“Know what your family stands for.”
If you are married and have kids, today’s episode is for you.
In what has become a bit of an annual Father’s Day tradition, I’m excited to welcome my good friend Jon Vroman back to the podcast to explore these topics, although through a lens that applies to anyone who is married and has kids.
Jon is the founder of Front Row Dads, a brotherhood of 300+ men who are actively committed to leveling up as husbands and fathers.
In today’s episode, Jon and I share the tactics and strategies we’ve learned along the way to win with our own families.
You’ll hear about the best lessons Jon has learned after working with hundreds of families, the importance of living by a defined set of family values, and how to avoid becoming reactive when life gets challenging.
I also share what my Dad did when I was younger that has enabled us to have a phenomenal relationship for the past 42 years!
*Front Row Dads Masterclass Announcement*
If you are a dad and find this conversational podcast to be especially valuable, Jon and I will be hosting a Front Row Dads “masterclass” webinar on June 15th (for free), where we go into much greater detail around what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to winning at home. You can sign up to attend by visiting FrontRowDads.com/Hal.
- The wake up call that Jon shares with every audience he speaks to–and why he walked away from a $10,000/event speaking career to focus on his family.
- How Jon speaks up both to challenge and advocate for his kids when they need it.
- Why neither Jon nor I are giving our kids cell phones any time soon–and how to set ground rules and have productive screen time with your kids.
- Why almost every parent struggles with time management, emotional intelligence, and staying optimistic.
- Life lessons Jon and I took from our parents–and why I have such an incredible relationship with my dad at the age of 42.
THIS EPISODE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
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Hal Elrod: Hello, my friends. Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for tuning in today. Appreciate you being here. And I will say this, this is for the parents. Today's episode is really for the parents. It's about focusing on your family and really how to win in marriage and in parenting because those are kind of the two facets of family. You've got to thrive with your spouse and then thrive with your kids. And today's episode, or today's guest, I should say, is the perfect person to talk about this, Jon Vroman. He is the founder of Front Row Dads and you've probably heard him before. I have him on every year on Father's Day. We kind of do it's usually a Father's Day episode. Now, it's really a family episode. So, if you're a mom or a dad, if you're a parent, period, we try to make today really applicable for everybody. And I will say this, there were some things I said in like every podcast I look back and go, "Ah, that was kind of tone-deaf or that was not universal.” The way that I look at today's podcast is it's kind of like a buffet, right? You go to the buffet. You don't need everything. You take what you like.
And there were some things today where Jon and I shared, “Hey, this is what works for us,” but not all of it is going to work for you, right? You do you. You take what does resonate that you can apply to your marriage and to your life. And where Jon has a unique position is as the founder of Front Row Dads, he works with over 300 fathers. I think there are over 300 now but he talks about what's working at home. What's working in your marriage? Where are you struggling? He has a real pulse on what a large amount of families are facing in all different ages. There are Front Row dads that have full-grown kids that are in their 20s or 30s. And then there are Front Row dads that their wife is pregnant with their first child. So, there's the whole gamut. And today we really talk about what is working in our families, what is working in Jon's family, and what's working in my family. And toward the end of the episode, we kind of saved the best for last, if you will, where I asked Jon to share the number one thing that's working overall in his family.
Actually, I framed it as what's the best strategy that you've learned or applied to winning as a family? And then I asked him, number two, what's the best strategy you've learned or applied to winning in your marriage? And then number three, what's the best strategy that you've learned or applied to winning as a parent? And then he flipped the script and asked me the same. And I shared my best tips on thriving, winning as a family, winning in marriage, and winning as a parent. And then I ended the episode with I think a great perspective shift for all of our parents that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and I don't know about you but I feel a lot of parent guilt like I could have done more. I should have done more. I think I might be dropping the ball in this area or that. And I try to reconcile that for all of us at the end of the episode, kind of tying a bow on today saying, "Look, you don't have to be perfect. You just got to love and support your kids.” And I share with you kind of what made my relationship with my dad so great and my mom too. But I really talked about my dad specifically from when I was a kid to now.
I'm 42 years old now and my dad and I have a phenomenal relationship. And so, I kind of share with you what he did when I was younger at the end of the episode. Today, I share what he did that enabled us to have a phenomenal relationship 42 years after I was born. So, that's that. All right. Before we dive into the episode today with Jon, and Jon, by the way, I do want to say, is one of my best friends in the whole world. We met over 20 years ago. I brought him and his wife. My wife and I brought he and his wife, Tatyana, on to our honeymoon. They were pregnant. We were pregnant. And we decided that we would do like a dual honeymoon. And we always kind of joke that my daughter, Sophia, who's 12 and his son, Tiger, who's 12 have been friends literally since they were in the womb. I don't if it's literally, but figuratively, since they were in the womb on that honeymoon, on that trip to Cabo San Lucas together.
All right. Before we dive in, I want to take just a minute to thank our sponsor, Organifi. If you want to improve your health, whatever that looks like for you, you want to improve your immune system, you want to have more energy, you want to have more mental clarity, Organifi makes some of if not the best organic Whole Foods supplements. I've used them for five-plus years since before they were a sponsor and that's the only reason I brought them on as a sponsor was because I am a customer. I am a fan. I turned down I don't even know how many sponsors. I turned down sponsors every single month because unless I use the product, I love the product, I haven't wanted to endorse it up until this point. So, head over to Organifi.com/Hal and then use the code “HAL” at checkout and you'll get an additional 20% off your entire order.
All right. Without further ado, I'm excited for you to hear this conversation with my good friend, Jon Vroman, on how we can focus on family and win in marriage and in parenting. Hope this is helpful for you.
