In this episode of the “Dads with Daughters” podcast, host Christopher Lewis emphasizes the importance of fathers supporting and guiding their daughters to become strong, independent women. He shares his own journey as a father of two daughters and his motivation behind creating this podcast – to learn from others and help dads navigate the challenges of fatherhood together.
Christopher introduces his guest, Rodney White, a father of three from Kansas, including two daughters. Rodney discusses his initial apprehension when he found out he was going to be a father to a daughter, particularly due to his lack of experience raising girls. However, he highlights the value of adapting and learning from the journey.
One of Rodney’s biggest fears in raising a daughter is helping her navigate the challenges of the middle school years, where girls often face insecurity and peer pressure. He emphasizes the importance of building his daughter’s self-confidence and self-worth through individual activities that challenge her and allow her to develop resilience.
Christopher and Rodney discuss the balance between work and family life, with Rodney expressing his commitment to making time for his kids despite potential career sacrifices. He shares how he prioritizes spending quality time with his daughters, supporting their interests, and being present in their lives.
They delve into the challenges of letting children fail and learn from their mistakes, which can be difficult for parents who want to protect them. Rodney acknowledges that allowing his daughter to experience consequences is essential for her growth and development.
The conversation also explores what it means to be a “girl dad.” Rodney reflects on how being a father to a daughter involves setting an example, providing support, and helping her navigate a world that can sometimes be challenging for girls.
Rodney emphasizes the parallels between parenting and sports, particularly the importance of instilling a strong work ethic and teaching children to handle success and failure gracefully. He believes that these lessons from sports can translate into valuable life skills.
The episode concludes with a discussion of the joy that comes from hearing positive feedback about your children’s behavior and character from others, reinforcing the importance of raising good people in a sometimes challenging world.
Christopher Lewis [00:00:06]:
Welcome to dads with daughters. In this show, we spotlight dads resources and more to help you be the best dad you can be. Welcome back to the Dads with Daughters podcast, where we bring you guests to be active participants in your daughter’s lives, raising them to be strong, independent women. Really excited to have you back again this week, and as always, I love being on this journey with you. You know, I’m a father of two daughters and this podcast was created somewhat cathartically to be able to learn from all of you, but also to help you in this journey that you’re on, because all of us are on an individual journey, but we don’t have to be on this journey alone. We have so many other dads around us that have gone through this, that are going through this, and we can support each other and learn from each other. And that’s what this podcast is all about. It’s all about the fact that you don’t have to do it alone.
Christopher Lewis [00:01:03]:
You don’t have to go it alone. You can talk to people around you, but you can also listen to people and listen to their experiences, take things that work and incorporate them into your own lives. Every week I have a great opportunity to be able to sit down and talk to different guests, different dads that come from many different walks of life but are doing fatherhood in a little bit different way. And they are able to share with all of us the journey that they’ve been on, the things that have worked, maybe things that haven’t worked, and help all of us to be able to do what we can do, to be able to be the best dads that we want to be and that we can be. This week, we’ve got another great guest with us. Rodney White is with us today and Rodney is from Kansas. He has three kids. He has two daughters and a son. And I’m really excited to be able to talk with him today, to have him here and to learn from his experiences. Rodney, thanks so much for being here today.
Yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. It’s my pleasure having you here today.
I love being able to talk to different dads, and one of the first things I love doing when I have these conversations is to turn the clock back in time. And I’m going to turn it back a few years back to that first moment, that first moment when you found out that you were going to be a father to a daughter. What was going through your head?
Rodney White [00:02:29]:
Well, to be quite honest with you, I’ll never forget the day. And the reason why is because I was a father of a son first. And I say that because my son, which I love him to death, 15 years old at the time, was, I believe, three, maybe four at the time, and was a lot. Let’s just say when my youngest daughter was born, she wasn’t something that we had planned and so we were a little freaked out. The reason I say that is because my oldest daughter so I have three kids. My oldest daughter’s 22. I adopted her when she was at the age of seven. So I never really had that first through seven years. And my son was a lot like I said, and he was a boy and he is a boy and he’s just 100% boy and go, go.
