Our 301st Dad in the Limelight is author Andrew Friedman. I want to thank Andrew for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
I’m a professional writer who covers the world of chefs/food and tennis. I’m not in the limelight all the time, but occasionally have the honor of doing book signings, speaking gigs, and an occasional radio or television interview. I enjoy it, and my kids LOVE seeing me on TV.
2) Tell me about your family
There are five of us: My talented and beautiful wife of the last 12 years, Caitlin; our twin 8-year-olds Declan (son) and Taylor (daughter); and our mini-Australian Shepherd Indy, who’s been with us since 1999. And, of course, me.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
My largest challenge as a father has been learning to adjust my overall schedule and the ebb and flow of my day to be available to my children the way I want to. I love pulling all-nighters as much as the next writer, but they leave me too beat to be properly present with my kids. I’ve also tried to select projects that keep me in our hometown (New York City) rather than on the road. It’s a process and after eight years I’m still honing, but am much better at it than I used to be.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
I’m hesitant to advise other fathers too much because all father-child relationships are unique, but I do think it’s important to give your children what they need while also maintaining your identity as a person. Don’t allow yourself to become one of those parents who is only a parent. Also make time for yourself and your relationship with your spouse. For a time, Caitlin and I had a regular Saturday night sitter booked and we went out that night no matter how tired we were – we felt it was crucial to maintain that aspect of our time together. We don’t do that anymore, but we do make a point of getting out often, even if it’s only meeting for lunch during the workday, or a nightly glass of wine in the backyard after our kids have gone to bed.
5) Seeing that you (or your position) are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? If you are currently not in the limelight per se, please still answer this in regards to how you balance parenthood and outside life.
I’m very honest with my kids about the challenges of my job. If I’m on a book deadline and won’t be very available for a period of time, I simply explain it to them and tell them we’ll spend more time together when it passes. They understand are used to this (and my wife spends more time with them during these periods). Whenever possible I bring the kids along for things I have to do at odd hours, like nights and weekends. For example, I got a call to be interviewed on one of the national morning shows earlier this year. The request came just as I was about to take my son to his tennis lesson. I told the producer I could only come if my kids could come along, and she accommodated us, even sending a car for the family. So, I did what I had to do and the kids got a behind the scenes look at 30 Rockefeller Center that they loved – a win-win.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
This breaks down into two categories for me: On the literal side, there’s advice I’ve received from other fathers, such as approaches to discipline, tricks of the trade, so to speak. But the most powerful lessons have come from just observing fathers who I think have exceptional relationships with their children, internalizing their behavior, and weaving it into my own patterns. I’m talking about little things, like how a tantrum is managed in public to how encouragement is shown on the ball field—I’m constantly making mental notes. But little things add up.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Here’s my big lesson so far: The more time I spend with my kids, the more time I want to spend with my kids. Try to create a life for yourself that allows you ample time for them and for yourself. It’s tough, and I’m lucky because as a freelancer I can simply take on less work, but it’s something to strive for.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
When my kids surprise me, that’s the best. Our son is athletically gifted and our daughter has some talent for graphic arts. Watching those skills blossom has been a treat. They’ve also responded incredibly well to some bad news that hit our family in the last few years – the illnesses and deaths that all families experience at some time. I add all that up and I know they’re going to be fine in this world … not that I had anything to do with it!
If you have any questions for Andrew, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!