wafting through our house, noisy chatter of family, and warm hugs and stories.

But the biggest change for me was having kids. One as soon as I was married (who was 9 years old when I met her) and then a biological child a couple of years later. They are now 42 and 30 years old. Wow… life changing.

And I thought nothing could top that until… until my grandson was born. I promised my younger daughter (his mother) that no one would take her place in my heart, and that’s still true: but 29-month old grandson, Beckett, sure has carved out a HUGE part of my life and my love. I never had a son, so perhaps part of my love is because I now have a boy to share things with. And his 7-month old sister is making her way deep into my life and heart too.

Charlie Seymour Jr., #limelightdads3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

Knowing when to help, advise, instruct.

One time I suggested to my younger daughter that she should chat with Mom as well (I never passed off either of my daughters to my wife: never said, “that’s a subject for you and Mom,” because I knew I’d never learn that way. But therewere times when I thought Mom should be included as well… and from the child’s invitation and not my quiet whispers). When I suggested that, she said, “Oh, Dad: Mom talks like a man.”

Took me a while to recover from that one. What did that mean about the way I talked?!!

But what she meant was: Mom wanted to solve problems and not just discuss them, letting our daughter figure out the answer on her own. I’m a pretty directed guy, so offering advice comes easily to me. Many times I had to hold back, open a “what do you think should happen” conversations, and just be there to love her.

4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Be there. Listen. Ask what your child wants as help. Don’t judge, or she/he will stop going to you.

And love them with all your heart.

OH… and give them room to fail. Parents that hover and fix things before they’re broken often do a disservice to their kids – we all learn by doing, as much as we’d like to wave a magic wand to cure all ills.
We get only one chance with these kids – let’s make the most of it!

Charlie Seymour Jr., #limelightdads5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? 

I’ve been fortunate. I did really well in investment real estate sales and then decided to leave it when the market went bad. (Chuckling to myself… I know: which time did it go bad? I’m referring to the early 90s.)

Most of my life I have worked from home. I was there when my kids took naps (nothing like kisses as they went down and nothing like hugs when they woke up!) and when they returned from school. I have been a Work At Home Dad if not truly a Stay At Home Dad.

And there were times I had to say NO to my family and NO to the outside world. I tuned in to what I thought my family would feel was important and worked hard to keep them in mind.

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

Wow, so many things!

Peace. Patience. Ways to involve kids in journeys I never thought about. Ways to encourage kids to do their best. And ways to be independent and at the same time interdependent.

7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

Life for a father of girls changes the second she says, “I’m engaged.” And then life explodes with all kinds of emotions and possibilities when she says, “I’m pregnant.”

I was totally unprepared for life as a granddad. People could tell me about the joys, the fun, the chance to teach that next generation (even as you handed them back to their parents for the day-to-day challenges of parenting)… but it has been MUCH more than I expected.

If I could spend all my time helping my grandson (I admit I haven’t gotten to know my granddaughter as well, but her personality is just beginning to shine forth), I would be happy. Deep-inside happy. Limbic-brain, deeply-emotional happy. My LessonsFromMyGrandson.com site is a labor of love – a love for Beckett that I hope others enjoy too.

Charlie Seymour Jr., #limelightdads
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

Sitting my (then) soon-to-be step daughter on my knee to tell her that I wouldn’t replace her biological father and her looking up to me to ask, “What does that mean? The only word I know like that is bibliography.” Cute!

Seeing my younger daughter “fly” as Peter Pan when she was in 7th grade – the family theater tradition lived on.

Helping my younger daughter produce her first music CD (LizSeymour.com), staying in the background, helping to encourage her and market for her.

Holding my daughter when in tears she came to me after breaking up with a long-time boyfriend, when not getting a big part in a musical (she so often did that this was a shock to her), when contractions filled her with pain before her first delivery.

Watching her become Miss West Chester University using a platform of anti-smoking since secondhand smoke is what killed her material grandmother.
Walking her down the aisle, holding her closely… both of us holding back tears.

Watching her grow into the role of motherhood… something she does very well.

One more: A few years ago I ended an email to Liz with “Your Daddy Loves You!” When it came to texting, I shortened that to YDLY! which has become an important signature between us, especially when she discovered that YDLY! can also mean Your DAUGHTER Love You! Sweet!

 
If you have any questions for Charlie, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – R.C. Liley ( @going_dad ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 428th Dad in the Limelight is R.C. Liley. I want to thank R.C. for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

