In this episode of the “Dads with Daughters” podcast, host Christopher Lewis introduces the show’s mission of spotlighting resources and advice for dads to become the best fathers they can be, particularly in raising strong, independent daughters. He emphasizes the challenges and joys of raising daughters, underscoring the importance of knowing that you’re not alone and there are resources available.
The episode’s guest, Justin, known online as Dr. Youngbody, joins the conversation. They discuss Justin’s experience as a father to his eleven-year-old daughter and his role in various types of relationships, including being a stepfather. Justin shares that he was excited when he found out he was going to have a daughter and emphasizes the uniqueness of each child.
Justin talks about his biggest fear in parenting, which is wanting his daughter to be able to handle whatever life throws at her. He stresses the importance of preparing her to navigate life’s challenges and reminding her that getting through difficult situations doesn’t make her a bad person.
The podcast explores the challenges of fatherhood, with Justin mentioning the difficulties he faced during his divorce, including not knowing when he would see his daughter next. He shares a valuable piece of advice from a friend about making interactions with his daughter enjoyable and positive.
The conversation delves into their favorite shared activities, with laughter being a significant bonding factor between Justin and his daughter. They highlight the joy of sharing humorous moments together.
Justin reflects on the term “girl dad” and what it means to him, emphasizing the importance of supporting and empowering his daughter to be herself.
The episode also touches on Justin’s daughter’s interest in acting and modeling. He explains that from a young age, she showed a desire to entertain people and make them laugh. Justin and his ex-wife have supported her interests in the entertainment industry.
The discussion then shifts to Justin’s experience as a stepfather and the lessons he learned. He mentions the importance of letting go of ego and demands for respect, focusing on building a close relationship with the children and creating an atmosphere of trust and open communication.
The episode concludes with a conversation about handling the challenges of divorce and maintaining relationships with children from previous marriages. Justin shares his struggle with losing contact with some of the children but emphasizes the importance of focusing on being the best father he can be for the child he still has in his life.
Overall, the podcast highlights the complexities of fatherhood, the importance of strong parent-child relationships, and the continuous learning and growth that come with being a father.
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, we are on a journey together. Raising daughters is a wonderful thing. It could be a challenging thing. There are so many ups and downs and sideways events and things that happen along the way as your child moves from phase to phase in her life. And it’s important to know that you’re not alone, that there are people around you that you can rely on, that people around you that you can learn from. And even if you’re not willing to go next door and talk to that dad that’s next door with their kids, we’re here every week. And I love being able to talk with you, to be able to give you some perspectives, to allow for you to be able to meet other dads and other resources that are out there for you to be able to access and for you to be able to learn from.
Christopher Lewis [00:01:21]:
And you just have to be open to taking that all in. And I think that’s important. That’s such an important thing for every father to do. Not always an easy thing, never said this is going to be easy, but it is definitely something that if you’re willing to do it and you’re willing to put in the work, you’re going to come out in the end being the best dad that you can be every week. I love being able to bring you different guests. Guests that have different experiences that have led them to be the father that they are or the resource that they represent. But this week we have another great guest with us. Justin is with us.
Christopher Lewis [00:02:01]:
Justin is known online as Dr. Youngbody. And we’re going to be talking about Justin’s experience being a father to an eleven year old daughter, but also his experience in different types of relationships where he had to be a stepparent or his child had a stepparent or another person in her life that became a pseudo stepparent, per se. And what he had to learn in that regard to be able to be not only a great dad to his own biological daughter, but a great dad to the other children in his life. Justin, thanks so much for being here today.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:02:42]:
Hey, thanks for having me on. I do want to say one thing quick because I’m sure a lot of people, when they hear Dr. Youngbody, they’re like, what the heck is that from? That was a nickname that my dad had for me when I was young. It’s actually a reference to from Gilligan’s Island. If you remember the show Gilligan’s Island, there was a soap opera that I forget if it was Ginger or Marianne would watch on the show. And there was a character in the soap opera named the Good Dr. Youngbody, and that’s where that’s from. My dad’s been calling me that since I was a young child, and I’ve just kind of ran with it, so to clear that up.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:03:17]:
But yeah, thanks for having me.
