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New parenthood is full of challenges, twists, and turns. But particularly for men who were raised by single mothers, becoming a father can sometimes feel like they are forced to forge a new path without having a roadmap for how it’s done.

Joining me today to talk about his own experience of becoming a dad and the lessons he learned is the author of Rookie Father, Kendall Smith.

So whether you’re a dad who is feeling like you are still a “rookie” at this whole parenting thing, or a mom who could use a little peek into the inner mind of your partner, in honor of Father’s Day this weekend, I hope you join us as we celebrate the profound, important, and fun contribution that father’s have on their children’s lives!


Kendall (00:00):

The opportunity to parent itself is it, it’s a privilege. And when you perceive it from that lens, even though you have the crying and the diaper changes and all the pain to go through, there’s so much healing that can go on for yourself. And there’s so much you can give to a child

Dr. Sarah (00:22):

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Traditionally, dads can sometimes be excluded from much of the conversation around parenting. And I really feel it’s important not only to recognize the profound, important, and fun contribution that fathers have on their children’s lives, but to also speak to dads in a way that helps them to feel included, empowered, and seen. And that is exactly what today’s guest is doing. Kendall Smith was in his own words, a complete rookie when he became a dad. Not only was he navigating parenting for the first time, but he also had little experience with his own dad, having been raised by a single mom in an effort to understand really what it takes to be a successful parent. Kendall spoke to many role models about fatherhood and collected all the lessons he learned into his book, Rookie Father: A Playbook for Men Experiencing Fatherhood for the First Time. So whether you’re a dad who’s feeling like you’re still a rookie at this whole parenting thing, or a mom who could use a little peek into the inner mind of your partner, this episode is a deep dive into what it means to be a dad in America today.


Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast, I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology, and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.


Hello everyone. I am really excited to introduce our guest today. Kendall Smith is the author of the book, Rookie Father, and he is here to talk all things fatherhood. And I’m just so glad you you’re here. Welcome.

Kendall (02:23):

Thank you, Sarah. Great to be on your show and thanks for having me.

Dr. Sarah (02:26):

Yeah. So tell us a little bit about your story. How did you come to find yourself writing this book?

Kendall (02:34):

So it was an interesting scenario. I’ve offered three different works of fiction and when my son was born, he’s about nine months old. And at that point I was kind of itching to write again and I was sitting there at literally five 30 in the morning when I get up to write and I was kind of just brainstorming on different ideas and nothing in the fiction world, no idea really sparked an immediate interest. And I started giving thought to my perspective as a parent, as a father, and I thought, well, what could I provide in the form of a vice driven book, not a self-help book, but in a vice driven book that could be applicable and could be processed by how men read, which is short, succinct and to the point. And as I thought there, I’m like, well, my perspective is it’s not truly unique, but there’s no self-help book out there for men who are fathers who are raised in absence of one.


There’s really nothing out there. And that’s where I started really digging into this. And then I just did basically a brain dump of every piece of advice that I found helpful. And in two sessions I came up with 70 different topics. It could be chapters and everything from how to manage the in-laws, how to manage your time, how to manage the family money and all these things. And I kind of expanded upon. And then I decided to write this book in a manner where each chapter, there’s over 180 chapters in the book, one to two pages each that, and that’s the applicable process. That’s how men read. And that’s where it got me started. And then I was finished about a year later working through that and parenting and doing all these other things I had to do in my life. So it came through that way.

Dr. Sarah (04:14):

That’s amazing. I love that it’s written in the way that idea of the psychology of how a man reads a book. As someone who reads books, I’m sure as well as writes them, you probably know what resonates. And if I’m always skimming, why not just make it skimmable?

Kendall (04:36):

But yeah, I think men also, the funny thing is, is that men don’t ask for help. This is the title of the genre. Self-Help Books is not appealing to men. So that’s why they never refer to the Rookie Father’s, not a self-help book. It is an advice driven book. All the advice I got over the years that could be applicable. And I try to really stay true to that and make it pragmatic.

Dr. Sarah (04:58):

I like that. I find it really easy to, I also like how it’s laid out so you can literally flip it open and find something useful, but you also have this nice table of contents that gives you like, okay, this just happened. What do I do? And you can go and figure out what it is you need to read. So how did you end up, this book is really about fatherhood, and so why is that topic, having not grown up with a father figure in your life and having to navigate fatherhood, why do you feel like that is such an important story to talk about?

Kendall (05:35):

I think it’s important because the opportunity to parent itself is it, it’s a privilege. And when you perceive it from that lens, even though you have the crying and the diaper changes and all the pain to go through, there’s so much healing that can go on for yourself. And there’s so much you can give to a child. And in terms of your role in the world when become a parent, I don’t care if you’re the CEO of a company, your number one job is to be a parent period. And that is quality time with your kid every day, helping your spouse out any way you possibly can to give them a break to bond with your child. And from the perspective of not having that growing up, when you have that bond and it forms every year, it gets better and better. And you could almost see it mature in a way that it’s like, wow, I’m getting this reaction from a child that I would have loved to have had myself, and now here it is evolving and how do I manage that? And then how do you just enjoy it? And when you have those moments of pleasure that come through just these little kind of bright spots during your day, it makes all the challenges of parenting worth it. And I think as a parent, dads don’t get the credit they deserve. And for those that aren’t actively parenting, you still have a chance to make that happen. You should be doing that. And it’s a great thing to strive for no matter what your flaws have been to date.

