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Crafting Wonder in Childhood: Lessons from Gregg Behr and Mister Rogers

**Seizing Accidental Moments**

Fatherhood is an expedition without a clear map, each phase of our children’s lives an uncharted territory waiting to be explored. On today’s Dads with Daughters podcast we welcomed Gregg Behr to discuss wonder and parenting. Behr, the executive director of the Grable Foundation and a father of two, reflects on the journey that began with trepidation upon learning he was going to be a father to a daughter. Amid fears and dreams, he emphasized his role in ensuring his daughters have ‘outrageous confidence’ in themselves.

This emotional connection to fatherhood resonates with many dads, who similarly navigate gender biases and aspire to protect their daughters from the doubts the world may cast. But Behr offers a perspective shift: difficulties in parenting are universal. Yet, as a ‘girl dad,’ he feels a unique joy and asserts there’s no hard part to being a father to daughters when the heart focuses on the small, joyous discoveries they bring into life. 

**The Power of Intentionality**

Life’s unpredictability can thrust accidental moments of connection to the forefront of our fatherly experiences, as Behr discovered during prolonged periods of single parenting. These unexpected times can surprisingly foster deep bonds and familiarize us with the nuanced layers of our children’s personalities. Dr. Lewis reiterated the importance of embracing these accidental, seemingly mundane moments. These slices of daily life hold the potential for lasting significance in both the parent and child’s heart.

**Infusing Wonder into Every Day**

Shifting gears, the episode delved into Behr’s co-authored book ‘When You Wonder, You’re Learning,’ inspired by none other than Fred Rogers of ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.’ Embracing Rogers’ vision, Behr shared insights into being a deliberate learner and listener, and the ways in which he integrated these values into fatherhood and philanthropy work. He emphasized the importance of wonder and curiosity, traits often lost as we transition into adulthood. Yet, in mirroring behaviors of joy and wonder for our children, we counter the inevitable dimming of creativity that life tends to impose.

**Beyond the Podcast: Living Lessons**

The dialogue on ‘Dads with Daughters’ extended beyond theory, as Behr recounted applying Fred Rogers’ wisdom to difficult discussions with his daughters. Whether addressing complex questions about safety and race or fostering daily habits rooted in amazement, Behr embraced the opportunity to wonder and wander through life’s maze with his daughters by his side.

Dr. Lewis and Behr’s exchange serves as a potent reminder: fatherhood, while fraught with challenges, is a terrain ripe with accidental marvels and intentional teachings. The episode epitomizes the podcast’s mission to aid dads in nurturing strong, independent women and the reciprocal growth that fatherhood engenders.

As we pull away from the microphone and the echoes of Behr’s stories and insights fade, we are left with the enduring notion that to be a dad with daughters is to be an architect of wonder, festooning the foundation of fatherhood with loving, intentional moments crafted from the everyday tapestry of life. ‘Dads with Daughters’ offers a community where such architectural feats are not only recognized but celebrated, as we all strive to be the best dads we can be, helping our daughters ascend into their own era of wonder.

TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:05]:
Welcome to dads with daughters. In this show, we spotlight dads, resources, and more to help you be the best dad you can be.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:16]:
Welcome back to dads with daughters where we bring you guests to be active participants in your daughters’ lives, raising them to be strong, independent women. Really excited to have you back again this week. As always, we come every week and we have great conversations and I love being able to walk beside you as you are figuring this thing out called fatherhood. Every day is a journey, and every phase of life that your kids are in is a journey. And I’m just glad to be able to have these conversations and be able to be a part of it with you. Fatherhood can feel alone at times, but it doesn’t have to be. And it is so important to be able to connect with other dads, to be able to create community, to be able to learn and be open to learn about things that may help you to be a better dad. And that’s why every week I love being able to bring you different guests, people that have gone before you that are doing this alongside you as well, that have their own daughters and are learning along the way to be able to help you, to be able to give you some perspective, some insights, some things that might help you as you move forward in your own fatherhood journey.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:28]:
This week, we’ve got another great guest with us. Greg Baer is with us. And Greg is the executive director of the Grable Foundation, but he’s also a father of 2 daughters. And we’re gonna be talking about his own journey as a father, but we’re also gonna be talking about the a journey that he had in not only writing a book, but really bringing a new perspective into his own fatherhood journey, which was that looking at the concept of wonder. And we’re gonna talk about that. So we’ll get to that in just a few moments. But the first and foremost, I am just really excited to have Greg here. Greg, thanks so much for being here today.

