Matt Henson is an all around stand up guy. With his Rad Dad Feature (http://www.moderndaydads.com/rad-dad-feature-matt-henson-of-noise/) as one of our most read articles, he’s maintained a great friendship with me and also has been a steady a contributor to many of our discussions with his experiences and clear cut point of view.
We all know how having a child can change your life, but having a second child always seems to give you a bit of clarity while still keeping you on your toes. When Matt and his family welcomed a little girl into their lives, I was interested to see if Matt wanted to do a second interview, talking about how his life had changed since the last feature. I’m honored he obliged and think this is an extremely powerful read and great perspectives shared from an absolutely inspirational guy. It’s my pleasure to share this with you.
1. How has adding another child to the mix changed the way you balance being a dad?
Well, besides the obvious logistical concerns, I suppose the best way to answer is start from the notification process. I was in Korea when I received a picture from my wife via Facebook messenger. The picture was of a pregnancy test. Unfortunately the picture was cut off at the (arguably most crucial) portion of the test that denotes the results. Using deductive reasoning, I concluded my wife probably wouldn’t send me pictures of a negative pregnancy test and immediately began wearing the biggest smile I had had on my face since my arrival in Korea (no offense, Koreans).
When I found out that Faris was a girl many of my worst fears began to manifest themselves in odd ways. I caught myself daydreaming about answering the door to some jerk off that had come to our house with the mistaken impression that he would be leaving with our daughter on a date. Once I grew up a bit, mentally, I started focusing on more relevant and pressing concerns obviously being that my wife and baby were both doing okay since I was deployed for most of the pregnancy. The next concern was how our son would react to suddenly no longer being the only child. Liam is one of the best natured kids ever, so that was less of a concern than a curiosity but we discussed it quite a bit.
When the big day came, just as they had with Liam, all of our concerns were swept away by an awe of how deeply we both fell in love with her when she arrived. Since then Liam has proven to be the best big brother ever……. once Informing Stefanie that she was fired and taking Faris up to his room after she came too close to her with the vacuum for his liking (about 5 feet). We haven’t found a replacement yet, so he’s agreed to keep her on a little while longer.
Overall, it has changed the way we operate as a family in that time and attention have to be very deliberately managed between the kids. As they grow and we learn more about their needs, we have to change even more which can happen from day to day depending on a myriad of factors from illness, to a bad day at school and everything in between. It has been a definite challenge but one we couldn’t be happier to have accepted.
2. Do you think being a modern day dad helps in the way you raise your children?
Absolutely. Society is changing (I’d say we can all agree that that is the case with varying degrees of enthusiasm) and like it or not, I feel as though that forces us to rethink the way we do some things. I am not in any way, shape or form trying to say that my way is better than anyone else’s, but I think I can sum up my point by using an analogy from my job. I get paid to train and lead Soldiers. My job is to get the best results out of them and facilitate their personal and professional growth (probably sounds familiar to most Dads out there). The Army is a people business and as such, different soldiers react to different leadership styles in different ways.
There are literally thousands of variables that dictate how someone reacts to guidance. It’s easy to say “this is how I do it and if you don’t like it, tough”. To me that reads as tough-guy posturing, lazy and very seldom yields any result that couldn’t been done so better by more effective leadership. I have a desired end state and in order to meet that end state I have to accept that I may have to tailor the way I conduct business based on the scenario and understand the totality of a situation before I make a decision. Parenting is very similar to me in that regard.
I feel as though my generation is a bit more inclined to try and understand where our kids are coming from rather than administer a blanket style of parenting. Parenting is a complex world to navigate and doesn’t really coincide with our desire to have simple fixes to everything. I see memes all the time with things like “this is why you spank your kid”. No, man. You have no idea why people do or don’t spank their kids and (fortunately) it isn’t your job to figure it out. Spanking was pretty much the least effective disciplinary tool my parents tried. Honestly, nothing really worked, so maybe I’m a bad example but my point is that different things work for different people at different times. I feel like we understand that a little better than our parents did. Hopefully our kids will understand it even better than we do.
3. How did becoming a father AGAIN change your life and daily routine?
I think the bigger thing for us is that so many things changed at one time. Faris was born, my wife went back to school, Liam started school, I got promoted to a position that was quite a bit more time inclusive, Noi!se recorded and released The Real Enemy and Kenny and I started Stadium Way all in the span of about 10 months, so we certainly haven’t had much time to think about it but I think the real challenge is giving both kids the attention they deserve.
With the challenge comes the reward of having two, incredible kids in our lives that Stef and I get to watch grow up (and destroy the house). I think it kind of illustrates how adaptive humans are to change. I’m sure there is someone reading this with one child who can’t possibly imagine how they would handle a second…. And will wonder how they ever lived without them the minute their second is born. We handle change exceptionally well for a species that bitches about it so much.
4. Any funny stories since having the second addition to your family?
Our kids are a constant source of entertainment (I use that word remarkably loosely) and there are so many examples it’s difficult to pick just one, but the one that comes to mind happened a few weeks ago. My good friend (and the band’s founding member) Nate’s son was over playing with Liam one weekend and they got very quiet. A wave of terror rushed over both my wife and I as we realized the stomping and screaming upstairs had stopped for a few seconds so we went up to investigate. Both boys were dressed as Knights, having pieced their outfits together using old Halloween costumes. We were informed that they were on a quest to get the baby dragon. Faris (the baby dragon) was calmly sitting on the top of Liam’s bunk bed …. Because that’s where dragons hang out. We ended up taking the baby dragon back down stairs before she grew wings and attempted to fly out of the “nest”.
5. What have you learned, or what advice can you give about being a dad since our first feature?
The way someone else raises their child doesn’t negate the way you do it or make it less effective. We have a natural inclination to try and validate what we are doing by looking at how others are doing it and parenting is about the last endeavor where that is appropriate. Your kids are yours just like your relationship with your partner is yours. How others govern theirs is completely inadmissible when trying to determine whether you are “doing it right”. You determine what your measure of success is as a parent. It’s too important of a job to let someone else (to include social media) tell you how to do it.