Christopher Lewis [00:03:19]:
I love that and I appreciate you sharing that and making sure everybody understands. Not everybody’s going to run to go check out and see if there’s a clip on YouTube or something to that effect of Dr. Youngbody out there from Gilligan’s Island. Now, I always love starting these conversations with an opportunity to turn the clock back in time. I mentioned that you have an eleven year old daughter. Let’s go back in time 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?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:03:48]:
I was so excited. You talk about the first moment in my head I’m imagining when they told me we were having a girl, and it was a very exciting moment. I wasn’t one of those dads that’s like, I better have a boy. I’ve been surrounded by women my whole life. I have three sisters sorry, two sisters, three siblings. I have one very younger brother, but I grew up with my two sisters, so I was very excited. I took the chance to really kind of sit there and soak it in like, oh my gosh, I’m going to have a daughter. And I really had no idea what that was going to entail.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:04:23]:
My daughter’s mother had two daughters of her own at the time, so I had some experience with some girls, but as all of parents out there know by now, every child is different. So there was no part of me that thought like, oh, well, this is how it is with these two girls. This is what it’s going to be with her. Obviously, I knew this was going to be a very unique, one of a kind, individual little girl. So, yeah, I was very excited and obviously never looked back and never thought to myself, like, oh, I wish I had a boy, or anything like that.
Christopher Lewis [00:04:56]:
Now, I mentioned the fact that your daughter is eleven and you’ve had her in your life now for a number of years. As I talk to a lot of fathers, especially as they go through the different phases of their child’s life, there are different fears, different things that they run into that they’re like, what the heck, I don’t know. And there’s definitely some fears that go along with that. What would you say has been your biggest fear in raising a daughter?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:05:21]:
Honestly, with my daughter, I just always want her to be able to handle whatever life throws at her, and it’s a guarantee that life’s going to throw some things at her, whether that’s in her relationships with other people, her family members as she gets older and let’s say people passing away, just all that. And I’ve always wanted to prepare her however I can, to be able to handle whatever that is and try to just remind her that whatever does happen, you have to find a way to get through it because whatever it is, it doesn’t make you a bad person because you were able to get through a difficult situation. Obviously, people grieve and go through all their hardships in their own way, but you have to find a way to get through it because if you don’t, it’s going to be hard to get through life and be happy in life. That’s kind of been my biggest fear, is an event or something happening to her, whatever that is, that she feels that she can’t get through. I mean, obviously we all worry about physical harm to our children and that never stops. Whether it’s like I can think of countless times when you’re at a very busy park, oh, can we play hide and seek? Heck no. You know what I mean? And they get so upset and it’s like, I will not let you leave my sight for one moment. So, I mean, those obvious fears.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:06:43]:
But like I said, more than that. Just her feeling like she can’t handle or get through something is my biggest fear.
Christopher Lewis [00:06:50]:
Now, you’ve had your daughter in your life for a number of years. What has been the hardest part of being a father to a daughter?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:06:58]:
The hardest part? I would say with my daughter, there’s none of that like unrelatable or me being a guy, her being a girl kind of problems. We have a very open and honest relationship when it comes to communication. She knows she can talk to me about anything and I’m not going to be upset with her. When you say raising a daughter, I hear raising my child because I haven’t had to raise any other children, you know what I mean? I did have the stepson and the two stepdaughters, but I think that when you talk about the biggest challenge. Obviously for me, going through my divorce was tough and there were periods where I didn’t get to see my daughter as frequently and at the time was very tough just not knowing how much time or when I was going to get to see her next. I wasn’t in banking yet at that time, so my schedule was much more scattered. It was difficult until not only did I switch careers, but the divorce was finalized that now we’re every other week. But at that time, it was difficult for me to keep my attitude and quote unquote, vibes high when I did get the time to either speak to or see.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:08:08]:
You know, I did get a really good piece of advice from a really close friend of mine. His name is Ryan, and he told me that the best thing you can do. I’d get so frustrated when, let’s say, my daughter didn’t call me, or maybe I called her, but she seemed distracted. And it’s like, hey, I need you to need me, but more so just in what he said was basically just to try to make whatever interactions you have or whatever conversations you have enjoyable, or they’re not going to want to have those conversations. And it sounds obvious, but once I made that change and it did go a long way, not only in how our conversations went, but obviously she wanted to talk to me a lot more. And when you’re concentrating on the things that your child did wrong, instead of just enjoying what’s happening, that’s not going to lead to more positive moments. And that was a difficult time for me. But when I made that kind of switch in the way I responded to those moments, it did go a long way.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:09:09]:
And now I remind myself of that, but I don’t really have to because it’s kind of just ingrained in the way I interact with her, that whenever I’m able to interact with her. We’re going to keep this positive. I’m so excited that I got to share this conversation or this event or whatever it is with you and much less like, why didn’t you call me last night? Or things like that.
