This interview is to appear in the near future in the Best of You Today online magazine. Enjoy the sneak-peak!
You write books that are truly inspirational. What inspired you to write your first book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad: One Hundred Reasons?
I was employed in sales at the time and spending many nights away from home, often missing events in my young daughter’s life. I originally conceived the book as a letter to her explaining although I may be on the road she was never far from my thoughts and affections. Once I finished the letter, a list actually of the things I hoped and dreamed for her, I realized what I had was a book about the very things any father would want to say to his daughter.
Since your first book, you’ve written more than 25 inspirational books about faith and family relationships. How do you decide what to write about next? Are the subjects taken from things you are going through at the time?
The first book was rather autobiographical and each book since has followed that style. The introductions are about intimate but relatable personal and family experiences that lead to a moral about the relationship described in the book – be that parent and child, siblings or spouses. I come from a very large family with members who are actively engaged with one another; finding material to write about has never been a challenge! And yes, each book has also been inspired by the stage I was passing through at the time I sat down to pen the first draft.
Your latest book is the first you’ve written specifically for Christians. What led you to write Lead Love Serve: 100 Three Word Ways to be Like Jesus?
Lead Serve Love was written at a pivotal stage in my life. Although I have been a church-goer and professed Christian most of my life, I never fully understood what it meant to be “born again.” I had an experience a few years ago while serving the poor in our community that can only be described as witnessing for the first time Gospel living in action. It was so powerful I became changed by it, I became born again, and naturally I wanted to write about it. The book is born out of that day and other serving experiences I’ve had the opportunity to partake in as I delved deeper and deeper into Christian living.
Several of your books have been on the New York Times Best-Sellers list. Of all of your books, do you have a favorite?
I have favorites! Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, the first one, will always be a favorite not only because it was for my daughter but because it opened the door to a new career for me. Why I Love You, which I wrote for my wife, is a favorite because she is so important to me and I think I captured why and how much I love her in that book. Lead Serve Love is also a favorite not only because it declares my desire to pursue Christian living, it also represents a change in my writing direction. Everything I write going forward will be distinctively inspired by Christian faith.
We understand you’re the dad to two girls. What do you think is the secret to being a good dad to a young girl? Why do you think dads and daughters often share a special bond?
I have a daughter of my own and a step-daughter, although I make that distinction only for clarity. My experience as a father to daughters has taught me the importance of being intentionally present. Being intentionally present means so much more than being in the same room. Girls need attention, reassurance and encouragement. Fathers can bolster young women’s esteem and teach discernment by caring through attentive listening and then acting unselfishly on what they’ve heard. If dad’s fail to do that daughters can be too easily led astray by men with dishonorable intentions. It seems like a tired cliché, but it’s an unfortunate truth.
You’ve also written about a son’s relationships with his mom and dad. What did you draw from to write these books? Are they based on the relationships you had with your own parents when you were growing up?
Those books are based on my memories of being a son. Although I am now more than fifty years old, I still feel the love, support and concern of my parents. And, even though he came into my life after I had written those particular titles, I now mentor a fatherless teen boy and am discovering so much more about the father-son dynamic than I once understood from my limited perspective as a son.
Generally, do you believe that there are fundamental differences between family life for a daughter and for a son? If so, how would you characterize the differences?
Where once I might have said there are differences in raising daughters verses sons, I now think there are more similarities. Yes, we engage in different activities with our sons and daughters and there are gender-based life lessons to be taught, but at its root parenting is about being intentionally present. You are the most important man or woman in your children’s lives during their formative years. If you make parenting, which is far more than making provision and giving discipline, your priority, your children, boys or girls, will prosper. If you make your children’s needs secondary to your own pursuits, they will spend a lifetime attempting to fill the void you left in their hearts.
Please leave our readers with the single most important thing they can do today to improve their family relationships.
Go to church together. Christianity is a belief system but it is also a conscience lifestyle. When a family begins to organize its conduct around a common belief and value system, when everyone is in pursuit of the same goal, when everyone uses the same guide star (the Bible) for navigating the distractions of this world, you begin to experience a harmony and grounding you cannot find in the secular world. It’s not always easy and it takes time, but making Jesus a member of your family is indeed the single most important thing you can do.