R.C. Liley, #limelightdads

1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my reader’s knowledge).
Hey there, my name is R.C. Liley and I’m a stay-at-home dad as of January 28th, 2014. I left my job in the accounting world to raise our beautiful daughter, Avery.
I used to blog about healthy food and health in general at http://justaddcayenne.blogspot.com/ when I had time, but that has since subsided. There’s still good recipes there though! Now I started a new blog to document our adventure of raising Avery and anything else I care to share. My new blog is https://goingdad.wordpress.com/.
I am very into exercise and nutrition and hope to find work in these areas after a few years. I’d love to help others turn their lives around and learn to start being active and enjoying real, healthy food.
2) Tell me about your family.
I have been married to my lovely wife, Kelley, for 6.5 years. We have a 3 month old daughter, Avery , a Golden Retriever (Abby), a fat black cat (Lou), and a testy box turtle (Tash). Our first pet as a couple was a cat, Gus, and he passed away while Kelley was pregnant. We miss him.
R.C. Liley, #limelightdads
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Being only 3 months into it, I’m sure there are many more to come, but just trying to figure our daughter out is difficult. I feel like I know why she’s fussy, but after exhausting the few options a baby would have, I’m at a loss sometimes.
Also, I’m a person who thrives on consistency, and as all parents know, babies are not consistent. I was used to having a laid out workout routine that I’d know when and where I’d be ahead of time. Now, I just do what I can, when I can.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Being a father for only 3 months now, I don’t have too much advice to offer and should probably be taking more than giving! One thing I do know is to make sure you don’t let your offspring cause you and your wife or partner to argue. The last thing that’s needed is trying to figure out how to raise your baby AND arguing with your significant other.
Make sure the both of you are on the same page and talk things through. Doing this has been a huge help for my wife and I as we figure out being parents.
R.C. Liley, #limelightdads
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
Ha, before I became a dad I was homebody, and now that I am a dad, I’m still a homebody. I quit really going out in my mid-twenties as I became more health conscious and didn’t value the food and drink provided at restaurants.
I can’t stand not knowing how my food is being prepared, and I always compare the price of dishes to what I could be having at home for much less. This really applies to drinks. The price of one beer at a restaurant is the same as a six pack or bottle of wine at home. No thanks.
Plus, as a stay-at-home dad, I don’t really expect to get out much besides shopping for food and I’m perfectly fine with that; for now.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
In speaking with other fathers, I’m learned everyone has their own opinion/style on how to raise their kid, but I need to figure things out for myself. I use the advice as guidance to form my own style and take it from there. One thing I have heard from all fathers and am making sure I do is to appreciate the time I have holding Avery. Time goes too fast, and I don’t want to spend it trying really hard to “train” her to sleep away from us or other ways to make her independent. I know that time will come too soon anyway.
R.C. Liley, #limelightdads
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Once you become a father, something inside of you changes; usually for the better. The moment I witnessed Avery being born, I had goose bumps run across my body and best feeling coupled with anxiety flowed through me. It might sound corny, but everything I do now, has a different purpose than before. Becoming a father has already changed the way I view things in these 3 months and even my wife, Kelley, has noticed I’ve changed for the better.
That said, try not to look too far ahead and focus more on the present. Time is known for sneaking up on you and biting you right in the rear. Oh wait, that’s your toddler who you could’ve sworn was still a tiny infant in your arms.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Listening to our daughter’s cry’s change so much just over these 3 months, it’s crazy how all of the precious coos and screams alike just fill my heart every time.
When we go on walks, I wear Avery in our Baby Bjorn and love when she just falls asleep. Even in the cold, wet weather, I’ll continue walking until she wakes. Also, those late nights or early mornings when she’s fussy, I will bring her to the recliner and rock her back to sleep. I can’t describe the overwhelming happiness I feel just watching her peacefully sleep on my chest.

If you have any questions for R.C., please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Mark McNulty ( @BloggyDad ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 427th Dad in the Limelight is Mark McNulty. I want to thank Mark for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

Mark McNulty, #limelightdads1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)

My name is Mark McNulty and I am an at-home Dad to my 7-month old daughter. I am a Boston native and continue to live there with my family. My little girl? She is truly the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

 

I am in the limelight because I am an active advocate for responsible, involved fatherhood. My interest in this actually started when I was teaching elementary school for the past thirteen years and now I pursue it through my blog, The New American Dad (www.BloggyDad.net). In 2013 I co-founded the Boston Dads Group with two fellow bloggers. I am also a children’s author with one book for middle readers on the market, titled The Sea Shack, and two additional books in production.
2) Tell me about your family

My wife Carolyn is a medical professional here in Massachusetts and our daughter, Molly, is currently seven months old. We also have a cat and a golden retriever who have both grown very jealous of their new little sister!

 

Mark McNulty, #limelightdads3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

Certainly the vast amount of work has been a challenge, since a baby keeps you busy from sunrise to sunset and beyond. Balancing that constant responsibility with my work and outside interests can be tough. I think the biggest challenge, however, has been the isolation of being a stay-at-home Dad. I have always been surrounded by countless students and teachers during my career in education. It was a job where you were never, ever alone. Now there are several days where I go many hours without talking to another adult. It has been a unique and surprising challenge that took some time to adjust to.

 

4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Trust your instincts. There will be times when you worry if you are doing something right or not, but your natural caring instincts will always serve you well.

Give yourself a break. You can’t do it all. Parenting is an overwhelming and stressful job at times. Know your limits, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and make sure you take time to take care of yourself. It is not selfish to maintain your emotional, mental, and physical health for your child. It makes you a better Dad.

Be ready to forgive yourself. You will make mistakes. You will do things wrong. It is okay. Every parent does it. Your kid is fine, so cut yourself some slack and move forward a wiser man.

Plan ahead. This doesn’t mean you will always be able to keep your plan, but making one helps a lot. Look ahead to the next day or week. What do you need to get done? What does your wife need to get done? How are you going to both meet those goals? Again… kids have a talent for disrupting even the best-laid plans, but this is a habit that can save you a lot of time and stress during the day.

 

Mark McNulty, #limelightdads

5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? 

Honestly? It is something I still work on. Being a dad is always my first priority. Then I throw my work as a writer and blogger on top of that, usually at night or on weekends, and often I find myself over-burdened with this incredible strain. Since my daughter is the reason I work so hard as a writer and a blogger, all the stress gets tied together so easily. Life can get unbalanced pretty quickly!

 

Take a breath. Like I said, you really need to give yourself a break and allow some down time. My wife is actually very good at helping with this. She usually recognizes when I need these breaks and will push me in that direction. I think having an understanding and supportive partner is huge in making this balance work effectively. It might be an activity like archery or hiking, or just sitting on the sofa and enjoying a Bruins game, but having the support to allow these healthy interests can make all the difference.

 

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

A lot! The more I got involved with my fellow Dad bloggers, the more I learned what an amazingly supportive community they are. There are so many great ideas and helpful suggestions that I have found out there… everything from sleep strategies to helpful web sites to books on fatherhood.

