You’re listening to Parenting in the First Three Years, the place where we explore the strategies and soul of parenting from pregnancy through the first three years of life. I’m your host, Anne McKitrick. Thank you so much for joining me. Hello, and welcome to our podcast. I am so excited today to bring to you Nate Feathers.

He is the host of Dads Don’t Babysit, and I’m so delighted to have you here with me today, Nate. Thank you so much. Absolutely. Glad to be here. So what you do is you mentor fathers to kind of break away from the way that they were parented. That is a humongous endeavor and something that all of us mothers as well need to really consider in our lives as, as we become parents.

But before we go down that conversation path, tell us first about your family and what you do. Thank you. Yeah, sure. I am a father of five. I number six is on the way. Uh, and they span the gap from 19 all the way down to right now, three. And then in late February, early March, probably be late February. If I know how it works for us late February, early March, we’ll have number six.

And I’ll be one in college and one of diapers all over again. So we just got number three out of diapers for the most part. She wears one at night, but other than that, she’s like, she’s the potty machine. She can handle it. So we’ll be going back into the diaper stage, which is people a lot of times are like, you’re crazy.

And I’m like, yeah. It’s just, we’re all for the chaos. Like our life is, it’s just a chaotic mess of crazy and I enjoy that. So back into it is okay with me. When I hear families that have like such a wide span of kids, I’m automatically in my mind doing the math, you know? Okay. So you’ve got a 20 year old.

Is that right? He’s 19 year old and you’re getting ready to start again. So that’s 40 plus years of parenting that you guys are going to do. That’s right. That’s right. You know, and it’s funny because if I, if I think about each kid at one point, I think it’s right now, actually each kid, if we, if we take their.

Collective ages. It’s like 51 years of parenting over the five kids, which is just, whew, that’s nuts. I’m glad I’m, I’m not, I’m not there age wise, but I guess I am there experience wise. Yeah. Your parenting experience is beyond your actual years of age. Yeah. Beyond my years in parenting. There you go.

That’s great. So in your messaging on Instagram, dads don’t babysit, you have a very strong message to fathers. And so one of the things I wonder about is. First, what compelled you to go into social media with this message? And then what’s been the response from men? What do you hear back? So what started it really was actually I was, I kind of started to get my own health journey and I say that becoming healthy made me a better father.

And I really believe that I was leaning over to tie my shoes one day and I literally had to hold my breath and I’m, I’ve never been a really. Big man in the sense of like, like I didn’t have this overhanging gut. I just had enough stuff that just made it hard to breathe when I was trying to tie my shoes.

And I remember going, this is ridiculous. Like what is going on? I can’t have that. I’m too young for this. And so I started on my own health journey. But as I did that, I started to be able to. I became a better father because I could interact with them. I mean, if you’re tired and foggy all the time, when your kids are like, dad, can we play?

You don’t really want to do that. And a lot of guys either go to the office or they go to a blue collar job and they’re working when they come home, they’re tired. And so they want to sit on the couch. And, you know, I mean, this is, it’s, it’s. Cliché because it’s what happens with guys come home. They want to crack open a beer, sit on the couch.

They’ve got a stay at home wife. Sometimes if they don’t, they still are expecting her to like make dinner and then they just sit there and veg out. It’s like they totally [00:04:00] tune out everything. And I didn’t do all of that, but I noticed that as I got healthier, when the kids were starting to like run around or do stuff, I could do that with them.

And I found that it just gave me more. Energy to do that. So as far as that started, it really did come back to from the start with my health. And so I was sharing a little bit about health stuff and what I’ve learned about gut health. Specifically, that’s an area of interest for me. And I noticed that when I started to get my gut health.

healthy. My overall health started to go significantly higher. So that was kind of like a thing as well. I’m always for the guys. Like I am one. So I’m like, you know, like that’s something there for me. But as far as fatherhood, it really started when my oldest went to college. It just punched me in the face that I don’t get to have him in the house anymore.