Rodney White [00:03:03]:
And be honest with you, my wife and I were like, I don’t know if we can do this. I don’t know if we can survive a second one. Obviously being as young as we were and knowing what I know now, we were going to be okay. And we figured out but knowing that we were having a daughter, I didn’t know what to think. And the reason I didn’t know what to think is because the youngest of four boys, so I grew up with no sisters a mother, but my mother was more the father figure. She was the disciplinarian and all of that. So I was honestly I was freaked out because I didn’t know what to do. And what I mean by that is hair right now she’s twelve years old.
Rodney White [00:03:35]:
So I’m going through some changes there. All of those things were running through my head like I have no idea how to raise girl. And so yeah, freaked me out for a little bit and quickly just settled in and realized that it’s a new opportunity and we were going to learn. So yeah, I mean, obviously excited but scared to death because I was the youngest of four boys and I had no idea what I was doing.
Really understand that. I have heard that so many times from so many dads that you walk in and there’s definitely some fear there. And I hear it a lot with the dads that I talk to that have daughters that there is some fear. What would you say has been your biggest fear in raising a daughter?
My biggest fear, to be quite honest with you, is now I really didn’t have any fear with my youngest because it was so easy to be honest with you. And I say that not the girls are easy to raise, but I always say if we would have had her first, would have had 15 more. My biggest fear is probably right now she’s going into the middle school world. And I have one that went to the high school world that didn’t have the greatest experience in the world. And to be honest with you, just that world of insecurity that girls come into, not that guys don’t and boys don’t have it. That middle school world is just so brutal and I think it’s so life changing. My biggest fear is navigating her through that to make sure she comes out with self confidence and makes the right decisions and all of those, but from zero to twelve, there was no fear. I mean, she’s been awesome, but this has always been my fears getting to this age. And we’re here right now.
Christopher Lewis [00:05:01]:
Talk to me about that, because like you said, you want to build her self confidence, you want to safeguard her as she’s going through that middle school process. What have you or are you doing to be able to not only prepare yourself, but helping your daughter to prepare for the reality that is middle school?
Yeah, so really the only thing that I can say, I mean, I had a really good friend of mine that was an MMA and boxing coach, and sports has always been a passion of mine. That’s where my foundation raises. And I had my son in boxing and just training, nothing crazy, wasn’t actually participating in fights, but what I noticed and what my friend told me was individual sports. And I say sports because that’s where the world I live into. It could be anything individual. If it’s learning an instrument, if it’s doing something that’s really hard by yourself that you have to get better at by doing it consistently raises self confidence. So I think that’s what I’ve done is try from five years old on up, is try to build her self confidence, self worth, in something that going through hard things. We talk about that all the time. We can do hard things. And understanding that she is much more than what the world’s getting ready to tell her that she is. So we just try to do single activities. If it was gymnastics, if it’s singing, she’s done musical things like that. Just try to do things to really build her up and let her know that she can do anything. And that sounds so cliche. You can do anything you want.
Rodney White [00:06:21]:
You really can. But I wanted her to be able to do that outside of a screen, outside of a phone, outside of an iPad, and something that she had to fail at. Because I don’t think as parents, we let our kids fail enough and then let her build her up and give her support and let her see that, man, that was hard. But look how much better I am now, because I think that’s the confidence builder. Going into middle school, when you feel like you know yourself and you know that you’re struggling in math and somebody says something or whatever the case may be, you already know that work side. So we just try to create work ethic, I think, and just some of that inner strength, it definitely does. And I think that you definitely have to do that and you have to adjust along the way as you see how your child is thriving or is struggling, and you adjust as they go through the experience. And you have to just have open dialogues about what’s going on.
