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Southlake Style

On Fatherhood

Jun 07, 2016 02:43PM ● By Dia

By Audrey Sellers

In honor of Father’s Day, the occasion often celebrated with a flurry of new ties and fishing trips, we asked some local dads to describe fatherhood from their perspective. We talked to a radio personality, weatherman, pastor, school administrator and fire chief. While these men are recognizable in the community by their very different careers, they all share a common thread: They love the journey of fatherhood.


The radio personality … Dan McDowell

If you’re a P1, you already know Dan McDowell. But in case you don’t listen to The Ticket, a Dallas sports-talk radio station, he’s one of the hosts of BaD Radio. The midday program allows McDowell to talk sports as a career—and it also gives him tremendous flexibility as a father.

While some parents head to work before the sun is up and arrive home with barely enough time to kiss their kids goodnight, McDowell’s schedule is different. He typically leaves his Southlake home mid-morning and returns home well before dinnertime, leaving plenty of family time with his wife, Kathy, and their two daughters: Eden (12) and Eva (14). “I have an awesome schedule that most people don’t have. A real guy with a real job has to be at work,” he jokes.

Though you could classify McDowell as a local celeb (he has more than 48,000 Twitter followers), his daughters don’t think anything of it. “I don’t know if they’ve seen me do a radio show,” says McDowell. “I’m not positive they know exactly what I do.”

While he’s a funny guy to listeners, to his daughters, he’s Dad. He’s the guy they hang out with on Sunday nights for their weekly “Star Trek” viewing, and he’s the one they swim with every day in the summer. That’s what McDowell loves most about fatherhood—just being with his girls. “When they were little, I’d crawl around the room with them,” he says. “I love just hanging out.”

McDowell never expected he’d enjoy fatherhood so much. In fact, if his wife had said she didn’t want kids when they got married, he would have been on board with it. “I was never like, ‘I love kids and can’t wait to have kids,’” he says. “I still don’t really love kids. I just love two kids. I can’t imagine life without them.”

With his daughters entering their teenage years, McDowell acknowledges the pace of life has picked up. There’s school, homework, sports and friends to juggle, but he doesn’t mind. “Every age they are seems to be my favorite,” he says. “I just really love this era. Living life is fun.”  

Fatherly advice: “Hard work pays off in the end,” he says. “Also, don’t expect anyone to carry everything for you. But I don’t know if they’re hearing any of it, especially as I hand them things.”


The weatherman … Dan Henry

Dan Henry is upfront about his stance on ties for Father’s Day: He loves them. As chief meteorologist for FOX 4 News, ties are part of his regular wear-to-work attire. The Southlake weather expert is dad to three children: Logan (17), Brooke (16) and Carys (11). If his kids give him a tie this year, Henry’s not counting on them actually seeing him wear it. “They don’t get a big kick out of watching me on TV anymore,” he says. “But they like the fact that people respect me for what I do.”

Though his work schedule doesn’t allow for a traditional family dinner, Henry makes the most of other opportunities to spend time with his wife, Kerry, and their children. He brings lunch to Carys, who’s a student at Walnut Grove Elementary, every week. And lately, he’s been meeting Kerry and his daughters for dinner in Las Colinas. “I love food, so the easiest way to my heart is a good meal,” he says. “Italian food is my favorite. And I love a good steak.”

In fact, grilling out with his family is how he’d spend the ideal Father’s Day. They’d start the day at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church, where they’ve been longtime members, and then grill some steaks. Henry would round out the occasion by golfing with Logan or catching a movie with the family. “Either or,” he says, “depending on the weather.”

Henry’s long-standing fascination with the weather has turned into a highly successful career—one in which he’s received numerous accolades, including five Emmys. But he’s quick to teach his kids that this success is the result of good old-fashioned hard work.

“It’s important for my kids to learn the value of a dollar and know that [Kerry and I] made a lot of sacrifices to get where we are. It didn’t come easy,” he says. “I want my kids to know that hard work pays off. Just keep plugging away and good things will happen. Doors will open and you’ll find success.”

His children are taking his message to heart. Logan has a part-time DJ business and Brooke babysits. They’re also active in church and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  “We’re amazed at our kids’ faith at such young ages,” Henry says.

He also makes a point to teach his children the importance of giving back. The family volunteers through GRACE and has gone on mission trips together. And when tornadoes devastated Oklahoma a few years ago, Henry and Logan assisted with relief efforts.

Henry says, “I’ve always believed that good things come to people who treat others with respect and kindness.”

Fatherly advice: “Put God first,” he says. “And realize you’re human. When you make mistakes, own up and learn from them.”


The pastor … Clayton Reed

In Pastor Clayton Reed’s office at Southlake Baptist Church, two jars sit on his desk, each one containing colorful marbles. At the end of each week, Reed takes a marble from one jar and moves it to the other. Before he does this, though, Reed takes a moment to reflect and pray for his oldest son, Jack. The tradition he started nine years ago is a visual reminder of how many weeks remain until Jack goes to college.

“It’s a Bible idea,” Reed says. “Scripture talks a lot about the firstborn child and the tone he sets for the family.” Seeing the marbles dwindling in the “weeks left” jar reminds Reed to make every moment count. The marbles are specifically for his oldest child, but Reed makes a point to invest time with all of his children: Jack, Josh, Eric, Matthew, Tyler, Abby and Jacob, who range in age from 18 to five. 

