Setting New Goals, Being a Present Father, and Sound Advice From My Own Mother

At PEPS, we love hearing from families about their parenting experiences and perspectives on parenthood. This month, we heard from several fathers who shared their highs and lows, what they love about being a parent, and advice for other dads.

Luke is an award-winning journalist, speaker, loving husband and dedicated father to a daughter. He chatted with us recently to share about his thoughts and experiences on being a dad.

PEPS: What are you most proud of about being a dad?

Luke: My daughter is 7 years old and a bright, energetic, effervescent little girl. She is a ray of positive light in whatever room she’s in. I beam with pride whenever I’m around her. I like to think I’ve had something to do with that, although my wife Tracy deserves more of the credit.

PEPS: What do you find most challenging about being a dad?

Luke:  Juggling the needs of my work life and home life is the big challenge. I’ve cut down on all kinds of things that used to take up time in my life (watching sports on TV, for example) in order to create more space in life for being a dad. It’s also hard to find time for just husband and wife (date night). This is important, and needs to remain a priority. I’m working on this one.

PEPS: What would you do differently, if anything, as a new dad given your experience now?

Luke: I would probably do a lot of the same things, especially when my daughter was an infant. I’m glad I was home a lot then. These days, I always strive to find the right balance between time spent working and time spent at home. When at home, I think it’s very important to be present, and not constantly connected to our devices, our work and the various things the outside world does to grab for our attention. Our attention is a precious resource, and we should be giving more of it to our kids and less of it to Netflix, Facebook, or whatever the digital platforms are doing to grab and hold our attention.

PEPS:  What do you wish someone would have told you about being a dad in general or as a dad of a daughter?

Luke: My mother emphasized the importance of being a good father, an affectionate and attentive father, to a daughter. Girls with that kind of positive relationship in their lives are less likely to seek out bad relationships with boys and men as they enter adolescence, she said. I thought that was sound advice.

PEPS: As the father of an older child, what advice do you have for new dads?

Luke: Get comfortable with the idea of re-orienting your life around a new set of goals. If you want to be a good dad, then you have to develop a set of daily habits that reinforce the goal. For infants and toddlers, that means changing diapers, being there to comfort them when they cry at night, etc. If you’re a dad with a highly demanding job with long hours, you will need to figure out strategies to get things done in less time than you once did. Or maybe you find a way to offload some of your work tasks onto others so you can be present with your kid when you need to be. Do you really need to travel to that conference XYZ that you used to, or would that time away impose an unnecessary burden on your family? Figuring out how to resolve the tension between work and home life is something dads need to think about hard – not just moms!

PEPS: What does Father’s Day mean to you? Is it an important day for you? And, how would you like to celebrate it and be celebrated?

Luke: Father’s Day is a welcome reminder to our society that fathers are actually important. Weirdly, we seem to need this reminder, as fatherhood is generally not given a lot of respect in our culture. And, I don’t know if our family has a ritual celebration around Father’s Day. I think my wife and daughter appreciate me, and I feel that on a regular basis. I know my daughter this year is planning to make an arts/crafts gift for me. She is excited to make that and present it to me, and I’m looking forward to receiving this loving gift from her. I can’t really think of anything I’d rather have.

Thank you, Luke, and we hope you enjoy many wonderful Father’s Day celebrations!

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