Rodney White [00:07:13]:
Sometimes that’s easier said than done, especially as they get into those teenage years and would rather be in their rooms than sometimes talking to mom and dad. But that being said, if you have created the environment for a child to know that you’re there, to know that you’re willing to help and be there, you know that they’re going to come to you if and when they need that as well. And that’s one of the cool things I like. Again, I’ll go to the sports side because that’s the world we live in. But we did it last night. We went to pitching lessons and it wasn’t about the pitching lesson. I actually told this to my wife. It’s not about the pitching lesson. It’s not about going and getting better at the sport, which we tried to do, and we put it with the right people. But I had a 35 minutes car ride with my twelve year old on the way there and I had a 35 minutes car ride after endorphins were already flowing, so she was more talkative on the way home. We got an hour and ten minutes to sing Taylor Swift or Me Poke fun at Taylor Swift or have fun or hear about her school day and all of those things. And she couldn’t open up a package of fruit snacks at lunch and she told me all about that. So that to mean that was worth every bit of it. So just trying to do that, I get that time, and I think that’s so important. I know that you are a busy guy. You work full time and you’re raising two kids still in the house.
Christopher Lewis [00:08:31]:
Talk to me about balance and how you balance what you’re doing on a daily basis and how you’re balancing that with being engaged with your kids.
Yeah, it’s really hard. I don’t know that I do a really good job at it, to be honest with you. One of the struggles that I have is not going all in. And I say that because when we go, I always tell them, I don’t care what you do, we’re going to go do it. Well, I told you my son Box, my oldest daughter, she played basketball for a little bit and then my youngest daughter played softball and then she did musicals. So whatever we’re going to do, we’re going to do it at 100%. I’m going to go find you the best people and we’re going to put you around it. We’re going to go try to be really good at it. The hardest part for me is making sure that I’ve still got time at home. For my wife, I struggle really bad with that because she doesn’t have the same mindset as me. She is at home, and when I say same mindset, she’s not as obsessed with the sports world as I am and that’s okay. And she does a good job of supporting me. But I say that because being able to manage it, I have taken less jobs or less money to make sure that I’m around my kids that I can get off at 430. I could probably double my salary right now tomorrow if I wanted to go and work all the time. And I refuse to do it.
Rodney White [00:09:41]:
So I just make it a priority. I think that’s probably the biggest thing I can tell you is I make sure that they get my full attention. If it’s something at 06:00, I’m going to make sure that I’m done at 05:00 so I can get home and get them taken care of and things like that. So I guess the answer to the question is I make it a priority to make sure that they’re getting the time that I think that they should get. But it’s hard, man. Sometimes I go into work early, not often, but to be able to get out of work early. Or it’s one of those deals that you just have to let you use the word adjust. You have to be able to adjust and sacrifice.
Rodney White [00:10:15]:
And one of the things I’ve never allowed myself to do was sacrifice my kids time. I only get it one time. So I’m going to make their games, I’m going to make their practices. I’m going to make whatever it is and whatever it takes. And that’s important because putting yourself out there, being present, being willing to be interested not only in the things that you are interested in, but the things that they are interested in, is so critical because you’re going to be able to create even stronger bonds with your children when you do that. The other part of that is making I try to really make sure that while we do all of that stuff, that I want them to be a kid too, right? So we make sure that they go to birthday parties. We make sure that they are outside and they’re spending time with their friends and things like that. Because I think some people can get caught up and I do too sometimes. And you get caught up in just trying to do all the right things. But sometimes they got to be a kid too, so they got to be able to do a little bit of both.
So important as well. And I was just going to say, let’s be honest, not everything that our kids love doing are things that we’re going to like doing. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t still take the time to learn more about it and to understand why they like it. Because that’s going to show them that you’re invested, you’re interested, and that you’re willing to do it. They’ll know if you like it or not. They’re going to know whether or not you are passionate about playing Barbies or not, but just being there and knowing that Dad’s willing to do that is just part of the things that are going to make or break that relationship.
Rodney White [00:11:59]:
I said it earlier and she’s actually going tonight for a tryout for the musical at our local high. And she’s been in three. It is not my world, it’s mom’s world. I don’t mind it though. I actually learned to enjoy it and I think that’s really what it is and I believe this with my whole heart. While sports is something that I love, and I’m super glad that my daughter got into softball and I can teach it. It’s a world that I played baseball growing up and yeah, it fits. My oldest daughter didn’t, she played basketball, she didn’t love it. I recognized it, gave her the opportunity and was like, hey, you don’t have to do this her sophomore year in high school. But my daughter’s going to the musical and we’re going to make sure that same thing, right? Just because it’s not softball, it doesn’t change that, hey, I’m going to make sure that I’m off early. I’m going to make sure that she’s got a presentation on Friday at 05:00. That’s what we’re going to be there and we’re going to be there in the front row and all those things. So yeah, it’s crucially important. We talk a lot about, especially with sports. And I tell all my girls I coach as well, so I help coach my daughter’s team. So I’m around a lot of 1112 13 year old girls and we talk to them a ton about this is what you do, this is not who you are.