And so I had one of those life flash before your eyes moments. Transcribed Where I just was like, Oh my gosh, I could have done this so much better. I could have handled lots of situations with a lot more grace and a lot less anger. I could have been way less strict. Like why was I so strict? And I think that the more kids you have, that’s why they always say the baby of the family is like the spoiled one.

And you know, you have this age gap in mind. So they’re like, and I, I’ve had this conversation with both the older two where I’m like, you’re going to see a totally different father. They’re going to have a different experience than you. It is not because I love them more. It’s actually because I am no longer the dad that raised you.

And so we’ve had those conversations, but it’s funny to me because now I’m like, my youngest doesn’t get special treatment. She has a better version of me. So there’s a lot of stuff. I’m like, yeah, that’s not a big deal. It’s fine. You know, whatever that is, it comes from parents learning. And I didn’t really realize that when I was younger too, people would say that, Oh, the older it gets the worst.

And the younger gets the, gets the easy road. And I’m like, Now I’m going, well, yeah, because the younger one has the, the matured parent. The older one has a parent who’s still trying to raise themself at this point. Like they’re, I’m raising a kid and I’m figuring my own life out. It’s crazy. Yeah. I mean, there’s so much that happens in adult development in your twenties, which is when many people are having their first children.

And I mean, yeah, they sent me home with a baby before I could rent a car. That’s insane, right? I’m like, yeah, that’s there. That’s yours. Take him home. And I’m like, good. But if I was trying to rent a car right now, you’d be like, well, you, you can’t. Sorry. Yeah, you’re not old enough to have to drive the car that you don’t own.

Yeah. We can’t, we can’t trust you with that responsibility, but here’s a human, you know, it’s like, that’s insane, but yeah, you’re totally right. You know, and it took me years to even, I think, I mean, we’re always developing. So my hope is I never stopped that. I’m always growing and I don’t wish away the years of being a parent, but I’m really excited to be a grandparent too.

I’ve even told them already. I was just like this week, I was like, I’m going to be the best grandpa. Like we call my grandfather, my dad’s side, we call him pap, lots of respect for him. And tons of us in the family, like I already know that’s what my grandkids will call me. I’m pap. Cause it’s, I want to emulate that.

But, uh, you know, so it’s like when I’m a path, I’m going to be the best there is. You’re going to probably have a lot of grandchildren since you have six children, if they each have two or three. Hmm. Yeah. That’s a lot of people around the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s right. I’m really hoping for that.

I, I have a table that will, it extends into like a 12 footer. Already. I’m like, let’s fill this thing up and still need space. I’m cool with that. I love it. Yeah. So what about the response from other men? I mean, what have you heard back? It’s been interesting because I’ve done a couple reels where I’ve talked about the spanking and the yelling side.

And I will say this. I can tell from just reading like, you know, the handles are all different, so it doesn’t indicate it’s a guy, but I can read a handle. I can read a response on those and be like, that’s a dude because a lot of guys have a real hard time with this not spanking or well, you know, I’ll get like, Oh, well, you know, sometimes you got to raise your voice and I’m like, okay, give me an example.

And I’m not saying that I, I don’t, cause I’m just saying that I know when I do, I probably didn’t need to. And I got to like, go back and apologize and do those things. So. Okay. I’m still growing, still becoming more and I’m still screwing up too. So it’s not like I’m teaching from a perspective of I’m perfect.

And I figured this out. It’s just, eh, I think I could. We could do better, but they’ll be like, yeah, no, there’s totally time when they can get, when, when you could yell. And I’m like, give me one, like, just tell me when it is. And if it’s not, they’re running out into the street, then I don’t really, like, I don’t, I don’t, I totally disagree.

I mean, how easy is it for me to, instead of yell at them, like touch their shoulder and get their eyes. Like, I don’t need to yell to do that. I come down to their level. I slow down my pace and then I get their attention that does the same thing as screaming and yelling. In fact, it does it better because screaming and yelling actually creates a tolerance level for screaming and yelling to where you end up having to scream to get their attention anyways.