Christopher Lewis [00:09:32]:
With the fact that you’re sharing custody, you’re sharing opportunities to be able to spend time with your daughter when you do have her, what would you say is the favorite thing that you and your daughter enjoy sharing together?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:09:49]:
We laugh a lot together. I would say that’s the number one thing, whether it’s in the car on the way to drop her off at school or sitting down for a meal or sitting on the couch watching a show or playing our favorite video games together, it’s just always the laughs that afterwards you remember. And it’s always just like even just today I called my daughter and it was like, I had so much fun with you at dinner last night. Like, you were so funny. And that’s when I know she’s comfortable, I know she’s happy, I know she feels safe, she’s so funny. And that’s, I think the moments I really enjoy and think about when she’s not around is just laughing, hearing her laugh, her constantly making me laugh, because she is quite hilarious. She’s quite the ham, if you know what I mean.
Christopher Lewis [00:10:46]:
Now. We met on Twitter. I noticed a tweet that you had put out where you were using the hashtag girl dad as a part of that for you. As you think about that hashtag, what does being a girl dad mean to you?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:11:02]:
I think the most important thing is just being open to whatever is about to come your way. Because I am not a girl, and obviously you want that to be whether it’s a boy or girl. But having no clue what she’s about to throw at me, whether it’s what her new interest is, what is no longer her interest, all those things. I think that recognizing that we are here to support and empower our girls, I think that it isn’t about being this strong dad, although sometimes that’s required and necessary too. It’s about building up your strong daughter so much more about them than it is about me being this I’m a dad now.
Christopher Lewis [00:11:49]:
One of the things you mentioned to me was that your daughter is an actress and that from very early on in age she has you and your ex wife worked to support her in the journey that she’s been on to model and to act and to be not only her own person, but to develop a persona for herself in that world. Talk to me about that and how you both decided to encourage her, and then also help her to be able to do the thing that now she loves.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:12:24]:
So when she was born, her siblings all had some experience with that as well. Her daughter’s, three years older than her, has similar experience. She’s been doing it since she was born. Her brother, who is 18 now, has plenty of experience, although they weren’t nearly as interested in it. They were very good at it, but it wasn’t something that they were like, oh, I want more of this. With Isabelle from immediately, it was something that she really wanted to be a part of. Obviously not only because her siblings were doing it, but it’s something that her mom and I both did our whole lives. So I’m sure it has something to do with that.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:13:03]:
But she just, from a very young age, has really enjoyed the attention of people and making people laugh and making sure people are entertained. She’s always very aware of the people around her and how they’re feeling, and she loves being part of what can make people feel better. And I think that’s what motivates her. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s not so much about the eyes on her, it’s more about like she feels like she will make you feel better, which is almost always the case. She created this club at school last year where all the kids could create these clubs and then different students could join them. She created what was called the You Club, and what it meant was, this club’s here for you. If you have a problem or you’re going through something and you feel like you’re alone, you come to our club and we’re here for you. And that just says all you need to know about my daughter.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:14:02]:
She’s just always about kind of bringing the place together, making sure everyone’s having a good time.
Christopher Lewis [00:14:09]:
One of the other things that I mentioned at the very beginning was the fact that along the road, you have been not only a father to your biological daughter, but you’ve been a stepfather to other kids with your ex wife who now have a girlfriend. That is being a stepparent in many ways, right, for your daughter as well. And I know you’ve had to go through some of your own learning when it came to balancing being a father to your child, a father to your ex wife’s, children and beyond. Talk to me about some of that learning and what you had to do to be able to balance that but also understand what it took to be a good stepparent.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:14:58]:
Well, I think from the early stages it’s easy to be that extra friend. My situation raising my daughter’siblings was a little different in that I was raising them as a father, two of them anyway. But we won’t get bogged down too hard in those details. But I think that early on it’s easy to have this demand for respect kind of attitude, but that gets you nowhere is what I’ve kind of learned. And I did have to learn that the hard way. Like I said, it’s a learning curve when you’re parenting. And I think that the best thing I realized was when I saw or read this somewhere. But it really resonated and that’s that your child wants to have the closest relationship with you more so than anyone ever that you’ve met in your entire life.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:15:49]:
But it’s up to you as a parent to allow that to happen. And the more we are consumed by our own issues because as children and as adults now we are all kind of a result of our parents issues, right? But the sooner we can let go of our issues and not make them our children’s, the better. And usually that’s that ego of yours that thinks that somehow you demand respect. And I think that the second I stopped having that attitude and realized that I’m not owed anything, children aren’t asked to be brought in this world. And I think that the parents out there that have the attitude that their child owes them something at some point is kind of ridiculous to me. I think that as a parent, not only are we here to raise our children and hopefully give them the best opportunities, but that continues. That never ends. And I know there’s different schools of thought out there and ways to but once I stopped thinking that I was owed something or was entitled to something, I started getting a lot more connection with the children and obviously now with my daughter too.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:16:56]:
I mean, the idea of punishing her is outrageous to me. I would never think of doing that. If she does something that wasn’t good for her or wasn’t good for someone else, we would talk about why and she would feel bad enough. That is the punishment, you know what I mean? And not to start getting too spiritual, but I remember hearing that one time some people are wait to be punished for their sins. Sin is the punishment. Like knowing what you did is punishment enough. I certainly parent and my daughter a little differently now that I went through some of those trials and tribulations with the other children. But yeah, you’re not going to connect with a child yelling at them or taking away their favorite item or that just builds distrust.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:17:42]:
And what if I screw up? What am I going to lose then? Instead of building this atmosphere where you can do whatever you want, just be you, and if something goes wrong or we’ve made a bad choice, we’ll talk about why. But I think that was big.