Rodney White [00:12:58]:
And we really make that because I think a lot of times they can forget that the success or the lack of success is where my love lies. And that’s not it at all. And I try to focus on that. She’s twelve, so she has a phone and you talk about again, we go back to the word adjust. We text a lot because that’s her communication, right? That’s the way she likes to communicate. And we talk, we have great conversations. But I really make sure that I text her probably once a week. Something in the realm of sports is not who you are, it’s what you do. It’s a thing that you do. I’m proud of you for X, I’m proud of you for whatever. So she can read that now. She may not respond because she’s twelve years old or I may get a K or that was weird, dad or whatever, but making sure that they understand that just because of what we do, no matter what it is, that doesn’t define who we are as a person. And I think that’s important too. Very true and very important as well.
I think that one of the things that I would put out there is just the fact that there are going to be high times there’s going to be low times in parenting, in parenting, any type of child, whether it’s a daughter, a son, multiple kids, it’s not going to be all roses. As you look at the time that you’ve had with your daughters, what would you say has been the hardest part of being a father to a daughter?
Rodney White [00:14:14]:
Patience. Letting them fail. I had this conversation, actually, today knowing, I think as us, as parents, at least, I feel like I can see the future. Right? And we all can see the future. We understand if you’re walking down this road with the people that you’re hanging out with or the certain things that you’re doing, we know the consequences. They don’t. Right? I have to remember that this is their first time being twelve, and it’s not my first time being twelve. So I can see the future, and I’m an adult, so obviously, within reason, letting them fail. And sometimes my words don’t mean anything until they actually see the consequence of whatever that consequence is.
Rodney White [00:14:47]:
And I think that’s probably the hardest thing. And to be honest, I think that’s one of the things that our world doesn’t do a good job of is letting our children fail in a constructive way. My children, I say this, they have no adversity. They have no true adversity in life. So we try to create some artificial adversity. Right? That’s what I do with sports. It gets hard, you’re running or whatever, because I want them to fail. I want them to see that if I don’t put the work in, then I’m not going to get X.
Rodney White [00:15:10]:
And actually, I want you to see that even if you do put the work in, sometimes you don’t get X, because I think that’s probably been the hardest part, is letting them fail and not jumping in and knowing the answers to the test and letting them put them on paper themselves. And sometimes you get a B, right? Sometimes you get a C. And I think it’s so hard, and I see so many other people do the same thing, and I get it. I understand because we love them and we don’t want to see know we know the answers to the test, but yeah, you gotta let them fail. And I’m not the greatest at it, but I work on it for sure.
I know that you and I initially got connected through a tweet that you put out there that used the hashtag girl dad. And most of us all know that that goes back to Kobe Bryant and his daughter. And it’s kind of kept going since then for you. What does being a girl dad mean to you?
Rodney White [00:15:53]:
So I’ll start that off by today’s Kobe Bryant’s birthday. So being a girl dad means man, god. What does that mean? It’s so much because I’ll start off by again. I was the youngest of four boys, so I grew up never really understanding that girls had it different. Maybe I did understand it, but not truly. Not until I saw my daughters going through it when it comes from anything from sexuality and how men and boys think about females to the lack of support that their sports get or something of that nature. So being a girl dad, you go to Kobe, because Kobe is actually a pretty big influence on mine, like just supporting the hell out of my daughter. I think that’s what it means, right? And understanding that the very first line of defense is me.