 

Long before I met them, however, I was inspired by many other great Dads. My own Dad was the best example of responsible, involved fatherhood I could have asked for, and I had many other inspiring models in my family and neighborhood, as well. Throughout my teaching career I had the opportunity to meet dozens of caring, supportive fathers and saw the many ways they showed this to their children. All of these devoted fathers had some part in making me the Dad I am today.

 

Mark McNulty, #limelightdads

I also hope more Dads take an active role in changing the stereotypes and double standards that continue to exist out there. When I am out with my daughter, I often hear comments that are amusing and insulting at the same time. Whether I am being congratulated for spending a little time with my baby so her mother can have a break, or hearing how amazed someone is that I am able to feed her a bottle, it astonishes me that these assumptions still exist. And the stores or restaurants that only put changing tables in the women’s room? Don’t get me started on that. There are so many incredible, loving, involved Dads out there. They don’t need heaps of praise or trophies, just a little more respect and acceptance in society. We are definitely on the right track and have made a ton of progress, but we need to keep working at it.

7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

Enjoy every moment. Savor them all. My baby is only seven months old and I already look back on those first weeks and months with longing. Those days and nights might feel incredibly stressful when you are in the moment, but that stress fades away and only the happy, joyful memories remain. Each short phase of a child’s life passes so quickly, leaving only pictures and video in its wake. So, no matter how old your child is, make sure you pause to enjoy this specific time in their life before it has passed for good.

 

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

Those first few days and nights in the hospital were incredible, filled with so much love and joy for this little girl. I have a photo of her holding my finger right after birth and I treasure it to no end. She has taken many long naps on my shoulder, sometimes up to two hours. I loved every single one of them. Nothing has ever made me feel stronger or more powerful as a man than the ability to comfort my crying infant. I took her to Fenway Park for a Red Sox practice one day and to the Franklin Park Zoo on another day, and those are both great memories. And, of course, there are the milestones. Her first smile, first laugh, crawling and standing… these moments are priceless and will stay with me forever. Her first Christmas was also a very special time, since she is clearly the greatest gift we have ever received. I could go on forever. Each moment just feels so special in its own way and I know we have many, many more ahead of us.
If you have any questions for Mark, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Mike Crider ( @TheFatherOTwins ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 426th Dad in the Limelight is Mike Crider. I want to thank Mike for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

Mike Crider, #limelightdads 1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)

First of all, I want to thank Chris for the opportunity to share my experiences and it’s an honor and a privilege to get to be a part of a series that has been going on for so long.  My name is Mike Crider, and I am the father of twin girls.  I guess you could say I’m in the limelight for a couple of reasons.  First, I am a middle school assistant principal, so that makes me a little different than the average dad with a blog.  Secondly, I’m pretty active on Twitter and am the founder of #TwinsChat, a Twitter chat for parents of twins that takes place on Tuesdays at 9 pm EST.  This is still a relatively new adventure for me but it’s been a lot of fun and while we only started on December 30, our community is slowly growing.  I have a blog called “The Father of Twins“.  I use this as an opportunity to talk about my experiences raising twin toddlers, but have been known to go off on tangents as well.  Almost nothing is off-limits.
2) Tell me about your family.
I have been married to my wife, Holly, for 7.5 years now, and we will have been together for a decade in November.  I have twin toddler girls, M and N, who are 2.5 years now and are really hard to keep up with.  We live a minute from my parents-in-law and 500 miles away from my parents.  We reside in North Carolina, USA.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
I think my biggest challenge has been finding the balance between work and family.  My job is one that requires long hours sometimes, and as a salary employee, I don’t get paid extra for burning the midnight oil; sometimes it’s just required.  Every person that has a career that’s important to them wants to be the best employee they can be, but when you have a family you don’t want that goal to be achieved at the expense of them.  I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my girls during the week, but definitely hang out with them a lot on weekends.  I’ve written about “daddy guilt” at times on my blog, but sometimes I leave home feeling like a bad father and leave work feeling like a bad employee.
Mike Crider, #limelightdads
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
You want to try to educate yourself on how to be a great father, but if you read too much it just makes you paranoid.  Listen to doctors, use common sense, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Don’t forgot about the person that made you a father, either.  It’s easy to do, especially with twins.  Make time for that person and find people you trust to watch your kids from time to time.  Don’t be a martyr just because you don’t trust anyone.  You need some alone time with your significant other.
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
I touched on this in #3, but the balance has been difficult.  One of the things that hasn’t been as big of a challenge for me is that because of the nature of my job, I don’t have a lot of friends.  Actually, I have virtually none, so I interact with people via social media, but people that live around a lot of their friends can face challenges when they don’t know how to cope with kids running around.
Mike Crider, #limelightdads 6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
I’ve learned that just about all of the frustrations, joys, sarcastic remarks, and general thoughts I’ve had, other fathers have had at some point.  It’s ok to get upset, just don’t take it out on your family, and do what you need to do to get it out of your system without lashing out at them.  Also, you need to have outlets, or else you will go crazy.  Maybe it’s exercise, time with friends/family, heck, maybe it’s alone time (sometimes I need that).  A couple needs to have those discussions to make sure both parties stay sane.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
It’s not easy, and there’s no right way to do it, but there’s a lot of wrong ways.  Sometimes, if you let your guard down, you can fall into that trap.  Your kids, after all, are kids, and they are typically doing something because they can’t help it.  A father’s job is to teach and model.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
I don’t know if there’s been just one, but it seems like the girls continue to meet new milestones, and I think seeing them develop right in front of your eyes is a pretty cool experience.  Sometimes it’s a little sad to admit, but it’s nice seeing them grow up the way they should.  We always hope in life we can provide our children with the best possible experience.  I’ve enjoyed interacting with other fathers who are documenting similar experiences, and I just hope that through my blog or Twitter chats or something, I can help someone else stay encouraged.
Again, thanks for thinking of me and allowing me an opportunity to appear on your blog.  You can find my blog at http://www.thefatheroftwins.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TheFatherOTwins.  My FB page is http://www.facebook.com/thefatheroftwins, and I have a Pinterest account but I’ll spare you on that one.  Thanks!

