1. How would you like your children to know you?
I have two young daughters and I am the only male in the house, so there is some added pressure on me. It's really important for me to be a positive male role model. You always hear that girls tend to marry guys like their fathers. I would like my kids to know me as a person they can look at and respect. One of the things that I think we all have to do as parents is lead by example. It's one thing to try and tell your kids how to be kind and responsible people but another to actually show them. I think there are a lot of dads out there that are concerned with being a friend to their kids. Just because you're their parent, doesn't mean that they are going to look at you in that way. I think in the long run, they benefit most from the lessons we teach them by just living our lives with respect and decency. I also want them to think I'm a Badass Rock Star and Master of all things awesome.
2. What is the best thing dads can do when raising their children?
As a working dad, it's always been difficult for me to spend a lot of time with my kids during the week. I used to feel tremendous guilt when I would miss the opportunity to see them in the morning or tuck them in at night. It would bother me so much that it would consume me, even when I was with them. Now I know that it's not necessarily the amount of time I spend with them but the quality of the moments we are able to share. I tend to smother them on the weekends and really try to lose myself in the moments we have together. When you have the chance to connect with your kids, take it!
3. What is the biggest error dads can make when raising their children?
I try to be consistent on all fronts. I try to make sure that I'm not being hypocritical in any way when I'm talking with them. Unfortunately, kids remember everything and as we get older, we tend to forget. I think a lot of parents yell and scream when things don't go their way. Kids pick up on these things right away. Then when things don't go well for them, their tendency is to yell and scream right back. I always try and keep it low key, so they can really hear what I'm saying. Otherwise, they will eventually just tune you out. I do always have a tiny can of whoopass in the closet, just in case...
4. Each generation worries that their kids aren’t strong enough to handle the real world. Do you feel kids need to be “toughened up” by experiencing tough times?
I think it is true that your experiences ultimately define you to a certain extent but what's more important is how you handle them. I don't think that my generation was any tougher than the current crop of kids. I would never want to intentionally try and toughen them up. I think if you just let your kids try and find their own way and develop a healthy sense of self confidence, it all works out in the end. I also don't want to be that parent that says, "What's wrong with these kids today?" or "That's not music, that's noise!" Just take me out back and shoot me if I ever get there.
5. How do you choose a childcare center?
My wife and I basically had three criteria that we focused on but all had to be met or it was a deal breaker.
1) If the teachers smelled like smoke, we were out of there.
2) If my wife cried when we left the establishment, we took a pass.
3) The teachers had to have all of their teeth.
Don't ask. There's a method to our madness and we've been lucky so far.
6. A father's role is always neglected and undermined. What do you think a father's role should be in raising kids?
Everyone always throws different stereotypes at parenting and I think there's a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy that comes as a result. People tend to think that Dads need to be the disciplinarian and moms tend to be the nurturing one. I guess there are families that get by just fine playing these roles but in our house it's a bit of a mash up. My wife and I try and really work together as a team when it comes to parenting. We feel that the old adage "Safety in Numbers" always works best. Also "Never let em' see you sweat" comes to mind. For us, there are no specific roles to play but rather just try and support each other in whatever situation happens to arise. Parents have to stick together. Raising kids is like fighting Zombies. One on one, they are pretty easy to handle but in groups, they'll kill you if you're careless. I'm not sure that even makes sense but I love Zombie analogies.
7. When you get disrespect from your child (yelling at you, being rude to you, etc.), what's the best thing you can do?
I am very comfortable with my style of discipline. I NEVER argue with my kids. Why? Because you can't argue with kids. It's that simple. If you engage in a battle with them, they become empowered. I'm big on ignoring my kids when they have their tantrums. If you just let it happen and make it clear to them that it's a waste of time, they eventually come around. I actually use the same technique with adults. I always say it's way more important for your kids to respect you than it is for them to like you. I do have one rule though and it is paramount in enforcing the law in my house. NEVER try to discipline your kids while in your underwear. Again, don't ask.
One last thought and this is just a general philosophy that I have come to admire. A good friend of mine who has a 14 year old daughter once told me, "Let your kids know that they don't have to tell you everything but make them feel like they can tell you anything." I like that...
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