Christopher Lewis [00:17:58]:
One question that comes to mind as I think about that is I know that you have gotten divorced from your ex wife and you now still have a relationship because you share custody, you have a daughter together, you were a father to her children, you now are separated, you’re not together. And there are other fathers that go through that as well. And I’m sure there’s a sense of loss that goes with that. Talk to me about that and what you had to do to reconcile that for yourself, but also to reconcile that with the kids as well.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:18:35]:
So that’s a great question and that’s definitely as not just a parent, but in my life, in my entire life been my biggest struggle and that’s having raised a couple of kids that I don’t get to see anymore because of all sorts of issues. But that’s been very difficult. And when I first got divorced and I wasn’t able to see them, it was important to me that everyone is aware that I still love these kids. Like there is no love lost or Isabel. My daughter is not taking a lead now because I no longer get to see these other children. That is not the case. But it was difficult in knowing where I’m supposed to be. I knew what I was feeling.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:19:21]:
I knew I was frustrated and I was angry and I was ashamed and upset and embarrassed and so many things because obviously you can’t go back. But I also have an obligation to be the best dad I can for my daughter that I do have and I can see. So I try to take all the energy and all those emotions and try to just focus it on that and that I am here for her and I have control over that. And so I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m doing that the best I can. And without getting into too much details about my other situation, that’s been ridiculously tough because every time I go and pick up or drop off my daughter, I might catch a glimpse of them. And it’s tough. It’s really tough. Some days more than others.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:20:09]:
I’d love to say that I’m past it, but I don’t think I ever will be. But I try to remind myself that you can control what you can control. And I just want to be the best dad I can for my daughter that I am able to be here for.
Christopher Lewis [00:20:22]:
That is, the only thing that you can do is to be present and to do what you can to be the best father that you can be for your child that you still have in your life. And you never know. I mean, there may be a point in time that the other kids do come back and they reach back out and want to have that relationship in the future. It’s always a possibility. And I think for any father that goes through that, you have to just keep that in mind for yourself and know that you have to work on your kids. The kids have to come to you. You can’t force it, and you can’t force that timetable.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:20:59]:
You got to keep working on yourself too, because I think that that’s one thing that I had to remind myself, too, is as badly as I wanted them in my life, I need to respect them and the current climate of things. And to your point, I definitely came to a point where I was much more at ease with the fact of, like, all right, if it’s meant to be, maybe someday it’ll happen. But because I had made so many mistakes and wanted to have a chance to fix or rectify those issues, I may have pushed harder to try to force myself into their life when I probably shouldn’t have. And again, another learn from your mistakes kind of thing. But again, all you can do is respect how they feel and keep being the best person you can be.
Christopher Lewis [00:21:53]:
So true. So true. And definitely not an easy thing to learn, an easy process to go through, or an easy thing to have to handle or to deal with in any sense. Now, we always finish our interviews with what I like to call our Fatherhood Five, where I ask you five more questions to delve deeper into you as a dad. Are you ready?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:22:10]:
Christopher Lewis [00:22:10]:
In one word, what is fatherhood love? Was a time that you finally felt like you succeeded at being a father to a daughter?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:22:19]:
I would say I stopped saying that I’m proud of my daughter. I stopped saying I’m proud of you. I’ve started saying you should be proud of yourself, because it was a switch where I no longer wanted to try to seek someone else’s approval. She should be seeking her own approval. And if you’re proud of yourself, that’s all that matters. And I know that’s a long answer, but instead of gleaming with my own pride, making sure that she’s proud and.