So if I just slow down and like touch their shoulder, look into their eyes. If they’re young enough, pick them up and hold them, say, Hey, man, I mean, totally different response. Totally different. Everything happens in that moment. And I didn’t have to yell. And that’s where guys are like, Oh no, like sometimes they need that or a swat on the butt.

Like I’ve had people be like, Oh yeah, well I don’t hit them hard, but you know, I swat them on the butt to get their attention. And I’m like, I can do that without swatting on the butt. Like that’s, you know, not a big deal. Guys have a hard time with that because they think, well, that’s the way I got treated.

And I’m just fine. And that’s always the statement. Oh, I got spanked and I’m fine. Well, are you like for real? Or okay. Maybe you are, but could it have been different for you? Like, could it have been something else? I can usually tell if it’s a guy because there’s usually some pushback on that. Now that said, I also did one where I said, I grabbed their face and I tell them how thankful I am for them.

And every time it makes my eyes well up with tears. Like sometimes I got to say it fast and I’m just like, like, I’m so glad you’re here. And I’ll like, high five him. I’m like, I love it that you’re mine. You’re like that kind of stuff. But if I like focus down and I like really get their attention, I know that I’m going to probably either [00:10:00] start tearing up or cry just outright have tears coming down my face.

I said on that reel, like, try it. Tell me how it goes. And I’ve gotten back so many messages from dudes that are like, bro, it changed everything. My kids respond to me differently. They’re like, it’s crazy how, like, I get chills when I talk about it because I get so excited for these fathers to connect like that.

Like it’s not what we’ve done in the past. Most of us didn’t have that happen to us. And so we’re not expecting what shows up in our world when we do that. And you just like, I had somebody say it today. They’re like, yeah, there are three and four. So I don’t know if they get what I’m saying. And I said, they’re, they’re feeling the energy that you are giving to them.

And that is going to affect their soul in a way that you have no idea just yet. You know, it’s like, but tons of guys, tons of guys have, have messaged me or made comments or reached out to me to say. Dude, this is changing how my children are interacting with me. It’s changing me, man. I love that. I love that so much.[00:11:00]

It’s been awesome. It’s been awesome. You know, my dad never, he never did that, you know, you know, I mean that I remember maybe when I was tiny, tiny baby. So like. Just that one little thing, you know, taking your child’s face in your hands. What about these teenagers you have? How do you do that with them in a way that?

I don’t care. I’ll grab their face too. Like I’m like, hey, like, I mean, it’s not always like that, but uh, you know, with your teenagers You might be in the car and it’s just you and them and they’re sitting in the passenger seat because they’re big enough to actually be up with you and that kind of stuff.

Yeah. They’ll be chit chatting or whatever, talking, and then I get the chance to say that. The oldest one, there is a real, like a real audio that it says, and I think it’s like an Irish guy, but he says something like, to my son, and then he says all these things. I sent that to Zeke when he was at college.

And I got back. Thanks, dad. I’m like crying right now. He said, he said he opened it, watched it and started crying. And his, and his friends were like, dude, what’s wrong? And he’s like, my dad just sent me this reel telling me how much he loves me. I’m like, I’m going to embarrass the snot out of you, man. I don’t care.

All his friends are going, man, I wish my dad would do that. Yeah, exactly. So I still, I mean, I think the other day, I don’t, I don’t do it like every day, but like when I catch it and like in my house, I say, if you feel it, say it, especially if it’s good, there’s so much negative in the world that I mean that to say that to strangers, like if you like their shoes, I say also, I saw this guy last night at this restaurant.

I mean, he was decked out in this cool suit and there is no shame in my game. So I was like, you are looking fabulous, dude. Like they just see it from me. So I do this. Why wouldn’t I do that with my kids? So, uh, when I’m thinking about it, it comes up. So just like the other week I grabbed my 17 year old daughter’s face and I was like, I’m so glad you’re here.