If you have any questions for Mike, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – James Ward ( @dadsdenjames ) #dadchat

James Ward, #limelightdads

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 443rd Dad in the Limelight is James Ward. I want to thank James 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 James, I am an information junky and think outside the box. I am from southern Missouri, and grew up on a farm. I work as a System Administrator (I am the IT department) for a mid-sized company, and family is very important to me. I’m not sure why I’m in the “Limelight”, but let’s rock and run with it. You can read more about my life on my blog - http://presentdaydad.blogspot.com 2) Tell me about your family. We are a modern day, natural living family. We are gluten free and eat as natural as possible. My amazing wife and three year old are my life. We make sure to have fun and laugh at each other. The wife is a stay at home mom and well, the toddler is busy being a toddler. We have had a few bumps in the road, but that’s life and you take what you have. 

James Ward, #limelightdads3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

There are many challenges that I have faced as a father. I’m sure everyone has challenges and adapt to them as they come. My biggest challenge that I have faced is having a child that had a fatal birth defect. It was a little over a year ago that my world got turned upside down. We were pregnant with our second daughter and during a routine ultrasound, the tech stopped and said she would be right back. Something wasn’t right. I have been to these before and things just don’t stop. Maybe she had to go to the bathroom. She came back and finished a few things and we left. We got a phone call an hour later and the doctor wanted to see us. Our daughter had a defect called anencephaly, a fatal defect that the upper part of her brain did not develop. We made the decision to complete the pregnancy and spend what time we could with our little angel. Yes, this was devastating knowing that our daughter was going to be born in this world and we would have to give her back. We didn’t know how long, but I would NEVER choose the other option. That was the most challenging, but also the best 6 hours and 27 minutes she could have given us.

4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Just like marriage and anything else you do in life, patience is the key. You are going to be tested and you will be on the verge of losing your composure. The key is to stop and use patience. Remember that the first few years are an overwhelming wave of emotions for both you and your children. I’m not saying all kids are bad. I’m saying that there is a lot going on in that little head of theirs. 

5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? 

My outside life is very busy. I am the only IT staff covering 250 employees and 7 sites around the US. I am the IT department. That is very taxing on one person and there is always something going on. I also maintain a couple of blogs, and read a LOT of blogs. I take my evening after work to play and interact with my family. We play and do crafts, the wife and I hang out on the couch with the TV off and phones are put on a desk across the room. I always take a couple of hours after work to sit back and enjoy our family. 

James Ward, #limelightdads6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

I have learned that I am not alone. There is always someone there that can relate. I do not have many Dad friends other than the Dad bloggers that I talk to online. There really isn’t a reason that I do not interact with other local Dads. I guess the only reason that I can think of is the area that I live in is a farm driven community. The fathers work on the farm and they do not play as strong of a roll as I do.

7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

The roll of the Dad in a household has evolved over the years. They are no longer the image of authority (just wait til your dad gets home) and they interact with the entire family. I grew up in a house that I rarely saw my Dad. He was always working or finding something else to provide for the family.  James Ward, #limelightdads

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

Children are always learning, watching, judging, and interacting. They are not an annoyance that is always needy. When they ask you something, it’s because they are learning. Teaching, as a parent, starts as soon as you look at your new bundle of joy. If you have any questions for James, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com ——————————————————————————————- New to the Divadom? Please Subscribe to my RSS Feed! Subscribe in a reader Questions?Drop me a line at dadofdivas@gmail.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Ryan Maier ( @dadlifts ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 424th Dad in the Limelight is Ryan Maier. I want to thank Ryan for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

Ryan Maier, #limelightdads1)    Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)

My name is Ryan Maier, I live in Minneapolis, MN with my wife, Katie, and two kids; Ainsley (3) and Thaine (1).  I am the founder and owner of a website for dads, called DadLifts.com, as well as serving as The Fitness Program Director and Coordinator for the Every Thing For Dads Foundation. I’m also a personal trainer and certified USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach. 
2) Tell me about your family

My wife Katie, is a 5th grade teacher, as well as a professional photographer. My kids, Ainsley and Thaine, are very young still, so we spend as much of our time with them as possible. In fact, my website, DadLifts, started out of my frustration for the lack of quality time I was able to spend with my daughter when she was born because of work, stress, diet, lack of sleep, etc. I vowed to get my life in order, so I could be a better father and spend more quality time with them; and here we are today with another child, a new website, two different careers and a lot less stress in our lives.

 

Ryan Maier, #limelightdads3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

 

For me, it’s putting the cell phone, ipad, computer down (I still work for a major wireless company for my day job) after work and being available to listen, play, and just be present with my kids for a few hours every night.  That’s been the biggest adjustment for me, by far, especially because I have ADD.

 

4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Two things:

a)    GET IN TOUCH WITH AND LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR OWN EMOTIONS!  I can not tell you how much stress this has taken off my marriage, but also has made it exponentially simpler to raise my children.  Once you understand how emotions and behaviors are linked, and you know what actions are needed to resolve each emotion, and can model that appropriately (we all have our outbursts, so don’t think I’m perfect, by any means), your job as a parent becomes so much less stressful.  Imagine knowing what actions you can help your child take to help them calm down, when they seem inconsolable. That, to me, is gold.

