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Involved Dad Shares Secrets of His Success

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RALEIGH — In a typical two-parent family, the wife does 70 percent of the work, whether she stays at home or is employed full time outside the house. But one Wake County family is defying the numbers and creating a new balance.

Dinnertime at the Bowling's house is a family affair every night. Everyone chips in.

Cooking and quizzing at the same time are all part of a life lesson.

"We've positioned the family around the family meal," says father Randy Bowling.

There is no TV during dinner, no music, no other distractions. In fact, there is no cable television in the home, no Nintendo or Sega -- just an emphasis on conversation and time with each other.

"We spend time finding out what went on in that person's life while they were separated for that day," Bowling says.

The life he and his wife Janet have chosen for their three children includes Bowling's hours at IBM.

He leaves for work before sunrise so he can spend afternoons with 12-year-old Matthew, 10-year-old Daniel, and 9-year-old Emily.

Bowling has made a conscious decision to work at being an involved Dad.

Bowling's parenting decisions are part of a larger process of living consciously.

Dr. Don Azevedo, a psychologist, explains. "To live consciously, you really need to be aware of every act that you're doing and what its consequences are," he says. "What's your intention each time you engage in an act?"

"We build our parenting around the family as a unit," Bowling says. "Everybody is a valued member which has roles and responsibilities and also gets rights out of it."

Bowling helps coach his son Daniel's soccer team; he is there as a role model, to mold and influence, to encourage and lead.

Discipline and respect begin at home.

"Our children had better never speak back to a teacher. They'd better never be disrespectful to any adults, or they'll have to deal with Mom and Dad," Bowling says. "We run a benevolent dictatorship. But it is a dictatorship."

Bowling says fathers can really become more involved on another level when children start making their own decisions.

"You really shape the children when they can communicate, when they negotiate, and you can explain, and they can understand," he says.

Bowling also suggests parents look for those moments that prove their commitment is really making a difference.

"It's those moments that make all of the hair-pulling and the gnashing of teeth and the wondering whether you're a good parent or not -- they make it all worthwhile," he says.

When does the work end? Bowling says parenting "has to be something that you commit to do and you do for their life."

Bowling has made that commitment central to his life and it shows in his family. What did you think about this story?Send us feedback.


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