Rodney White [00:16:42]:
And the very first person to love them, first male that’s going to love them is me. So it’s my job to show them what it’s supposed to be like, what to expect, because the world doesn’t do a really good job of that. It’s my job to be respectful. It’s my job to discipline. It’s my job to raise them in a way that they feel adequate in this world. I guess it kind of sounds bad, but they get the short end of the stick and they really do. And I didn’t know that until I had a daughter. And I feel like it’s my job to build them from the ground up for a world that doesn’t support them as much as they really should.
Christopher Lewis [00:17:17]:
It does. And I think that I asked this question because of the fact that I think that every dad sees that moniker as something different. And I think that it’s important to understand that that the way that each of us internalizes what being a dad to a daughter means is going to be different. And that’s okay. And that we do need to have a definition for ourselves. For some fathers, they may see being a father to a daughter as no different than being a father to a son. But then for others, there is a vast difference and that there is a different path that they walk. When it comes to raising a son or a daughter, I don’t know the difference because for me, I’ve only had daughters. But for those that do have sons and daughters, this may feel a little different for them as well. So I put that out there just so that for anyone that is thinking about this, looking at this, that you have to define it yourself. You can learn from others and you can see how others define it for themselves, but that doesn’t mean that that’s the way that you’re going to define it as well. Now, you have been talking about the fact that sports is a big part of your life. It’s a big part of the life of your kids as well. The tweet that I mentioned was a tweet of you and your daughter practicing ball and she was pitching to you and throwing the ball around to you. I know that baseball and softball now is something that has been a big part of your life. And with your youngest daughter, that is a part of her life. What are some of the parallels that you see between parenting and sports that allow for you to be able to incorporate those into the work that you’re doing to be a better father.
There’s a song out there that says she thinks we’re just fishing, right? And what that means is that dad and daughter are out fishing, and he’s spending time with her. She thinks they’re out trying to catch fish. He’s understanding the time is so valuable. I think, number one, that’s it. It’s time, just spending time, no matter what, together. But one of the biggest parallels that I try to transfer is just work ethic. I mean, just we have to go do things that are hard sometimes, and we have to go to get a goal. Passion, I think it translates into life in general. I’m a big believer in passion. I don’t care what it is. I mean, you can turn your passion into a lot of different things, but this world will beat you down if you don’t have something that you’re passionate about. So I think it translates into that. I think I have to do a good job of taking the coach hat off when I go home to be a dad, but also make sure that it’s a responsibility. Right. So that parallels we talk a little bit about that at home, too, of making sure that I don’t carry her softball bag.
Rodney White [00:19:49]:
I don’t make sure her well, sometimes this is a let them fail type deal. I try not to fill her water bottle up, but I’m not letting her walk out with that water. Right, but there’s a lot of those things. But what I’ve seen, and I don’t know if this is just the way that she was born, but she gets herself up for school. She makes her own lunch. She cares on what kind of grades that she gets. She cares. And I believe that those transition from us going to the ball field and doing the things that we did, it has nothing to do with wins and losses.
Rodney White [00:20:17]:
It has nothing to do with what our team did as a team last year, because I couldn’t even tell you what our record was. But does she pack her backpack? Does she treat others kindly when they fail? Does she learn how to pick them up? That’s why I love sports, is because it translates to life so much that you have a teammate that struck out, and all of a sudden they’re coming back in with tears in their eyes. And your job as a leader, as a teammate, is to pick them up and let them know they’re going to be okay. Well, what about in school? What about when they’re sitting there and there’s somebody sitting by themselves and they’re feeling bad? I would hope that she’s going to go up and pick them up the same way so that’s that transition that, to me, is vital for sports. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s other ways to be able to teach your kids that. But that’s the avenue that I teach, and that’s why I teach it, is because I want them to be able to take that and to be good humans. Because in the end of this whole deal, if I raise my kids and they’re good people, then I win.
Christopher Lewis [00:21:04]:
It definitely makes a big difference when you get those people that come up to you and tell you things about your children that you didn’t know that they have done or that they are doing that reinforce the values, reinforce the things that you have been trying to impress on them over the years. And I know in the past, for me, it just puts a smile on my face when someone comes up to me and says, your child did this. Did you know? And half the time I’m like, no, I didn’t. But I’m glad. And I think that that reflects a lot in the work that you do day in and day out as a father.