Hal Elrod: All right, Jonny. It's official. People are listening. How are you doing?
Jon Vroman: Oh, well, in that case, fantastic.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Me too. It's a great day to be alive.
Jon Vroman: Yeah.
Hal Elrod: Hey, man. We just hung out. What is today? Today's Tuesday and I saw you on Saturday at my house because our kids were camping in my backyard. And then I saw you Sunday at a fellow Front Row Dad's house, Ryan Levesque’s house. And now two days, man, we get a lot of time together in case people don't know. We're legit friends.
Jon Vroman: And, dude, you're coming over tonight.
Hal Elrod: Oh, yeah. And I'm coming to sauna and cold plunge tonight.
Jon Vroman: It's going to be great.
Hal Elrod: Oh, that's a lot. That's like that might be a little bit too much of each other. I don't know.
Jon Vroman: I don't think I'd have been in the same space with you and Nick, Nick Conedera, who for anybody who doesn't know, was a driver in your film, The Miracle Morning.
Hal Elrod: He was the director of The Miracle Morning documentary, yeah.
Jon Vroman: But I haven't hung out with both of you guys in a while, so I saw Nick not so long ago, and I'm really looking forward to this to be good.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. We might need a break after this, though. It's a lot of Jon and Hal time. It's a lot going on.
Jon Vroman: The only thing on my calendar says, “Ignore Hal.”
Hal Elrod: Yeah. There you go. All right. So, hey, so I want to answer a question today. Today, the main focus that I want us to answer is how can we win? How can everybody listening win in marriage or relationships, right? Anything we share that applies to marriage is probably going to apply to a relationship with a boyfriend, girlfriend, etcetera. But how do we win in marriage? How can we all win in marriage and how can we all win in parenting? And of course, you can bucket those two as family, right? How do we win with family? How do we thrive with family? And I think that and I'll riff here for a minute and then open it up but I think that it's so important now. I mean, it's always been important but our world is pretty unstable. And the more stable we can have our family life, I think the better. And our friend, Mike McCarthy, who is the co-author of The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families, he gave a speech on the Miracle Morning for parents and families at our school the other day. And he talked about like that he had his mission now in life is to bring any help that he can to families so that they can be more connected, so that they can thrive, so that kids feel loved and supported and nurtured and have structure and grow up to be the difference makers for the next generation.
And so, being that you founded Front Row Dads and this is like your whole world now is aligned with your highest priority, which is family. And I wanted to start there because I gave a speech a couple of days ago at Aaron Amuchastegui’s event, and Aaron's a friend of ours.
Jon Vroman: Also, a Front Row dad.
Hal Elrod: What did you say? And a Front Row dad. Yeah. There you go. Yeah. We're all intertwined here, man. We all take care of each other. So, I was at Aaron’s event, though, and I've done this before but I asked the audience. I said, “How many of you have kids?” And like 90% of the hands went up. It was a group of real estate agents. And I said, “Awesome.” I said, “How many of you would say that your family is your number one priority?” And every hand stayed up. And I said, “Awesome.” And then the gut check, I said, “How many of you if I were to peek at your schedule, how many of you, keep your hands up if it would be totally obvious based on how you schedule your time, that your family is your number one priority? And I think every single hand went down.
And like that's the wake-up call is that it's like it's one thing to say it, it's one thing to feel it, it's one thing to believe it, it's another thing to live it. And that's really what I want us to focus on today, which is how do you live in alignment with your highest priority, which being family? And what does that look like? Does that mean that you have to spend the majority of your time with family for them to be your highest priority, right? So, there are some distinctions and nuances around this. But, yeah, let's just start with I'm going to ask you that question. How do you keep your family your top priority or are they? Are they your top priority? You tell me.
Jon Vroman: Yeah. So, years ago I said they were but my calendar did not represent that. Today, I'm far more aligned with being a family man with a business, not a businessman with a family. And my calendar would show that. And there were some key things that over the years that I implemented that I've been able to keep my family a priority for me. And the first and most important one was not overloading the schedule. And that was like the biggest piece, not scheduling things on Mondays and Fridays and there's reasons behind all this. And we could take a long journey down that rabbit hole of like all the nuances of how to make family a priority. But they are. And the thing is when I look myself in the eyes now and I look in the mirror, I am way more proud of the person I'm being today. And that is because of the examples and the models that I've been so close to over the last six years, watching men both fail and learn and then change and also men and women who have all decided that, "Hey, I’m going to do these things and experiment and then share my best ideas with the community.” And that's what we've seen in our group, even here in Austin, like with our closest friends, examples of success and failure, but constantly using those models as what are we going to do differently tomorrow.
Hal Elrod: Well, what I love about it, actually, let me say this first. For those that don't know, one of the things that you did is you gave up a lucrative speaking career. For everybody listening, Jon was being paid $10,000 per speech to travel and speak and then got to the point where you said, "Look, it's taking me away from my family.” And you finally, like you started turning down speeches and I'm like, “How could you turn down a $10,000 speech? That's crazy.” And I think it's a beautiful example of walking your talk but also that once you're clear on your priorities, everything else is an easy yes or no. Right?
Jon Vroman: Yeah. That's exactly right.
Hal Elrod: Our friend, Pat Flynn, said that, that he told me that he's like, "Look, while my kids are young, they're not going to be young forever, if something takes me away from them, unless it's an absolute once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said, "It's a no. It's an easy no.” I think that's one of the hardest. It's interesting. It’s one of the hardest things is to say no to opportunities, opportunities to earn money, opportunities to spend time with people. It's keeping your priorities in order and this is coming clear as I'm saying it but it's a matter of saying no to things that are really hard to say no to.