Like you, this is, this is what it’s all about for me. Yeah. I love that. Okay. So you’ve taken this message and you’ve taken it out into the world. You’ve got 150, 000 plus followers on Instagram and lots of conversation about what you’re doing. Thank What’s the response of your own parents and like your own siblings and aunts and uncles and stuff?

What do they say when you get together at Christmas? So that is actually a very difficult situation in my life. Cause my wife’s family, we are very close with her parents live in Florida, but they come up all the time to see the kids and we hang out a lot with them. Uh, and I am, it’s so funny because when they’re coming, I’m not the guy that’s dreading his in laws coming.

I’m all for it. I’m like, yeah, get up here and like, you can stay with us as long as you want. They have these three big dogs. Well, they have two now, but totally okay. Bring them, you know, just come hang out with us. They’re retired. So they don’t really have places to go and things to do now. That said, they are a lot of fun.

So they have friends that are extremely like that. They’re their age. They’re constantly going out on the boat or they’re, you know, going to wineries and stuff. So sometimes we’re like, we’ll, we’ll literally say to them, like, we want your life when we’re your age. Like, we hope that that’s where we are. My family on the other side.

So my two older kids are from a previous marriage. I was married before. I got married at 20. When we went through the divorce, like, my parents had a real hard time with it. With some of what all was going on. And so that really distanced us. And I had a very hard conversation with my dad specifically. And in the same tone, and I think you’ve probably had this, especially with just some of the conversations we’ve had, even before we started recording, I started realizing things about my own life.

And I said, wow, like you made these choices and you said these things and it’s affecting me now. And I’m not blaming him, but I am saying I have to work through this stuff because the choices you made and you know, he didn’t take that very well. Well, my mother passed away when I was 21. So he was remarried.

His wife was not too keen on that either. But what ended up coming out of that is that then My siblings were like, well, we don’t really know what to do right here. We don’t want to be in the middle. So not being in the middle meant I am the black sheep and I’m out. I totally own that. I’m okay with being a black sheep, but I don’t talk to them very much.

And so, unfortunately, I don’t even think my parents, like, I don’t even think they know that I, that I do what I do, honestly, at this point. They very well could just from stuff I, because what I post on Instagram does go to Facebook. And so they’re back and forth on there. So they might know some, but it’s so interesting to know, like one platform blows up and another platform doesn’t.

And so like Facebook, my people be like, Oh, that’s cool, Nate. And then you’re on Instagram and people are like, yeah, right. It’s so funny. And that’s kind of how family is, right? That’s kind of how family and close friends that you grew up with, they have no idea about what you’re doing or where you’ve gone.

And so they’re like, Oh, that’s cool. Like you’re, you’re like, you, they’re like, Oh, how’s your little business and your business is booming. And you’re like, little business. What? Same thing for me. They’re like, Oh, that’s cool. You’re talking about being a dad. And it’s like, Oh, that’s, that’s sweet. And I’m like, it’s actually affecting people.

That’s amazing. But sure, cool, whatever. Yeah. So unfortunately it’s from my side of the family. It’s, uh, I don’t even know if they know. To be honest, families are very complicated. I [00:16:00] think one of the things I think about, you know, like when I think about my own family, you know, times have changed so much so fast and here’s an example of that.

My father’s mother. Was born in 1899. I’m the 4th of 5 kids. And so, and so I’m older. And so my parents, you know, were a little older when they had me actually, well, they weren’t that much older. They were like in their 30s. They started like you at age 18, having their kids. But anyways, my grandmother. I’ll just tell the story real quick, just to make my point, she was, her mother died in childbirth.

And so her grandparents took her in and were raising her. And she was a toddler playing in the front yard of her grandparents house. I guess, you know, somebody was watching from the kitchen window or something. And her father comes up on horseback, because this is 18 Probably 1900 by now, maybe 1901. Yeah.

