Digital Dads Exposed is a monthly interview series that highlights the unique perspectives on manhood and fatherhood held by those we at Digital Dads have come across in our travels.
I’m extra happy to have my good friend P.W. Fenton in the saddle this go around. When I asked him to tell me about himself, he took a deep breath and then shared, “I was born and raised on the Borough of Staten Island in New York City, I moved to the Tampa Bay area of Florida just before my 30th birthday, already a father of two girls, and I have lived there ever since. I am now 63 years old (and now a grandfather). I started out wanting to be an actor, but family life got in the way. I have worked as a TV Broadcast engineer, a photographer, a sound recording engineer, a police officer, an educational video producer, a radio producer, and finally a semi-retired podcast producer… “Whew!”
Yes, everyone there really IS a Santa Claus. *grin*
What is your perspective on what it means to be a man living in todays world?
Well… I’m a man… I’ve been around for a good while… and I’m gratefully still living in today’s world.
Growing up, what has influenced you the most and shaped the man that you are today?
Oh that is so totally my father. He is simply the greatest person I have ever known. I’ve never known a more honorable and giving person. He represents an ideal I can never attain. I lost him in 2007, and I still can’t accept that he’s gone. He gave me everything I have that is me.
In the moments you are able to pause and reflect, what activity do you normally gravitate towards?
Telling the story of my ordinary, yet extraordinary, life. I hope I can do much more of that.
What is your parental philosophy?
While I think I’ve been a strict dad… like my father… also just like my father, I have been a close friend to my children. Their whole life they were never treated as children… as separate from adults. They were always included in everything we did. They grew up interacting with adults, never feeling like they didn’t belong. To me that is so important. Of course they were indeed children. Of course they acted like children… made decisions like children… but I never allowed myself to underestimate their abilities to understand and be a part of all that we were doing as adults.
What do you appreciate the most about being a father?
Seeing what incredible people both of my girls have become. I am extremely proud of them. It is a cliche that parents want their children to achieve more than they did. I live that cliche. My wife and I made sure they had the opportunity, and they took that opportunity and achieved wonderful things.
What is your favorite activity (or activities) to do with your children?
Nowadays… it’s just getting to hang out with them. We are simply peers now. Sure we have a family history. But now my children are people I would be friends with even if we weren’t related. If I met them today, for the first time, in a pub, over a couple of beers… we would be instant friends.
What is the best way for a man and father to impart wisdom to his children?
In a way that isn’t authoritative. Sure, children need to be disciplined. They certainly can’t be left to make their own choices. You must control their lives until they can control their own. But your job is to GUIDE them to good decisions… not dictate them. If I force my children to do something I have achieved nothing. If I convince my children that something is the “right” thing for them to do… then I have given them something.
What piece of technology impacts you most during the day (and is that impact positive or negative)?
Oh by far, the Internet. The opportunity to share my thoughts with others. On the other hand… I consider the Internet to be the single greatest source of misinformation on Earth. We must discriminate.
How does technology shape the way you raise and influence your children?
Well I am no longer “raising” children, (I don’t think). But when I was, they were always exposed to the leading edge of technology. I was a geek. There was a personal computer in our home as early as 1980. They were never behind in that regard. They were allowed to be as interested as they wanted to be, but they were never left behind technology wise.
How do you think men’s roles will change in the future?
Well clearly… when I was growing up the norm was for the Dad to be the bread winner, and the Mom to be the child raiser. My Dad was one of the vanguard that started changing all that. My mom was always the “housewife”… but my Dad never accepted his role as ONLY the bread winner. He did an extraordinary job as “bread winner”, working 3 jobs at one time, but he was also a highly active participant in the raising of his children.
Clearly, that has become more of the norm. As earning a living has become divided more evenly between husband and wife, so must the responsibility for shaping the lives of our children.
Great answers! I’m psyched we finally got a chance to have you on. PW produces some of the highest quality content out there and I can’t encourage you enough to check it out. Digital Flotsam is one of my all time favorite podcasts, but he also produces other great content including Perfect Head, Whole Nuther Story and Bluesland.
/// Digital Dads Exposed returns next month with more unique and interesting perspectives on manhood and fatherhood. Is there someone you would like to see featured? send us an email.