Jon Vroman: Exactly. Totally. Yeah. That's the hardest thing. So, for my entire life and as I'm now 46 years old and getting more clear about this, I seek approval from other people. I don't want to let people down and I want to be helpful. You know, I reached out to somebody in the past and they said yes and they helped me. And now when somebody reaches out to me, I want to repay the favor. I want to pay that forward. And so, learning to say no to things that are important is very difficult. I mean, this happened recently. And I'm talking in the last 48 hours, somebody that, "Hey, can we connect around this?” I said, “I would love to.” And then I sent them my scheduling link and their response back was, “Your scheduling link doesn't show an availability until late June. That's more than six weeks away from where we are right now.” And then they said, “Here's my link. Maybe you can find something earlier.” The Jon of six years ago would have absolutely clicked that link, not wanting to let that person down, and I would have booked something and made an exception. Like, I don't book any calls on Mondays or Fridays. I don't book anything before ten or anything after four, and I would have done it for sure 100%.
And this time I responded back and I said, “Hey, man, while I'd love to accommodate, that link is accurate. And that link is set up so that when it's filled, it's filled. That was so hard for me to say because I love that person and I don't want to let them down. I also know that I used to say this to my family constantly, "Hey, it's just going to be tonight. Hey, it's just this week and I got to get through this project or this season. Hey, it's just this quarter that I've got to get through, and then the summer I'll be more free.” Constantly I would say that.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And it's a way of being. It's a habitual way of showing up to opportunities that it doesn't go away. And I lived that life for year after year after year after year. It's just another, it's just one more project, it's just another book, it's just, right? And I have a really similar scheduling story. I told Tiffany, who's my personal assistant. I said, "Hey I'm a no for the summer. If anybody asks for anything for the summer,” I said, "If it's a speech or something you can run it by me. I'll see if Ursula and the kids can come with me.” But the point is, it's funny, because I made a commitment or commitment is a strong word, right? I said a while back, I don't want to work when the kids aren't in school. I want to set my schedule up and my life up. Not that I won't work at all but I basically want to have time off every day that the kids have time off, right? Maybe I'll work in the morning, whatever. But I realized, everybody listening, it's like some people you have a job, you can't set your schedule this way. So, some of what we talked about today will apply to you if you are an entrepreneur and maybe less certain things might not apply if you don't set your own schedule.
But the point is, so I turn my schedule off until after the summer, and same thing. I'm getting email after email going, “Hey, dude, your first availability is mid-August.” I'm like, “Yeah, man. I'm spending the summer with my family.” And it's funny, so I had two people reach out. Actually, James Malincheck was one. He said, “Hey, will you be on this interview for my people?” I said, “Sure, of course.” And then I said, “Oh, it can't be until after the summer.” So, no, actually, I'm going to squeeze him in before the summer. But, yeah, just aligning with what you're talking about, which is like it's a relentless commitment to saying yes to your family and saying no to some other things. But we're going to talk about, okay, that's realistic for some people, for some situations, but not for others. And I want today, of course, to be applicable to every person listening. So, let's get into some of the things that you're doing that you're learning from the Front Row Dads group that I'm learning being a part of the group as well.
And just that you and I are practicing and sharing with each other, here's one. Our kids the other night I mentioned they all camped at our house and our kids are part of this kind of homeschool co-op and it was a knighting ceremony. It's part of the Waldorf tradition. They were knighted and there was a crest that they created and a poem that was read. It was a really cool kind of like a rite of passage. And two things that came up that I wanted to talk about. One is our kids recently did community service that was part of their school requirements. And you shared a story about Tiger and how you guys woke up early to pick up trash. Can you start by sharing that story?
Jon Vroman: Yeah. Tiger hadn't met his commitment. And I remember sitting on the couch with him the night before talking to Tiger about the commitment and how Vromans have integrity. Vromans follow through with what they say they're going to do. And he was like, “I don't think it's that big of a deal. If I don't do it, I don't think I'll get in that much trouble, etcetera, etcetera. Or maybe there are other kids that didn't do it.” And I talked about personal standards and how when we make commitments and how what it means to follow through on your word. And sometimes those conversations go well. Other times I feel like I'm just preaching and it's not landing. Tiger said to me at the end of the conversation, he said, “Would you wake me up tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. because I want to go get a trash bag and walk down the street out in front of our house and pick up trash. And we did. We got up at six. He finished. We went out. We were walking and talking. And I just kept saying, “I'm so proud of you for making this decision.” This was the tougher decision but you followed through. You did it. And I could see that his chest was puffed out a little more on the way back like he felt good inside.
And there are times when I see Tiger and I'm concerned. I see him kind of slouched over and his shoulders are rounded, and his face just says, “I'm lacking that challenge and that confidence and that progress that we feel as humans when we move forward with something.” And as a parent, the thing I would just invite everybody to consider because this isn't prescriptive like, "Hey, if you guys just do what I do, you'll be a great parent. Your kids will be amazing.” But one of the things I've noticed within my own life and in other people's lives is that sometimes you need to push harder with your kids and balance that between the, well, I'm going to let natural consequences take control here because I could have purchased one of two ways. Well, natural consequence would be like, “Tiger, you get to make your own decisions. You’re 12,” and I just let him go to school and he would get in trouble. And that's one way of doing it. And there's nothing wrong with that. That could be very effective. The other way is to speak up as a parent and do it in a way that's in alignment with your best self, communicate in a way that's the most powerful way you know how to communicate big ideas.