Dr. Sarah (07:00):

Yeah, I think that’s a very hopeful message, even if you haven’t yet figured out a way to take that role on whether it’s legal reasons or access or choice or life gets in the way that, or maybe it’s fear, but that that’s not too late to start that.

Kendall (07:20):

I think it’s, yeah, it’s never too late to start. But also do we have from the get-go and being a committed husband or spouse being an involved parent every day, the rewards are unending.

Dr. Sarah (07:34):

Yeah. How old is your son?

Kendall (07:35):

He’s nine now.

Dr. Sarah (07:36):

He’s nine now. So it’s like…

Kendall (07:38):

Eight years since I started pending this book and getting it published and everything. But it came out last year. But yeah, it is, the publishing journey’s a long one and he’s grown up so quickly, it’s just, it’s

Dr. Sarah (07:49):

Crazy. So you started writing it when he was little?

Kendall (07:52):

Yeah, he was nine months old.

Dr. Sarah (07:53):

Wow. So I’m curious too, because I know we have a lot of people who list this podcast who have really little kids, and that beginning couple years, there’s so much change. There’s so much happening obviously for our children, but for us it’s a huge identity shift. Did that take you by surprise, the shifting into that role?

Kendall (08:18):

It didn’t because I think it’s all encompassing in those first six months. It really is. And what I tell and what I advise in the book in one of the chapters is that first year of every child’s life, if you have a multitude of hobbies, if you’re a golfer once a week, if you like to go out with your guy friends, take a sabbatical just for the first year and focus on your family. And then after year one, thread your hobbies or interests back into your life slowly. And then you have to, at that point you learn really pretty quick just how to manage your time becomes paramount. When you become a parent, it really is stretched. And you’ve got to find a way to block in time to get back to yourself. And that, for me, that was setting the alarm clock at six o’clock and honestly writing or doing other creative pursuits, that was my number one thing. And of course I do sports and other things as well. But yeah, that nine month mark, I was starting to put together the plan and by the time he was one I was writing again and I needed to get that, have creative outlet and every parent man or woman needs that.

Dr. Sarah (09:26):

I agree. Actually, it’s funny when I work with parents, cause I do a lot of, I mean work with parents around helping their kids, but I also work with parents in individual therapy just to help them deal with anxiety and stress and all kinds of things. And one of the first things I ask every parent that I work with is, do you play? And I don’t mean play with your kids, mean what do you do for play? Basically if you divide your life into three categories, work, play, love,


What is play? And most adults that play is atrophied. And a lot of the work in kind of becoming an integrated whole human is to get back into play. And it doesn’t look like maybe how it looks when our kids play. But for you, it sounds like that creative pursuit is a form of play. And when you have a kid, sometimes we really lose touch of all of the other stuff. It all becomes parenting. And I think to some degree that’s sort of biologically driven and that’s okay, but if we stay in that space forever, we can really lose ourselves. Yeah. What are your thoughts on that?

Kendall (10:30):

Yeah, I think it’s mission critical to have the element in your life and it gets back to time management. You’ve got to figure out how to squeeze it in and use your time efficiently. And that demands that if your work life, if you have to work, get 10 hours of work in nine hours so you can afford yourself an extra hour to play tennis, for example. Or you could just be hitting the gyms, pumping iron, doing yoga, whatever you want to do, you’ve got to build in that time. And I think the best way to do it is through a schedule, I hate to say it, but blocking off your time where if your wife calls you and you’re like, I’m checking out for an hour, I’ll see you later. And then give specifically giving her that time as well. And that should be, as a dad, the first thing you do after that six month mark when the child’s off either on formula or on solid food, you take the baby over and you give her the time she needs to be herself. And I think that give and take of free time and then finding time for yourselves as a couple, I always tell people, and you’ll appreciate this, I don’t watch Dr. Phil regularly because it gets a little overly dramatic. But in one episode he talked about parents, when they get to a certain age, they stop dating each other and you should, and I have a chapter called Dating Your Wife After year 1, 2, 3 times a month, babysitter in-laws watching the child get out. I don’t care if it’s a slice of pizza and a cheap movie, just get out, do something together. And that’s kind of to your part of the love portion of your triangle you put together.

Dr. Sarah (12:04):

Yeah. And it’s not my triangle, which is funny because I don’t pull a ton of stuff from Freud, but Freud came up with that work, play, love balance, and I think he was onto something there. But I think it’s funny cause I actually will draw out with, I do this with the kids too, but it’s a tribe, a triple Venn diagram, picture three circles in a Venn diagram because a lot of things fit in multiple categories. You can do things that are, if you think of love as connection and relationships, you can do a lot of play with your kids that’s going to build love and play. And I don’t necessarily mean entertaining your kids endlessly, but throwing catch with your son if that’s something that you both love to do, that’s play and love. And so there’s ways you’re saying time management, you can be efficient at making sure there’s balance, but you have to make sure you’re looking at that sort of ratio and looking at the zooming out and taking an inventory where is there not enough of something and how do I build it in? And I imagine your book really goes into ways, I mean perhaps not using that particular framework, but I’m sure your book talks a lot about ways that dads can think about that balance. What are some of the things that you would suggest doing other than blocking out time and making sure how do you multitask or not multitask, but how do you get some twofer in there?