Snatches her because I guess he’s been telling them, I want my daughter. I’m her father and takes her and by horseback to Texas. They were in Arkansas. And so I’ve been thinking so much about my grandmother, what her childhood, what must’ve been like, I mean, what was it like to be coming into this wild, wild west, literally situation and be raised by.

I don’t know. I don’t know the story, obviously, but that was just two generations ago. Yeah. So she, she grows up, she becomes a woman. She has a family. My father is one of her kids. And then my father had me. And so it wasn’t that long ago. And that, I mean, the contrast between my children’s world and granny’s world, it’s just like, it’s mind boggling.

And so when you throw into the whole thought process of, [00:18:00] well, my, Father did this, my mother did this, you know, and you just layer all of those other environmental things and cultural things and time things, all of that. I think it’s just broadening in your perspective and think about all of those things as we look back and think, well, my father didn’t do blah, blah, blah, blah.

Oh yeah. Well, his mother probably never had that modeled. And so she probably didn’t know how to do that. And you know, anyways, I just think it’s an interesting. Twist in the conversation. Oh, yeah. I’m almost positive. Gabor Maté, a psychologist in the field. He always brings stuff back to childhood trauma. I always thought he was like, he was a parenting expert.

I didn’t realize for a long time that he’s really a psychologist, but he, everything he says comes back to that childhood trauma time. And. He also talks about studies that are saying the anxiety of the grandmother passes to the mother, to the daughter, it just keeps going. And I mean, he’s even citing different, he cites different things like, uh, when.

I think there was a freeze in Canada that they studied the children later and they could see that the stress markers were higher in those kids from that time because of their parents going through that. It’s just stuff like that, that I always go back to. Like, my background is in the Bible and in the church.

And so some of my stuff goes back and go, Oh, look, I can see that now. And it’s the sins of the father will be passed on to the fourth and fifth generations. And I see that. And I read that and I go, okay, what if it’s not actually, and it doesn’t mean it’s not the sins, but what if it’s actually the experiences and the life of the father passes on to the children and their children’s children.

And it’s that kind of stuff. It’s how they experienced life. What it did to them, because that’s what gets modeled the next for the next person and for the next person, you know, and I heard a joke one time where it was, I think it’s a joke, whatever, but it’s a story where this girl, she, she decides that she’s, she just got married and they’re going to do Christmas at her house.

And so she gets this pan, she gets the ham out, she cuts the end off and she puts it in the pan and her husband’s like. Well, why’d you do that? Like there’s a whole piece of ham you’re just cutting off. What is that for? She’s like, that’s why my mom did it. And he’s like, well, she’s in the next room. I’m gonna go ask her.

So it goes in the next room and he’s like, hey, why did you cut the ham end off? And she’s like, oh, that’s the way my mom did it. Well, luckily granny is in the house too. So he goes to grandma and he goes, why did you cut the end of the ham off? And she’s like, oh, I didn’t have a big enough pot. And it’s like all of that stuff, like, it’s like, Oh, you know, like we do these things because our parents did them and they have no reason other than that’s what they did.

And unless we start asking questions, you know, you go back in there and be like, Hey, throw the end of that ham in there. Cause we’re going to eat it. You know, like just it’s, it’s that kind of stuff. I think that it really does change. It doesn’t change. It creates our life and our experience. And from my standpoint and what I started to do now.

It’s really the how do I help make choices to change that because it doesn’t mean that everything in my life was bad. I had a great life. Like when I look back, I’m like, yeah, my grown up years were fantastic. I was one of the few now, maybe not few, but there were plenty of my friends whose parents were divorced.

Right. I didn’t have that. So I didn’t have that growing up experience. So I look back and go, I had a great life, but I also can look back and go, all right, there were things that I need to, I want to take into this life and pass on to my children. And there are things that I need to change and not pass on to my children and give them something else.