Gregg Behr [00:02:05]:
Chris, I am absolutely honored to be here, and I love how you described figuring it out because I feel like I’m gonna be figuring out fatherhood right in front of you right now. I

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:02:15]:
think you’re giving yourself too little credit because I think you’re doing some good things, and we’re gonna talk about those things. But first and foremost, one of the things that I love doing is turning the clock back in time. And you’ve got 2 daughters, so I wanna go back. I wanna go back to that first moment that you found out that you were going to be a father to a daughter. What was going through your head?

Gregg Behr [00:02:32]:
I was scared. I think probably like a lot of dads. It’s not that I necessarily wanted a boy. We were hopeful for kids. We were hopeful for a healthy child. And when we learned it’s a girl, I remember thinking, I don’t know anything about girls. I wasn’t raised in a family with sisters. Oh my gosh.

Gregg Behr [00:02:50]:
What am I going to do? And so there was joy about we’re pregnant, joy about, the pregnancy going well and worry about what do I need to know? What do I need to learn? I knew enough at the time to know my number one job in their lives is to make sure that they just have outrageous confidence about themselves and what they can do in the world. And that so that that compass has always stayed with me from the very beginning before the moment they entered this world.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:03:20]:
Now I I’ve heard that before from other dads, from pretty much every father that I talked to, that fear comes with not only fatherhood, but being a father to a daughter. And I guess first and foremost, as you think about that fear, what was your biggest fear in raising a daughter?

Gregg Behr [00:03:36]:
Yeah. Chris, I think it was just it was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I think I fast forwarded all the way from 0 to puberty and I’d like to think that I noticed enough about the world to know that there’s gender bias and things might be a little bit harder for a girl than it is for a boy. And so I immediately had that, like, I wanna be a bear dad who is, like, really protective of her daughter because she’s gonna be amazing, and I want her to have all sorts of possibilities in this world, and I’m gonna fight off all of the gremlins who are going to poison her with doubt or get in her way because she’s gonna be every bit of what she wants to be as a boy could be. Like, they seem like silly things to say out loud, but, like, these were thoughts in my head at the time.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:04:18]:
And I think that that goes through a lot of dad’s heads. And as you move along, between those different phases in your kids’ lives. You learn a little bit more, not only about yourself, but about your daughters. You learn that the differences may not be as different, even though they are. I mean, there there’s definite differences there. What would you say has been the hardest part for you in being a father to daughters?

Gregg Behr [00:04:40]:
There’s no hard part. There’s honestly, there’s just joy. Like the hard part hearkens back to something you said a moment ago. It’s just hard being a parent. It’s hard being a dad. I can’t imagine living in this world without being a girl dad because I’m now the dad of 2 girls. And I will say Chris, we lost a child in between our 2 girls. And so I remember thinking when we had a healthy pregnancy and we were knew we were gonna have a second child, I was actually begging at that point.

Gregg Behr [00:05:06]:
I’m like, I want a girl. Right? Like, I fell in love with my first little girl, and I knew I’d fall in love with my second little girl. And I guess at the time, we had friends who had babies and young kids, and I was like, boys are crazy. What is wrong with that species over there? And I really wanted a girl. Like, I feel so lucky to have 2 healthy girls. I would have been happy with 10 girls. These young women now they’re ages 10 12. They are strong and confident and powerful and fun.

