Officer writes about fatherhood
It should come as no surprise that the national Father’s Day Counsel named U.S. Army Maj. Jackson Drumgoole II an “All Star Dad” last year. While deployed in Iraq, he founded men’s groups to help foster positive relationships between fathers and their families back home.
He established M.E.N. (Morality Empowerment Network) comprised of all ranks to help men improve themselves and their relationships with their families. He also authored “They Call Me Daddy: A Diary of a Dysfunctional Father,” an e-book aimed at enhancing the parent-child relationship and encouraging men from all walks of life to remain in the lives of their children.
Drumgoole’s military career spans two decades and has earned him numerous awards and decorations. He is currently assigned to I Corps HQ, G3 FM at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Dupont Wash. where he raises five children – Jackson, 17; Lyric, 8; King, 4; Journey, 4; and Jansen, 4 – with his wife ShDonna.
Q: For you, what’s the best part of being a dad?
A: This is the best position in the world. The fact that I have the opportunity to directly and positively influence the next generation every single day is a humbling yet exhilarating thought. I recognize that my job is simply to provide for, protect, and prepare them for their journey. I want to ensure that I am a good steward of that task creating amazing memories with my children and exposing them to a life of opportunity and service to others.
Q: When and why did you decide to write “They Call Me Daddy”?
A: I started the process in 2009 while attending a military course in Arizona. My wife and children were living in Georgia because I had a follow-on deployment and there was no point in moving them across country to an unfamiliar territory and leaving them for an extended period. That being said, we were separated for close to two years (given schools and the deployment). I spent much of my time talking about my family with my friends and colleagues and the subjects were always gravitating to how little impact men actually had in the rearing of their children.
I admit that this is true in some instances but clearly not all and thus began my quest. What I discovered was that most men do an incredible job with their children and it is simply a “skill” challenge and not a “will” challenge. Men crave to be involved in their children’s life but simply lack the requisite skill sets, so the overarching tone of the book became more conversational and less confrontational, encouraging and full of transparency.
Q: What do you think is the most important part of being a successful father?
A: I am still working on this one myself. However, I truly believe that the most important aspect of parenting is love. Everything should be draped in love; my teaching should be based in love, my leading should be based in love and my discipline should be based in love.
For every one mile of road there are two miles of ditches: One ditch lets the child do what he/she wants to do with no boundaries and the other ditch controls, bounds and is overly harsh. Instead, practice balance, and compassion and remember you were once their age. Most importantly, try to stay out of the ditches.
Q: What are some specific challenges to being a military father, and how do you advise taking them on?
A: I have had the privilege of being a private, an NCO, and now a field grade officer and at every rank and during every phase, I have marveled at our amazing culture of tradition, discipline, uniformity, and conformity. In our diverse social structure, these formal codes and conditions are mandatory and expected.
The issue is remembering that we (as service members) have been inculcated in this society of codes and conducts but our children have not; a majority of our spouses have not. Therefore, the true challenge is not to frustrate our children and spouses with unreasonable expectations, but to discipline in love and understanding. Simply put, don’t be too harsh on the home team.
Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had as a father, and how did you handle it?
A: I separated from my first wife in 1997 and the divorce was final in April of 1999. My son, Jackson III, was 4 years old. My biggest challenge at the time was, could I remain the primary influence in my son’s life without actually being with his mother. Divorce affects so many other areas outside of the separating couple. I had to convince him over the years that the divorce was not his fault. I had to overcome negative stimuli regarding the direction that I wanted my son to travel (academically, socially, etc.) by modeling the behavior that I wanted to see in him.
I stayed in constant communication with him, his teachers/principals, and his friends (even when deployed). It took some time, it took some counseling and took tons of support from family and friends but he was finally able to come live with me once he started middle school. His mother and I remain friends. I married a wonderful woman in 2002 and she has been an incredible help in fostering a loving and caring home for our now five (5) children.
Q: So, you have a blended family? Blended families are more common today then ever before. Any advice for other blended families?
A: As long as you marry someone with the same value system, the children over time, and sometimes instantly, become an extension of that harmony. Be patient and stay affectionate towards one another. Let the kids see you adore one another. They truly just want you happy and to be safe, secure and stable.
Q: Do you have a Father’s Day message for our military dads in the Pacific?
A: Create amazing lifetime memories with your children and remember to have fun. They will spend more time as adults then they will as kids.
Learn more about Maj. Jackson Drumgoole's e-book, "They Call Me Daddy: A Diary of a
Dysfunctional Father," at: www.theycallmedad.com