Chris Peters is the creator of www.ask-a-dad.com. He is the father of 2 little kids and lives in Southern California. I first met Chris after attending the Dad 2.0 Summit together this past month. We sat down and chat about his life, the family he loves, and his role as dad.
One of of Chris’s favorite features he has written is:
What’s more manly than bacon?
Tell me about your family! Where do you live? How many kids? What do you do for fun?
My family and I live in Southern California, within easy earshot of the Disneyland fireworks. My wife and I have two children, Abby (5) and Isaac (2). We love going to the various amusement parks, city parks, and malls. Travel is also a special treat, sometimes going back to my roots in Oklahoma. We are also very involved in our church, and often have friends in our home.
Was your father or grandfather an integral part of your childhood? What do you remember most about them?
Both my father and paternal grandfather were very involved in my life. We actually moved back to my dad’s hometown to care for my ailing grandmother. Once she passed, we stayed in the area to support my grandfather. My grandfather served as a mechanic during World War II and had many stories about his adventures in Italy, keeping the “Flying Cottontails” (named for the white symbol on the back tailfin) up in the air, fighting Hitler and Mussolini. He also had great stories about growing up as a poor sharecropper in Oklahoma, during some of the hardest times in history. His love for my grandmother was of epic proportions, and I had the privilege of reading some of his letters home during the war. A classic romance!
My father passed along the Oklahoma work ethic, doing whatever it took to care for and feed our family. Though he had a Master’s degree in education, he was willing to flip burgers for a time, test paint, take off jobs on the weekends. We never did without, and there was always something in the refrigerator. Still, we got close enough to being in want that I can empathize with those less fortunate than we are. My father took us camping, supported our hobbies, and also loves a good story, usually about area history.
Both men have served to instill in me a sense of stability, as well as an awareness of the world around us. My grandfather has not been with us for several years, but I still enjoy a close relationship to my father.
What is one thing your family used to do growing up that you feel was sort of unique? Any family traditions? Customs? Activities?
My dad was sort of a hippie back when it was cool, and was one of the many young people that went to the woods for inspiration, looking to launch a career in ecology or forestry. The pool was saturated with fellow hippies, so that dream was never realized, but he always passed on his love for the woods. We went on several exploration and hunting trips near our home in rural Oklahoma, and our entire family still responds to his customary “quail call”, in which he imitates a bobwhite quail. I find myself doing the same thing with my family when we get separated in a mall – it’s very effective since no one else is doing it.
What do you think the biggest challenge our kids face today? What about five years from now?
Social norms are changing so rapidly, and often times the kids are overlooked as the adults fight over their rights and opinions in our courts and legislative halls. I’m saddened at the early sexualization of our children – many things were foreign to me until my teenage years that they are now forced to engage with far before they are ready. I also see a trend of allowing kids to self-actualize without parental oversight, for fear that we will stunt their growth or warp their development. I am a firm believer that it is our responsibility to shape the next generation, now to allow it to evolve on its own. I fear that our children will begin to repeat many lessons we should have already learned from history due to our failure to pass on important lessons or heritages.
As a busy parent, how do you balance all of the demands on your time? Do you use any tools, any techniques?
I grant that some busy-ness is just a part of a fast-moving, technologically advanced society, but I also see some of it as self-inflicted. We simply say no to many things that would otherwise demand our time. We make time for face to face interaction with grandparents and other families, and make sure to eat meals together regularly. We choose our activities and jobs with our ability to invest in our family at the top of the list.
On average, how many nights a week is your family ‘busy,’ meaning going to and from sports / activities / etc.
Probably two, given the choices we have made. The kids do often spend their days with their nearby cousins, visiting a park or working on school work (the joys of homeschooling young ones), and have a regular Wednesday night activity with the kids from our church, where they play games and memorize Bible verses. My daughter also takes ballet and swimming lessons seasonally, for about 8 weeks at a time.
What motivates your family? Do you have any mutual hobbies you all enjoy?
We are motivated by connectedness. We love living life with other families, and often have people over for dinner, or take dinner to them. My wife is excellent at connected with older adults, so my kids have adopted several adopted grandparents. We often bring over soup and visit for about half an hour with them, learning from some fascinating people who are often overlooked or ignored by society in general.
What do you do to recharge yourself and your family?
We often watch Wheel of Fortune in the evenings, with the kids practicing their letters and all of us enjoying a bowl of ice cream in the quiet of our home. It’s not uncommon for a friend to drop by for ice cream and visiting. Long term, we do enjoy getting away to Oklahoma for a week, meeting up with old friends and enjoying the wide open spaces.
What motivated you to start your website?
When I began a father, there were many new feelings I wasn’t sure how to handle. Impatience, tiredness, anger, loneliness, helplessness. I knew enough to know I wasn’t alone, and wanted to find ways to express my experiences in ways that would engage and encourage other dads in particular.
How long have you been writing? Do you leverage other media like video or podcasting? If so, where can we find those?
I’ve been writing recreationally since my senior year of college, when I wrote my first children’s book. Although I’m intrigued by video and enjoy videoing my kids, I haven’t yet gotten into other media besides the written word. I do keep an active blog of my own, and have contributed as a guest to other exciting projects. I’m also in the works to become a brand ambassador as a way to engage other parents and also maintain a budget. I’m on Twitter (@Ask_ADad), the web, (www.ask-a-dad.com), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Askadadpage).
So, tell me what motivates you each day? What are your passions?
I love people. Although holding an MS in Family Therapy, I chose to pursue Sales as a career path, and enjoy meeting new and interesting people every day. I also have a few direct reports, and I challenge myself daily to find out more about them and to appreciate them not just as employees, but as valuable human beings. People are my passion, as well as authentic connection.
What is the last song you listened to?
It was a shameless, sappy, country romance song, but I don’t remember the name. I absentmindedly listen to one of the only country stations in the SoCal area, keeping connected with my Midwestern roots.
Do you belong to any groups that help you keep your goals? Church groups, parent groups, etc?
We are active in our church, and I am the vice-chairman of our Deacon board. Nothing too fancy there – we manage the budget and keep the place running, so others can come an enjoy an uninterrupted worship environment. I also teach a small group of parents regularly, where we share about life, kids, and living out our faith daily.
Please provide me with your social media links!!
I’m on Twitter (@Ask_ADad), the web, (www.ask-a-dad.com), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Askadadpage).
What is your goal and vision for your community?
I want my site and the related project to be just that – a community. I want to live life alongside other parents, helping all to feel understood, supported, challenged, and heard. I’d love to see my readership grow, or to collaborate with other great projects such as this one. I don’t need to be the head honcho or pursue any level of fame – I just want to see authentic community.
If you were able to give one piece of advice to every single father in the world, what would that advice be?
Engage! Put down the dang phone for prolonged periods of time and look into your children’s eyes. Listen to them, teach them as you go from place to place, and share what’s going on in your own mind. Get to know them, and let them know you.