Gregg Behr [00:05:35]:
They have good hearts, smart brains. Like, I love being around them. I guess I don’t know at this point what it would be like to be the dad of a boy, but I feel so blessed to have these 2 girls. And it’s just the hard part is just trying to be a good parent every day in the mundane little things in their lives, because it’s those mundane things that I know add up to the big things.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:05:54]:
Now with 2 kids, you have to find that balance to be able to create those unique relationships with each of them because each child is unique. Many times when you have more than one child, the personalities are very different. So talk to me about how you’ve been able to cultivate, how you’ve been able to work to develop those unique relationships with both your daughters.

Gregg Behr [00:06:17]:
Chris, I think in some ways, I’ve I’ve tried to be deliberate and intentional about this, and in some ways, I’ve been accidental. So let me explain. So in terms of being deliberate and intentional, even though I’m a workaholic and I probably don’t give enough attention to my family, my personal life, my kids, the way that I should, I do try and be deliberate about the time that I spend with them during the time, you know, when I’m able to be home, when they get home from after school, they get home at different hours, their bed routines, and spending some time with them before they go to bed. And also because we have 2, my wife and I are often going in different directions because, So I try and be really deliberate about the time that we have cars together or on the sidelines or in a gym or whatever it might be. And just I try and be really mindful about being alongside them, not as a friend, but as a parent. The accidental part is this. So during these past 2 years, my wife’s father, my father-in-law fell he became quite ill and ultimately passed. And I mentioned this to say that he lives a long distance away, half a world away.

Gregg Behr [00:07:28]:
And so what was thrust upon us as a family was that my wife was gone for long intervals at a time over a 2 year period. And there were, there were many months. I mean, we’re talking more than 6, 7, 8 months that it was just me, single working dad with my 2 girls. And I don’t wish this on anyone. It’s hard. Honestly, Chris, I have no idea how single parents get by in this world having had a small window into that. And I will say this time when there was just the 3 of us, our relationship is so fundamentally different than it was previous to that. And there’s a closeness and I really got to know both girls really well because I, you know, I had to spend time whether I wanted to or not.

Gregg Behr [00:08:05]:
Right? Like, I had to spend time with them in all sorts of household activities, in their school and extracurricular activities, just in their lives in general, in the little chat, you know, mini breaks and things we try to take, in the vacations, or even just walking in the neighborhood. And it’s this accidental time that I’m unexpectedly grateful for.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:08:24]:
Accidental time. I love that concept because I think that many times in the small moments when you come home from work and your child asks you to come in or they want to just they ask you to sit down and do something with them. Those can be accidental moments. Those can be those moments that become very important to the child and to you. And as they get older, it’s not always easy to find that time, or that they want to spend the time. But it’s important to take advantage of that time when they give it to you.

Gregg Behr [00:09:00]:
Chris, I just wanna celebrate what you just said. Right? Because one one of the things I learned during this period is exactly what we described. Now that we’re lucky enough to be back together as a family, it’s still noticing those moments, those mundane moments where accidental things might happen or when one of my daughters comes to me and says, hey, daddy. Can you take a break? Or can you play this game with me? And and I’m now much better, although I could always be better. I’m much better about noticing those moments and taking advantage of them. Because I I know that quip that people say all the time that the days are long, the years are short, but until you experience that, you don’t really understand that. And so when one of my kids comes to me or if there’s a moment, I try and be much more intentional than I was previously about spending that time with them.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:09:43]:
It is so important to find that time and to have that special time because as you said, the the years are short. I’ve come to find that and they go by really fast, especially as your child gets older, they get involved in more things in the years just fly by. And people tell you that, especially when you have young kids and you’re like, that’s not the case. You know, it’s gonna be a heck of a long time until they’re 18, a heck of a long time until they’re in college. And I got all the time in the world. And then in a blink of an eye, it is over and things change again. So you have to be present in the moment in that regard, because it is fleeting. Even though it may seem long, if you have young children now, it does go by fast.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:10:28]:
And you definitely have to take advantage of that. Now, I know that every father has moments that are memorable, especially moments individually with your children, where you’ve been able to create those special memories, the special experiences, what have been the most memorable experiences that you’ve been able to have thus far as a father with your daughters?

