Today I have the pleasure of sharing very special interview with you. I had the opportunity to speak with Keith Zafren, Founder of the Great Dads Project. He has just completed his first book called How to Be a Great Dad No Matter What Kind of Father You Had.
This is a powerful book, one that gives meaningful and helpful insights about parenting. I hope you enjoy the interview!
NP: What inspired you to write this book Keith?
KZ: I grew up as a wounded son. My dad left our family when I was seven then rejected me numerous times before eventually abandoning me entirely. I know the pain of not being loved by one’s father. As a result, I had no real model for what being a dad looked like. I became a bewildered new father at the birth of my first son. Over the last fifteen years, I’ve become an effective and very fulfilled dad, but it took real work at my own healing, and lots of learning from books and other good dads how to do it well. Given my long journey and success (I now have three remarkable young men as sons), I want to give to men everywhere the tools and encouragement I needed to transform myself. I enjoyed the privilege for six years of teaching incarcerated dads how to become great dads even while they were still in prison. I now am taking that teaching and coaching to the world.
NP: The book is clearly written for dads, are there any particular dads it is specifically written for?
KZ: Well, it is ostensibly written for dads, though many women have read and loved the book. Even my editor, Jennifer Hawthorne, wrote these words to me, “I am not even the audience for this book, and yet, I was moved to tears numerous times; it gave me a new perspective on my own wounds—having lost my biological father five weeks before I was born; and it showed me how I can be a better mother to my two adult stepchildren. The content is relevant and timely, and you’re providing an answer to a problem that has the potential to profoundly impact the world by modeling and teaching how to transform non-love into love. What could be better than that?”And Dr. Lori Friesen, an Animal-Assisted Literacy Expert who works with parents and children wrote, “Reading Keith’s book was truly a transformative experience. Told through a compelling and artistically crafted narrative, How to Be a Great Dad offers a deeply soulful awakening while providing a practical guide to being the dad every father desires to be. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey or what your relationship with your own father has been; Keith reminds you that it is never too late to heal, or to learn to transform pain into joy.”
Yes, my target audience is of course fathers, particularly fathers of adolescent children or younger, even dads who have their first baby on the way. What a better time to begin learning how to heal your own father wounds and begin gathering the skills to be a great dad.
NP: What three life lessons do you feel are especially critical for dads today to share with their children? Do you have any tips to share on how to teach these important lessons effectively?
KZ: I teach men three core fathering practices—affirmation, acceptance, and affection. To affirm our children means to praise them with our spoken and written words—to tell them how great we think we are, and preferably more for their character and choices than for their performance or appearance. Our affirmation builds their self-confidence and helps them believe in themselves that they are smart, capable, and able to accomplish whatever they set their good minds to. Our acceptance needs to be unconditional and unending so that our kids know they always have a place with us, that they belong no matter what. Sometimes we miss the key distinction between acceptance and approval. I can disapprove of a behavior or choice my child makes but still fully accept and love them. Our kids need to know and feel that distinction. Our physical and spoken affection helps our kids know they are loved and lovable and that they deserve good, loving relationship all their life.
NP: Since this blog is about financial and life success tips for parents to help their children, can you comment on the role you see dads having in teaching their kids financial life skills?
KZ: Alongside moms, dads can play a very important role in teaching kids financial literacy and confidence. I have benefited so much from your teaching and extended it to my three sons all of whom have their own G.I.S.S. banks and divided their money every week after they get their allowance. I love teaching my boys about business, how money works, working hard for money and getting your money to work hard for you. Dads can have a lot of fun with this and a big impact.
NP: Thank you so much for your time today Keith, I wish you great success with your new book.
KZ: Thank you Nancy, I appreciate the opportunity to share my message with your community.