Kendall (13:40):

Twofer? Well, a lot of it, I have got a couple chapters about, it’s titled Your Career as a Section. It talks about how you manage your work life. If you manage your work life well, it’s going to free up time for other things. And there’s certain elements that maybe put or certain constraints put upon you on your boss and you may get pulled into meetings that you don’t need to be there. So I have a couple suggestions where it’s like if you’re in a meeting and you don’t have to be there, you’re not accomplishing anything, you’re not contributing anything, just leave. And if anyone questions, why didn’t you say through that meeting? It’s like, well, I had higher priorities to manage at work. I have a deal to get out. I’ve got something to work on here. No boss is going to question you if you’re accomplishing something more important than attending a mundane meeting, that’s not accomplishing anything.


Another one is that if you too much is being put on your plate and you can’t manage, is it, if it’s managing a book of business, if it’s managing a number of clients, if there’s too many, then you have to go back and step up and say, look, I’m working at seven o’clock at night, this has to stop. There’s too much on my plate. If I’m managing 30 accounts, I need 50, I need 25 and I need you to help me accomplish this. Put it on your boss for them to manage the situation. And don’t be afraid to do that when you’re a parent. I advise dads, you should get home at least four out of the five work nights, spend time with your kid before he goes to sleep. And if you can do that and you can get home by seven I care of 7:00 PM that should be the goal. And that’s getting a little earlier or it’s having a challenging conversation with your boss. You should have that as soon as possible.

Dr. Sarah (15:26):

Yeah, it’s interesting because I feel like talk to a lot of moms who are working moms and the language around it is women are, we’re always kind of navigating these dual roles and sometimes it’s to our detriment in our careers because the idea is women are just assumed to be the primary caregiver, the primary parent, the default parent. And so they’re often, they don’t expect them to come to the meetings after they’ve just had a kid, even if they want to be invited to those meetings. And I think it’s an interesting dynamic for the dads to have to speak up and say, I have multiple roles here and I have to prioritize. And the more that dads do that in the workplace, I think there’s a little bit more equity sometimes from an internal vantage point from the company, internal company vantage point, looking at who is a parent helping them to remember men and women are both very often parents. It’s not just the women. And I think that’s a really important thing that you’re sort of talking about here. There’s a lot of ripples that come from that.

Kendall (16:39):

Yeah, I think it also the, there’s more equity in relationships now compared to when I was growing up in the seventies a lot more and for the better because I tell if dads are playing about their wives and their jobs and things are academic, look, I’m like, look, both of you working, it provides you the opportunity to afford a lifestyle that you’re giving your kids a lot, much richer experience. And I mean by wealth, mean, by just opportunities. And that’s worth preserving and whatever you can do as a dad if it’s taking the kids off your wife’s hand so she can do, maybe it’s an overseas call at night, if you’re on the West coast and you have to have a client meeting at 9:00 PM it happens. I get sucked in the European meeting sometimes at 7:00 AM I’m like, really? But you got to do it. And that’s just the give and take. But I think that the equity of roles between parent and work, if you can both manage that, it’s harder when you don’t have a full-time parent at home, but it does afford the opportunity to have more quality the relationship. And I think especially, I think they need more of that to some extent and they need to be respected more as a caregiver when they’re there for their kids as much as they can be.

Dr. Sarah (18:01):

Yeah, I mean it’s interesting because obviously when we talk about equity in the home, we’re looking at two partners trying to figure out how do we balance this load When we’re talking about equity in the workplace, it’s a lot times more. How do whomever we are, whether we’re fathers or mothers, how are we communicating our responsibilities outside of work to our employers? And I think men are across the board, men are doing a better job now of saying, I’m going to take my full paternity leave. I’m going to let you know that I have to be home to get the kids from daycare at this time. I’m going to make it louder that I’m a parent. And because I don’t think historically women don’t have to be loud to be seen as the parent. It’s almost like inferred even when that’s not the case, obviously if they assume you’re a parent because they know you have kids, but the amount of responsibility they assume you will be taking is completely sort of projected onto women.


And I think the more men vocalize, oh, I can’t do this meeting because I’ve got a duh. I’ve got to take my kid to the doctor. Or actually saying the things that are causing the redistribution of how I’m spending my time versus just being like, oh, I can’t make that meeting or I’m going to be out this week. But saying it’s because you are prioritizing your family and your parenting that communicates to your company what your priorities are. And they listen, listen to their employees because they want to retain good talent and they want to make it a place where men and women who are parents both want to work. And so I think it’s something you don’t necessarily realize has such an impact. But when you as a dad are communicating why you need a boundary or you need some help or you are going to be taking time off or you’re going to be leaving a meeting early and you explain that it’s because of your role of parenthood that helps moms, it helps your partners, it helps everything. And I think, yeah, I love that. I think that’s so important.

Kendall (20:05):

And we should also, the credit is owed to the millennials. I’m a gen Xer, so I’m one of these, I’m the bitter generation between boomers and millennials. And millennials put their foot down 15, maybe 20 years ago and said, I didn’t need a work-life balance. And that threw everything off. Can you imagine a baby boomer, a dad in 19 75, 19 80, going to his boss saying, I can’t make that mean tonight. I’ve got my son’s softball game or my son’s baseball game. Yeah, no way. That’s a cultural shift. And we should thank and praise the millennials for doing that. They deserve credit. Not for everything, not for a lot, but they deserve credit for that.