Gregg Behr [00:10:50]:
There are some moments with my girls that we’ve repeated because they’re Monday moments that we’ve made special. In the fall, it’s often the case. I love college football. College football could be on the TV which we can see from the kitchen and my girls and I love making homemade pizzas from scratch or when the snow comes and maybe every time the snow comes now pouring maple syrup on fresh snow and eating that and celebrating that, or just holidays. Like we make big deals in my family of birthdays and holidays like Christmas and New Year’s and Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. It’s all of those little daily life things. And it’s also true that some of our more special times together are when we’re unburdened by work or the errands we have to run because we’ve gone away.

Gregg Behr [00:11:36]:
You know, we’ve gotten away for a weekend or we’ve been able lucky enough, privileged enough to schedule a trip. And even though, Chris, I’m I’m the sort of person that makes lists and I’m pretty deliberate and intentional about my work, When I travel, I like to go trucking. Right? Like, where is this road gonna take us? Or, I just read about this farmer’s market in this part of Montreal. Let’s go see what it’s like. Right? A lot of unplanned time and I feel like those moments of unplanned time end up yielding the most special opportunities. Like, oh, remember we had that cheese or, like, remember we stumbled upon that zipline and we went ziplining over these beautiful mountains. Right? Like, it’s those, I feel like, Chris, those most special moments are, you know, maybe it’s the deliberate trucking or the deliberate exploration without a road map or a a plan for where we’re gonna walk to that day, but it’s those moments that I think as a family, we treasure the most.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:12:29]:
The moments that you just talked about and the things that you’re reflecting on make me really think about the fact that you are an author of a book called when you wonder you’re learning. And in your book, you really dive deep into the concept of wonder, and really bring some of the lessons that mister Rogers brought out into the world in my formative years and the formative years of some of you as well. And I guess first and foremost, as we delve into this, I’m really interested in the concept of this book and the concept of wonder. But I’m also interested in the origin story of this because, I mean, mister Rogers definitely had a strong impact on people of a certain age, we’ll say, of people that grew up with his teachings. Some others are just still are were introduced to him after the fact, through reruns and things like that. But what made you and your colleague, Ryan Radetzky, decide that you wanted to delve deeper into what mister Rogers was teaching and how any of us could capture wonder and put it into practice, whether it be a teacher in a classroom, or a father in his own home?

Gregg Behr [00:13:47]:
Thank you for that question, Chris, or us, what you need to know about me and my coauthor Ryan is that we’re kids of Western Pennsylvania. I’m podcasting to you right now from Pittsburgh, which is significant because it’s from Pittsburgh that Fred Rogers recorded mister Rogers’ neighborhood for nearly 40 years at WQED, America’s first public television station. And Fred Rogers himself is a native of Western Pennsylvania. So I mentioned that to say there’s something in the water around here. Even though mister Rogers is an American icon, also a Canadian icon, he felt like he was ours. Right? And we had the experience of living in his midst, and and I had the privilege of of knowing him and subsequently his wife. And you mentioned earlier that I work at the Grable Foundation. I work in education philanthropy.

Gregg Behr [00:14:33]:
And so for a couple of decades now, I’ve I’ve been the luckiest kid in Pittsburgh who gets to figure out how to support amazing teachers and librarians and museum exhibit designers in places like schools and libraries and museums trying to make learning experiences better for kids and their parents, families, and caregivers. Great support for the learning landscape all around Western Pennsylvania. And you could imagine in the course of that work, we we, you know, we’re trying to make sure we’re doing our jobs well. So we’re reading a lot about what makes for great learning experiences. And it was about 7 years ago that Ryan and I are reading these articles and peer reviewed pieces that come from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon right in our own yard or the University of Michigan, MIT, Stanford and beyond. And these wickedly smart learning scientists were writing papers that increasingly read to me and Ryan as if they were scripts from mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And as you say, there are generations of Americans, including the 2 of us and you, who grew up watching mister Rogers. And we started to think, you know, is there another story to tell about mister Rogers? He’s come back to our popular culture in movies like Morgan Neville’s amazing documentary and and the Tom Hanks biopic.

