What does fatherhood mean to you?
Joy. To borrow a line from a movie, being a father has made me want to be a better man. I cherish the memory of the night my first son was born. In spite of my best planning I had no idea what was ahead. It was both a proud and humbling turning point in my life. As my children grew older, I grew up.
My sons think I hung the moon, but I’ve always known better. These young men have become my life's greatest joy.
What is the best part of being a dad?
My sons make me laugh. It must be a genetic thing, but we have such a similar sense of humor. One of my favorite things to do is to sit down for a meal with them. It is their way to begin to recount an episode of their favorite TV show, retelling each scene and line or about what is happening at school. Before long they have me rolling on the floor.
What is your proudest moment as a dad?
There are so many. When they were born, their first school play. This is an unfair question. But life can throw some curve balls and when things have been tough I have watched them come together as brothers, supporting and caring for each other. I would have to say these are my proudest moments.
What do you and your children do for fun?
We just like to be together. Over the years our hobbies have changed from karate to dirt bikes and hikes. We have enjoyed some great vacations. Water fights, movies, video games and family reunions. With summer already here we are looking forward to boating. It doesn't really matter so much what we do, when we are together it's a blast!
What is the hardest part about being a dad?
I am divorced from the mother of my sons. Doing the right things for them and protecting them from all the people who thought that meddling in our affairs was their business was tough. It was a real battle for more than eight years. I found several good mentors and counselors to support me through it, stood my ground and took quite a beating, but my boys came through with flying colors.
What kind of dad do you strive to be?
In tune with what is going on in their world. I want to lead by example. Taking care of myself and our needs as a family. It is important that my sons know I am there for them. No matter what this world throws at them, I am on their side, and will not falter.
Describe your funniest moment as a dad.
Again with the unfair questions. How can I pick just one?
My oldest son, John, was two and a half years old and loved his fireman's hat. For Christmas he wanted to get his infant brother a new fireman's hat of his own. As parents we thought how sweet and thoughtful he was. On Christmas morning when the gift was opened, our tiny Brian, although he liked the color, was too young to appreciate the hat. It was then that John's real motives were revealed. As soon as he saw the new fireman's hat, he went to his room and brought back his old hat and traded it with Brian's new one.
What would you hope that your kids would say about you if asked what kind of a dad they have?
That I loved them.
We have been through good times and some rough times. I wouldn't want them to say they want to be just like me. I would hope they would choose and act on who they want to be based on what they think is right and wrong.
With all that has gone on in on our family through their childhood there will come a time when they will have to come to terms with our relationship. They will agree and disagree with my actions and life. But if they know that I love them and can say they love me, they will have the anchorage they need to to make those choices and judgments. They will be able to make free choices for their own lives.
What is the most important piece of advice you’ve received about fatherhood?
It is more of a statement than advice. When our marriage was in its final crisis I found a counselor to fix it all. That didn't work. However she became my personal counselor. We were dealing with some very heavy issues and I was in a lot of pain. But I remember her saying "Watching your children grow fills your soul." That has proven to be true.
What would you consider to be your most inspiring moment as a dad?
It was my 40th birthday party and my youngest son's 5th. The boys' mom left with them for a time and this was the first time we had been together in a month. My siblings and extended family were all there. I was so overjoyed to hold my children again I could barely keep from falling apart. My youngest, Ben, could not let me go. He had to be held by me no matter what. My other two boys were never more then an arms length away. They were exhausted and really scared of what was going on in their lives. It was clear to me then I was the only hope these boys had. I knew then their lives depended on me. I had to keep it together and do what ever it took to be there for my kids.
Click here to read more interviews from our Featured Fathers.