Dads in the Limelight – Greg Zellers (TellingDad.com)

Our 34th Dad in the Limelight is Greg Zellers from TellingDad.com. I want to thank Greg 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 actually never thought I was even in the limelight until I got your email. I figured I was pretty much an unknown but this new limelight thing you talk about could change everything.

I doubt anyone would fully grasp what I do for a living but my background is in marketing and design so I consider myself to be somewhat of a creative person. I am heavily entrenched in online marketing and I essentially purchase media space on various social media sites and hope that the revenues generated are higher than the ad costs. So far, not one negative day, knock on wood.

Aside from my boring professional life, those who know me personally label me as a down to earth fun loving guy with a great sense of humor and a giving nature.

I like that.

While I wouldn’t mind being superficially regarded as a hunk or a hottie once in a while, I’ll graciously accept the humor label.

I’m not really famous outside of my own household and I honestly haven’t done anything to really change that. I suppose I’m in the dimmer hue of the limelight because my passion lies in making people smile. Whether it’s a belly laugh from something I say or a simple smile from something I do, this is what motivates me.

If I had to pick something that gives me purpose, it would have to be my Sweet Dreams Fund. After an unspeakable tragedy hit my wife’s family, I felt compelled to do something, and I created a fund that supports domestic violence shelters.

The concept is simple, yet powerful. Basically, I use the raised funds to purchase what we call “Goodnight Sleep Kits” for the children who arrive at the shelters when the mother is escaping violence. Each kit includes a pillow, pillowcase, box of crayons, coloring book, and a teddy bear that
they can take with them when they leave. It has to be a scary time for these children and we’re trying to make their first night a little less intimidating and scary.

My intention is to raise awareness of our fund through the antics, posts, and upcoming video shorts on my blog. If this accompanies a brighter limelight, so be it, but I don’t do it for my own benefit. It would be wonderful if philanthropy made me famous because my chiseled abs sure aren’t going to be able to do it all by themselves.

2) Tell me about your family

My wife and I have been married for years and years, a trend we both plan on continuing. She is my rock, my absolute best friend, and a wonderful mother. We’re all lucky to have her in our lives. She is a stay-at-home mom, and I am a work-from-home dad, so we feel blessed to be able to spend so much time with each other and our three children.

My wife has sacrificed so much to enable me to do what I do. She has wit, brains, beauty, and an endless drive, and quite honestly, she could accomplish anything she wanted to. Yet she chooses to set aside her own potential and focus on supporting and maximizing the potential of others.

Our children are stronger because of her and I am certainly stronger because of her as well. Whatever success we enjoy, she is the catalyst behind it.

Our children are 15, 8, and 2…quite a spread. One is in Driver’s Ed and another is in Pampers. It makes for a very interesting household but we absolutely love it. We’re tucked away in North Carolina and couldn’t be happier. Being able to choose between mountains or sea offers the best of
both worlds.

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

Letting go.

Letting go of the bike seat. Letting go of a little hand so someone can walk all by herself. Letting go of fear.

I am so paranoid of my children being hurt that I know I suppress some of life’s experiences. The root of my fear is kind of their fault though. You have no idea how many breath-stealing daredevil acts I catch them doing. I swear I save their lives on a daily basis.

No matter what they’re doing I feel like I can see into the future. And all I see are injuries.

I’m a notorious worrier when it comes to their safety and well being. Almost to a fault. If they so much as headbutt a balloon I look for warning signs of brain damage. Truth be told, I’d be perfectly content if I could just encase them in bubble wrap before sending them off to school.

So, yeah, letting go is my largest challenge, and don’t even get me thinking about sending them off to college or walking my daughter down the aisle. I’ll be a basket case in either scenario.

My wife is different. She let’s them get hurt. Not in a mean, callous way, she just doesn’t let it bother her. Kids will get banged up, she says. Children do dumb things and that’s how they learn. Too blase for my taste but I suppose she’s right.

I need to remember that children are resilient and if I’m still around after all the insanely stupid things I did as a child, I should probably let my kids experience a few bumps and bruises as they navigate the pathways of life.

 4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Find a comfortable balance between friend and father. Don’t just be a father to them, or you risk missing out on a wonderful bond. And don’t just be a friend to them, or you risk losing the guidance and discipline that molds them into strong young men and women.

I make my children laugh, I ‘hang out’ with them and their friends, I goof around with them, and we enjoy activities together. But at the same time, they respect our rules, they are polite, they are kind, and they know what we expect from them by way of their behavior…not that they always deliver
on expectations. But that’s what time out, groundings, and video game banishment is for.


5) Seeing that you (or your position) is in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?

With me, parenthood and outside life mingle together. I can work anywhere and pretty much at any time so I try to work when my children are at school or asleep. It doesn’t always work out this way but it does afford me more opportunities to spend time with them when they are at home.

I’ve worked in the car, at the beach, at the park, all kinds of places. Sure, I’m working, but at least I’m able to be with my family while doing it. Usually the laptop and wireless card are with me so that I can tend to things if needed. The freedom this provides is immeasurable.

I involve my family in most of what I do so that they understand the trends and time requirements. My wife makes for a great sounding board and I usually bounce my ideas off of her constantly. If she rolls her eyes or calls me a “dork” then I know I have a winner.

As for my children? Well, my children provide me with blog fodder every single day.


6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

This question stumped me because I’m not sure I’ve really learned anything by watching other dads. Not because I don’t think other fathers have lessons to offer, but because I’m not actively searching for parenting knowledge. Sure, there are lots of books on being a dad but I’m more inclined to raise
my children by instinct.

My dad was, and is, a wonderful father so I suppose I raise my children in much the same way I was raised. Why mess with perfection, right? He gave us guidance while still providing us with the freedom to make our own mistakes. I’m still working on my ability to allow the latter, but I’m getting there.


7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

I’ve wanted children for as long as I can remember. I treasure them and all of their discoveries. Thus far, my experiences have been rewarding, entertaining, and fulfilling. The only thing I’d change is my ability to enjoy more of them.

Life is so very short and I don’t like missing a minute of their childhood. It’ll all be gone far too soon and I want my kids to remember me being there for them. I do what I have to do work-wise but I try my hardest to create an environment where they know they are number one.

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far
as a parent?

My daughter screeching with delight when she sees me, even if I was only in the next room. My son opening doors for people, being polite, and bestowing compliments just as he was taught. My daughter seeking me out to show off her new sandals, a picture she drew, or just a long lost toy she found. My
son telling me that he can’t wait for me to hang out with him and his friends. My daughter giving me a hug…out of nowhere. And my sons or daughter clamoring to be the first one to sit next to me at the dinner table or on the couch.

I could go on and on but all of these memorable experiences leads me to believe that I’m doing right by them. All without a manual in sight.

If you have any questions for Greg, 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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