Gregg Behr [00:15:46]:
But is there a story to tell about Fred who’s not just that loving character that we remember in all of those television visits, but also Fred the learning scientist who was incredibly deliberate and intentional about his work and maybe a learning scientist who left us some blueprints about the things that we need to be doing today in our own homes or our schools and in our communities and neighborhoods. And Chris, it turns out after years of research and a lot of time studying the work of Fred Rogers, meeting with his colleagues, going to the archives, there in fact was a book to be written. And so we wrote, When You Wonder, You’re Learning Mr. Rogers Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids. And in that book, we talk about the tools for learning and the ways in which Fred Rogers in the neighborhood cultivated curiosity, protected our creativity, found ways to support deep deep listening and loving speech. All I could go on with a a number of tools that we learned about his work that we could translate with practical, accessible, doable examples of things that people are doing today in our schools, museums, libraries, and neighborhoods to really live out what we describe as the Fred method that combines that learning science that we know today about how learning works, coupled with what today we call whole child. It wasn’t used during Fred’s time, but that sense that every single kid and honestly, every adult goes through the continuous learning that’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and beyond. Right? And so learning science plus whole chart equals the FRED method.

Gregg Behr [00:17:15]:
And there’s also a job and personal hazard to co authoring a book like this because then you start to wrestle in your own life. Like, am I doing this? Am I doing it well enough? And that’s where we find ourselves today.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:17:26]:
So talk to me about that wrestling and what you, after all these years of exploring and delving deeper into what Fred was trying to teach that what you personally learned for yourself that you could incorporate into your own fatherhood that you either were doing or weren’t doing? And how did you have to make adjustments?

Gregg Behr [00:17:50]:
What Fred did so well is he did lots and lots of little things. So we’ve used the word mundane a number of times in this conversation, and it’s the mundane moments in life that matter. And I also speak to a big moment too. But it’s the mundane moments maybe as I’m having a conversation about, you know, a new hard topic. Like, maybe my daughter’s in middle school reading dystopian novels and, like, how do you begin to explain that concept? And I remember well that Fred, when he was trying to take kids to a place of mystery, he didn’t start by taking us, for example, all the way to the crayon factory. Like, here’s how crayons are made, kids. Now he started with his easel in his living room, a safe, comfortable place for us, showed us a crayon, something with which we were all familiar, started drawing and creating art, and talked a lot about that crayon, you know, and then use that simple thing that was so familiar to us to then take us off to the place of mystery about, for example, how crayons are made. And so I find myself, for example, in conversations with my kids today, wondering, like, okay, where do I start with a place that they can begin before trying to explain, like, here’s how elevators run or whatever, like, whatever the subject matter might be that, you know, because kids ask thousands of questions, which is another thing.

Gregg Behr [00:19:09]:
Right? Like, I’ve learned to be quiet and to listen to their questions and encourage all sorts of questions and not be quick to say, like, hey, Alexa. What’s the answer to this? Right? Like, even though sometimes that has to happen. I try and, you know, mister Rogers did, like, convey a sense like, Catherine, I don’t I don’t know what the answer that to that is, but, you know, later together, let’s let’s figure out if we can understand why the willow tree is blooming before every other tree in our yard. Right? Like, whatever it is because as you know, kids ask all sorts of questions. It also goes back to that sensibility that I described of of trucking, of exploring. You know, having times on Saturdays or Sundays when we tend to have the freest time in our lives to say like, what are we gonna try right now? Or, like, what if we put these three things together? Or, you know, mommy’s making fried rice all the time and she’s grabbing things from the refrigerator. What if we grab 3 things from our refrigerator, like the TV show Chopped and like, how could we put them together? So Chris, it’s all sorts of little things, but if I may, may I share a big example too? This happened to me a couple years ago. Our book had just been released and it was a Friday night in March.

Gregg Behr [00:20:17]:
I was exhausted. I wanted to do nothing more than just lie on my sofa and watch NCAA March Madness basketball games. Right? Like there were 5 games on at the same time. Teams, I some of whom I’d never heard of before, like, oh, this is gonna be great. I’m gonna watch these amazing basketball games. And I’m sitting there watching these games and my daughter is resting with her head on the the side of the sofa. And she turns to me, Chris, and says, daddy, am I gonna be shot? Which for me, it was like, what? What did you just say? And sadly, there are a number of probably a lot of dads in this country who’ve heard that question before and the lots of others who’ve never heard it. And I hope they never ever hear that question.