 

b)    I have come to realize, that it’s not so much about the quantity of time I get to spend with my kids, especially at this young age when they really have no concept of time, so much as it is about the quality of the time I spend with them. One thing I’ve started doing, that helps me be present and aware of what I’m doing is, I try to ask myself as much as possible, “Is this the best I can be doing right now?” when I’m with my kids.  And, whenever that answer is no, I just remove or add whatever it is that’s keeping from doing my best, or will allow me to do better at that moment.  Sometimes, my best isn’t THE BEST, but it’s the best I can do at that moment, and I think it’s important for my kids to see me at my best, and not at my best.  But even more importantly, they get to see what I do to make our time together better, and hopefully, they will pick up on this and use it to help them spend their time better as they get older.

 

5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?

I’ve been forced to start living like a responsible adult and planning ahead for things, so I can balance my crazy life and allow for that quality time with my kids. 

Also, I’ve had to learn how to say no.  My kids come first, but I’m often asked to help others at work, and many times I’ve had to turn down helping those people, which I wouldn’t have done in the past.

Ryan Maier, #limelightdads

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

I’ve learned so many things from other fathers, but the one thing that stands out is, what may work for some people, doesn’t necessarily work for others. Seek advice, but do what works best for you and your family’s situation.

I’ve learned that most fathers know what needs to be done, but not many of us were ever taught how to get to the end result. That was a problem to me.  And that’s why I started DadLifts.

 

7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

Before my wife and I had kids, I always had this “idea” of what it would look like when I was “ready” to have kids. In hindsight, none of that helped me prepare. There is no sure fire way to be “ready”.  The best thing you can do is prepare to be unprepared, often.  For me, Most of all, I miss sleep. But if I knew I could be so productive on two hours of sleep before I had kids, I’d have a lot more money now. 

 

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

It’s very hard to pick just a few.  And, since my kids are still very young, every small milestone now, seems like it’ll be the most memorable one.  But, I’d have to say the most memorable experiences for me, are the ones I get to experience every night.  Putting my daughter to bed while reading a story is something we do every single night, and those moments are definitely the ones I’ll miss the most when she’s 16 and embarrassed to be seen with me. For my son, it’s the same – rocking him to sleep at night brings me so much joy.  These are the things that I remember most. 
If you have any questions for Ryan Maier, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Scott Harpole ( @ScottHarpole ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 423rd Dad in the Limelight is Scott Harpole. I want to thank Scott for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

Scott Harpole, #Limelightdads1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
My name is Scott Harpole and with four children I’ve had a lifetime of practicing as a father. I’ve made a boatload of mistakes and yet have been blessed with some amazing kids and a great life.
I’m in the limelight because of my original, creative children’s stories. I am the creator of My Dad’s Bedtime Stories (www.mydadsbestimestories.com) and the book “Sleepy Beach”. Which is guaranteed by the way to put kids to sleep!
I have been telling stories to my children for two decades plus and have begun to share them as free audios on my site. I am also a musician and I play the piano music for the Sleepy Beach CD track and for each of the intro’s to the audio stories.
2) Tell me about your family
I have been married for 25 years to Jenn, the love of my life. That seems like a long time, even to me! I don’t how many years the original marriage contract was for. We will probably re-up soon for another 25!
I have four children; a 24 year old daughter and three sons that are 21, 13 and 12. The best reason I can give for the 8 year gap in the middle is … temporary amnesia.
Scott Harpole, #Limelightdads3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
My current challenge is to keep my 12 and 13 year old boys from killing each other. There’s some fine line between brothers just getting on each other’s nerves and another world war in the living room. I think we crossed that line a few months ago. Jenn and I have had talks with each of them, talks together as a family, prayer, pleadings, groundings, threatening’s and nearly expulsion.
Currently they are doing great and I am holding my breath. But any peaceful moment could dissolve into “I hit him because took the game controller” or “he just makes me mad and refused to let me in his room”.
This is not to say that the adult children are off the radar, but they need other guidance and fatherly help of a different level of interaction.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Patience and Time are the key words to fathers. We men tend to think about one major thing at a time. According to our wives it is our best and worst trait. Because of that trait, it is very easy to become impatient with our children. After all we have things we have to accomplish, the weight of the family in many ways is resting on our shoulders, we have to-do lists of things to finish, we have downtime that we deserve. But at the end of our child rearing days, nothing will substitute for those precious times with our kids. You can’t do them again. There isn’t enough money or toys you can throw at your children to replace your time with them.
I remember taking my little girl and boy out to look at the stars and getting up on top of the van so we could see them better! They still talk about that 15 plus years later.
There is a mighty struggle that we face between what is an appropriate amount of time working (because we have to do at least some of that) and spending time with our kids. Nobody on this planet will give you the joy of your family and it is worth your life to invest your Patience and Time with them.
Scott Harpole, #Limelightdads5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
I’m in the limelight because my wife has encouraged me to share these bedtime stories with the world. I have been stuck forever on what to do, or how to do it, instead of just doing what I do and not worrying about the rest. So I am on this journey, of getting my stories to the world, and taking my family along with me. My children are my biggest fans. They all critique what I’m doing and how the website looks, for example. I have planned to take my younger children on my trips to tell stories to elementary classrooms.
I love being with my family and nothing trumps that. I think it is much easier to be connected with family if they are a part of what I’m doing.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
The best thing I’ve learned from other fathers is that you can’t ruin your children by making honest mistakes. I’m talking about those kinds of mistakes we all make and will continue to make, when we are trying to do the best thing but it doesn’t really work out. My faith in God and His grace are foundational to my life. In that context, there isn’t a perfect family path that you have totally destroyed because you blew it as a father.
The best way to understand that is to think about the chess match between Deep Blue, the computer, and Gary Kasparov, the Russian Grandmaster. It was said that Deep Blue could evaluate 200,000 chess moves per second! Now imagine the God of the universe, playing chess with me instead of against me. No matter how bad a mistake I make as a father, He has the complete ability to make good come out of that situation (if I let him!). For every stupid choice I make, He has contingency plans out the kazoo that will make all things come out for the good.
Scott Harpole, #Limelightdads7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
I absolutely love being a father. Life would be missing a humongous amount of worth if that was suddenly taken from me. Trading the joys and pains of being a father for the benefits of having more money, time and an unblemished house as a childless couple, are not even comparable. Zip. Nada. Zero. I can’t imagine life without my children. I am without doubt a different and better man because of my wife and kids.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent? 
I have had so many memorable experiences that it is difficult to pick. One time recently, I was taking my younger boys home from elementary school. We decided that this was a way for me to be more involved in their lives, and my wife was shocked at the things they were learning on the bus anyway.
We were turning by Collet Park and I was about to ask the usual questions, such as  “How was your day? What did you learn?” I had this crazy idea and stopped them midsentence. I said “Boys, we have to wait to tell our stories at the Telling Tree.” They asked what I was talking about, of course. I told them that we were going to hold hands around this elm tree, right next to the road on the edge of the park. “Grant will tell me something about his day in my ear and then I’ll pass it on to Max. Next, Max will pass around something about his day and I’ll do the same.” The funniest thing was the reaction of other kids as they walked and biked down the sidewalk.
Some of them asked the boys if were trying to get oxygen from the tree or holding the tree up or even tree worshippers! When they heard the story, they said they wished they had their own Telling Tree.
It was around this time that I realized that I wasn’t like the typical Dad! I have stories that need to be told and shared with the world.
I have even created an audio story from this experience called The Telling Tree and hopefully the idea will spread. How immensely cool would it be to drive by a park and see a Dad and his kids holding hands around a tree, telling each other a story about their day!