But I think that our kids crave that. And I've heard this from other parents more than a handful of times, countless times that in studies even, they've said that kids wished their parents pushed harder, that they might not have said that in the moment but they enjoy when parents are guiding them. Now, again, there's a spectrum here and there are limits to all this and it's all in context. And it has to do with who's your kid and who are you, and how much of all this is needed but that's what we can often ask, "Is what you're doing working?” It's a question that all parents should ask, even in your marriage. Whether you're a man or a woman or wherever you are, "Is what I'm doing working? Am I happy with the result?” And if not, you've got to experiment with it. In this case, it worked, man, and I was so happy.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, and the thing is I want to really emphasize what you just shared, which is that you said, “Tiger, these are our family values. This is what we stand for.” And our friend Mike McCarthy, he's the master of creating family values and living those values and instilling those values with your kids. And like you said, it could have fallen on deaf ears, right? And in the moment, he might have even been rolling his eyes or whatever but then you got the fact that so much as parents, we don't see the fruit when we plant the seed right away but you planted it and then you got, "Hey, wake me up at 6 a.m. I'm going to live the Vroman family values tomorrow.” So, great moment and just a lesson for all of us to, you know, we've got to be clear on our values, our personal values, our family values, which are probably going to be one in the same. And then we've got to, as you said, we've got to voice those values. We have to talk about them. And even if in the moment, your kids like my daughter roll, you know, we call her she's like the master eye-roller, might roll their eyes but then when the rubber meets the road, when it's game time, like you actually see that those values have been embedded in their subconscious and then they rise to the surface.
I think when you and I talked about the other day when you were here is that we, you and I, are not getting phones for our kids, at least not anytime soon. And we're some of the only parents in our community and that's been a challenge. So, every day my daughter comes home and goes, "Guess who got a phone today? This friend.” And, "Oh, guess you had their 13th birthday today and got a phone? This friend.” I'm like, “I feel sorry for…” I’ll usually make jokes or something like, "Poor them like that sucks. They're going to be addicted to a phone now.” And she's like, “No, I want a phone.” And she always says, “Dad, I just want like an iPhone 8, like an old iPhone.” I'm like, “That doesn't change what it does to your ever-evolving brain, sweetheart.” So, for me, what was big, I read this book, Glow Kids. I've talked about it on this podcast. The premise of it is that phones are addictive. They're designed to be addictive. And as a child's brain is developing, they're bad enough for adults, but as a child's brain is developing, it literally is shaping the way their brain develops so that they develop addictive tendencies and behavior that can then impact any or every area of their life more likely to be addicted to drugs or alcohol or television or pornography. You name it, right?
So, that's some of my, like I'm like, "Dude, I'm going to hold off on this as long as humanly possible.” What are your thoughts on getting Tiger a phone? Why you're not doing it? When, if ever, you'll do it? What are your thoughts?
Jon Vroman: We have the same conversation and I think it's important to identify that the phone itself, smaller screened device, it can be put into two categories. One, that phone could be disabled in almost every way with no apps, no Internet, but it could be used to call in case of emergencies, which I think can be an easy win at home, especially if you don't have landlines. When you're out, you've got a 12 or 13-year-old and they have a way to call for help or call you at home. I think that's appropriate. So, when I say no phone or not able to have anything, I think that there are small nuances to this. What I'm talking about and I think where you and I both land are unlimited access to the Internet, to the world, to apps, to how much time we can spend on that device. It's mine. I now control where I go, what I do, etcetera. I can text or talk to my friends for infinite amounts of times. And again, there's always a scale, right? There's always a far end over here and a far end over here. And I'm trying to land in a place where, look, if Tiger needs to watch YouTube to learn something for school, then a couple of rules that work for us. And we have computers and iPads and phones in the house that he could have access to.
One is not in your room, not alone is one of our rules. Right? So, he never goes to bed with any device in his room. And it's not unlimited access in your room to any device. It's usually public or the door's open is one piece of the puzzle. Second is limiting exposure to almost anything so you can have too much of a good thing. And just because it's a documentary or just there are limits to all these things. And what I would say is this. Whether it's Tiger or Ocean, one of the things that I've noticed is that when they're exposed to screens on almost any level, games and you could argue healthy games, anything, it feels like different children when they're exposed to screens. Now, again, we still do some screens, we still watch some movies, we still played some video games and Apple Arcade. But there are nuances here. And if you pay attention as a parent, you'll see the difference. But it's important to go in and out of flow here like we did no screens summer last year, screen for summer, and we did that literally road trips, hundreds of miles on the road but even during screen-free summer, we had no devices, no iPads, no games, no nothing.
And we talked and we listened to music and we did other things. They were kicking and screaming for the first couple of days but then I found Tiger read like crazy. And there are so many benefits that can come from this experiment, if you will. And that's my invite, right? Do the experiment. Take them out for a while, try different amounts, different ways that you can involve screens in your family but experiment and don't just follow the crowd always.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And actually, I told Sophie that the other day. I said, hey, and when you and I agree like the fact that Sophie and Tiger are best friends, and so the fact that we're like getting on the same page with parenting or we're on the same page is really helpful because I can be like, “Hey, Tiger doesn't have a phone either.” So, if you're listening like find that one friend that doesn't have a phone for their kids then. And yeah we talked about I was searching online for what options there were for kids and I found this phone. It's Gabb Wireless. This isn't an endorsement. I know nothing about it except that it looks like an iPhone but you can't download apps. You can't surf the Web. You can call. You can video. You can text. So, basically, you can communicate. And then the only apps are like the camera, that kind of thing, right? But that's the kind of thing that I'm leaning towards that whenever we finally do a phone because she needs to get a hold of us, that's what she can do. Let's move in to just…
Jon Vroman: Hold on, Hal. I got one more thing I want to say to this, too, is that I do want to say that I'm trying my best to refrain from any type of judgment or what it seemed like in my tone.
