Our 444th Dad in the Limelight is Andy Smithson. I want to thank Andy 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 blog at www.truparenting.net. I’m also a regular contributor at everydayfamily.com and have been featured on, whattoexpect.com, First Time Parent Magazine, Allthingshealing.com, and have worked on a collaborative parenting article on yummymummyclub.com.Above all else I’m a husband and father to three boys and a little girl. We live in Idaho, along the beautiful Snake River. We spend our summers on the river and our winters in the nearby mountains. I love working with children and parents to help families break negative cycles and build powerful positive cycles of growth through TRU principles of Teaching as the focus of all discipline, Relationship building and Upgrading ourselves as individuals and parents. I work to teach these TRU principles as a counselor, parenting class facilitator, writer, blogger and parent coach.
2) Tell me about your family
My beautiful wife, Camille and I were married in 2004. That means that as I write this, we are going on 10 years of marriage. We’ve been blessed through these 10 years with four wonderful children; Cuylar (8), Eli (6), Berkeley (4) and Emma (22 months). Having three boys has been fun and exciting. It’s been a new experience to invite a little girl into our lives. You can learn more about my family by clicking here.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
My greatest challenge as a father was finding ways to connect and feel useful and needed in the first few weeks of my first and second son’s lives. My wife and I have had all of our children at home and I have coached each birth. I always felt like the births of each of my children were miraculous and beautiful. I felt I touched and saw a glimpse of heaven each time. I’ll never forget these moments and yet the first days after their birth, I struggled to find my place in their lives. My newborns have always been very drawn to their mother and she fed them and rocked them to sleep. It seemed like they had all they needed from her. I struggled to find those special moments to feel close to them in those first days. Luckily, my wonderful wife found opportunities to invite me to help with diapers, rock them to sleep, play with them and just gaze at their tiny hands in mine. These were the most powerful things that helped me to see my essential role in their lives and to build an unbreakable bond.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Nothing happens in a day. Everything of value happens in cycles and takes time. Kids learn to ride their bike, how to regulate emotions and how to be loving fathers themselves over time. Be patient. Be willing to wait longer than you think you should have to wait. See the little victories that compound over the years, one upon the other. Realize that the sign of great parenting is not the child’s behavior. The sign of great parenting is the parent’s behavior.
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
For me I’m not sure it’s as much about “balance” as it is about priorities. When I know and remember what is most important and live life accordingly, I find that things tend to fall into place. When I’m home, I’m home. I’ve learned that it’s important for me to turn off the TV, put the smart phone away and close the laptop until the kids eyes have closed for the night. When I set priorities, I can set aside the time I need to work and write without it interrupting with the very reason I started doing it all in the first place, my family.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
It started with my own father. I learned so much about what it means to be masculine, tough and assertive while being gentle, loving and understanding. My father had the roughest hands but the softest heart. I’ve also had a wonderful opportunity to learn from great fathers that have brought humor and wisdom to fatherhood. My older brothers, as well as my wife’s father and brother have been incredible examples of unconditionally loving fathers. I’ve learned that dads have an unappreciated but indisputably imperative impact in the lives of their children.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
There are few greater feelings than having kids rush, tackle, hug, kiss and exclaim “Daddy” when you enter the house after work. My wife is a stay at home mom but sometimes I encourage her to leave the kids with me and go somewhere on her own just for the opportunity to return home and feel the exhilaration that comes when the kids run to you.
I was a little crazy growing up. I grew up skiing and inline skating and loved the feeling of flying through the air and going faster than was probably wise. Since becoming a father, I take my kids skiing and there is a thrill that only a parent knows when their child skis down the mountain on their own for the first time. There is no comparison to accompanying your child through the struggles and victories of their lives.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
My father passed away the year before my first son was born. The first and most overwhelmingly profound feeling of grief came to me when I realized that my children would never know my dad. My wife and I spent the following year collecting stories and pictures from my dad’s life and compiling it in a 100 + page book. When my sons were old enough to enjoy stories at bed time, my wife and I would read them stories from my father’s life. A memory I will always treasure is one evening as we were getting the boys in bed, my oldest son said, “Dad, will you read us another story about Grandpa? I love him.” I could see the cycle of fatherhood in action and was so happy to have allowed them to know my dad in a way that made them feel connected to and loved by their grandpa.
If you have any questions for Andy, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!