If you have any questions for Scott, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – David Kepley ( @justadad247 ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 418th Dad in the Limelight is David Kepley. I want to thank David for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

David Kepley, Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, dad of divas, dadofdivas.com1)    Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)

I am a stay-at-home dad and in my spare time I co-manage the Just a Dad 247 blog.  My hobbies are household projects and movies with explosions.  My favorite color is green and I’m confident that I am the most humble person you know.

 

2)    Tell me about your family

I have two boys (age 2 and 4) and a wife I could not be more proud of.  My wife is a flight attendant.  We met at 5 am on a train.  She was going to her first day at work and I was coming home from…well, drinking.  When my wife goes to work, she does not come home for a few days at a time.  That leaves me on my own with no relief coming.  The benefits outweigh the detriments and we do our best to make it work.

 

3)    What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

Patience.  It is easy to get lost in my own selfishness and in turn take that out on my kids.  I believe understanding another person’s perspective is the key to being patient.  With them, I try to remember they are children and they are learning.

David Kepley, Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, dad of divas, dadofdivas.com

4)    What advice would you give to other fathers?

Do the best you can.  Realize that only you know what your best is.  Whether that means not getting everything on your to-do list done or allotting time to engage with your children; know your limitations while holding a high standard.

 

5)    How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?

I put my marriage first above all things.  If my marriage is strong, everything else will trickle down.  Especially given our schedules, my wife and I make it a priority to make time together, not just as parents, but as the individuals who fell in love.

 

6)    What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

There are more dads who would be willing to be a stay-at-home parent than you would think.  Many families are hindered by their work schedules.  My wife has the ability to pick up more shifts to bridge the gap of two incomes.  Men are increasingly seeing the benefits through the opposition of societal and economic pressures.

David Kepley, Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, dad of divas, dadofdivas.com

7)    What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

Try to avoid the comparison games that people place on their children.  So what if a book says they should know their ABC’s by twenty months.  Children are different, they are born that way.  I try to encourage my children’s strengths and guide them through their weaknesses.  Ultimately my goal is to prepare my children with the tools to get the most out of their lives.  I think they can only do that if they approach that as who they are and not who anyone thinks they should be.

 

8)    What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

Hearing I love you from my children.  Not just the parroting statement that I try to get them to repeat, but the true conscious decision in their eyes when they say the words.  I have never heard anything better.

If you have any questions for David, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Jonathan Esterman ( @scriptedgenius ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 417th Dad in the Limelight is Jonathan Esterman. I want to thank Jonathan for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

Jonathan Esterman. Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com1)     Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)

Hi, my name is Jonathan Esterman.

 

I am a hobby blogger for scriptedgenius.com and dadlib.com and blog about fatherhood, theology, technology, product reviews, and anything else I feel like at the moment. I am active on social media and have written several shorts and a fictional book series, all published for Kindle.

 

In addition to all of that, I work a regular day job (haven’t made livable wages off my works yet) as a social media rep for a company and am working on my Masters degree online in my spare time. Also, I am a Dad and Husband.

 

Jonathan Esterman. Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com2) Tell me about your family

I am married to Lé Wifey (her call sign on my blogs) and we share the duty of parenthood with two rapscallion boys, 1.0 (age 5) and 2.0 (age 2). No, it’s not their literal names…but certainly sets a geeky tone for my posts!

 

3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

Honestly, each day is a new challenge. That’s why I started a blog about being a dad…because there are so many unique struggles, but also so very many joys in between. As my boys grow, I am continually confronted with new ways to negotiate, motivate, and encourage my boys and help them grow into brilliant men of integrity. If I had to narrow down my challenge to one specific scenario…it would be with 1.0, as he is with my wife and I 50% of the time (spending the other half of his time with his biological mother). Having two households is certainly a challenge, not just for us and him, but also for 2.0, who doesn’t quite get it yet.

 

Jonathan Esterman. Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

I could provide tons of advice, tips, and tricks, but perhaps it’s best to narrow it down to one thing: listen. Listen to your wife – she’s probably spot on with some concerns, such as not swinging the newborn around upside down. Listen to your kids – they can tell you the wonders of the world if you give them quality time (quantity time is important too, so try to balance it there). Also, listen to your intuition – if you don’t think an idea is a good one, there’s a good reason for it. I have found that by listening, most of the issues seem to resolve themselves. After all, everyone appreciates feeling validated.

