“To be a great parent you should always try to eat meals with your children. Here’s why.” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider and Ted Draper
I always try to eat meals with my children. The phone and television are in other rooms. When we eat it is just us, around the table. As I hear about their days, I try to help guide them into thinking through their decisions that day, what went well and what could be improved. So meal times are really important for me as there are no other distractions.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Ted Draper. Ted is ORPHANetwork’s first Chief Operating Officer, COO. In this new role, Ted will focus on advancing our funding model through investors, Gift in Kind, and U.S. church partnerships as well as lead the Marketing, Communications and Human Relations Departments of the ministry. Prior to joining ORPHANetwork, Ted worked for Avant Ministries as U.S. Director where he helped thousands of ministry partners engage through strategic gift and estate design planning. In his 10-year career with Avant, he also served as Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Development as well as Director of Public Relations and Media. Holding advanced degrees in Business and Theology, Ted resides in Virginia Beach with his wife and four children.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
It is an honor to speak with you. I grew up as the third of four children in Tampa, Florida. Both of my parents worked hard and emphasized hard-work and education. My academic career started at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where I obtained a BA in Communications and later I received an MBA from Bryan College and just completed an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. So my wife and children have suffered through me getting two advanced degrees the MBA in 2008 and the MA in 2018.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
As I shared my background is in Marketing, Communications and Sales. From 2004 to 2006 my wife and I lived in Beijing, China where I worked doing contract jobs for three different companies. One assignment was to launch a company from idea to operations. Another company I rewrote the business and marketing plans. Through these experiences I realized I had gaps in my education, so I pursued an MBA when we returned to America for the birth of our first child in 2006.
While I was working on the MBA, I was also doing corporate marketing. We had our second child in 2008 a few months before I graduated. Then I moved the wife and two children to Kansas City where we spent the last ten years. In Kansas City I was able to join a really creative nonprofit, Avant Ministries, where I was given the freedom to try new ideas in marketing and communications. Our next two children were born in Kansas. Avant advanced me to oversee Marketing and Fundraising and then later to the US Director, which is like the Chief Operating Officer.
In August of 2018, I assumed the role of the Chief Operating Officer at ORPHANetwork, a nonprofit based in Virginia Beach, Virginia where we now reside.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
I am not sure if there is a normal day when you are juggling so many plates. I hit the gym most mornings by 6 am and get home around 7:30 am where I have breakfast with the family and confirm with the wife about transportation schedules with the children that day. Normally I am in the office by 8:30am. We have always worked to reside in close proximity to my office.
I am a big fan of planning and organization. My current favorite tool is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. Before I leave work on Friday, I outline my top objectives for the next week and send that email to myself and the CEO. It gives me a roadmap to stay guided on the strategic, not always responding to the immediate. Then I use the planner to outline notes from meetings, top objectives for the day and to review my task list.
My first task in the office is greeting everyone and then seeing if anything new in the email takes precedence over my tentative scheduled day. Once I review emails, I focus on the list of priorities, adapting to strategic demands and objectives. After the workday, I am home and try to not bring work home with me.
Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?
We invest in what we want to see grow and develop. If we don’t spend time with our children, we will not be able to speak into their lives — helping them become the people and citizens we want them to be. It is hard to be an absentee leader. There is only so much coaching and guiding one can do without being present.
Just a few weeks ago I watched the Superbowl. Good coaches are present and are working through adjustments in real-time, during the game. This is why not spending time with my children is detrimental to their development. Without spending time to know them and understand them, I don’t fully understand how to motivate, inspire and help them improve.
On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is important to make time to spend with your children?
Spending time with children helps them become the people we want them to become. In business we use the saying whatever you don’t feed starves. For our children to become productive and healthy members of society, they need guidance and direction. One key concept we also talk about in the business realm is that of mentorship, helping employees understand their work and worth. The same is true of children, they need to understand they are valuable, not because of what they do, but because of who they are.