Gregg Behr [00:20:58]:
And what I realized at that moment was that the news of the day of the week had gotten into my household and my kids are of mixed race. My wife is Asian American. And that week, a number of Asian Americans had been massacred in Atlanta. And somehow the news of that had gotten into our household even though maybe naively naively so, I try and protect my kids from, you know, all sorts of bad news in the world. I realized in that moment, Chris, it was like Fred Rogers lessons came rushing to me. 1st of all, I have to acknowledge this question. I can’t obviously can’t ignore it, but even though I wanted to ignore it and watch Cleveland say or whomever playing. Right? Like, I need to acknowledge this question, notice it, convey to my daughter that she’s safe.

Gregg Behr [00:21:41]:
Like you’re physically safe right here in this moment. You’re emotionally safe that I, a carrying a dot in your life and right by your side. Honestly, I don’t have the answers to this, but later right now and later in the coming days weeks, you know, we’ll wonder together. We’ll talk about this. We’ll listen to each other. We’ll talk about why this is on your mind. What’s burdening you? Because as Fred said, anything that’s mentionable is manageable. And there were so many lessons from our book, which is a book ultimately about creating those joyful, wondrous learning experiences in big and small ways for the kids in our lives, no matter what our role is, whether it’s a parent or classroom teacher librarian or otherwise.

Gregg Behr [00:22:19]:
But in that moment as a dad watching back college basketball, like all of those lessons came home in a really powerful and profound way that obviously has become a core memory for me.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:22:29]:
It’s definitely a powerful moment, a powerful moment between you and your kids. And one thing that comes to mind when I think about what you just said was that for a lot of people, wonder disappears. And there’s a point in their life when something some kind of a switch is flipped. And you go from this childhood wonder of looking at the world, questioning things, and looking at things with different, we’ll say different glasses to an acceptance of the world as it is. And maybe not questioning or wondering as much. So as you were going through this for yourself, and learning more about what Fred had put into the world, and you’re writing this and putting something new out into the world to try to challenge people to flip that switch back on, What did you find that could help people to rekindle that wonder within their lives, that could rekindle and flip that switch for themselves a little bit easier than it might be for their kids so that they can then channel that wonder back into themselves, but also encourage that wonder to stay flipped on for their kids as well.

Gregg Behr [00:23:49]:
That’s one of our biggest tasks as grown ups in kids’ lives. And as you note, it does seem apparent that we lose that sense of creativity and the wonder and and forget the joys of something that maybe brought us lots of joy and we maybe used to spend lots of time doing. Right? Fred Rogers said, the best teacher in the world is the one who loves what he or she does and loves it right in front of you. Now couple that with learning science research. And one of the many studies that Ryan and I cite is some work by George Land, actually from the previous century. And in his research, he documented Chris exactly what you described because he had used this test for NASA, our space agency, and identified that so many 5 year olds, it was 98% of 5 year olds who took this test developed for NASA scored so well that they qualified as creative geniuses. Right? And and to your point, like, you can think about little kids and they they come up with the genius solutions to all sorts of things in their life. So, like, they wonder and they’re creating and they’re like, what happens if I do this? And what George Landon and his team did was that they tested that same group of 5 year olds every 5 years through adulthood.

Gregg Behr [00:24:56]:
And 98% at 5 years old by adulthood, that percentage had dropped to 2%. Now importantly, what George land and his team concluded was not that our creativity just naturally fades, but actually that we as, you know, teenagers and then as adults learn all sorts of noncreative behaviors. You know, we learn to suppress those things or to take in other people’s judgment. We learned that sense of perspective taking and empathy building. And what’s Fred Rogers’ solution to this? It’s to model behavior. And it’s why when you go back as an adult and look at what he did on that program, you could see Fred in his living room and he could be, you know, putting together popsicle sticks or cutting with felt. And he made it clear at that moment that it was bringing him great joy. And it wasn’t just Fred.