Hal Elrod: That's a good point.
Jon Vroman: I know you're the same way. Because, look, there are parents out there that of all different unique situations, a sick child that's in the hospital. And they might say, "Well, I'm going to let them do this because it's the only thing they can do.” I just want to say that there's a thousand scenarios and you have to do what's right for your family. I know that we align on this. This is just where we are and what we want to do. But one last thing I wanted to say is that talk about like locking arms with other people. Ocean had a playdate the other day, a kid he hadn't seen in a while came over to the house. And after an hour of that kid being here and we do no screens that he really wanted to go home because he was so upset that Ocean didn't have video games. And Tatyana and I just sat down. We’re like he did not have the ability to play, to build, to create, to imagine, which are the things that I want Ocean to have. And trust me, he whines and complains. Ocean whines and complains. And if I'm not strong, I will break down and just give it to him. But it was just wild for me to see that the kid literally couldn't play because he's like, “You don't have video games. I want to go home and play video games.” And I was heartbroken by it. Anyway.
Hal Elrod: And Ocean is seven. I'm assuming his friend is of similar age.
Jon Vroman: Yeah. Similar age. Yep.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. That's hard, you know.
Jon Vroman: It's the imagination piece. I'm not opposed to like healthy games like Minecraft or the bonding that you can do with your kids over a healthy game, if you will, or the hand-eye coordination or the problem solving or whatever. Those are all good points. But if they can't develop their imagination, if they can't create on their own, if they're living in somebody else's fantasy world constantly, then they won't develop that skill of making their own fantasy world that they can step into and live.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And thank you so much for addressing that. I do realize that I was talking about what – basically, I was reliving our conversation the day of why we don't want our kids to have phones but I realize that probably 80% of people listening, your kid has a phone, right? And it's not that there is a wrong or a right. It's, a, being aware of what are the consequences of the choices that we make or allow for our children. And I do recommend anybody listening does read that book, Glow Kids. If getting a phone for your kids or your kids already have a phone, if that's part of their world, I feel like as parents, we owe ourselves to be learning and growing and educating ourselves on what are the effects of this choice that I made. And might I need to adjust it or reverse it? Something along those lines. And our kids, to be fair, they get one hour of video game time and it's usually Minecraft, one hour on Saturday, one hour on Friday, and one hour on Saturday. That's the limit to their screen time. And they fought us on that, especially because we actually had more than that before and then we went down to that.
That's the hardest is to go backwards, right? But we did and we actually did what you did. We modeled a screen-free summer last summer and then it was much easier to go from we went from too much video games to no video games and then we were able to back into one hour on the weekends. But again, most of their friends get like two, three, four hours a day, seven days a week kind of thing. But I always encourage our kids. They go, "Hey, you're leaders like it's okay.” So, for them, instead of them feeling like, “I'm the only one without a phone,” go, “Well, that makes you a leader,” right? So, just a nice spin on not having your phone. So, let's talk about, I would just love to dive into kind of based on what you've been learning from Front Row Dads and what I've learned, what are the best strategies that you've learned on really three things? Number one is overall, family, right? Like how to prioritize, how to keep the focus on the families, or just the overall family dynamic, how to thrive there, how to win there. And then if there's anything specific, the second category would be marriage.
So, anything specific for marriage that either it's working for you or that you're trying to make work for you and then parenting, right? That's the third. So, overall, family, how to keep family a priority, whether it's around scheduling, prioritizing, whatever that is. Number two, marriage. And number three, parenting. And then and I'm happy to, you know, we can go back and forth and kind of share what we've learned, what's working for us.
Jon Vroman: Yeah. So, with family and I'll just go really high level if you want to go into any of these. You know, actually, if it's cool, let me actually share like a little seed for each one of these, and then you can choose your own adventure here, Hal, of where we want to spend a little more time. With family, I think you nailed it in the beginning. I think it's understanding your family values. What do you want to stand for? I think when it comes to family, it's traditions and rituals. It's understanding what are the things you want to do regularly. Do you want to have a regular family vacation? Do you want to regularly make pancakes on Saturday? Do you want to regularly say a prayer at dinner at night? Do you want to regularly, right? What are the traditions? What are the consistencies in your life and what is okay to not be consistent? Just because another family goes to the same vacation spot every year and there are benefits to doing that, your family might decide to go somewhere new every year and they'll get a whole other benefit of variety. But it's really taking a step back and having a moment to ask yourself what is important to your family? Because if everything is important, nothing's important.
There's 100 values that you could argue that are all really important but which core three values are, as an example, is your family going to focus on? One of our core values as a family is nourishment. We call that feel the beat, right? It's like the play on the word, the beats. It's like the beat of music but also the beats that we eat, right? That's the food that comes from the ground. It's what's grounded in our lives and eating natural organic foods. Nourishment is one of our values. So, we know that, is integrity a value? Sure, it's not one of our core three but do I want my kids to have it? Definitely. So, that's what I would say for family. Know what your family stands for. When it comes to marriage, the thing I would say about this one is that this came up recently and we could talk about this story if you want to also is I asked Tatyana for 5% more, in a particular story, and I'm going to leave out details just for time. I said I'm asking for 5% more and she came back with something so brilliant. She said, “Maybe you could start by asking, how could you give yourself 5% more?”