Dr. Sarah (20:46):

Yes, I agree. I agree. And there’s a lot of other stuff that’s really kind of amazing about your book. I was curious, I would love to talk a little bit more too about, you know, mentioned you didn’t grow up with a father figure that was a big impetus for wanting to write this book. It’s almost like the advice you didn’t get because you didn’t get it modeled for you. When you are dad raising a son, I can’t imagine that there isn’t some grief and loss that gets kicked up for you as you are going through. Are there parts of you that feel like I need this advice and in part that reminds me of the fact that I didn’t get it modeled as a kid?

Kendall (21:32):

Yeah. I talk about these scenarios in the book where if you are a dad and you have this almost like a, it’s, I hate to use the word trigger because it’s such a fake word in terms of psych, the psychological point. I don’t want you get into that. But there are these moments where you as a dad have a flashback or a moment. It could be just something that triggers you to have this almost like a recall. And it definitely, it hurts, but the thing to remember is a child that’s a clean slate and no matter what you went through as a child, your baggage, it means it has actually no relevance to the child you’re trying to raise. They didn’t experience the same things, they didn’t go through the pain that you had. So you have to learn how to manage that as an adult.


And to manage that, what I suggest is that you spend some quality time with yourself and either write out your feelings, whatever works for you, if is talking to your spouse about it, which is the most helpful and healthy thing you could probably do, but identify it and almost package it in your mind so you can identify it. And by identifying it means if it comes up again, it’s like, all right, I went through this before. And not to compartmentalize it, but to at least know that it’s there in the back of your mind and you can identify it so you don’t have a reaction that has a negative result with your immediate family. And if that’s anger, if that’s depression, you’ve got to be able to manage that. And that’s, I define parenthood as the ultimate adulthood. Whatever you do before you have kids, I don’t care what you did the day you become a parent, you’re an adult, you are responsible for another human being and their life and their wellbeing. And you need to embrace that and be able to manage your own psychological concerns, issues in a manner that’s befitting for your family and healthy, healthier for your family.

Dr. Sarah (23:32):

I mean, I’m down with that. I follow that pedagogy. I like the idea of being aware. What you’re saying is there’ll be these moments in parenthood where you have this memory or this flashback or this feeling just floods you. And I think the big difference between being able to do what you just described and not being able to do it is awareness, right? Because if you can’t notice that it’s happening and get enough space from it in the moment to say, Ooh, that thing just came up for me and it’s not connected to my child, that is the moment where you get to say, I’m going to choose what I do, instead of just reflexively being inside of it and reacting to the thing that just flooded you, instead of creating a little bit of space to say, Ooh, that just happened. And even if in the moment you’re actively parenting, maybe I can’t just process this thing, I have to sort of, like you said, compartmentalize in the moment. But then you got to go back and you’ve got to say, what was that thing that flashed up in me when my kid said this or did this where this scenario just occurred? Yeah. Do you have any memories of things that were particularly activating for you when your son was little that made you think, oh wait, I got to separate from that for a second and put that over here for a minute and come back to it?

Kendall (25:04):

Well, I mean nothing, I think that’s, nothing comes immediately to mind. But what I will say is that when that happens, it’s not only good to talk to your spouse, it’s going to talk to professional and to go into therapy and to talk to someone about that. I think having that outlet without your spouse present to be able to get into it with a professional, I’m an advocate of therapy and no matter what stage you are in life, my wife and I went through it when we couldn’t conceive our own child, we ended up becoming an adoptive family. And the years that went on into that and during the whole process was a challenge. But therapy helps. You can get work you through that. And also there’s psychological, I kind call them psychological knots. You can’t untie yourself and there’s nothing wrong with that, anything.


It doesn’t hurt to talk to someone as a professional. And what ends up happening is you drill back in the, how does that make you feel? How does that make you feel? You kind of wean it all back. And the interesting thing is you come back to a lot of the angst, anxiety, whatever comes back from your parents and what you were raised on. And what I advise in the book is that when you’re in a situation where you’re raised in absence of the father, when you start to unpackage that and you realize I can almost write my own script, and by that I mean look at all the role models you had, including the negative ones in your life. If there’s some major flaw that your mother or father instilled in your family life and you have the opportunity to go talk to them about that and unpackage that with them, why are you so strict with keeping my room clean?


I don’t understand that just something happened that and annoyed me that kind of raised that thing in my head. And then listen. And then you can listen to what they’re telling you like, oh, we did it for X, Y, and Z. And you’re like, okay, I agree with this and this, but not that. And as a parent you just say, I’m going to take these two and drop the other third. You can actually do that. And that’s when you can actually become, can out parent your parents on some level by learning the flaws that they exuded themselves as parents.

Dr. Sarah (27:12):

A hundred percent. I love that. I totally kind of consider that interrupting intergenerational cycles, right? Because basically, and you were saying, I love this idea that you’re actually kind of looking at the way your parents parented with some compassion, being willing to go back to them and say, Hey, why I’m curious, not screw you for doing this, but there must have been a reason. Why did you do that? It’s reflective functioning, right? It’s taking that perspective of the other person and trying to understand where they were coming from. That’s so healthy for us to practice that and model that for our kids. And so when we go to our parents and we say, help me understand this, and then we take what we like and we leave, don’t, we’re creating this conscious awareness of how we want to choose to parent. And it’s this intentionality that you’re bringing to parenting where you’re picking and when you pick the way you want a parent now there are going to be moments where the reflex of parenting comes out because you just can’t help. It can’t be perfect all the time, but it’s a lot more easy, I think, and a lot more rewarding to feel like you’re in charge of the way you’re parenting rather than feeling like I laid down at the end of the day being like, I don’t even know what happened. How did that happen? That was awful.

