Our 507th Dad in the Limelight is Jerry Dugan. I want to thank Jerry 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)
My name is Jerry Dugan from the blog, The Real Jerry Dugan. I grew up as an Army BRAT living in countries like Japan and Germany. My parents divorced when I was 11 years old. Today, I have a blog, a podcast called “Family Time Q&A”, and have written an eBook called Strength Revisited which is available as a free download from my blog.
The title of my blog started as a joke when I was racing against a video/film director from Las Vegas for web presence in 2007. Out of frustration I shouted, “I’m the real Jerry Dugan!” and found the domain name was available.
My blogging has mostly focused on sharing the real me as I experience life’s challenges and joys as a husband and father. Having served in a men’s ministry for three years, and working as a community educator for a battered women’s shelter for nearly four years, I have seen there’s a great need for men to recognize the harmful lies about masculinity we’ve been fed, and be the “real” (genuine and authentic) men our families need us to be.
2) Tell me about your family
I joined the Army after college even though my dad once told me, “Do whatever you want in life…except join the Army.” It’s one of the few times I’ll say ignoring wisdom pays off, because it was in the Army where I met my wonderful wife, Olivia.
Thirteen years later, and we have a teenage son, a pre-teen ballerina daughter, a prissy cat, and a zombie-fighting dog. Together, we run a weekly podcast called “Family Time Q&A” where I sit down with a different family member each week and we ask each other a candid question. The idea behind the podcast is that we demonstrate the way we interact with each other by having a show that is unscripted and unedited. This includes allowing my kids a voice to challenge me when I am being unfair or to explain a decision they did not understand.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
My job as a father is to help my children become they people they were meant to be, so I have to constantly think about doing what builds them up. The hardest challenge about being a father is adapting to be the father my children need me to be. They are both unique from each other, but they are also unique from me. They have their own different interests, Love Languages, communication styles, etc.
I don’t always get this right, and on occasion I’ll yell out of frustration. At that point, I have to decide between the “satisfaction of being in charge,” or getting humble and repairing my relationship with my children.
They need to know that my love is unconditional, that I am am a flawed human like anyone else, and I want them to learn how to handle those conflicts in a healthy way. It’s a challenge to do that when I am learning myself. I have to swallow a lot of pride.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Be present. Spend time with them doing what they like doing. That may mean hanging up the “machismo” to do a cheer routine, or sing along to Disney tunes, watching hours of Sponge Bob Square Pants, and even not watching Monday Night Football. That time spent with your kids will be worth it in the long run, because they’ll remember those moments you spent with them and repeat it with their own children.
Be real with your kids by being authentic and vulnerable with them. Your kids needs to live up to only being themselves, the best versions of themselves they want to be.
Having served in the U.S. Army and been a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I realized that at the end of my life none of my achievements, knowledge, or popularity would matter to me. Only one more moment with the people I love would matter most. I’ve seen the funerals of men whose estranged children were not present. We don’t have to have estranged children, but that will require we become humble as men to make that happen.
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
My relationship priorities in life follow this order: God, marriage, my children, then everything else.
So, by spending time in prayer and meditation, I remind myself how wonderful my wife is. Treating her with respect, love, and priority models healthy relationships for my children while actually keeping my marriage healthy. My children do not worry about us divorcing even though we have had quite a few families fall apart from divorce.
I have passed up higher paying jobs because the commute would take more time away from my family. When it comes to scheduling my life, time with my family is more important than time with the guys, clubs, mixers, etc. Knowing our priorities has made it easy for me to say yes to what matters and no to what doesn’t.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
In general, most fathers I have met wish to build their kids up and give them the best they can. Whether we go about it in a way that works, or not, that seems to be the core of what we intend. The fathers who seem to get it right do not try to create tough-guy clones of themselves. Instead, they simply show love to their kids, give encouragement where others would bring down an iron fist of discipline, and they even place their family priorities over their work priorities. Shocker, right?
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
The biggest thing I have learned, and am still learning, is how important it is to stay humble every day. My weakest moments as a father have been when I held onto my pride and asserted my position as an authority figure in the home.
No matter what I do, my family is watching. Even the things we think we do behind closed doors or in secret have ways of manifesting in our outward appearances and behaviors.
Some of the stories my children have enjoyed and learned from me the most have been the moments I shared my shortcomings with them. My children see me as their hero. They have more respect for me when I share how much of a real human I am.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
My children are now both in middle school, and I am still amazed at how they love to cuddle with my wife and I. While they are growing up so quickly, it is in those moments that I am reminded they are also our babies and they love us.
If you have any questions for Jerry, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!