Our 402nd Dad in the Limelight is Richard Beaty. I want to thank Richard 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 the director of TEAM DAD a federally-funded Responsible Fatherhood program of Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority, Inc., a community action agency in Morristown, TN. I am blessed to work along seven great people all dedicated to helping guys become better dads. Our program helps guys find jobs, teaches fathering classes and helps link men to community resources. I have a varied background: television news, education, non-profit management, but consider what I do now my giggle job (a giggle job is one you love so much that you giggle on the way to work because you can’t believe someone actually pays you to do what you would do for free).
2) Tell me about your family
My wife Susan and I will soon celebrate 20 years together. We have three great kids: Trey turns 18 this month and is a high school senior. He is an honor student who plays French horn. Grace is 12 and in middle school. She is left-handed and plays the piano. Mary Clare is 10 and in elementary school. She has red-hair and plays my heart strings. Three kids at three different schools right now makes for fun but frantic mornings in the Beaty household. Both Susan and I grew up in very loving families with great sets of parents.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
I remember being in the delivery room as our son was born. I had a little welcome speech ready. I was going to say “Welcome to the world, William Richard Beaty the Third.” It would be the first words he would ever hear. I had practiced for weeks. In my head I sounded a little like Lawrence Olivia when I delivered that line. Right before the nurse handed my newborn son over to me she said, “welcome to the world, little one.” I had nothing. I mean what are the odds? And from that moment on I realized that fatherhood is full of surprises and unexpected challenges. It has been not what I expected. It has been better.
The challenges have changed over time. Maybe the biggest one for me right now is the realization that you have to let your kids make a mistake every now and then. My inclination is to want to fix everything and keep any possibility of bad things happening away from them. But we all have to experience some adversity in order to grow. So I am learning to let them make more of their own choices and live with the consequences.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
It’s about time.
My youngest daughter taught me this valuable lesson. Back before the girls were old enough, I would drop my son at school each morning on the way to work. One morning Mary Clare rose early, dressed and asked if she could go with us. That particular day, I could be a few minutes late to work, so I agreed. After we dropped off her brother, we decided to explore a little and drove down a road we had not been on before in search of the lake. We found it and spent just a few minutes lakeside taking in the view.
From that day on, she would often remind me of the instant memory by asking, “do you remember that time you took me to the water?” The girls are just 18 months apart in age and are together almost all the time. They share a room and almost everything else. The lake trip made me realize I need to spend time with each alone from time to time.
So my advice for other dads is to remember that time is so important. Not just time with your kids. But as much as possible, time with each child. Those memories of just the two of you will last two lifetimes.
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
It is sort of strange directing a fatherhood program all day and then going home and just being dad and husband. With former jobs, I always thought it was important to have a clear separation and tried to not let my day job infringe on home time. But when you are a dad for a living, so to speak, there is a definite blending of both worlds. I do get a daily opportunity to learn something at work that I can immediately apply at home. I also see many discouraged fathers and broken families. Working with dads who sometimes don’t get to see their kids helps me appreciate how blessed I am to have my whole family together. It’s still a challenge. It’s ironic that sometimes I will need to spend time away from my family on nights or weekends in order to do something to promote “responsible fatherhood”. But whenever possible, I include my family in events. They all take a certain pride in what I do.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
Both my wife and I had great fathers in our lives. My dad is a man of integrity who lived out his values in front of me. He showed me the importance of hard work and providing for your family. My father-in-law is also a man who did everything in his power to help his kids succeed. He is still a great encourager of his children, even though they are all adults. There are others who have been important role models for me, but those two have had the biggest impact.
Working with fathers through TEAM DAD, I have learned that that no matter your circumstances, the most important thing you can do is love your kids. And the way you show love is to do what is best for them – to put their needs ahead of your own. I see men every day who, despite their situations or challenges, make their children a priority. Each unheralded father’s example inspires me to be a better dad.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
One thing I am proud of is as our son approached middle school, I made a conscious effort to let him know that he didn’t have to pull away from us as he became a teenager. He didn’t have to consider us out-of-touch or the enemy. Most teens feel their parents just can’t understand what they are going through. I had been the same way. I wanted him to know that he could be completely open with me and I would do my best to help him with peer pressure, choice of friends or
whatever adolescent landmine that might come along. I also promised to be honest in discussing my own choices and mistakes. He knows he can talk to me about anything. And for the most part he has. As my girls get older, I am trying to make sure to establish the same openness with them.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Some of the best are those simple one-on-one times: the first time my son beat me in a game of basketball, listening to Grace describe the plot of a book she is reading, tying the bow on Mary Clare’s dress before Church. And some are great family memories: picnics at the lake or last summer’s family trip to Washington D.C. or a family game of Monopoly. I love making memories with my family.
If you have any questions for Richard, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!
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