And then that led me to share something today that you may or may not have seen. But I said, "When you show up to your marriage, one of the things that I'm learning is how to source approval and love from within.” So, I'm not constantly going to the other person to say, “Would you tell me I'm great so that I feel good? Would you tell me that everything's okay so I can feel security?” or whatever it might be. We all want approval, control, and security, but a lot of times we source too much of that from our spouse. So, what I've seen is that men and women who learn to source that from within or from nature or from other spaces, they're not constantly leaning on their spouse, the weight of leaning on them to get something from them, which can become very tiring for a spouse to deal with. Somebody’s emotions like they don't know what to do with them, so they just dump them on their spouse versus figuring out a way to take care of yourself for your spouse.
And then when it comes to parenting, we just put out the dad quiz and this was helping men identify blind spots. And what we've learned in Front Row Dads in our community, which is now coming up on 300 members, 15 different countries, and we've been at it for six years, we'd have to be asleep at the wheel to not see some patterns. And what we noticed was that there were really five buckets or five areas where parents and this same applies to women as men. It just happens to be that we sourced it from our community, and that is that people are often struggling either when it comes to being a great parent with time. They're just so busy with their commitments and whether you're digging in the garden or doing work or something, whatever work you're doing in your life that you just don't have the time for your kids. That may be a blind spot for you. That might be the biggest area of growth. The second one would be focus. So, you're with your kids but you're on your phone. You're checking messages, you're doing something else, you're buying something on Amazon, whatever. And you could be like, "It's for the family.” I did it a million times. Like I'm with my family but you're distracted is really what you are.
The third one is about emotional stability, emotional intelligence, EQ. And this is about are you one that just flies off the handle like, "Get in the car!” because you just get pushed to the edge sometimes? So, you might be the unpredictable parent. And then the next one is hope and optimism. It's sometimes you're just getting beat down. And so, a blind spot for some parents is attitude. It's that they got so much going on. They got three kids under five and a business and church and all these things. And at the end of the day, they just hit their head on the pillow like, “I'm just getting my ass kicked everywhere,” and they feel defeated. And then the last one is about connection. So, you're with your kids and you're not on your phone but it's like they want to play Lego and you don't and you just haven't found the thing. Or you're a sports person and they're in theater and you just can't connect. You asked your 12-year-old how was your day at school? And they’re like, "Fine.” And you're like, "How do I get more information?” So, when it comes to those three categories, those are my high-level highlights. You can take that wherever you want.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. No, that's great. I mean, I think you just gave a little five-minute masterclass. That's super helpful. So, I'll riff. I'll do the same thing. With family, first and foremost, one little simple hack that anybody listening can immediately model is I have to read a parenting book, create a self-imposed rule. This is what I've done. It's been very helpful. You know, I'm an entrepreneur and a business owner, so I'm always excited about the next book I'm reading on how to grow the business, on how to be better, more productive, etcetera, etcetera. And it's been a lot. Probably a year ago, maybe more, but I made it a rule that I am not allowed to read a business book until I read a book on family so on parenting or marriage. And what that does, a few things. Number one is it reminds me every morning, "Oh yeah, family is my highest priority. I can't even get into business until I've grown as a husband and I've grown as a father.” So, that's the first thing is just keeps that it just reminds me every single morning you start today, this is my highest priority.
And number two, it ensures that I'm evolving as a husband and as a father each and every single day. The book I'm rereading right now is Hold On to Your Kids. Again, highly recommended. I'll actually quote something from that in a second when I get to the parenting topic but, yeah, so every morning, my business book that I'm reading right now is called How to Get Everything You Can Out of All You've Got by Jay Abraham. And I love that book and I can't wait to get to it every morning but sitting on top of it every morning is, “Oh, yeah, I've got to read Hold On To Your Kids first.” And then the next book I'm reading is called Untangled and it's specific to raising a daughter. My daughter is 12 going on 17. And so, that's the next book I'm diving into. But so that's one thing I’d share for anybody and everybody, right? Super simple, just read a family book first thing in the morning before you get to whatever other book you're reading. And that ensures you continue to evolve in those crucial roles.
As far as marriage goes, I read a book many years ago. I think it was like the Seven Principles of a Successful Marriage but I think, no, Being a Great Husband because it was for men specifically, but it talked about think of it as your job. Think of marriage as a job it says. I know this is taking a little bit of the romance out of it but how do you approach your job? And anybody listening, what if you were hired to be a spouse? I want you to think about this context for a second. What if you only kept your job based on your job performance. What if you were paid a very high salary, like $1 million a year to be the best spouse on the planet? Would you show up then the same way that you do now? Like, I think about for me as a husband, empathy is big for my wife. And for me, it's only big if I really, really make it a priority. But if I was paid $1 million a year to be the husband that she needed, well, I would be so frickin empathetic because I was trying to excel at my work. And this book, when it gave that paradigm, it's like men learn all these strategies and stuff because they thrive in business or work.
And we all do that in certain areas of our life. And then we often just kind of let marriage happen or we become reactive. Like, we're not intentional, we're not strategic, we're not thoughtful, we're just reactive and we're keeping score, “Oh, you were mean to me today. I'm mean to you today. Oh, you were nice. Okay, I'll be nice.” How about if you just decide, "This is who I am. I'm committed to being the best spouse on the planet. And it doesn't matter how my spouse acts on any given day, it doesn't change who I am committed to being and how I'm committed to showing up.” So, that's the best tip I've learned on parenting is think of it like your job or, I'm sorry, on marriage. Think of it like your job. Think about that you're paid a very high salary to be the best spouse you could possibly be for your spouse regardless of how they treat you in any given moment, the mood that they're in, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, whether or not they take out the trash, right, etcetera. Just you commit to who you're committed to being.