 

Jonathan Esterman. Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life.

I have to remember my priorities. Being a father and husband come first for me, and everything else comes second. Sometimes, I miss a blog post. Other times, I have to take a sick day to take care of a sick kiddo. Luckily, though, my day job provides enough for my wife to stay home and handle most scenarios. That said, I do have some envy for the stay at home dads.

 

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

Every dad has their own method to their madness. I fall more into the geek type of dad, with a religious twist (being Messianic Jewish), but I find that there’s one thing that is the same for all dads: an inner sense and desire for fun with their kids. In small groups and at large, what I have learned from other dads is that there is no one right way to fatherhood, and that if all else fails, laugh it off as a fun game…more often than not, the kids will laugh with you.

 

Jonathan Esterman. Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

Fatherhood is not for the light of heart. There are moments of utter joy and times of complete frustration. Often enough, they are back to back as well. It’s a roller coaster of a journey through life, and one not to be missed. Each day that passes is another day for the books. We’ve had pee wars, playing with cars, and family game night, each one worth remembering and reliving.

 

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

Of all my experiences as a father, if I were to have a highlight reel, a few of the memories would include one of the first nights 1.0 was home from being born, 2.0’s journey into the world, our trip to Disneyland two years ago, and the Pee Wars.

 

One of 1.0’s first days of life involved him sleeping on me laying on the couch, skin on skin contact. Suddenly, I felt warm liquid run down my side. He had peed right through his diaper, and all over me! Later forensic studies revealed that his diaper (Luvs) did not absorb anything. Since then, I have only used Huggies. Live and learn, then ditch Luvs.

 

Jonathan Esterman. Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com2.0’s journey into the world was captured practically as stop-motion. His first few nights in the hospital room involved me holding him against my chest under my shirt, keeping him warm while he slept. Perhaps that’s why he still sleeps with us in bed, using me for warmth and cuddles…

 

The trip to Disneyland would sound self-explanatory, but to a surprise, it did not go as one would imagine. We went with family in hopes of a great time, but the place was overcrowded and busy (just after Christmas). 2.0 was too young to remember anything, only being four months old. 1.0 was three years old at the time, and was terrified of every ride. We started off in It’s a Small World, with him crying and clawing to hide with me and not with grandpa. The climax was Pirates of the Caribbean, of which he was obsessed with Jack Sparrow beforehand, but has not done imaginary play time as him since then.

 

Lastly, the Pee Wars. Rather than share it all here, I’m going to use some shameless self-promotion and redirect you to my new blog on fatherhood, Dadlib: http://dadlib.com/2014/01/pee-wars/.

 

Thanks for the chance to share a bit about myself, my family, and my blogs!

If you have any questions for Jonathan, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Don Blackwell ( @DonBlackwell4 ) #dadchat

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 416th Dad in the Limelight is Don Blackwell. I want to thank Don for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.

 

Don Blackwell, Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com(1) Tell me about yourself

I am a 55-year-old trial attorney in Miami, Florida.  I attended the University Of Virginia School Of Law and received my undergraduate degree in English (magna cum laude) from Spring Hill College. At various times, I’ve also has been a husband, a brother, a son, a poet, a youth league baseball coach, a law school professor (at Southern Methodist University and St. Thomas University), a college disc jockey, a charity golf tournament organizer and fundraiser (for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the new kid in town, a problem-solver, a shoulder to cry on, a featured presenter at local, regional and national legal and medical seminars, and a peace-seeker – to name just a few of my roles.  Most importantly, however, I am and for the past 28 years have been a “dad” of a 28 year old son and a 26 year old daughter.

 

As a writer, I have authored several peer-reviewed feature articles that have been published in the Florida Bar Journal, Florida’s leading legal publication, one of which, “The Burden of Truth – Have Florida Courts Gone Far Enough in Addressing the Problem of Juror Misconduct” (May, 2007) was selected by the Journal’s Editorial Board for the “Excellence in Writing Award” as the best feature article in 2007.  In addition, I’ve published several articles in nationally-distributed eating disorder journals and newsletters.  Along the way, I’ve authored and self-published two children’s books, The Bunt (1995) and Rounding Third (1997), and I recently completed work on a third, Todd’s Story (2011).  My most recent book, “Dear Ashley . . .” – A Father’s Letters and Reflections to His Daughter on Life, Love and Hope, was published in early 2013 by Imbue Press, an imprint of Morgan James Publishing in New York.

 

The publication of “Dear Ashley.” (www.dearashleythebook.com) led me to start a blog (www.donblackwell.wordpress.com).  It also was a catalyst for my becoming much more actively involved in efforts to provide inspiration, hope and healing to those suffering from eating disorders and their loved ones.  Those efforts now include my serving as a member of the Parents, Family and Friends Steering Committee of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), my participation as a speaker/panelist on several national webinars benefiting fathers of those suffering from eating disorders and, more recently, my work as the “architect” of The Dad Initiative – Committed to Healing, United in Hope, a national grass roots campaign aimed at fostering healthier father/daughter relationships and empowering, educating and encouraging dads to be more visible and active participants in all aspects of their daughters’ eating disorder treatment and recovery programs.

 

Don Blackwell, Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com(2) Tell me about your family

My wife, Cyndy and I have been married for the past 33 years.  We have two children, Greg and Ashley.  Greg is 28 years old, is married and is living in Manhattan, Kansas, where is completing his degree in Accounting at Kansas State University.  Greg returned to school after spending several years pursuing a career in professional golf on various mini/developmental tours around the country.  Ashley is 26 years old and is a recent graduate of the University of Miami, where she earned a degree in Psychology with a minor in Critical Film Studies.  She recently applied to graduate and hopes to one day teach film at the college level.  Cyndy originally worked as a legal secretary and later as a paralegal, before taking a break to be a stay at home mom.  Now that our kids are grown, she plans to return to the workforce.

