DISCLOSURE: We would like to thank Meta health and wellness products for providing us the opportunity to promote its “Heart 2 Heart” campaign.
Every parent should have an occasionally heart-to-heart talk with his or her kids, and there’s no better time than February which is National Heart Health Month. There’s also no reason a child can’t have that same talk with his parent which is just what pro football Hall of Famer and talk show host Michael Strahan does, chatting with his father, Gene, in the new campaign for Meta.
City Dads Group co-founder Lance Somerfeld and NYC Dads Group co-organizer Christopher Persley sat down with Strahan this past week to discuss heart health, and, of course, fatherhood. Here are some highlights.
City Dads Group: You have a little experience having a “heart to heart” conversation about heart health with your own father, Gene. Can you tell us how that conversation happened, and what prompted you to have it?
Michael Strahan: My dad was having heart issues. I assumed he and my mother could handle it … but it wasn’t getting any better. The issues were getting worse and I decided to step in. Because of my relationship with him, it wasn’t a fight, it wasn’t an argument. I just said, “I want to help you and let’s try this. I want you to meet with these doctors I found for you. Let’s see if we can do something to get you back on track.” He was really receptive to it. It wasn’t an easy conversation for me. … It’s a scary thing to do when somebody you admire so much, you’re kind of used to going to them for advice or they give it unsolicited sometimes. Now you’re the one giving advice, advice you feel could really help them. Difficult conversation at first to have, but once it set in, it was great. In a lot of ways, it made us closer in a different way.
What did you learn about fatherhood from your dad?
Michael Strahan: Oh, yeah, my dad was an incredible father. He never did anything his kids weren’t allowed to do with him. If he were going on a fishing trip, and no kids were going, he wouldn’t go. He’d take us by himself, just him. We always had a camper, so we’d always travel. And he was an old Army boxer. When he went to the gym, we would go. I remember being 5 years old, and I was out there running with the 82nd Airborne Division. How many 5-year-old kids could say that? He was always there. He always included us in everything he did, and that’s what I learned from him. Always be present. Always be a part. And don’t think that your kids don’t understand what you do or that it’s too early to get them involved to see what you do. And from being around him and seeing what hard work was, it allowed me to know that you have to work hard. But at the same time, you have to enjoy your family. That’s why the purpose of what you do is to spend time with your family and keep them around as long as possible.
What are some of the challenges you face as a father?
Michael Strahan: Time management. Managing the time as a father when you are as busy as I am I think is one. Then, when you do have the time, to be there and be present and not to be worried about everything else you have going on. Not being on your phone, because your kids want your attention. Those are the biggest challenges for me. The phone thing doesn’t bother me. At first it was like, “OK, I have to get on top of this.” But now, I’ve gotten to the point where it’s their time, and it’s absolutely their time. When you’re in the entertainment business … this is funny, because my youngest kids, the twins at 11 years old are at the point … Well I used to say to people who would come up to me that I appreciate it, but I’m with the kids, so I can’t take a picture. Now, the girls will say to me, “You can say ‘yes’ to everyone today.” They want me to say yes. They’re willing to give up their time with me to make other people happy. This is another thing that makes me happy. They are very giving and caring in that way to think about somebody else before themselves.
What is your favorite thing about being a dad? What’s that one thing that you always look forward to doing with your kids?
Michael Strahan: The kids keep you young. I was just at the father/daughter dance. We just sat down after we got our food. “The Cupid Shuffle” came on, and my kids said we had to dance. I said, “But we just got our food.” They said, “You have to eat after.” So, we’re up there Cupid Shuffling. To the right, to the right. To the left, to the left. Between that and “whipping and nae-naeing,” it kind of makes you realize what’s important. Work is great, and that’s important. Doing this and that is important, but nothing’s more important than that time. They make everything seem not so serious. As an adult, at a certain point in your life you go, “OK, now I’m an adult, and this has to be this way.” And they make you realize, you can have fun and play and enjoy your life the whole way through! It’s not like you get serious for this period and then enjoy it. You’re able to enjoy your life the entire way through. The innocence of kids, my kids, keep me focused and help me with that.
We have a podcast called, “The Modern Dads Podcast.” What does the term “modern dad'” mean to you?
Michael Strahan: I think it’s a father who can do it all. It almost used to feel like mom was home with the kids, mom fed the kids, mom changed the kids, mom drove the kids, mom did the homework, and all those things. Now, dad does all that, too. And I think that’s what a modern father is. Not going by that society given notion that dads are uninvolved in the everyday life and is just the one who goes and provides. I just think that thinking is dead. Modern fathers do it all and deserve credit for it as well. And we wash clothes, too!
Michael Strahan also did a Q & A at the 2016 Dad 2.0 Summit. Here is a a quick clip from that session.