And then as far as parenting goes and this comes from the book, Hold Onto Your Kids, which is why it's top of mind. It's to prioritize the relationship with your child above correcting behavior. Most of us, we're constantly correcting behavior, “You should do this. You shouldn't do that. You're in trouble for this. You're grounded for that.” And we do that much more often than not at the expense of the relationship. When you yell at your child, you're rarely creating a stronger bond, which would then give you more influence. In fact, you are diminishing your influence by reacting out of emotion or out of anger. And so, hold on to your kid. Actually, I printed that. I wrote that paragraph out when I first read it, and it's been on our fridge for like two years. And it's something along the lines of like always prioritize the relationship with your child above correcting their behavior. And so, that has been an absolute game-changer. And often when I go, “Oh, I have to bite my tongue,” but because I have to go, "Okay. What's more important right now, the relationship with my daughter or my son or catching them doing something wrong?”
And 9.9 times out of 10, it's their relationship. And of course, occasionally you got to call out behavior but you can do it in a way, right? Think about that. If your priority is preserving and nurturing the relationship, then you're going to discipline them very differently than if you're just focused on correcting the behavior and you're justified in getting short-term compliance, “Haha, it worked. I threatened to take something away and they did what I asked them to. Victory.” Well, it's like, how do they feel about you? Maybe that short-lived victory is actually creating long-term detriment to the quality of your relationship and your ability to raise influence and nurture that child. So, yeah, those are the three biggest lessons that I've been learning in my family life that have been really impactful.
Jon Vroman: Yeah. Those are good. And this reminds me of so many of the conversations we have inside Front Row Dads, inside what we call the Brotherhood, right, when we are on monthly calls or on these summits that we do every eight weeks, these online events or our in-person retreats or conferences. The idea is to source ideas, different ways of looking at things, different perspectives like, "Hey, you could look at it this way. You could look at it that way,” and then ultimately choose the path that's most in alignment with your core values and how you want to do parenting because there's a lot of ways to do all these things. But I'm going to walk away as a great example today, thinking about my relationship with my kids. That's going to be the question I want to take away today is just to say, "How is my relationship with Tiger?” You know, because I remember there was a moment with my dad when I was younger where he drew a boundary. He drew a line and I can argue right now both that that was healthy and unhealthy. I can see both sides of it, the way he drew that boundary.
And I can tell you what it was, by the way. It was a moment where I had said to my mom something really smart. I was a jerk to my mom. And I think it was something along the lines of like, “What do you want me to do, kiss your butt?” It was like, "Well, you can't do that.” I was like, "What you want me to do? Like, kiss your butt?” And it was something really disrespectful.
Hal Elrod: I bet you said ass, Jon.
Jon Vroman: My dad came up to my bathroom and he came up and he was fuming. I opened the door and he was standing there and had the most intense look in his eyes. And he picked up his fists like he was going to hit me like he was going to punch me. Now, I'm 15, by the way, 16, somewhere in that neighborhood. And he looked like he was going to punch me and he said, "Don't ever talk to my wife that way ever again.”
Hal Elrod: Wow.
Jon Vroman: He didn't say, "Your mom.”
Hal Elrod: Yeah.
Jon Vroman: He said, "My wife.” I was like and for the record, I didn't. Like, I don't think I spoke those words ever again because he drew a line and it was very clear where that line was. Now, on one hand, I'm so grateful that he drew that line. And I really am looking back now as a 46-year-old man, I'm glad that he stood up for his wife. I'm glad that he came up to me and with such power presented the boundary, that this is not what you're going to do. On the other hand, there was a moment of that that I do feel like fractured our relationship and maybe that could have been, you know, I don't know, because I don't recall all the nuances of that time period. Maybe he did come and apologize for raising his fists or maybe whatever. But I held on to the story and I do feel that it fractured our relationship in that moment. I'm not blaming him. This isn't a bashing-my-dad moment.
Hal Elrod: Sure.
Jon Vroman: My dad's a great guy and I've done things that I could see either are going to be like, "Hey, I'm glad my dad did that,” or I'm still working on that therapy for my kids later on in their life. You know, I can see those moments but I just wanted to say that there is a fine line there. And I have a lot of respect for parents trying to figure out how to get compliance so that you can actually do things during the day and all the tools and strategies for taking stuff away and punishment and timeouts and all those things. And maintaining a relationship is so difficult to balance all those things. But again, that's why Front Row Dads exists because people always say, "There is no manual for parenting,” and it's like we're actually trying to create one. And we're trying to create exactly just that, a manual where it's like here's the strategies, here are the ideas, here are the consequences for doing things these different ways so that we can make better decisions.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And we're going to go into that. Now's a good time, I think. For anybody listening, if you are a dad or you are a mom that knows a dad, right, if you are a dad or a dad, we're going to do a Front Row Dads webinar. We do this once a year around Father's Day on June 15th at 11 a.m. Central Time. So, June 15th at 11 a.m. Central Time. And you can register right now. It's totally free. But what we're going to have is be much more structured than today's back and forth conversation, but really teaching the best of the best strategies to thrive as a husband and thrive as a dad. And that is at FrontRowDads.com/Hal. That's where you can register. So, again FrontRowDads.com/Hal. There are probably a few hundred dads on there sharing great ideas. I invite everybody really, really, really important if you're a dad that you are there. And that's one of the biggest things, Jon, is I feel like once you started Front Row Dads, our conversations are now more about parenting and being a husband than they are about business, which is really, really cool because it was never that way.
