Our 768th Dad in the Limelight is Matt Suna of Teach Kids Engineering. I want to thank Matt Suna for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing Matt Suna with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
I am an electrical engineer and the father to 4 extraordinary homeschooled kids. I love to do fun engineering projects with our kids. A few years ago, we did a family presentation at our local homeschool coop that ended with my daughter racing a robot to solve a Rubik’s cube. When I saw the excitement from the kids in the audience and started getting requests from other parents about me teaching an engineering class for our homeschool coop, we saw how big the need is for STEM education resources. Since then we’ve started Teach Kids Engineering, where we post new engineering projects and resources that parents and teachers can use.
2) Tell me about your family
I have been married to my amazing wife and best friend Kristen for 15 years. We have 4 kids ages 6 to 13 and a 2 year old borador – a brilliant high-energy dog for our high-energy family. Our 6 year old is from Ethiopia and came home with us when she was only 4 months old. She has more personality and confidence than any child I know and keeps her siblings on their toes.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
I think the biggest challenge is having only a finite amount of time during the day. There is nothing better you can give your kids than your time and full attention. However, there are many other things in life that compete with these things. I have learned to say no to less important things and to protect my time better so that I have more to spend with our kids during this short time we have with them. A few years ago I had a very exciting job role where I was travelling the world and working on the newest, coolest products. But ultimately, I made the decision to transition to a job that was less exciting but it allowed me to be home most of the time and to be fully present with my family.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
The world teaches us to pour ourselves into work now so we can enjoy life later. Don’t fall for this. Your kids grow up so fast and they are only with you for a short time. Arrange your life so that you can spend time with them when they are young. Live well within your means so you don’t need to chase the next career opportunity so hard.
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
I try to involve the kids in my “outside life.” I love running, but I have scaled back my mileage and pace so I can run with my kids. (Someday I’ll be trying to keep up with them). Whenever I am working on the car or house, I ask one or two of the kids to help. I sometimes bring one of the kids to work with me since homeschooling gives us so much flexibility.
My wife and I also participate in men’s and women’s groups at our church. This gives me a chance to spend time with other fathers to get encouragement and recharge.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
I’m always deeply moved when I hear the love and affection other fathers have for their kids. I try to be a good father, but it always helps to get inspiration from other dads. You can always get new ideas. A family that is very close to ours takes each of their kids on a special trip of their own when they turn 13. This sounds like such a cool idea to us, that my wife and are thinking about this for our kids.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Since I write about ways to engage your kids in engineering, I’ll share a couple of secrets of teaching your kids something new. First, inspiration is magic. When I want to do a new project with the kids, first I get them to watch some amazing Youtube videos with me to get them excited. Working with kids who are inspired is so much easier than trying to convince them that something is worthwhile and interesting.
Second, get them hooked by going for a small victory quickly. Engineering projects usually have moments where things are not going as planned and it takes time to work through the problems. If you do a much smaller project with very few obstacles, it will help them to taste success early. Then once they’re hooked, go big!
8.What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
It seems like the most lasting memories are from family vacations. These stick with us and the kids because they are vivid memories outside of our normal everyday experiences as a family. We’ve been blessed to have so many great family vacations – yearly visits to see my wife’s family in Maryland and Virginia, trips to our favorite summer camp in upstate New York, family vacations to our favorite Texas beach town. One of our kids’ favorite vacations was a trip to Colorado one summer with two other families. There were 11 kids there! A little overwhelming as a parent, but a blast for the kids.
If you have any questions for Matt Suna, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!