Our 876th Dad in the Limelight is Comic and TV Personality Al Jackson. I want to thank Al Jackson for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing Al Jackson with all of you.
1.Tell me about yourself (as well as how you are in the limelight for my reader’s knowledge).
My name is Al Jackson and I’m a 41-year-old father of 3 from Cleveland, OH. My initial passion was science so I studied biology both in undergrad and graduate school. I attended graduate school in Florida at Barry University and studied biomedical sciences. I am most well-known from being a middle school teacher who turned into a nationally touring standup comic and television personality. My big breakout was getting a Comedy Central half hour specially. I was the host of BBC’s Officially Amazing for 100 episodes, I was a character on Jim Jeffries Legit, which aired on FX, and I have appeared on Comedy Central doing standup 10 times. I am now a cohost on the nationally syndicated television show Daily Blast Live, which airs daily all over the country. I also host a podcast with the famous impressionist Frank Caliendo, I’m a regular guest and co-host of the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Radio Show and I’m currently on tour with Hannibal Buress.
2. Tell me about your family.
My family consists of three children: Abrian (age 12), Elijah (age 10) and Baby Ford (age 4). No matter how old he gets, I will always call him Baby Ford.
3. What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
I believe my challenges as a father mirror a lot of parent’s challenges in 2019 in that most adults have at least 1 job and some of us have two or three Often times, our jobs take us away from those who we love the most, our children, and I am no different. Between touring nationally as a standup comic and working in a state away from my children, I’ve had to be creative in ways that I keep in contact with them. I’m only able to see them on the weekends because my show films in Denver.
One of the largest challenges I’ve had to face as a father has been to learn to not over-parent. The love that you have for your children is the most special thing that you’ll ever feel or experience, but it also has to be kept in check so you don’t end up becoming a helicopter or smothering parent. Allowing your child make mistakes, bump their head, succeed and fail on their own is difficult, but you have to understand that it’s all part of them becoming the person they are meant to be.
4. What advice would you give to other fathers?
My advice to other fathers is to understand that there is a duality and a balance to being a father. You have to be a mentor, a role model, a disciplinarian and dozens of other roles, but while you’re doing these things, you can’t forget to be their friend, to see the world as they do, laugh with them, and create a special bond. You must be more than someone who just decides yes or no until they are old enough to make those decisions on their own. You can’t be so absorbed in the responsibility that you lose sight of the things that make life fun.
5. How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
I think for myself, balancing parenthood and outside life is understanding that you’re rarely going to have a large chunk of time that you always imagine you’re going to have. You’ll rarely have the uninterrupted time you desire to be with your children. Those times should be embraced and cherished, but don’t forget to value the moments and not just the hours. Value those minutes in the car when you can connect with them and ask them a real question. The times when you have 15 minutes and can really listen to them and what’s going on in their world. It’s important to understand that all time is precious. Moments come and go and don’t necessarily happen in four or five hour chunks so appreciate all that time you’re given.
6. What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
I’ve learned that we’re all flying by the seat of our pants. The fathers who I’ve learned the most from aren’t afraid to tell their kids that they don’t know the answer to something and they realize that there’s an amazing journey to be had by finding out the answer together.
7. What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
I would share that it’s ok to be afraid from time to time. It’s ok to worry about them, but understand that somebody worried about you in the same manner and you turned out just fine. For a long time with my kids, I constantly hovered over them, literally shielding them from physical harm and shielding them from things that might hurt them emotionally. But I realized that I was neutering their experiences as young people who need these life moments. They need the things that can result in joy as well as the things that sometimes result in pain and disappointment.
8. What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
There are so many memories it’s hard to pinpoint one, so I’ll speak in generalities because it’s ongoing. With my daughter, it’s been watching her personality develop. She is a warrior. She is kind hearted, smart, beautiful and talented. I’ve been able to watch her personality develop where I’ve seen her start to crack jokes, being sarcastic like her father, I’ve seen her be gentle, even to people who have tried to bully her, and it’s made me stand back in awe and take pride in being able to say I was a part of this human being’s development.
For my middle son Elijah, his intellect and his ability to figure things out shocks me. He is an expert video game player and just all around analytical kid. With him, I’ve had to do something that no one ever had to do with me: I’ve had to allow him to be upset with himself if he didn’t get an A on a test. And trust me, no one ever had to do that with me. C+ was ok in Al Jackson’s book.
For my youngest son Baby Ford, watching him be as distinct a personality as I’ve ever encountered has been amazing. He is strong willed, tough as nails, and probably a future NFL full back. He is completely different from me and his siblings and has definitely rounded out the puzzle of my life.
If you have any questions for Al Jackson, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!