Gregg Behr [00:25:44]:
Right? It was Yo Yo Ma and Julia Child and all of those folks we got to meet, the celebrities really that we met in the program. And Fred wasn’t celebrating their gold medals or their major accomplishments. He was celebrating the joy of Yo Yo Yo Ma playing the cello or Julie Child cutting up ingredients. And it was also the the guests I mean, it was also the characters on the show. Right? Handyman Negri was not just the hand man. He was the neighborhood guitarist. Officer Clemens was not just policing the neighborhood. He was an opera singer.

Gregg Behr [00:26:12]:
Right? Fred was making it clear that people have joy and that they we don’t need to give up the things that bring us joy and creativity as we age. And so it’s a reminder to us, as Fred said, if we want to be the best teacher in the world, that we have to love what we’re doing right in front of our kids. It’s why a teacher who loves beekeeping and brings beekeeping into her math class can light up a classroom around math because she’s brought beekeeping something she loves into that classroom. It’s like me jumping on my skateboard in my neighborhood and not realizing that all the kids are watching and having joy as an adult going down my cul de sac and surviving. And unbeknownst to me, loving what I was doing at that moment and sparking an interest in those kids. We as grown ups need to be really intentional and deliberate as we do things as much as possible demonstrate that the joy that it’s bringing us. So there’s good reason to pick up that guitar or pull out those knitting instruments or or to do the things that bring us joy or to try new things, but whatever we’re doing, to be clear that it’s bringing us joy. That’s how we counter that sense of losing creativity and wonder.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:27:21]:
So how do you define joy? And how do you define wonder? And I can see concentric circles that there’s an overlap, but how do you define them?

Gregg Behr [00:27:31]:
Yeah. Joy isn’t just happiness. Joy is that internal sense of awe about experiencing something, witnessing something, doing something and in that sense of awe, I think is a a deep connection to wondering because in that moment you start to look around and you start to notice. Right? Like, noticing is really important because in that wondering, you start to then ask questions or provoke ideas in yourself or in others. And so to me, that sense of awe is in many ways a through line between joy and wonder.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:28:05]:
Now you’ve put this book out in the world. It’s been out for a while now. And you’ve been traveling, you’ve been talking about it, you’re taking what you’ve been learning and trying to help others to incorporate this. What’s been the response from your own kids to what you wrote, but also the change that they may have seen in you based on what you learned and are putting into place now?

Gregg Behr [00:28:31]:
That is such a great question, Chris. And I thought you were gonna ask me about how the audience reacts. Right? Because it’s so fun to talk about something, some person like Fred Rogers to whom there’s such an emotional connection. And Ryan and I have been able to identify from others in the world all sorts of examples of FRED method like approaches. But to turn that question to myself, I know one of the things that my kids have seen because I’ve taken them to I’ve taken them to events. It could be book signings. It could be a talk I was giving either locally or another city. Like we’ve created little adventures about this.

Gregg Behr [00:29:04]:
And they’ve seen in me and my coauthor, Ryan, the joy that we have talking about this book. So there’s no doubt that they’ve seen the joy of producing something in the world that matters to others in ways little and big. And maybe because of that, I don’t know. I’ve seen my kids doing more writing, doing more reading, doing a bit more presentations and playful things that they did as younger kids, as preteens. Now, I hope they see in me the joy that I’ve had and the hard work, right? Like it’s not like there’s hard work and joy too. Right? The hard work and the commitment that I’ve had to something and then to find ways to share in ways that are helpful to others. I’m so hopeful they’ve they’ve noticed that. I think that they have.

Gregg Behr [00:29:50]:
I wish they were here right now to tell you, Chris, what they’ve noticed and what they haven’t, but that’s what I hope they’ve noticed.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:29:56]:
It’s always a great way to be able to, later tonight, say, let’s talk about this. Let’s explore.

Gregg Behr [00:30:01]:
What do you wonder about when you wonder about daddy’s book about wonder?

