Dads in the Limelight – Ian Lawton

Our 21st Dad in the Limelight is Ian Lawton of Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, Michigan. I want to thank Ian for being a part of this series. It has been great getting to know him and now sharing him with all of you!

1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
I’m a spiritual but not religious teacher in an independent, progressive church in West Michigan (Christ Community Church, Spring Lake, Michigan). Because my theology is very radical I have been more in the limelight than most pastors, both locally and online. My wife and I have also launched a website, as a resource for people of all faiths and no faith.

2) Tell me about your family

I have a wife and three kids, aged 15, 10 and 7. We are from Australia, left there 10 years ago and lived in New Zealand for 4 years before moving to America. We are a very close family due to the moving, and love our leisure and holiday time together. We love to travel and do road trips to new places. We usually gravitate to the nearest coast.

3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

I have made many mistakes as a father. I usually recognize my mistakes very quickly and it often leads to great conversations. When I feel myself getting frustrated with the kids, it often hits me that its got nothing to do with them. Its something in myself that I have not faced, and I’m mindlessly taking it out on them.

4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Be real. Your kids don’t need you to be perfect; just honest and authentic. Model being human. Tell them when you make mistakes. Laugh at yourself often, and enjoy it when your kids laugh at you. Practice your corny “Dad humor”.

5) Seeing that you (or your position) is in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
I struggle with balance. Balance between work and family and my own time. I like to keep fit, and I have a demanding job with long hours. So balance is an ongoing challenge. I have found that each kid needs time and attention in a different way. It also goes in stages with school projects or particular growing pains. So it requires a lot of flexibility It’s very clear to me that my family comes before my outside life. I try to make that clear to both my family and my church. I think that’s an important value to model.

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with? My best conversations with fathers are when we say “we don’t feel like we do a very good of being a father.” There are no templates for being a parent or a father. Its hard and its getting harder as gender roles have gone through the murky stages of liberation. I learn from fathers who stay present to whatever is happening with their kids at that time.

7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far? Being a father is awesome. When I come home with stress weighing me down, the kids unintentionally lift me out of any tension. They don’t care about church politics or someone’s criticism. So they remind me not to take things so personally. I hope I give them even half of the joy that they give me.

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Taking my oldest on a road trip to an amusement park. Doing overnight bike rides with my middle kid. Going on day outings with my youngest. We have our own family rituals. Certain things happen at certain ages. I sometimes wonder if I enjoy theses rituals more than the kids.
If you have any questions for Ian, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

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