(The goal of Meet a Dad: Profile a dad and let him share his fatherly wisdom with us. Some of these dads will be well-known in certain circles; others will be largely unknown outside of their immediate circles. Doesn’t matter, because I think just about every father has as much — or more — to share than I do.)
Tell us who you are and what you do…
I’m a husband, father, writer and pastor. I like to create with words. I think it’s important to be a storyteller in our world – and that’s the strong thread that, for me, connects pen and pulpit. My wife, Miska, and I have two rabble-rousing boys. Wyatt is 9, and Seth is 7. We live in Charlottesville, Virginia.
What is one thing you do that qualifies you for being an above-average dad?
Well, this question reveals that your average must be pretty darn mediocre. I’ve given more energy toward Pokemon than any human being should ever be asked to do. I think that earns me something.
What is one thing you do that results in eye rolls and/or exasperation from your kids?
The boys are at that age where they are completely grossed out whenever they see Miska and me expressing lavish displays of affection. So, of course, we pour it on. I want to give them something truly juicy to dissect in their therapy sessions later in life.
What is the most challenging aspect of fatherhood for you?
Probably wrestling with my own demons, those broken places in my heart that work against my reckless love for my boys.
What is your absolute favorite thing to do with your kid?
With Seth, it’s sharing our love of coffee. We’ve begun a tour of every Charlottesville coffee house, on a quest to discover the best in town (did I mention Seth’s 7?). With Wyatt, it’s chess games at the Mudhouse, our local bohemian gathering spot. Also, we have regular excursions for “dangerous Collier men.” Those are always a whirl of fun.
What’s the best advice you ever received about fatherhood?
A dad I respect very much (three boys and all further down the road than us) told me that it’s important to remember we’re not fundamentally trying to raise virgins (or leaders or responsible adults or non-potheads — insert your vice or issue here). Rather, we’re trying to raise kids who love God with free, open hearts. If our energy is more on their behavior than their heart, we may achieve compliance but at too high a price. And, I’ve found, our obsession with behavior usually has more to do with us (our fears, our image) than it actually has to do with our love for our kids.
A close second, however, was when a friend with older kids told us how to respond when one child protests we’ve been unfair between the siblings. Our friend said to simply tell them, with straight face, “Son, it’s because we love your brother more.” Oh how I’ve loved that line.
If another father asked you for one piece of advice about being a dad, what would you tell him?
Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid. Whatever you imagine you’d do if you had the time or the courage: go ahead and do it. Oh — and laugh.
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