Kendall (28:30):

Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s bringing objectivity to your own parents and how they managed their parenthood and parenting of you and that objectivity when you come from a one parent family by and large, which I was, you need to do that to process it. And you also have to appreciate the fact that when there’s two of you, my God, life is so much easier. I don’t know how my mom did it between all the sporting events she worked full-time, like she had so much to manage. And when there’s two of us, it’s a lot easier. And it makes you almost appreciate marriage more when you realize just how much more enjoyable parenting can be when you’re not the sole provider, financially, emotionally, whatever. And yeah, I’m a huge advocate of marriage. I mean, I don’t put a should in front of it to my readers, but there’s a lot of benefits to it when you’re in a committed and healthy relationship and your child benefits so much more from it.

Dr. Sarah (29:38):

Yeah, I agree. I think this, and however you want to form it, the health of the family unit is incredibly significant in the outcome of the health of the child. And you can be healthy in lots of different ways, but being healthy is so important. Being able to talk to each other, resolve conflict, not sweep things under the rug, not simmer in silence, and not deal with things, not avoid repair, whether it’s with your spouse or with your kid or with your parents. That stuff is, it’s a toxic thing to hold inside of us. And so when we do the work to figure out one, to notice that it’s there to reflect on it, to try to figure out how to untie those knots, that I think is a great metaphor for a lot of this work. But doing that helps your kids, even if it has nothing to do with your kids, it helps your kids because when the family unit is healthy, psychologically healthy, physically healthy, emotionally healthy, that everybody’s in that family unit, everyone gets the benefit of that.

Kendall (30:48):

Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, it is. And that’s why it’s rewarding when you’re in, you’re three year three or four year five, and you have a, your kind of side excursions, you have your family life and you start to get this balance and the balance always gets thrown off multiple times a year. So something get, something happens, an in-law gets sick or whatever, it’s things happen, but it’s almost like the ultimate defense against life itself as having a stronger family unit. Your stresses that you process in the outside of the family are easier to absorb when you’re back in the womb with a family, which is a very feminine way of explaining, I dunno where that came from, but it there’s some truth to that.

Dr. Sarah (31:32):

Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. We all came from the womb, right? Even dads, we all did. And there’s something very comforting about thinking about a family as being held inside of that safe space. Yeah, yeah. That nurturing safe space. I like that. Okay. Can you talk too about masculinity and how it’s evolved? How much are masculinity and fatherhood synonymous or not synonymous, and how has that shifted in your perspective?

Kendall (32:06):

I think that masculinity has come under attack and in some ways for the better. The Me Too movement I think opened a lot of eyes. And I think it was very important for us as a country to go through that to realize what was out there, the bad behavior. And I think it makes men, I think, a little more apprehensive about embracing being more masculine or being a dad’s dad. I think there’s some hesitancy and the hesitancy comes through when I see it and talk to younger dads. I think they’re a little, almost afraid to do it. And I think the key thing is when as a parent embracing the duality of parenting and the responsibility with that, and once you get through that, that’s the most responsible thing you could do. That’s the most masculine thing you can do, is to be and spend quality time with your family.


And I think from there, I think it’s just important to have your own identity and to associate yourselves as a child. As an eight year old life started to become conscious of men that I wanted to emulate when I grew up and men, I did not. And I saw that in my neighborhood in the Boy Scouts, I saw good and bad, I saw a lot. And then I was absorbing at that young age what things I wanted to make my own. And I think you could still do that as an adult and be like, there’s a role in my life family I really respected. And I talk about going back when you become a parent and talking to those in your life that have values, you want to esp yourself and sitting down with them and digging into how they came about to that perspective and learning about not their values, but why they cherish them and making that your own, if you val value that, if it’s overt honesty and being outspoken and you love that in, it doesn’t have to be a man, it could be an aunt that you grew up with, how she was so outspoken and hopefully she’s so around, you can sit down and talk to her and dig into it with her.


Why are you so outspoken? why.you say anything comes to your mind and just sit back and listen. And maybe you’re the person that doesn’t speak up enough and you want to spouse that well then start doing it and just start practicing it. If something emotionally comes to your head and you want to just say it, see what happens when you do it. And I think that as a man, not just being outspoken, but there’s certain attributes you can tell to espouse yourself and become more comfortable with. And I think you should go down that path and then discard that the other things that you didn’t like, it could be a bad close role model of yours that you don’t want to be not associated with, but you don’t want to do it what they do. It could be maybe it’s a certain laziness or a certain level of entitlement, which is creeping up more in our society in the sense of it’s owed. To me, it’s like nothing. No one owes you anything. You need to owe it to yourself. And maybe if you have that attribute in your or it’s come out before, it’s like, this is not going to work for me when I’m a parent and I don’t want my kids to reflect that value as well.

