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From Comedy to Fatherhood: Chris Zito's Unique Parenting Perspective

Dads With Daughters

Release Date: 02/05/2024

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More Episodes

In a heartwarming and candid episode of the Dads with Daughters podcast, the seasoned comedian Chris Zito shares his experiences, triumphs, and struggles as a father. From navigating through his daughter's remarkable accomplishments to supporting her through a significant life transition, Zito's journey as a dad is touching and inspiring. Join us as we delve into the insightful conversation with Chris Zito, exploring his approach to being a supportive father, a dedicated advocate, and a successful entertainer.

Becoming a Father at 19

Chris Zito's journey into fatherhood began at the tender age of 19. He openly discusses the initial fear he felt about not being capable of loving his child and the challenges that came with being a young parent. Zito's honest reflections shed light on the anxieties and uncertainties that many young fathers may face, emphasizing the importance of addressing these fears and embracing the journey of fatherhood with openness and resilience.

Navigating Fear and Challenges

As Chris Zito's children grew and reached different life phases, he grappled with ongoing fear and challenges. He discusses his unique approach to living with and understanding fear, highlighting the significance of staying present and acknowledging past successes in overcoming fear. Zito's wisdom is a source of encouragement for fathers who may be confronting their own fears and uncertainties in the parenting journey.

Unique Relationships with Each Child

One of the most endearing aspects of Chris Zito's story is the distinctive relationships he has built with each of his children. From a daughter living in an RV to a son living far away with two daughters of his own, Zito's ability to connect with his children under various circumstances is both heartening and relatable. His lighthearted approach to sharing jokes and experiences of fatherhood with his children serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining strong, supportive connections with kids, regardless of the physical distance.

Supporting a Transgender Child

A poignant and significant part of Chris Zito's narrative revolves around his daughter's transition. Zito grappled with his initial reactions and fears, ultimately emphasizing the importance of support and understanding for his daughter's journey. He provides a candid glimpse into navigating medical appointments and finding a delicate balance of support and time for his daughter. Zito's experience shines a light on the complexities of parenthood, especially when it entails providing unwavering support for a child going through a significant life transition.

Balancing Comedy with Family Life

As a seasoned comedian, Chris Zito challenges incorporating his family's experiences into his stand-up material. He acknowledges the delicate balance between honesty and humor, especially when it comes to integrating his daughter's transition into his comedy. Zito's honest portrayal of this balance resonates with many fathers navigating similar professional and personal juggling acts.

Chris Zito's journey as a father encompasses a multitude of emotions, challenges, and triumphs. His resilience, unwavering support for his children, and candid storytelling serve as a source of inspiration for fathers everywhere. Through his experiences, Zito underscores the significance of being an engaged and supportive father, especially during adversity and change. His heartfelt anecdotes and wisdom on navigating fatherhood create a heartwarming and insightful narrative for Dads with Daughters listeners to embrace and appreciate.

This podcast episode sheds light on Chris Zito's personal experiences and invites fathers to contemplate their journey in raising strong, independent daughters. With humor, compassion, and unwavering dedication, Zito epitomizes the essence of fatherhood - a journey filled with love, challenges, and immeasurable growth.

If you've enjoyed today's episode of the Dads With Daughters podcast, we invite you to check out the Fatherhood Insider. The Fatherhood Insider is the essential resource for any dad that wants to be the best dad that he can be. We know that no child comes with an instruction manual, and most are figuring it out as they go along. The Fatherhood Insider is full of valuable resources and information that will up your game on fatherhood. Through our extensive course library, interactive forum, step-by-step roadmaps, and more you will engage and learn with experts but more importantly with dads like you. So check it out today!

TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:05]:

Welcome to Dads With Daughters. In this show, we spotlight dads, resources, and more to help you be the best dad you can be.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:16]:

Welcome back to the Dads with Daughters podcast, where we bring you guests to actively participate in your daughters' lives, raising them to be strong, Independent Women. Really excited to have you back again this week. As always, we're on a journey together. This is an opportunity for us to talk and work with one another. And every week, I love being able to sit down with you and talk about the journey you're on To raise your daughters. And I've mentioned this many times, but as you get older, as your kids get older, there are going to be those phases, those ebbs and flows, the ups and downs, and I love talking to you about this. It's important that we talk about this because there's no one right way to father. There are many ways that you can father, and you can learn about the many people around you, but also, every week, I love being able to have different dads joining us and different people who are joining us that can help you along that journey, and you can learn from them as well.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:20]:

This week, we got another great guest. Chris Zito is with us, and Doc. Chris is a father of 4. He definitely has kids that are grown and flown. We're gonna talk about that. But definitely, we're going to have some opportunities to learn from his own experience and help you in the journey that you're on. Chris, thanks so much for being here today.