There’s not a better feeling in the world than that. I mean, there’s absolutely in my house, we kind of joke around and say that you’re guilty until proven innocent. And you get messages, you’ll get a Facebook message or you’ll get a message from a parent and you’re like, your heart drops, right? Because you never know what’s coming. And yeah, I mean, when you get those compliments, because I think you nailed it too. I don’t know a lot of what my kid does outside of here. I don’t know what she’s doing at school all day. I don’t know how she’s treating people at the kitchen table. I can tell you all day long that she’s the nicest kid in the world and that we’ve raised her to be this selfless servant of others and all of that stuff. I say that, but she very well could be a bully at school. I don’t know. Until somebody tells me have no idea what’s going on.
Rodney White [00:22:31]:
Again, I think there’s a lot of parents out there that may be naive about their children and I might be naive about mine, but I think all we can do is the best that we can do and raise our kids the right way. To be kind to other people, to be nice to other people, to work super hard for a goal, whatever that goal might be, and have a goal and just hope for the best. Because the world sucks, man. I mean, the world out here is just social media. And every time we have a rule at home that nobody listens to, and myself included, is don’t read the comments, right, because you’re going to see negative stuff anywhere you go on social media. So if we just try to just want them to be good people and hope that those messages we get from parents are positive instead of negative ones, because to your point, there is. Not a better feeling in the world.
We always finish our interviews with what I like to call our fatherhood five, where I ask you five more questions to delve a little bit deeper into you as a dad. Are you ready?
I think so.
In one word, what is fatherhood
When was a time that you finally felt like you succeeded at being a father to a daughter?
I don’t know that I have ever felt that way, to be honest with you. I’m always chasing it. I’m sure there’s times, but it’s really, really hard. So honestly, I feel like a failure of a dad and more times than I feel like I’m a good parent. But they always say that if you feel like a bad parent, that’s because you’re a good parent. And I believe that. And that’s just because you’re disciplined, you’re doing the right thing. So I don’t know. I don’t know that I’ve ever truly felt that. It doesn’t mean that it’s not true. But I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to something to think about is to go to your own children and ask them that question and see what they say, and they can be your biggest critic or biggest fan, so they might give you some good feedback. Depends on the day.
Speaking of your kids, if I was to go to your daughters and ask them, how would they describe you as a dad?
Passionate and crazy. I think those are the two words they would describe me with, for sure.
Who inspires you to be a better dad?
Rodney White [00:24:17]:
That’s a great question. I have a really good friend group, two guys that have children as well, a little younger than me, great people, some of the most amazing people I ever have. And I’d say maybe they do. That was always there for me, too. So I think trying to impress him right, trying to make sure that I’m doing right through his eyes, too, is always important. But I don’t know, that’s just tough question.
You’ve shared some of your own experiences, different pieces of advice, things that people can take in and think about for themselves as we finish up today. What’s one piece of advice you’d want to give to every dad?
Rodney White [00:24:55]:
Stay patient. And it’s the advice that I have to give myself, not everything. Pick your battles there’s. Absolutely pick your battles. You can’t fix everything. You have to let them fail. And if it’s not going to matter five years from now, don’t spend more than five minutes on it.
Great points and great thoughts. I really appreciate it. If people want to find out more about you or follow you, where’s the best place for them to go? Yeah, they can go to Twitter is probably the best spot.
Rodney White [00:25:18]:
@Rodney1904 on Twitter. It’s a lot of sports. A lot of my kids. It’s a lot of other kids as well. So I try to do the same thing for other kids in our community, especially the high school kids. Really big passion of mine. So, yeah, I’ll make you laugh over there, too, sometimes.
Christopher Lewis [00:25:32]:
Rodney, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for everything that you’re doing to raise your kids and to help other dads as well. Thanks for sharing your story and I wish you all the best.
No, I really appreciate the time and reaching out. Thank you.
If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode of the Dads with Daughters podcast, we invite you to check out The Fatherhood Insider. 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.
Christopher Lewis [00:26:07]:
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 [email protected]. 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.
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 present. 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 muscle men get out and be the one to them. Be the best dad you can be. You’re the best dad you can be.