Christopher Lewis [00:22:44]:
What was your daughter’s response as you started making that switch?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:22:48]:
It was funny because the first few times I said it, I’d say, wow, you should be really proud of yourself. She’d kind of take a moment to self reflect and go, I am. And there’d be that nod like, you know what, I am really proud of myself. And it kind of was like, yes, that feeling. Yes, that’s good. It’s a good feeling.
Christopher Lewis [00:23:08]:
If I was to talk to your daughter, how would she describe you as a dad?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:23:11]:
She would probably say, I try a little too hard to be funny, but you know how it is. It’s a fine line between hilarity and idiocracy when it comes to your child. Like, you’re either hilarious or you’re an idiot. And I definitely bounce back and forth. Sometimes my dad jokes are great. Sometimes they don’t land very well.
Christopher Lewis [00:23:35]:
Now, who inspires you to be a better dad?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:23:37]:
I would say my father, for sure, and his father as well. My dad was very young when he started having children and had to kind of put schooling on hold. And eventually, once he got older, got his GED, got a job, now he’s the CEO of a pretty large company. But at no point throughout that whole time, even though he had to work very hard, did I ever feel like I wasn’t still important. And I think I try to remember that when I am going through things or working towards things or working hard, or maybe my focus is elsewhere, just reminding myself that this is still what’s most important. And you need to make sure that they’re still feeling that. Even if you know you’re feeling it, that doesn’t really matter. You need to know they are.
Christopher Lewis [00:24:20]:
Now, you’ve talked about a lot of different things. Some of the things that you’ve learned, some of the steps that you have tripped on along the way, things that still help you to be a better dad as you think about fatherhood, as you think about all dads, what’s one piece of advice you’d want to leave with every dad?
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:24:38]:
You mentioned the word earlier, and I don’t think it can be stressed enough, but just try as hard as you can to be present and in the moment, whatever that is, because it flies so fast. And everyone says that, but we only get so much time. And I keep hearing people say I’ll say how great my daughter is and the relationship we have, and I’ll tell them how old she is. And I always hear, like, oh, wait till she turns 15, or you don’t hear that I hate you dad yet or whatever, and not my daughter, never. But I think that regardless of what’s happening, just being present, not trying to be too reactionary, because the last thing you want is your kids to start closing up and not telling you things. So just being present and just being thankful for those moments because you don’t get them forever. I heard someone say one time, the next time you’re frustrated with your child, imagine that you went back in time and you were given this moment, like years from now, would you still be angry about whatever it is you’re angry about? Or would you be so grateful that you have this moment and reminding ourselves that we are very lucky to be having these moments? So true.
Christopher Lewis [00:25:48]:
So true. I just dropped my oldest off at college.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:25:51]:
Oh, wow, that’s tough. Yeah.
Christopher Lewis [00:25:52]:
As you drive away and you leave her there, and you then come back to that empty house, and we have two kids, so we still have one at home, but it’s still much emptier without her there, you definitely feel that and you look back and say, you only have so many moments. And yes, so many fathers in my life said to me, they go by fast, and they do, and you take it for granted, but you need to know that that is so true. Don’t get lost in the minutiae. Don’t get lost in the little things. And don’t let those take over your life, because take advantage of the little moments. Enjoy the little moments. Enjoy the big moments, too, because they will pass you by. Justin, I just want to say thank you.
Christopher Lewis [00:26:43]:
Thank you so much for being here today, for sharing your journey, for sharing your perspectives, for sharing the experiences that you’ve had as a father. And I wish you all the best.
Justin – Dr. Youngbody [00:26:53]:
I really appreciate you having me. It was really fun chatting with you.
Christopher Lewis [00:26:56]:
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 [email protected]. If you are a father of a daughter and have not yet joined the Dadswithdaughters Facebook community, there’s a link in the notes. Today. Dads with Daughters is a program of fathering together.
Christopher Lewis [00:27:39]:
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 and bring your A game? Because those kids are growing fast? The time goes by just like a dynamite glass? Calling astronauts and firemen? Carpenters and muscle men? Get out and be the one to now? Be the best dad you can be? Be the best dad you can be? Close.