As I spend time with my children, I understand their strengths, abilities and interests — and I am hopefully inspiring confidence, and helping them make wise decisions at home and at school. The hope in all of this is when I am not around in the future, they continue to make wise decisions in life: personally and professionally.
We often speak of the culture we want to create in our companies. The saying is that culture trumps strategy. If we think of the culture we want for business, we have to think about the culture we want in our homes and lives — and we can’t outsource the investment of developing our children. All development is messy and takes time, but my hope is to launch my children out of my home and into school and society where they are productive contributors.
According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?
- I always try to eat meals with my children. The phone and television are in other rooms. When we eat it is just us, around the table. As I hear about their days, I try to help guide them into thinking through their decisions that day, what went well and what could be improved. So meal times are really important for me as there are no other distractions.
- The other thing I try to do with my children is create specific moments where it is just me and one of the children. Remember, I have four children. My wife and I both try to carve out a specific event each month with a child where they have us alone. My favorite is Saturday morning breakfast or donuts. It is a time where they have me and just me alone. I hear whatever they want to talk about and they can order whatever they want. Usually they are chocolate-chip pancakes.
- Reading. My oldest daughter loves to read. This year we picked out a book that we are reading together. We have two copies of the same book that sits in our living room. On the occasional nights we will take turns reading a paragraph to each other until we finish the chapter. Unfortunately, our track record is not the greatest as we started this in October and I think we are only on chapter 10 — but it is me valuing her by doing something she loves with her.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?
- Cell Phone. I put the cell phone down when I get home. If it rings, I decide if I need to answer it. When I am home, I try not to check emails or get phone calls.
- Meals. Eating together as a family is a value of ours. Meals are a great way to be fully engaged and connected.
- Tasks. If I need to run to the hardware store, I invite my children along. It makes the task longer, but then we just walk and talk while we get what we need.
- Interests. We try to schedule something of interest for each of the children and rotate through a schedule. It exposes them to various museums, events and people in the city — and then we talk about it together.
- Unplanned. We also work hard at carving time to do something of the choice of the children. It could be watching a movie together, or playing a board game.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
I think a good parent is one who knows their child and the child understands they are cared for and loved. It doesn’t always mean the child is happy with the parent or sees the parent as a friend. It is more of knowing your child and how to motivate, encourage and inspire and them knowing whatever they do — they are loved, not because of what they do or don’t do — but because of who they are.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
A couple of years ago I read an article about success and people thinking they were smart and people thinking they were hard working. I tell my children all the time if they work hard and apply themselves, great things will happen and they can be and do whatever they want. But I also tell them all the time if they want to do great things later, they have to focus on the tasks in front of them now and do well at them: school, home and relationships.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
I think defining success while looking at career and family is a realization that the balancing act is a continuous work. If we can find the place where the career is working for us and the family is in a good rhythm, those variables might not last long, but that is success. The family knowing, they are loved and valuable and the work growing and performing.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
Books — David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell. I really appreciate how Gladwell speaks about how to see battle and opportunities.
Books — The Bible. I used to think of the Bible as a book of rules, but God’s never ending, never giving up love for us is so profound. The Bible inspires me to give grace freely and frequently, to ask for forgiveness and to forgive — because I was given these things.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My first boss to mentor me was Michael Costa. I made this horrible mistake costing the company thousands of dollars. Mike shared with me, “If it is broken and you can fix it, don’t worry you will fix it. If it is broken and you can’t fix it, don’t worry because you can’t fix it.” We often focus on the things we can’t control, I chose to focus on what I can and celebrate small and big victories.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Most world religions teach an idea similar to this statement: Love God and Love others. If we were able to do this, to treat others with the respect we want to receive — the world would have fewer issues and conflicts and so would we. It is a profound statement that engages us to be people of honesty, respect, integrity and compassion.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!
About the Author:
Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.
An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, CLERGY, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, MANAGING LOSS AND GRIEF, SPIRITUALITY, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.
Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.
When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.
“To be a great parent you should always try to eat meals with your children. was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.