Chris Zito [00:01:37]:

My absolute pleasure, Chris. Thanks for inviting me.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:39]:

It is my pleasure having you here today. I love to start by first being able to have the power to turn the clock back in time. And wouldn't we all like that at at points in time? But I would love to have you go back to that 1st moment. That first moment that you found out you were going to be a dad to a daughter, what was going through your head?

Chris Zito [00:02:02]:

Well, first of all, I was 18 when I got that news. I was 19 when she was born. You know, I always joke that Dog. I went to college for 1 year. I majored in psychedelic drugs and got my girlfriend pregnant. So it was not the ideal way to begin fatherhood. Dom. But the other thing I always say about her is that she was unexpected but never unwanted.

Chris Zito [00:02:22]:

Because even growing up, Dog. I knew I wanted to be a father. I wanted to have my own family. I just didn't expect it to start as early as it did. And, of course, I also had no idea exactly what I was in for. Doug. I used to make this joke in my stand-up act about how her parents were freaking out. My parents were freaking out.

Chris Zito [00:02:39]:

She and I weren't even freaking out as much Docs. Because we had no idea. You know, I said to my dad, we're in love. We don't need money. He said, oh, that's great because you won't have any. And, of course, he was right; the poverty got boring in a hurry, but so that was hard. I didn't know that it was gonna be a girl until she was born. This was before gender reveal parties, and even people found out through ultrasound what the gender was gonna be. But so, for me, it was a typical first-time father.

Chris Zito [00:03:07]:

Doc, I had no preference. I wanted a healthy child, and so that's what we got. And I should work as I often as I do in just about every conversation. That Baby grew up and today has a Ph.D. Doctor Kagoshawl, as I often refer to her. That's her married name. And so I like to throw because I gotta tell you, Chris. When something like that happens, I blame the parents.

Chris Zito [00:03:27]:

Like, to take a little credit if something goes

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:03:29]:

right. Right? You definitely wanna do that and take credit where credit where you can, but also help to raise up your daughter and shout from the rooftops, Docs. When things are going well, especially in this world of social media, sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's bad. It's not always a good thing, you know when people tend to see only the positive things that are happening in people's lives, but, you know, it is something that we deal with. Now I know that; as you kinda said, you didn't know what you didn't know. And every dad goes through that as you go into it. And a lot of dads that I talk to talk to me about being fearful, Especially when it comes to having a daughter. So what was your biggest fear in raising daughters?

Chris Zito [00:04:11]:

Well, I can tell you that while her mother was pregnant. And I had never been a father before. I had this fear that I wouldn't love this kid. I mean, that was something that just kinda came out of nowhere. I honestly thought, well, what if the baby is born and I'm just kinda, nah, whatever? Now, of course, that was not the case. It was much more like love at first sight. It was an immediate connection. It was, as I'm sure you've heard a lot of fathers say, that's up there with the best days of my life, especially her because that's when I became a father.

Chris Zito [00:04:38]:

But, of course, I Dog. I had this feeling of wanting to protect her and wanting to the early part of her life because I'm a guy in recovery. I'm a recovering alcoholic, And I got sober when she was about 7 or 8. So the 1st part of her life, I wasn't as thoughtful of a father as I would become later on in her life. So a lot of times early in her life, my big fear was that, do I have enough booze in the house because they don't sell anything on Sunday? But I also had a lot of fear of financial insecurity, the Constantly chasing rent, and, I mean, we probably moved every year the 1st 5, 6 years of her life because the rent would go up, And then we'd go out and get a lousier apartment until things started to get better. And when I talk now to young dads, I talk a lot about that fear because I was a young kid. I was derailed in my college career. I didn't have a career.

Chris Zito [00:05:28]:

I was barely employable. We didn't have any money. But one of the things that I learned as years went by, and I've met so many fathers over the years. And now that I talk to dads, I find that that man becomes a father for the 1st time later in life. Let's say a guy's pushing 40, and he gets the news that he's gonna be a father. He has a career, some money in the bank, and a dog. And when I talk to these guys, they express the same fear that I remember having, and that's what I tell young dads. Like, it doesn't matter your circumstances.