Every Saturday, he takes the boys out to lunch for guy time. It’s a chance for them to connect while giving his wife, Heather, a respite since she’s in tune with them all week. He also has regular “Daddy dates” with his only daughter, Abby. She’ll get dressed up, and Reed will treat her to a special meal, just the two of them.

Saturdays tend to be busy with the boys’ sports schedules (they’re involved in football, track and wrestling), but Sundays are another story. “After church, we shut down and just exist together,” says Reed. “We eat, play or take naps. Sunday is a quiet day of worship, rest and reflection.”

When reflecting on fatherhood from a lighthearted perspective, two things have surprised Reed more than anything: the lack of sleep and the amount of food his children consume. He and Heather have had a child every two years for 15 years straight. “All I want for Father’s Day is a nap,” he says, laughing. And when it comes to feeding his brood, it adds up fast. The Reeds go through two gallons of milk a day, and a restaurant tab easily tops $100.

But despite the challenges and costs of raising seven children, Reed is a joyful father. “To wake up in the morning and know that my kids are on a good path going forward in life—that brings me incredible satisfaction,” he says. “I’m so excited about what’s going on in their lives now, and their potential in the future.”

 Fatherly advice: “I want my children to know and serve Christ,” he says. “Outside of that lesson, none of the other lessons are that meaningful.”


The school administrator … Matt Miller

To Matt Miller, there’s nothing better than when he’s gathered around the dinner table with his wife, Colleen, and their three boys: Jake (16), Cole (13) and Reid (9). It’s a phone-free, TV-free zone; everyone is simply enjoying the meal and sharing stories from the day. And in a family of three boys, there’s bound to be a little silliness, too. “Everyone’s usually laughing and cutting up,” he says. “That’s my favorite time.”

Miller, who is Carroll ISD’s assistant superintendent for administrative services, has always loved being around kids. It’s why he got into education more than 20 years ago. He’s learned from being a teacher, coach and administrator that kids need to be kids; they need time to play. Miller is cognizant of the high expectations placed on Dragons. But as long as his boys are trying their hardest, he’s proud of them.

“[Collen and I] want them to be well-rounded kids, so all we ask is that they do their very best,” he says. “This will take them further in life.”

Fatherhood and his career have taught Miller that children have different needs. While one child may be good with a pat on the back, another may want more hugs. By decoding each of his sons individually, he’s been able to create dad and son time that’s all the more memorable.

When it comes to father/son bonding, Miller leans toward outdoor activities. He and his boys swim, ride bikes, grill burgers and play basketball together. And every summer, the family takes a trip to Montana, where Miller grew up and where his parents still reside. They’ll go hiking, fishing and play in the mountains. “It’s a great time to get away from phones and TVs and enjoy the outdoors,” he says.

Back home, Miller has coached his sons’ various teams for the past 12 years. As hectic as it can often be, Miller wouldn’t replace it for anything—especially since his kids have wanted him as their coach. “They see others coach a certain way, and they like my style,” he says. “My style is not yelling and screaming. It’s encouraging, teaching and having fun. They like that and want me to coach them.”

Another joy of fatherhood for Miller is helping his sons build their faith. The boys are actively involved in The Hills Church, where Colleen runs the kids’ worship service. Miller says watching his boys grow and evolve in their faith is one of the best parts about being a dad. “They’re becoming servant leaders. They have such huge hearts for others,” he says. “Seeing them grow into great young men has just been really cool.”

 Fatherly advice: “Trust in God. Have faith and He will take care of you,” he says. “And no matter how bad or good it gets, stay humble.”


The fire chief … Michael Starr

As fire chief for the City of Southlake, Michael Starr has a critical job. He’s on the frontlines for protecting our city, leading the 73 men and women who make up fire services. But make no mistake: Starr isn’t serious all the time. Raising three daughters and a son has taught him to look at life through a lighthearted lens.

 “As I get older, I have learned to loosen up and enjoy life, be silly and have fun as a family,” says Starr. His four children range in age from 22 to 13, and he also has a four-year-old grandson. Spending quality time with them and his wife, Melanie, is what puts a smile on his face.

 The family often vacations in places near and far, which is something Starr didn’t do when he was growing up. He makes it a point to create those travel memories with his children. “We love taking family trips,” he says. Some of their favorite vacations have included destinations such as Maui and Broken Bow, Idaho. This summer, Starr looks forward to exploring SeaWorld with his grandson.

 He recognizes that he has missed out on some holidays and special events on account of his career, but his children aren’t keeping track. They love him no matter what and will often send text messages to remind him. Starr says the most surprising aspect of fatherhood is “the unconditional love I have for my kids and that my kids have for me.”

 Father’s Day at the Starr household will likely involve much fanfare—and probably a few personal touches, too. “My wife has a tendency to go overboard on most holidays and occasions,” he says. And his children, though three of them are grown now, will likely shower him with personalized audio books, cards and photos.

 There’s just one stipulation when it comes to a celebration: No electronics. Starr doesn’t want any interruptions to family time. But if his kids want to text an “I love you, Dad,” he’ll allow it.   

Fatherly advice: “It’s okay to make mistakes in life, but learn from them and don’t repeat them,” he says. “Never compromise your integrity.”