 

(3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

Without question, my biggest challenge as a dad was sharing in my daughter’s life-and-death battle with anorexia nervosa that began shortly after her freshman year of college and lasted nearly 5 years. Her courage in the face of that insidious and powerful disease was taught me what it truly means to be a father, to love unconditionally and to have courage.  In fact, I learned more about life, love and hope in those 5 years than I did in my first 50!  Her battle (and my journey through her suffering) is what inspired me to write “Dear Ashley . . .”- a collection of 21 life lessons told through letters that I wrote to my daughter during the course of her illness and recovery.  The book is intended to be a source of hope, inspiration and healing to those afflicted with eating disorders and other addictive illnesses and their loved ones. It also is intended to provide insight to millions of unafflicted parents and young adults who are struggling with issues of lack of self-worth, perfectionism, fear (in all of its manifestations) and alienation before they result in a crisis.

 

Don Blackwell, Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com(4)  What advice would you give to other fathers?

Don’t be afraid to be emotional in front of your children – that goes especially for dads!  This does a number of positive things.  First, it lets your children know that you’re human and imperfect – that you cry when you hurt, that you bang on the desk once in a while when you’re frustrated, that you sometimes yell when you’re angry, that there are times when you just want to be quiet and left alone, that you understand the importance of empathy, etc.  Second, seeing a parent express (and work through) the full range of their emotions openly (and in healthy ways) is the surest way to give your children the freedom they need to do the same, without feeling that they will be judged or dismissed or, worse yet, criticized for doing so. It also will help to dispel the notion that “negative” feelings are equated with guilt or shame and should be hidden from view and, instead, encourage the healthy expression of emotions.

Use words to communicate.  Children are constantly searching their fathers’ faces and interpreting their body language for some clue as to what we’re thinking or feeling about them at a particular moment in time. Don’t force them to depend on non-verbal “clues” (e.g., silence, distancing, facial expressions, slamming doors, etc.) to convey what you’re thinking or feeling.  Express yourself and your feelings in words and encourage your children to do the same.  It’s critically important that everyone in the family live out loud!

Let your children know, by your words and your actions, that both your love and your support for them are and always will be UNCONDITIONAL (i.e., that they are not dependent on them looking or acting a certain way or to what they achieve or do not achieve in school, in sports, etc.).

Listen to and validate your children’s words – even when you disagree with them.  Don’t belittle or dismiss their point of view because it happens to be contrary to your own. Teach them the value of and importance of working through differences of opinion in a healthy non-demeaning, non-judgmental way.

Make it a point to spend quality, one-on-one time with your children doing something they enjoy (e.g., going on a walk, to the movies, to the beach or a dad/daughter/son lunch or dinner date) and make it a point to talk about things that they’re interested in and value – and to LISTEN!

When you are with your children be FULLY PRESENT.  Let them know, by turning off your cell phones, iPads, etc. that you value your time with them above all else that, during your time together, they have and are deserving of your complete attention and respectfully ask for theirs in return.

Be proactive in checking in with your children, especially as they get older.  Don’t wait for them to come to you, especially daughters. Take the time to ask “how they’re doing” and be genuinely interested in their response.  “Remind” them that you’re there for them and willing to make whatever time is needed to get together to chat or brainstorm or help them problem solve.

Be attentive to “road signs” that may signal an oncoming freight train – perfectionism, isolation, extended periods of sadness, bullying, etc. – and don’t brush them off as a passing phase or something every child/teenager needs to learn to deal with.

Consider making “Heart Talks” a family tradition.  Gather around a table with a heart shaped object in the middle once a week/month.  Whoever wants to speak simply picks up the heart and begins.  While speaking, the person holding the heart is not to be interrupted.  When they’re done another family member may pick up the heart and take their turn.

 

(5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?

I’m probably the wrong person to ask this question to.  If the question is balancing work and family, I believe it’s essential to prioritize family whenever possible, especially when it comes to ensuring that you are “present” at important activities in a child’s life (e.g., youth sporting events, recitals, plays, teacher conferences, etc.).  Generally, with careful planning of work schedules, you can make that happen.  As for life in general, for me being a dad to two very active and engaged kids was my “outside life” when they were growing up – and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Don Blackwell, Dads in the Limelight, #limelightdads, Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

(6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

Sometimes I don’t think dads fully appreciate the critically important role they play in their children’s lives, especially where daughters are concerned. We assume, without asking, that mom is the person our daughters want/need for all those “girl (and boyfriend) things” and that our daughters will let us know if/when we’re needed in their life, if at all, and how we can help.  Between her mom and her friends (who begin to take on an increasingly important role in our daughters’ lives), our perception is that they’re doing “just fine” without us and growing more independent (and less in need of us) with each passing day. We convince ourselves that we’re content to take up our seat in the cheering section and watch our daughters grow. Regrettably, daughters often interpret our stepping back and/or silence (or awkwardness) in the face of life circumstances that demand (or would greatly benefit from) a heightened degree of dad involvement and/or vulnerability to mean that we’re disinterested in them, lack empathy or, worse yet, are simply insensitive to their needs.  It’s important to realize that our daughters want us to be and stay involved.

 

(7) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

My memorable experience, where both my son and daughter, are concerned was the day they were born.  There’s nothing quite like being a dad – and certainly nothing as challenging!  As for other “memorable experiences,” many are collected in my blog (www.donblackwell.wordpress.com) in the hope that will help other young dads learn from my successes and mistakes!

If you have any questions for Don, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas, dadofdivas.com

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