Dr. Sarah (35:24):

I like that. I like the idea of even breaking masculinity and femininity for that matter down into a collection of values that mean something to you rather than it being some sort of cookie cutter. These are the things, it’s like, it’s an individual process of saying, let me look at the collection of the people in my life. How did they make me feel? How did they make others feel? How did they impact the world around them in a way that felt, feels aligned with what I want to do? What were the things that made them them? And how do I take what I like leave what I don’t, and how do I form this sense of confidence around incompetence, around those traits and those values? I mean, that sounds like a good recipe.

Kendall (36:09):

I think have think from the point of view of being raised in absence of a father, if it’s important to go through that process just for pure confidence sake, I just think it, it’s a healthy thing to go through. And I’m not saying you need to reinvent yourself, but you have to think about what kind of dies you’re going to pass on to your own kids. What do you want them to appreciate? I want my son to appreciate education. I want my son to appreciate music. So he’s expressed interest. I’m a drummer, we’ve given him lessons. We’re going to try to do some more over the summer and get him into it. And that’s part of his life growing up, even though it’s not really a value, it’s more of a hobby, but bear with me. But I think it’s God, the rewards of having music in your life, your whole life, and you can play it. Oh my God, it’s just such a great outlet’s. So much better than golf. I’ll tell you that right now. So much better. Golf’s too expensive.

Dr. Sarah (37:00):

People don’t go to golf concerts. They’re boring.

Kendall (37:03):

Yeah, true.

Dr. Sarah (37:06):

But I would even challenge you a little bit because I do believe playing music is a value because it’s about, or where at least it, it’s a product of a value system of being in tune with your creative expression. That’s value. Being able to be dedicated and disciplined around a craft, that’s a value. Being willing to pursue something with passion, those are values, and I think music will do that. But anything, I think following a kid’s lead and being curious about what their interests are, that’s a value in parenthood. So I think there’s a lot of things there. Playing the drums may not be of value, but all the things that go into it totally are.

Kendall (37:54):

Yeah, that’s a good point. And I think to your point about letting your kids explore their interests, I think this is actually one of the things I talk about in the book where it’s like you as a parent, you have to let your kids find their own way. So I love soccer growing up, and when my son was four, Hey, why don’t I get the soccer ball, kick it around. I don’t like soccer. A year later I’m like, Hey, you want to play some soccer? No, I won’t play football. I’m like, okay. So he got into football and then I was coaching him in flag football and I was coaching him in tackle football and where I was out of my comfort zone trying to coach tackle, I never played title football, but let him find his own path. And now he’s moved on from football.


He wants to do wrestling for one year in high school. I sucked at it. I was a horrible wrestler. But you know what? Let him pursue it. And then if football goes by the wayside, my point is you shouldn’t impose your own beliefs on what your son should do. You should let them follow their own course and support. And to that point, you shouldn’t follow. Have him follow it. If they want to do 10 sports, you got to help him manage his time. And yeah, look, you can’t play 10 sports. We can’t be out every single day doing sports. You need some downtime, we need some downtime. So let’s stick to two sports in the spring, for example, which is what he’s doing.

Dr. Sarah (39:17):

So then you’re doing two really important parenting things. One is you’re following your child’s lead with this sort sort of curiosity, not like you are this empty vessel that I must fill up, but you are in fact this fully formed human being and it’s my job to discover who you are and what your interests are. So show me. So you’re following their lead, but you’re also putting up guide rails or bumpers are the container. And that’s another huge role in parenthood. Yeah. If your kid wants to do 10 sports and you recognize that that’s not a healthy use of their bandwidth or is not aligned with the greater family needs and harmony and balance, then you contain it. But I think you could do both of those things at the same time. And it’s an art form sometimes.

Kendall (40:09):

Yeah, it is. And I also think it’s important for parents to realize you’re really, you’re not trying to mold kind to your point and mold what your child should and shouldn’t do. You’re there to guide them to adulthood and give them all the options and the opportunities they possibly can. And they may go sideways and become an artist, and you’re a banker, you’re like, what happened here? Well, if you drive your child that wants to be an artist and become a banker, they’re going to be pretty miserable. Let them find their own way and encourage that. And it’s also the one thing back to two income families is if you have two parents and you could afford the coaching and everything, they want to really pursue it aggressively. Or if it’s music lessons, if you guys have heard of school rock, that organization.

Dr. Sarah (40:55):

Yeah, we have one where I live.

Kendall (40:57):

It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant. They have us spot by us too. That’s a pricey endeavor. And again, if you’re only a one income family and you can’t, maybe you can’t do school of rock, but if you’re in a successful relationship and both parents have the income to afford that kind of thing, what a special thing to give to your child. And that’s another thing that we talk about family finances in the rookie father as well, is if you could manage your finances to afford those kind of special opportunities for your kid, you, you’ve done probably 10 times what your parents have done, were able to provide to you, and that’s giving your child one more extra opportunity that you may not have. And that’s a success, that’s a win as a parent.

Dr. Sarah (41:43):

Yeah, I agree. I would not challenge you on that at all. I would add though, that that’s not, there are so many other, if you can’t afford that, for example, your interest in their interests is a very free but really, really powerful support. So even if you can’t, and by all means, I really do agree, if you can figure out a way to prioritize your financial situation so that you do invest in your children and in their interests when it’s available to you, instead of just being like I, sometimes we have to make choices with finances and sometimes we make choices with finances that don’t hold our children in that picture. So that’s something I think is worth kind of paying attention to. But even if you take money out of the picture, our attention has more value to our kids than anything. So if we pay attention to the things, if they want to play a song for us that they’re working on, to sit down and listen to make the time on a Saturday afternoon to go and go to the music in the park, because that’s what your kid likes to do, even though you maybe wanted to do something else. So yes, where we put our money matters and also where we put our attention matters a lot.

