Our 223rd Dad in the Limelight is Gil Michelini. I want to thank Gil 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:
For 23 years, I’ve been married to my college crush. Fran and I met at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana while studying television production. We live near Indianapolis.My day job is designing training for the clients of ACS, a division of Xerox.2) Tell Me About Your Family
I am the father to four daughters. To answer a frequently asked question, the older three are Fran and I’s biological daughters.
Daughter 1 (Anna) graduated from high school this past June. She moved out in October and is adjusting to adulthood while holding down a full-time and part-time job and fighting with her car.
Daughter 2 ( is a high school junior. She is active in show choir and theatre, following in her mother’s footsteps.
Daughter 3 (Celia) is in eighth grade. She played clarinet this pass fall with the high school marching band and looks forward to four more years in the band.Mara)
Daughter 4 (Gemma) is in fifth grade. She enjoys anything that does not involve sitting down. Her favorite activities are cheerleading and gymnastics.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Learning what is the 20% of really important material and how to ignore the 80% of what will be forgotten. While I’m learning not to focus as much on the trivial, I need to keep the black and white core values (being honest, respecting everyone, and doing your best) out in front of the girls even when they are learning the world is painted with many shades of gray.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Love your children’s mother. Fran and I struggled in our marriage for the better part of 10 years. Because we (me) were not doing what was really important to a family and strengthening the marriage first, our parenting suffered. Once Fran and I were able to put our marriage first and parenting second, our family has become stronger.
This is not easy because it goes against what I believe men are taught to do in America. We only get one chance to raise our children so it seems to make sense to put our effort there while ignoring the marriage but—like a house—without the strong foundation of the marriage, the family built upon it will not be stable.
In Daddy, Come & Get Me, I mention the business I started during the adoption. The book ends before the readers learn what happen to the business. It did ultimately fail and took the family finances down with it. Just before it hit bottom, I was able secure full-time employment giving me a net to catch the family.
Since then, I spent time in prayer and journaling to figure out why I failed. Lack of balance was the biggest issue.
When I got serious about writing Daddy, Come & Get Me, I did a couple of things to prevent a second failed business through lack of balance.
First, I move my desk into an area just off the kitchen—the center of family activity. Previously, I was squirreled away in the back of the house so family life could go on “without bothering me”.
Second, I made changes to my schedule: I go to bed early and get up a couple of hours before everyone else. I use that time to work. When the family wants to watch TV, I go and work (except when the Packers are on).
A balanced life is ensuring all important areas get equal treatment. I need to write and be creativity for my own sanity. I need to spend time with my wife. I need to spend time with my children. I need to complete tasks around the house. And yeah, I need to keep my employer happy.
None of this just happens without planning. I have changed my schedule to get those first few hours of the day to be creative. Fran and I schedule dates. I block out time to be with one or more of the girls. I invite
(sometime demand) girls help me with the jobs so they can learn some of the basic skills and develop a decent work ethic.
Balance is not easy but worth the effort.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
Some guys are better fathers than dads; I want to be a dad.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
While the girls may not agree now, spending money on experiences is a better investment than spending money on stuff. I remember Christmas mornings of my childhood more than what I got; however, the year when dad built everything out of wood is forever etched in my mind.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
- The three births and meeting Gemma for the first time.
- Burping contest at the table.
- Watching my little princesses grow into ladies.
- Being together.
If you have any questions for Gil, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!