And I know very few men, in fact, there's a joke, I think the comedian, Rob Riggle, he has a joke where he said, “I was on the phone the other day with my best friend. We've known each other our whole lives. You know, he was the best man in my wedding. I was the best man in his wedding. You know, I was there when his kids were born. He was there when my kids were born. And we talked for three hours the other day. We hadn't talked in months. And we were catching up and we got off the phone and my wife came in and she goes, ‘Hey, so wow, you guys had a three-hour call. That was a long one. So, how's Kathy doing?’ You know, his wife. And he said, ‘I don't know.’ ‘Three hours and you don't ask about Kathy?’ He goes, ‘No.’ ‘Well, how are the kids?’ ‘I don't know.’” Right? And Rob is saying this but it's like any man watching the comedy specials like totally get it. I could be on the phone with my friend for an hour and we talk about sports and business and some crazy things that happened since we last spoke and we literally leave family out.
And, Jon, I just honor you as the leader of Front Row Dads and creating that group. I've said it for years. It's the best group I've ever been a part of. And why? I mean, there's lots of reasons. The bonding is amazing. The vulnerability is amazing. But at the end of the day, it's the outcome. It’s that I'm a better husband because I'm part of Front Row Dads. I'm a better father because I'm part of Front Row Dads. I'm even a better friend because I'm part of Front Row Dads and the kind of the culture, the brotherhood that you've created, man. So, anybody listening, FrontRowDads.com/Hal, I highly encourage you to be there. And, Jon, I want to share one more cent before we wrap up, but anything else to share on the webinar or anything at all?
Jon Vroman: No, I want to thank you for always engaging in these conversations because it is one thing to talk about it but when you look at your calendar today, it included this interview and it included us talking about family strategies. And we're talking about real-life moments that have happened and just for us in the last couple of days and also reminders of who we want to be going forward. So, thanks for that. You know, even before we clicked record, man, I said to you and I'm telling everybody now, I just said, "Hey, before you hit record, I just want to let you know I love you. I'm so grateful that we get these moments together to be able to do these things.” And so, I really feel that way. So, thank you, man. I'm looking forward to meeting your audience, your community, because people that attend, we've done this before, with people that attend this webinar, this training, this conversation that we're about to have June 15th and they are some of the greatest people because they understand what it means to learn and grow and to work on themselves. And for the dads in your community that find their way into Front Row Dads, you are our number one team builder. Like, you've literally brought in some of the most amazing and the most number of people in the Front Row Dads of all of our 300 members. So, thank you for that.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, it's constantly whenever I'll get interviewed on a podcast and I text after, "Hey, you heard of Front Row Dads? It's the best group.” And it's also fun to be…
Jon Vroman: Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off. I'm going to say Levesque’s house, this weekend, when we were at his place at this pool party with all these Front Row Dads and his wife goes, “How did you find Front Row Dads?” And he goes, “Hal Elrod.” He reached out. He's like, “You got to go.” And it was five years ago that he joined a retreat and now he's hosting events for Front Row Dads at his house. He's really into it.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. That is really cool. I wanted to share just one more thing. This came up at our Front Row Dads band meeting the other day and you asked me to share it in the group. And I actually just realized I haven't yet but it's on my to-do list but I'll share it now. So, if you're listening to this, I know that for me, when I learn new ideas, new strategies, it often makes me feel bad, right? I feel like I'm messing up. I'm not doing these things. I wish I would have known. Man, what a great strategy idea. I wish I would have known that ten years ago. It would have been a different journey. And I want to close out today by saying, "Be at peace with where you are. Give yourself grace.” One of the things that I realized the other day was my dad and I have an incredible relationship. I'm 42. That'll be 43 in a few days. He is 66-ish, I think. But we have an incredible relationship, incredible bond. No day would go by when I wouldn't say he is the best dad I could ever imagined. And here's what I realized. He didn't read any parenting books, right? Like I'm always like, "Oh, there's all these strategies. I got to follow the strategies.”
No. He didn't have any strategies. He just loved me unconditionally and supported me unconditionally. And that's it. And I just want to close by saying that like if you're a parent, love your kids unconditionally, support them in being the best version of who they are, and give yourself grace for all the mistakes that we're all going to keep making along the way. And again, granted, being a part of Front Row Dads helps me feel like make lots of mistakes and have more intentionality around parenting. But yeah, brother, I'm grateful to be able to do these conversations with you and share with our listeners. And again, if you are a dad and you want to attend FrontRowDads.com/Hal is that June 15th webinar and we're going to go deeper and more structured into all of these topics on parenting, marriage, and family as a whole. Anything else, buddy?
Jon Vroman: Well, I just wanted to tell your audience as well that if they want to be able to hang in person with you or hear you live.
Hal Elrod: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jon Vroman: That December 2nd through the 4th in Austin, Texas we're hosting our first-ever large event if you will call it because we've done retreats of 50 people for the last six years, but we've never had an event where there could be a couple of hundred people there, members of Front Row Dads, where people that are just heard about Front Row Dads. But if you are a dad and you're interested in growing in your role as a father, as a husband, you want to win at home and win at work, then this is an event that you're going to enjoy and Hal is going to be speaking there along with other friends of ours. I'll save some of those for surprises but Preston Smiles will be there along with some other incredible people. But thank you, Hal, for being at that event and I hope to meet some of your community there.
Hal Elrod: I'm excited for that. I'd totally forgotten about that but I'm really excited. Yeah. It’s going to be fun. Alright, you all. Thank you for tuning in. Again, the webinar FrontRowDads.com/Hal. Grab a spot. Love to see you there. It's going to be very interactive. And goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning community, I love you, I appreciate you, and I will talk to you all next week.