That’s what I want for all the guys I talked to is change how your father treated you by how you treat your kids because it will change the generations to come. Right. For sure. I do think that wisdom says that, you know, you won’t get it right and your children will be changing what they do because they don’t want to do it the way you did it as hard as we try.

We just are such imperfect people. Absolutely. It’s just the way it is. But I have this personal belief that if we did it perfect, if we were perfect parents, our kids would never leave. They would just say, we have to give them good reason to leave. That’s right. We gotta, we gotta do that. That’s for sure.

One last question I have for you. And that is who’s your parenting mentor? Who’s a dad that you are? Learning from is maybe a few steps ahead of you. Sure. Interesting. I knew you were gonna ask that question and I really, I do like it. And I was sitting there even now I’m going, I don’t know who I look to as a dad.

The one I can say is honestly. He doesn’t even know this. Uh, my uncle Troy is, he’s only about 11 years older than me. He’s my dad’s youngest brother, but my cousins and I are pretty close. He has two sons and I feel really close to their oldest one, but obviously, uh, that’s TJ and then Joel is only three years younger than him.

So they’re just into their thirties. Well, actually Joel’s not, but TJ is, and I love their interaction with their parents. And so if I were to say there’s a dad that I’m watching, it’s my uncle Troy, because he, he, in my opinion, the way his sons want to be around him and be around them and have their, their kids around him, that’s what I want.

And what’s cool is he’s just like pap. It’s so funny because. What I remember of Pap, I’m like, Oh, that’s Uncle Troy. Uncle Troy does almost exact same stuff. Says the same thing. I mean, it all comes out exactly the same. Even looks like him. Uh, just not as gray yet or not as white haired, but it would be him.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And that’s great. I know that I have always. Had parents, moms, particularly that I admire from afar, and I’m just kind of watching them. And, and still, you know, I’m still doing that. I’m a parent of young adults and, and that in itself is parenting. And I love to watch how other people are, are doing that, you know?

Absolutely. I love this conversation. I love what you do. I love just the title. Dad’s don’t babysit. They’re not babysitters. No, no, they’re, they’re, uh, fathers. Exactly. Yeah. We’re parenting just as much. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So as we wrap it up, what would be one word of encouragement you’d like to leave with anyone who’s listening?

I tend to focus on dads, but I’ll say that this goes for all parents is that you can change the way you’ve done things at any point. So my encouragement is look at how you live, look at how you are and how you think. See where you need to apologize. Apologies. Once we start changing our life, they’re actually, they work and they’re, they’re felt when we do that because we’re shifting.

So it doesn’t matter if your kids are out of the house, like you can always go to them and say, I really screwed up and we don’t have a great relationship because of that. And I really want one. I don’t want one because you have kids and they’re my grandkids. I want one with you. But you can do that as a parent of a three year old or a 30 year old, it doesn’t matter.

And there’s always a chance to restart. So true. I love that. Thank you so much for joining me in this conversation. I know it’s going to be very insightful for folks. How can people find you if they want to talk to you? Uh, yeah, really the main way is on Instagram right now, it’s at dads don’t babysit.

It’s dads underscore don’t underscore babysit. I am on, uh, I, I got ahold of the dads don’t babysit dot TV. So if you’re looking to email me, you can do that. It’s Nate at dads don’t babysit dot TV as well. And hopefully we’ll be doing some, some new things coming up there this coming year. So. Great. But right now it’s just Instagram for the most part.

Okay. We’ll have all those links in the show notes. Thank you so much, Nate. No problem. Talk to you later.

If you love today’s episode, take a minute and subscribe to our podcast. And one last thing, I’d love to pray for you and your baby. If you’d like for me to, you can email me at ask at nurtured noggins.com. Your request can be as simple as just one word, or it can include an explanation. Either way, you can trust that I will pray for you. It’s a quiet, simple way that I can connect with you and your family and support you in your parenting journey.