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Life-Changing Advice from the Father He Hardly Knew

Nyon Smith shares how, on becoming a parent himself, he became closer to his own father, who tended to be career-focused when Nyon was growing up, and learned lessons on parenting from his dad.


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My name is Nyon Smith. I was born and raised and currently live in Cincinnati, Ohio, with my family of four. So I have four children, aged 15, 6, 4, and 10 months old. And basically, we have a quite hectic life now, as you might imagine with that many children, basically running them from sporting event to orchestra to church events. It’s quite hectic, but it’s also a blessing. I look into their eyes each morning and thank God for how unique each one of them is. Each one has something unique to offer.

In 2013, I lost my job. It was a job that I thought I would be at until retirement. Just because I looked to my father’s example, he was in a job for 30 plus years, so I kind of had attached my identity to that position. And at that point in my life, nothing seemed like it was a straight path. I had a lot of hiccups in my career and things like that. And basically, his response to me was that life hadn’t been such a straight path with him, either. He changed career course, and so things weren’t exactly a straight path for him, either.

The story that I wrote for Guideposts—it’s about my father and basically how he raised us as a family and kind of realizing that the way that he did things as we grew up doesn’t really work for myself as a father in the 21st century. My father, as I mentioned, he was on business a lot. He traveled the country. So my mother was basically the main one who got us ready for school and prepared our meals and things like that.

I think fatherhood has helped me and make peace with my dad because I realize his struggle a lot more. I’m more attuned to what he went through to raise us. And I basically take more value in being a strong and hardworking and God-fearing man.

So my dad taught me that I don’t really need to look to work for identity. That balance comes from working hard, but also being able to spend time with God and family. So I put a high priority on that outside of my career. I learned a lot of stuff from my dad now that I’m a father. I think in the article, I mentioned that he taught me how to change a U-bend on our sink. He’s also taught me how to trim our tree that we have out front in our house, and he’s taught me how to prep for job interviews. So basically, I’ll just have any excuse to spend time with him. It’s great with me because he’s a great guy.

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