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:05]:
Very that’s very meta. That’s very meta. Now we always finish our interviews with what I like to call our fatherhood 5 where I ask you 5 more questions that to delve deeper into you as a dad. You ready?

Gregg Behr [00:30:16]:
I hope so.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:17]:
In one word, what is fatherhood?

Gregg Behr [00:30:19]:
Patience.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:20]:
When was the time that you finally felt like you succeeded at being a father to a daughter?

Gregg Behr [00:30:24]:
In the quiet of putting them to bed at night and knowing that they were rested, well fed, and that there was some joy and laughter and goodness to their day.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:36]:
Now, if I was to talk to your kids, how would they describe you as a dad?

Gregg Behr [00:30:40]:
Silly, sometimes loud, hardworking, occasionally demanding.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:44]:
In 10 years from now, what do you want them to say?

Gregg Behr [00:30:46]:
I love you.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:47]:
Now who inspires you to be a better dad?

Gregg Behr [00:30:49]:
Oh, Chris, as I start to tear up over here, I can’t help but think of my own dad. My dad’s a big guy. He’s an amazing dad, big guy, big papa bear, played football, and he wears his emotions on his sleeve. And I feel like ever since I became a dad, I wear my emotions on my sleeve in the same way. And I I’ve gotten really comfortable with that. And if I can be half as bit as my dad was a dad to me and my brother, to my own girls, then I will have done a really excellent job for them.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:31:22]:
Now you’ve given a lot of piece of advice today. And as you think about all dads that are out there, what’s one piece of advice you’d want to leave with all of them?

Gregg Behr [00:31:32]:
I tell my girls every day to use their good heart and their smart brain. And I suppose time will tell, but I hope that just the repeated conveyance to them, like that sharing with them, the encouraging of them to use their good heart, to use their smart brain, and to know that they’re beautiful will prove to be sticky in the human beings that they become.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:31:52]:
Well, Greg, I just wanna say thank you. Thank you for being here for doing what you’re doing to inspire wonder in kids, in adults, and challenging parents to encourage wonder within their kids as they grow up and flipping that switch back on to bring wonder back into our lives. If people wanna find out more about you, where should they go?

Gregg Behr [00:32:15]:
They would find our book at when you wonder.org. And happily, you can ideally find it at your local bookstore, also at Amazon, Barnes and Noble. And I’m also on X and LinkedIn, Greg Bear.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:32:27]:
Again, Greg, thank you so much for being here today, and I wish you all the best.

Gregg Behr [00:32:31]:
Chris, thank you so much. What a complete joy and honor to be with you, and thanks for letting me figure some of this out right in front of you. Thank you.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:32:38]:
The Fatherhood Insider is the essential resource for any dad that wants to be the best dad that he can be. We know that no child comes with an instruction manual and most dads are figuring it out as they go along, and the fatherhood insider is full of resources and information that will up your game on fatherhood. Through our extensive course library, interactive forum, step by step roadmaps, and more. You will engage and learn with experts, but more importantly, dads like you. So check it out at fathering together dot org. If you are a father of a daughter and have not yet joined the dads with daughters Facebook community, there’s a link in the notes today. Dads with daughters is a program of fathering together. We look forward to having you back for another great guest next week, all geared to helping you raise strong empowered daughters and be the best dad that you can be.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:33:30]:
We’re all in the same boat, And it’s full of tiny screaming passengers. We spend the time. We give the lessons. We make the meals. We buy them presents presents and bring your a game. Because those kids are growing fast. The time goes by just like a dynamite blast, calling astronauts and firemen, carpenters, and musclemen. Get out and be the world to them. Be the Best dad that you can be.

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Christopher Lewis


Christopher is the co-founder of Fathering Together and the Chief Information Officer. He is the father of 2 daughters that are now in their tweens and teens. He started Dad of Divas, a blog to share his own personal experiences in being a father in 2007 and in 2018 started the Dads With Daughters Facebook Group to allow dads to connect, learn and grow together. He works in Digital Media on a daily basis, but also has over 20 years of experience in higher education administration.

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