Kendall (43:08):

Yeah, no, I think it’s a lot of truth in that ton. I agree.

Dr. Sarah (43:15):

Yeah. I think sometimes we forget too, and sometimes we throw money at it and we think that’s enough, and it’s not like we got to show up to the recitals that we pay for the lessons for. We got to be there. It doesn’t really have the same impact if we’re just buying the stuff and not showing up. And I think, I know as a mom, that’s something I think about, but I wonder if that is something that resonates for you as a dad or someone who talks to a lot of dads this idea that I pay for the lessons. Isn’t that enough?

Kendall (43:48):

Yeah. I don’t think, no, I think it, it’s being involved is number one. And also you, there’s ways, and I talk about having a financial plan once a year sitting down and budgeting things. So you pursue these things. And the other thing is also, I’ll give you an example where my son was interested in catching in baseball, and there’s a multitude of ways to find used gear or in the case of finding catcher gear, and I actually threw out on one of these mom and dad’s sites, one of these town sites that have 5,000, 6,000 members and all the parents in there chiming about whatever. And actually I threw in there, my son’s interested in catching anyone have any leftover that other kids have grown out of. I got three full sets of catcher gear, all different sizes for my son.

Dr. Sarah (44:39):

That’s amazing.

Kendall (44:41):

And just by throwing out there and you can find things that there’s kind of old school tips and tricks you can use to afford the things you need for your kids if you make the time to do so.

Dr. Sarah (44:55):

Yeah. Yeah, that’s a very helpful strategy. Yeah, I think so. What’s your favorite chapter in the book? What was the most fun to write about or what do you think is the one, you were one of your favorites?

Kendall (45:07):

I think that the section called Your Legacy is, for me, I think the one Your legacy is oriented around what does a man leave behind a husband leave behind first family? And I talk about, I quote Bruce Springsteen and I talk about how that if your legacy, he attributes childhood memories and fond ones as almost a treasure chest. And when you have these warm, wonderful childhood memories, it’s like a treasure. And it’s like if your legacy as a father is that you gave your chance your kids a chance not only to love you, but to spend the quality time with them, that they’re going to remember things years later that are these unpackaged little wonderful memories that go in this treasure box. My son fishing with my son, he loves to fish. And we’re planning some other excursions this year besides just going for Sunnys in a brook.


We we’re going to try to do the Jersey shore and go do some shore fishing or whatever. We can add that to the treasure chest. And he has that memory later on in life, and maybe he goes with his son and goes fishing and I’m remember going fishing with my dad and whatever. That’s a wonderful accomplishment to achieve yourself and to lead behind. And the other thing also is that if you can leave this world, and if you came from a divorced family and you find yourself 40 years from now and you’re married, let’s say you’re married 30 years and your kids have gone to a good school, college, whatever, or in a great trade, whatever it may be, and you kept your family together, you’ve corrected an imbalance in your lineage. And I think that overcoming that is so rewarding when you don’t have that as a child, when you have a broken home, when you have a divorced home and you also look back and say, mom and dad, your marriage didn’t last as long as ours have.


We’ve gone three times as long. And I actually talk about, another chapter I liked was there’s what I called the milestone year for your marriage. And that is, it’s not your 10th year anniversary, it’s not the 20th, it’s only a special day. It’s the year number of years you been married that surpasses the number of years your parents were married. And that’s pretty interesting to look at. My parent marriage, I think their marriage lasted I think 12, eight years. So that ninth year anniversary of my wife was for me at the time. I didn’t really think about it until I started writing about it 10 years later. And I’m like, that was an important milestone for me. I actually surpassed what my parents were able to achieve as a couple, as a loving couple. And I just again gets back to my respect for marriage and my in-laws are marriage 59 years this year, just unbelievable. I mean, can’t wonderful. And it means so much more when you have kids.

Dr. Sarah (48:08):

Yeah, I think that that’s really beautiful. I think looking at it too is like, okay, I am doing something different here. Right? I am breaking a cycle by, by putting this effort into, and some marriages don’t work out and that’s okay, but when there’s ways to save it, when there’s ways to maintain the health of a relationship because you are doing the work to maintain the health of the relationship and it’s thriving because of that work, that is something to celebrate. And if you’ve been able to do it longer than maybe your parents were able to, I think that’s really beautiful to acknowledge that effort on your part and that milestone. So that’s pretty cool, especially if you’re growing up, if you are living out a family life now that is intentionally different from the one that you were in when you were a child, you have to celebrate those things. You have to acknowledge the work you put into that. And whether it’s reparenting yourself or approaching your romantic relationships differently, your partnerships differently when you do it successfully logging it like you, it’s one thing to do it. It’s a whole nother to log it. You have to say to yourself, wow, look what I’ve done. Because that’s how you rewrite the blueprint. That’s how you edit that old blueprint that you inherited.