Chris Zito [00:05:59]:

No, this fear is gonna come up because you always feel like, is it enough? Is it am I giving my kids enough? Am I gonna have enough? Are they gonna be well-fed? They're gonna be well dressed? Are they gonna be well educated? Are they gonna be well prepared to have a successful life? I mean, Those are huge questions. That's a really big thing, and that's what makes the job so important. Those are big, big questions.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:06:22]:

They are big questions, and I think every dad struggles with them. You know, your kid goes off after high school to whether it's to college, whether it's to trade, whether it's to work, And you start to see them spreading their wings a bit, and there's a fear at different points in your kids' lives. The fear that you have when your child is first born, as they go to school for the 1st time, as they get into middle school, as they get into high school, as they go off into college, the Each of those phases, each of those times in their life, the fear is just a little bit different. And then as you're I'm I'm sure, and you can you can the Talk to this a lot more than I can right now. Once your child gets beyond high school and whether they've gone to college or not, then They go out on their own for the 1st time. There's more fear. And so I think that fear doesn't just end for a parent. It's always there.

Chris Zito [00:07:18]:

Well, that's why I mean, I feel like, you know, we're never gonna be able to eliminate those fears completely. So what I tried to learn how to do, and I learned a lot of this in recovery, is learning about what causes the fear, how to live with the fear, and how to diminish the fear. And the thing about fear is that everybody that you meet, when I talk to dads about their fears, I maybe don't know their specific fear, but I know where it lives because all fear lives in the future. Everything we've ever been afraid of, it's always something that hasn't happened yet. So one of the first things I point out to these dads is we're here together tonight. Every fear you've ever experienced, whether it came true or not, every disaster, every catastrophe, every emergency, every difficult situation you've ever faced, you made it through. You made it through all of those, and the evidence is that you're sitting. We're all here together tonight.

Chris Zito [00:08:04]:

So we've all made it this far, and that's something that's important to remember when a fear pops up In my day, so first of all, talk a little bit about mindfulness. I don't like to use that word because it kinda conjures up this sort of DATSON. It seems so complicated, but the way I put it is, I'd like to keep my head where my feet are. And so then I'm living in the now. So if I'm in the now, what's gonna happen next, dogs? It isn't as fearful. Doesn't create that fear. The fear comes when I'm thinking about what's gonna happen next so much.

Chris Zito [00:08:33]:

But if I'm the Keeping my head where my feet are, it's not gonna happen as much. I can stop, and I can pause, and I can remember all the evidence that's behind me that tells me I'm gonna be able the get through whatever's coming next. And that's immensely important to remember. It's so easy to forget when the fear comes up that, oh, yeah. I faced this fear before, and guess what? And you know what? Everything worked out. Maybe not the way I thought it would, but we're still here. So that's the good news.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:08:58]:

That is the good news. Now I mentioned at the beginning that you've 4 kids. Each one of your children is different from one another, and they come, as you talked to me before, from 2 different marriages. And so every father with multiple kids has to be able to develop those relationships in unique ways and maintain those relationships, the has to build them throughout their kids' lives and maintain them throughout their kids' lives. Talk to me about what you had to do as your kids were growing, but even now that they're adults, you have had to do to be able to build those unique relationships with each of your children.

Chris Zito [00:09:33]:

Well, they all live in such different situations, too, So it sorta comes naturally. Like doctor Coggeshall, who I mentioned, she and her husband sold their house, and they bought an RV. And they live in an RV. They both work, Doc. Remotely. They're both well-educated. They're both professionals, but they work remotely. And so they live in this RV.

Chris Zito [00:09:51]:

It's like them in an RV park, And they're the only ones under 70. You know? Almost the only ones under 70. And so whenever I talk to her, it's about that life that she's chosen, And she just sounds so happy doing it. It just blows my mind. I get off the phone with her. I guess she just sounds so happy. You can't ask for more than that. Now my son, who's about to turn 40, has two daughters.

Chris Zito [00:10:14]:

He's given me two granddaughters. Now that's the great news. The bad news is they live in Pensacola, Florida, and I live in Massachusetts, Dog. I get to see them that often. And he and I talk a lot about being a dad. He's the only one of my children that has children, and so I always joke with them. You know? I always tell them, you know what, Ben? You gotta remember. You come from a long line of dads.

Chris Zito [00:10:35]:

So make sure that you're, you know, I mean, the name of my podcast, and my talk is Doc. Like it's your job, and so we talk a lot about fatherhood. It was typical. I had that same experience when I became a father. My relationship, the way I saw my father, changed dramatically quickly once I became a father. So he and I talk a lot about His daughters and the younger one I hear from all the time. With today's technology, she sends me these videos on Facebook Messenger, and she'll reach out. And we FaceTime all the time.

