Faith is the Essential Ingredient to This Dad's Parenting Decisions

Editor’s Note: As our parenting section continues to expand its content, we want to give you a chance to get to know our writers on a more personal level as they share their insights on parenting, their lives before parenthood and much more. Our previous interviews were with Julie PrinceFaith MooreLauren Spagnoletti, and Stephen Kruiser.

How did you establish a career in writing?

I still have a hard time considering myself a writer. My background is in theatre and then before I began contributing to the Faith, Parenting and Election sections for PJ Media, I wrote for several websites critiquing music. I enjoy music but I always felt like a fraud because I don’t know a lot about it technically. I’m thankful for what I write about now.

What is your parenting style?

It’s funny because I’ve gone on the PJ Media site and read other writers’ answers to this question. I thought about it, I really did, and I don’t have an easy answer or even know how to define it. To start, I certainly take cues from my wife. Before I met her, I never put a lot of thought into having kids or parenting. We now happily have two kids, a 10-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. She’s a great mom and that helps me be a better dad. She understands our kids in ways that I can’t and picks up on things quicker than I do—like when our kids come to me or her when the other spouse has already said no. I’ve had to train myself to remember that I need to make sure that my wife and I are on the same page; that thought comes naturally to her. And like most parents, we learn on the job. Every child is different and we had to relearn everything for the second kid.

How has faith had an influence on your parenting?

My faith is central to my being. That includes parenting. For all of our parenting decisions, we ask ourselves, “How does this teach our kids about God as Father?” One example is how we view allowance. Our kids’ allowance isn’t connected to performance. We are a family and we share in our blessings and our responsibilities. To use it as a punishment, what does that teach our kids? Down the road we may change our perspective somewhat, but for now our main priority is to demonstrate God as Father to our children.

Describe a moment you realized you were succeeding as a parent.

Our kids are in sports and they are constantly at practices and games or waiting for their brother or sister to finish up. My daughter was at my son’s t-ball practice, and without being prompted or asked, she started helping the coach with whatever was needed. And she continues to be his “quasi” assistant after practice. That’s when I realized teaching her to be selfless and to serve others was getting through.

What has surprised you about parenting?

There’s an aspect of love that you don’t fully understand until you have kids. I’m consumed with a desire to protect my kids and train them in every way possible. Parenting also exposes your own selfishness. It’s a constant push and pull between balancing what you want for them and what you want for yourself.

Do you want your kids to follow in your footsteps, career wise?

I recently wrote an article on this very topic titled, “Why I Don’t Want My Kids to Pursue Careers in the Arts.” My aspirations for them are to love God and serve him. To reflect who is He is in whatever they pursue and become passionate about. It’s important that they are fulfilled personally but outside of themselves, be helpful to others in some way. And right now I’m focused on showing my kids that their imagination is a positive thing and it’s so important to carry that forward to the adult world. The adult world will attempt to drill that out of them.

In honor of Father’s Day, what have you learned from your dad that you want to pass along to your children?

I will pass down my father’s love of place. He was born and raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida and he loved everything about it—the rhythms of speech, the food, the smells, everything. He was connected to the community. It’s important my kids become part of a community. Relationships matter in more robust ways if they’re tied to place.

What are the go-to blogs you follow regularly that are a must for other parents?

On his blog, Tim Challies has a series titled “A La Carte.” In that series, he links to blog posts and articles that are almost always helpful both personally and as a father. The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks are also two of the blogs/websites that I’ve found very helpful.

Get to Know John Better:

  • I can’t live without: Music and books.
  • If I had one week and an endless budget, I’d escape with my family to: The “one week” variable is limiting, so, Key West.
  • The book I can’t put down right now is: Dominion and Dynasty by Stephen Dempster
  • One piece of advice I’d give my teenage self would be: Stop thinking about yourself so much.
  • Parenting is: Humbling