Author's Book Offers Lessons In "Fathering From Love"
Jonathan T. Scott remembers spending part of his childhood living in Rosedale House on Rosedale Road, which, he said, was the third largest private home in Princeton at the time.
"I grew up with lots of stuff but would have preferred a smaller home if it would have allowed me to spend more time with my father," he said, adding that his father, a multimillionaire businessman, spent many hours in the board room, and very few in the family room.
Mr. Scott, 46, who has changed his name to disassociate himself from his father, found a way to use his past experiences to help others become better fathers. After seven years of research and personal reflection, he wrote Fathering From Love, which was published this spring.
"Our parents did the best they could at the time with the knowledge they had," said Mr. Scott, adding that instead of repeating the mistakes their parents made, parents today should learn from them so that their own children have a more positive experience growing up.
After researching many books on fatherhood during his wife's pregnancy, Mr. Scott made a commitment early on that he would always be available to his own children. And with his wife, Mandy, as the primary caregiver during various times in their marriage, the author was able to spend a lot of time with his children: Tiffany, 9, and Troy, 2.
"It was sort of the exact opposite of the relationship I had with my father .... It really shed some light on the lack of experiences we had together," said the author, who now lives in Sierra Madre, California.
Mr. Scott was first inspired to write about fatherhood one day while he was sitting in the park with his daughter. He picked up a gum wrapper and began writing down his thoughts, and soon he was writing on Denny's placemats during dinner. He would write while his daughter was napping, or late at night or early in the morning when she wasn't around, because he didn't want his book to become his own version of his father's board room.
"Once you become a father there's a whole other job description," said Mr. Scott, adding that his book is especially relevant to fathers in the Princeton community.
"Many men in affluent areas like Princeton are still caught up in the 60-80 hour work week and this leaves little time for developing a relationship with their children."
Mr. Scott recommends that fathers who do have demanding jobs make sure that they put quality time aside each week to spend with their child. However, he noted, sitting at the breakfast table doesn't count if there is no real interaction. The author recommends that the two really talk to each other, and more important, that the father listens to what his child has to say, and asks more questions than he answers.
"It's wonderful and challenging," said Mr. Scott of fatherhood, mentioning that each day he learns something new from his own children. "They're my greatest teachers," he continued, adding that fathers should realize that every child has something to teach them about life.
Finding His Calling
Born in Phillipsburg, N.J., Mr. Scott was the middle child in a family of five boys. He spent eight years of his childhood living in Princeton, at first in the graduate housing at Princeton University, where his father was attending school. His parents divorced when he was 12 years old, and he moved to Pennington to live with his mother.
Mr. Scott attended Rider University, where he earned a degree in business and communications. "I quickly learned that business wasn't for me," said the author, adding that his father's own dedication to the job had put him off of it.
After college, Mr. Scott explored several different professions, including tennis instruction and banking. He eventually ended up in Hollywood, working as a freelance stage manager on programs such as The Jamie Foxx Show, Dennis Miller Live, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
He eventually lost interest in the business when he became disturbed by some of the shows he was helping produce: "I realized....I didn't want my own kids watching them."
After switching careers again to become a loan officer, he left the position last year to finish up his book.
But while the book is now published, Mr. Scott's work is nowhere near complete, according to the author.
"There are writers who speak, and speakers who write," he said, adding that he is the latter, and has enjoyed holding parenting workshops and speaking about his book on the radio and television shows since its publication.
"I'd love to be on Oprah," he added.
He also recently founded an organization, "Proud Parents," which is dedicated to promoting parental pride and involvement. Information on the organization can be found at www.proudparents.org.
But as has been the case since his children were born, fathering will continue to be Mr. Scott's first job.
"Families are more about forming relationships and connections than they are about DNA," he said. "I think men can really help improve our society if they would only be willing to share themselves with their children."