Kendall (49:31):

And when you look at families that if you look at families that remain attacked generation after generation generation, and you compare that to families that get divorced and go sideways, and then you look at the likelihood of divorce for a child that comes from a divorced family, they’re 40% more likely to get divorced if one spouse of the two comes from a divorced family. And if both, they’re 200% more likely. According to a lot of the studies that I talk about in the book. And being able to correct that is doing something positive. It really is. I mean, it’s kind of saying the obvious, but I think from a societal standpoint, the more we can do that, I think you’ll have greater independence, greater financial stability, better psychological health overall. And if you’re do a small part of that and keeping your family together and you’re doing more for society than most people do, just by simply sticking it out and working through your marriage and being a responsible parent.

Dr. Sarah (50:44):

And I think there’s so much to be said for again, that health of the relationship. That health of the family. I’m a firm believer that sometimes prioritizing the health of the family actually does mean separating and co-parenting amicably. But again, the question, what does the family structure look like? The question is how healthy is the family structure? And a divorced co-parenting family that is amicably raising those kids in a really healthy way is probably, I would wonder in those studies is the rate of divorce is high. Because I would wonder if what we’re really looking at there is the health of the family unit no matter what shape it takes. And to your point, when you put the work in to make sure that you are prioritizing the health of the family unit, you’re going to see really good outcomes, better outcomes.

Kendall (51:39):

Yeah. Yeah. A lot of truth in that.

Dr. Sarah (51:41):

Yeah, this is, I’m really excited about this book cause I really don’t like, I’m always looking for good books for dads and I found some good ones, but I really think this is a great book and I think it really accessible and I think it just has a really great message. So thank you so much. If people want to get this book or want to learn more about your work, how can they find you?

Kendall (52:03):

Yeah, sure. Thanks, I’m glad you appreciate the book. So it’s available at most major retailers, a lot of local bookstores as well for the likes of Amazon, Walmart, you could find it online at familius.com. The publisher is Familiars. So I encourage readers and dads to check it out and it’s a great, it’s also not a bad Father’s Day gift to gift for new dads.

Dr. Sarah (52:28):

I think so.

Kendall (52:28):

Because it’s not, again, it’s not written in the manner of here’s a 30 page chapter and what you should do for X, Y, Z. It’s about, look, here’s a section on your in-laws, section on your relationship, your own health and approaching fatherhood. So there’s a lot of things you can go in there extract and there’s chapters you can skip altogether, but hopefully there’s a couple nuggets in there that I think dads can get out of that are at least actionable. Which is the whole purpose of the book.

Dr. Sarah (52:55):

Yes, I like that I, it’s funny because I remember once I was talking to my husband about, I was learning all this stuff about parenting, I was doing this training and I kept talking to him about it, and at one point he was like, I really don’t want to hear this anymore. I hate this thing that you’re doing. And I was like, what? I love it. Why? And he’s like, because everything that you were telling me, I just hear as a criticism of how I’m doing it wrong. And I was like, oh no, the delivery has been the problem, not the content. So I love the idea of this book actually doesn’t feel like, okay, let me give this to you because you are bad at this and I want to make you better. It’s like, this is a very positive, accessible, fun book that really does feel like it would be something a dad would pick out for themselves. So it’s not so much if you left this on your husband’s nightstand, I don’t think he would take it as a criticism.

Kendall (53:45):

And it’s trying to package advice in a manner that’s befitting for how men consume content advice. And that is the first step is managing their ego. And a man’s ego is a castle without a drawbridge. I don’t know how to explain that. I don’t have an analogy for it, but if there’s serious men have ego problems with that. So it’s just making it actionable is really the whole goal is like, look, if X is not happening, here’s an approach that worked for me. Or it’s sometimes it’s like, I took the advice from this dad and actually worked wonderful. There’s actually a piece of advice in there. It’s like I talk about how you’ll never get this time back with your child when they’re just one and starting to walk and you get that time with them and spend it. You never get that time back.


It’s over. You’ll always have more money, you’ll never have more time with your family. So it’s important to remember that just to stay involved. And just the last thing I’ll just note is you’re going to make mistakes as a parent. You’re going to make mistakes. Some of them will be stupid if you don’t learn from them, your kids will suffer. But approach parenthood as like you’re just trying a new sport and just really trying to learn the ways and ask for advice. The more you can get and make your own, if you think it’s applicable and it’s a functional solution, then go for it.

Dr. Sarah (55:16):

I love that. That’s good advice. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show, and we’ll talk soon.

Kendall (55:23):

Yeah, great talking to you. Thanks, Sarah. Appreciate it.

Dr. Sarah (55:30):

Thanks so much for listening. Are you enjoying this podcast? If you are, it would be amazing if you could go ahead and hit follow on whatever platform you’re listening on right now, and if you could leave a rating and a review to let me know what you’re liking, what you want to hear more of, or what questions you want me to answer, I would be so grateful. Your comments make a huge difference in helping get the podcast in the hands and the ears of other parents just like you. And no matter how you choose to celebrate, I hope you all have a very Happy Father’s Day this weekend, and until next week, don’t be a stranger.

I want to hear from you! Send me a topic you want me to cover or a question you want answered on the show!

✨ DM me on Instagram at @securelyattachedpodcast or @drsarahbren

✨ Send an email to sarah@drsarahbren.com

✨ And check out drsarahbren.com for more parenting resources 

107. A parenting playbook for new dads: What it means to be a father with Kendall Smith