The 5 Biggest Lessons Fatherhood Has Taught Me

Posted on in Uncategorized by Dr. Graham Norton


With Father’s Day around the corner I’ve been reflecting on how fatherhood over the last 3.5 years has impacted my life. No doubt if you’re a parent you have changed immensely since undertaking the toughest job in the world, too. Below are 5 of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since being a dad.

1 Quality And Quantity Time Matter

When our first daughter Zoey came around I had a whopping 4 days off of work. It was a whirlwind and I was back at ECC before I felt ready….this is one of the tricky parts about being a dual self employed family. Our patients’ spines and the bills don’t take time off, even if I could have used it! 
At the time I was working 12 hour days and I felt a ton of guilt and frustration that I couldn’t be at home. I often felt that I was the “backup” parent and all I was good for was work. I tinkered with the schedule here and there to try and create more time with family but it wasn’t until Eloise came along that I decided to “take the leap.” 

We had Eloise and built a new practice within a couple of months. 12 hour days had reached 14 hour days and I was pooped. Needless to say I wasn’t delivering much quality and quantity time with my family. Again, my family is a huge value to me so I had to take a good hard look at how I was spending my time and be honest with myself. This was not what I wanted and no part of me wants to look back 10 years from now and feel like I missed my kids childhood. 

As a result, I decided to change our office hours dramatically. It was a scary change. I was concerned the practice would fall apart. Of course, it didn’t. I always find that the challenges that exist with making a big life change aren’t nearly as big as the “fantasy” problems we create in our heads before we do it. 

Thankfully, it has been a game changer, especially with Zoey. It used to bother me that she would always go to Marie for everything – I was the afterthought. Not her fault at all, it was just the routine she knew and the patterns she was accustomed to. So at the end of the day, I gifted myself with both quality and quantity time with my kids and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

You might be thinking that you can’t do the same because of your job, your schedule, or your demands. I get it, there are a ton of barriers and challenges, especially for those of you working in a 9-5 structured job. BUT, I would argue that living congruently with your values always trumps the barriers and challenges it takes to get there. Negotiate performance based employment rather than time based employment with your employer, start a business, look for a new career that offers more flexibility, push to alter your work hours, wake up earlier.

There is always a solution, you might just need to step into the scary unknown to find it.

 2 Life is Short, Don’t Miss it

I have spent a lot of my life stressing over the what if’s, the could be’s, and the why didn’ts. It occupies a lot of time and energy. It turns out kids don’t. I’ve often found my own kids teaching me more lessons than I teach them. 
Kids live so presently. They are fully engaged in what they are doing at the moment and who they are doing it with. They aren’t off ruminating about how they didn’t execute on their play structure climbing last time they went to the park, or how they can upgrade their swing set in the backyard. Kids just live their lives one day at a time. 

I often wonder at what point we “changed”. When did all the other stuff become so important? More on this below. 

In any case, I am amazed at how much joy Eloise gets from eye contact and a funny face. How Zoey can sit and play with her farm set for hours, telling me stories about Farmer Tim and baby Elyse (who is a full adult woman figurine in the play set lol). Fully immersed, fully engaged, and completely fulfilled. 

How much time do we waste as adults living in the past and stressing about our futures?

Though it seems so hard, and I am still so damn bad at it, there is so much fulfillment that comes from being fully present in the task or person at hand. My kids teach and re-teach this to me more often than I would like to admit. I’m trying to make sure I am here for our lives together and not stressing about adult things. Because life is short. Anyone with kids can attest to this.

Where does the time go? How is Zoey 3 and a half? Sheesh, don’t miss it. 

3 You Have A Responsibility. Own it. 

This one might ruffle some feathers, and if so I apologize. It’s never the intent, but I do have strong beliefs on this one. Our children are our responsibility. We made the conscious decision to bring them into the world (or the decision to bring them into the world after a surprise and few days of shock 😉 ) 

They are mostly blank canvases waiting to be shaped, painted, and manifested. I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that we do everything in our power to be extremely STRONG and persistent in bringing out the very best in our kids. If we are in the business of releasing kids into the world, we want the product to be world class. 

