Our 277th Dad in the Limelight is author Dan Walsh. I want to thank Dan 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 am 55 years old. I was born in Philadelphia but grew up (and still live) in the Daytona Beach area. My father was an engineer who worked on the Apollo space program, so when it ended we stayed in Florida. I’m an award-winning and bestselling author of fiction novels. Seven of them are on the shelves now (The Reunion just came out!) and two more completed and scheduled for release in 2013. Magazine and blog reviewers most often compare my books to Nicholas Sparks.
Before becoming an author, I was the senior pastor of a local church for 25 years. So for my kids, their father was “in the limelight” every Sunday.
2) Tell me about your family
I’ve been married for 35 years to the woman I met and fell in love with right out of high school. We’re empty-nesters now but, thankfully, the best of friends. We have two adult children, both married, and one grandson, a toddler.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Because I was a pastor for most of my kids growing-up years, my biggest challenge was not being a hypocrite. I wanted my kids to see that their dad was the same man at church and at home. I also wanted them to know they came first in my heart, before the people in the church. That wasn’t always easy to do, but I committed myself to this goal. Sometimes it offended certain people in the church, who thought I should be more available to them. I decided to let people like that become offended, rather than offend my kids. It seems, for the most part, I succeeded. Because me and my kids are good friends now and love spending time together.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
You need help. Lots of help. More help than you realize. Unlike the animals, humans aren’t born with instincts about how to parent. Our biggest instinct is that we are born selfish, and most of our first reactions to situations are bad ones. This is why we need help as fathers.
I recommend reading 2-3 good books on fatherhood and parenting (I recommend authors like Gary Smalley and Rick Johnson). Become part of a church that is loaded with devoted fathers and spend time with them, asking lots of questions (unless you are one of those rare, fortunate children that had a great dad. If that’s the case, follow his example and don’t be afraid to ask for his help).
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 kind of answered this question with my answer to number three. Since becoming an author, I’ve retired from pastoral ministry, thereby removing the “limelight pressure” from my children’s lives. In some ways, I’m even more in the limelight now as an author, but since they are grown it doesn’t present much of a problem.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
A ton. I paid attention to the dads in my church who had won their children’s respect and watched how they interacted with them. I also asked them specific questions when I ran into snags in my own parenting efforts. One of the biggest lessons I learned is that children need to be listened to at a heart level. They all need and want this, but few get it from their dad’s. Giving lectures comes more naturally to us than listening.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Maybe this…you only have your kids with you for two decades. Those 2 decades are not about you, but about them. The time to refine your hobbies and personal interests are the two decades that follow after they leave home. That’s when you have the time (and probably even more money). Simply put, pay attention to your kids. It’s an investment of time you’ll never regret.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Honestly, there are far too many to recount here. So many family trips and vacations, so many family holidays and traditions, so many screw-ups that we’re able to laugh about now. But there’s one thing that comes to mind as a real stand-out to me. Last year, I asked my 22-year-old son to describe his dream job to me. He said, “Dad, it would be that your books get so popular and you make enough money that you have to hire an assistant, and I’d get to be that guy.”
Feel free to send photos that you would like included. No deadline, but I’d like to send it over in the next week or two.
People can follow or contact me through my website at www.danwalshbooks.com
If you have any questions for Dan, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!