Be a Better Dad Today!

  • September 3, 2014
  • By Zhang Yuchen
  • Editor: Amanda Wu
  • Change Text Size: A  A  A

Fatherhood is a treasure that can't be wasted, a leading CEO and author tells Zhang Yuchen.

Through his whole book Be a Better Dad Today!, Gregory W. Slayton challenges any man with one direct question for life: What's the most important job you have?

The answer is beyond any of his titles as the Silicon Valley adventure capitalist, CEO of many American companies, and former US ambassador to Bermuda.

"Job No 1 is being a father," says the parent of four. "My book is trying to point it out to dads: This is such a wonderful opportunity for joy, blessing and fun (to spend time with your families). Don't throw it away."

Born in Ohio, Slayton was raised by his mother after being abandoned by his birth father, but he found himself taken under the wing of the Chinese-American family of his best friend, Ken Zhang.

"In the first few days when I was with my Chinese family, I thought to myself, I wish I was Chinese and born into a Chinese family," he says. "The Chinese dad is always there - he is committed to his family."

Motivated by his own father's failures and afraid of following in those footsteps, Slayton studied and shared his notes about fatherhood taken on six continents, hoping to inspire fathers to aspire for greatness, regardless of issues they may have to overcome.

As he approached the end of the writing, the 55-year-old once was asked by his wife, "What do you really hope the book will accomplish?"

"I said to my wife, after pondering a while, that I hope this book is successful in the US but I really think I am writing this book for China," he says.

While living with his wife Marina and children Sasha, Christian, Daniel and Nicholas, in Hanover, New Hampshire, Slayton has been traveling a lot around the globe. He usually calls his family twice a day, even from business trips.

"I am personally very familiar with the dilemma (of striving for success in work and spending time with family). It just comes down to priorities. You have to make sure that your family is the priority," he says.

The book begins by outlining the importance of fatherhood and explaining why being a father is perhaps the hardest and most important job in the world. Statistically, most of the boys, even though they don't like to "be like their father", grow up to be like their fathers.

"It is not hard to tell that China, too, is in great need of fathers' presence in families, we also need to know about tools or skills," says Huang Yikun, chief editor at digital publishing center of CITIC Press, which published the best-seller's Chinese edition in May.

Now the book is waiting for its second printing. "It reflects on real families seeking right methods of communicating between fathers and their children," Huang adds.

In his book, Slayton paints a picture of a so-called "noble family vision", which is a map of sorts of what type of father, and type of family, that can be developed.

The book then provides 10 specific tools to help fathers achieve that vision - even when circumstances change and the trials of life make that vision seems unreachable.

Zhang Yaqin, the vice-president of Microsoft China, says it is an action-oriented book featuring practical tools for being a good father. One piece of advice: When spending quality time with your kids, don't be checking your cellphone.

The book is "a man-on-man talk", he says.

However, there is no perfect father in this world, as men are all learning and growing. "Sometimes when I've made mistakes, my little boy, who is 13 years old, says to me, 'Hey Dad, be a better dad today!'," the author says.

Slayton, who seeks strength from his strong faith, also poses questions throughout the book for greater reflection, and gives brief but vital instructions that can be put in practice.

"The difference between spending zero hours with your family and spending five or 10 hours a week with your family can be the difference of whether you will have a happy family or have no family when you are 70 years old."

The book also addresses long-distance fatherly relationships, single fatherhood, as well as "beanballs", dubbed by Slayton as life's trials that create obstacles for parenting.

"Fatherhood is a journey, and it is a journey forever. But it's the most exciting journey we can imagine and it is the biggest blessing that you can have," he says.

(Source: China Daily)

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