I believe this is especially true when it comes to their health. We are so fortunate to live in a day and age where information is abundant. With the click of a button we can contact trusted advisors, research topics, access products and services in a way we never could just a generation ago. I understand that many of us live stress filled, over scheduled lives but our children’s health is suffering. The stats are staggering when it comes to our current health status. 

The good news? In many cases we can change it. The bad (and good) news? It starts with you. 

Our kids model us, learn from us, mimic us, and emulate us. I believe our daily actions will teach them more than our words and good intentions. Now I’m not saying this means you need to have six pack abs, be deadlifting 400 pounds, or on the cover of GQ. None of that garbage. I mean you putting in the work to be the healthiest version of you possible and bringing your kids into the process. 

Have them learn about the foods they put in their body, where it comes from, how it’s made, who made it. Have them run in the woods with you, hike a mountain, do some pushups, zip line, bike. Most importantly, show them what it looks like to have self love, self respect, self acceptance, hard work, and passion. Man, what a gift that could be. These are my values, and I am not trying to impose mine upon you. Just reporting and hoping it may inspire someone to elevate themselves which will in turn elevate their children. 🙂 

4 Man, I Wasted So Much Time Before I Had Kids

This one is short and sweet. What the hell did I do before kids?! I literally have no idea. I thought I was busy. Legitimately thought I was busy. 

Even as I write this I am trying to answer the question. I probably could have solved all the worlds problems in a week if I used all that time wisely lol. I’m pretty sure I kept Netflix in business single handedly pre-children. But you know what they say…the toughest steel is forged in the hottest fire. I think having kids has been an amazing catalyst to elevating my own life and for that I am grateful. Though I do miss Netflix lol

5 So Much Of What We Think Matters Doesn’t Matter

This one picks up on #2. At what point in our lives did houses, cars, brand names, epic success (by society’s standards) become so important?! 

Yesterday Zoey dressed herself in patterned pants, the ugliest tutu I have ever seen, a Paw Patrol T Shirt, a fancy wool sweater, and a gold glittery crown to top it off. She’s adorable but that outfit wasn’t even fit for garbage day lol. But I loved it, and I loved how proud she was to wear it. The funny thing? Her friends never said a thing about it. In fact, they barely even noticed what she was wearing. The parents all did, however. Why is that?
I am so guilty of getting caught up in what other people think of me. Maybe you can relate to this. My kids have reminded me SO MANY TIMES, that all the stuff we think makes or breaks us in life (job title, cars, houses, clothing, trips) is irrelevant to happiness, fulfillment, and joy. If we were in a Porsche 911 or a Chrysler K car, Zoey and Eloise could care less.

As long as Zoey had some tunes, (we are big into Christmas music right now) a snack, and some people who love her she is GOOD. How amazing is that? I bet your kids are the same way. 

I try to learn as much as I can from my kids. It’s funny because they emulate us to grow up and be successful in the world and we feel we have the right answers and guidance to make that happen when in fact they have most of it figured out already. Most kids are pretty darn happy. Most adults unfortunately are not. Maybe we should spend time emulating our kids and incorporating their innate wisdom into our own lives. 

As I wrap this up, I hope that this is relatable and maybe inspiring to you. I am always grateful for your ears and eyes when we share material that we think could help. 

P.S. I would love to hear what your kids have taught you…feel free to leave some comments below or join the conversation on facebook!

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    Dr. Graham Norton
    Hi! I'm Dr. Graham and I am passionate about delivering the most comprehensive and results driven spine care available. I love working with people who want to make a real and lasting difference in their health. I love travelling locally, outdoor activities like road biking and skate skiing, good coffee, and my family (Dr. Marie, and our two wonderful daughters Zoey & Eloise).

    One Response to “The 5 Biggest Lessons Fatherhood Has Taught Me”


    August 22, 2019 at 8:32 pm, Ginnie said:

    Some Truths are just TOO IMPORTANT not to share. Thanks


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