Chris Zito [00:11:06]:

The other one just turned 14, and she has about as much time for me as she has for a dad. So now the ones that are home, my daughter Mackenzie is the 23. She's about to graduate from college. Her big concern is trying to find a job in her field and maybe move out. And so my wife and I tried to reassure her. We don't have a calendar where there's no clock ticking. You know what I mean? I think she feels like the day after she walks to get a degree, her bags are gonna be packed at the front door, so we try to reassure her because I don't know if you've looked at rents out there or you know. I mean, it's it's hard for kids to get out on their own. It's harder than ever.

Chris Zito [00:11:41]:

And then, the baby is a senior in high school, and she is openly trans. She came out to us about a little over two years ago, And she is just now starting her medical transition. So when you see her, she sort of presents as gender nonconforming, but Dog. She is, and she just signed with a modeling agency because she's 6 feet tall and 140 pounds, so she's built like a runway model and has long, Thick, wavy hair. And so she's been navigating a lot of that, and that's a lot of our conversations are just making sure that She gets to her medical appointments, that all of that stuff is covered, that she understands everything that's happened, that we all understand each other, that she continues to get that sort of support the Hey. We're with you. We don't use her dead name. We had pictures of her when she was little Vincent, and I've asked her multiple times, hey.

Chris Zito [00:12:35]:

You want me to get rid of these pictures? Dom. Because that's something that because we've, you know, studied up on this, and I don't know. She's very patient with us. She's very relaxed about that sort of stuff. I think that she's kind of like, no. That's, that's that was me. That was me. I'm okay with those pictures.

Chris Zito [00:12:51]:

So those are the kind of things that we deal with a lot with her. And then, of course, the usual high school Duff. How are your grades? When are you gonna be home? Who are you gonna be with? Trans or not, she's an 18-year-old girl, and so there's still a lot of those same concerns.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:13:04]:

So talk to me about that because you had 3 other children that conform to the gender that they were at birth. Dog. You have a 4th child that throws a little bit of a curveball, and you and your spouse have figured that out and have worked through that. But others who may be just starting this process may be trying to figure it out for themselves. What does that mean for our family? How do we best support our child? You know, what can we do to be there for them? What did you have to do to be able to get to the point where you're at now . I can see I mean, you are supporting your child. You're supporting who they are, who they're becoming. It may not have started there, But that's where you've ended in the end.

Chris Zito [00:13:48]:

You know, for us, my wife and I, we almost immediately started walking this tightrope of giving her as much support as we could muster but also taking our time, and that was our big concern. Well, we don't wanna rush into this. What we found out very quickly is that there is no rushing into this. Doc. If you have an adolescent that's transgender, there is no rushing in. There has to be a therapist in place. There has to be a pediatrician, a primary care physician, and a pediatrician. There has to be a neuro-psych evaluation.

Chris Zito [00:14:16]:

There have to be preliminary meetings with a pediatric endocrinologist. And if you've ever even tried to get an appointment with your primary care physician. You can imagine that all these appointments and developing a relationship with all these different people takes time, And so there was a lot of time where we sort of eased into this. The other thing that I found, this is the thing that I'm probably least proud of about all, is that one of the things that we always have to remember when something's happening to our child is that it's happening to them because I have a tendency the take on what's happening to my children like it's happening to me, and it isn't. And so when v came out as transgender, I remember thinking, jeez. You couldn't just come out as gay. I've been waiting since you were, like, 5 years old to tell me that you're gay because people barely raise an eyebrow. And it seems like transgender now is a hot-button issue.

Chris Zito [00:15:06]:

If you go back to 2000, marriage equality was a big issue in that presidential election. That was the big Culture war wedge issue. And right now, as we're sitting here, transgender youth is the big wedge issue, You. And there's so much misinformation and so much fear and so much confusion about it. So I was so afraid for her, and I still am. I'm always afraid that she's going to be bullied or harassed. We're very fortunate that we live in Massachusetts. I mean, you can't sell a health insurance policy in my state unless it covers gender-affirming care.

Chris Zito [00:15:44]:

That's how progressive the state is. And so we feel very safe. In that way, we feel that our government is not gonna be attacking us. We don't live in fear that our state legislature will pass the Laws that will make it illegal for Vida to get the care that she's already begun. And because we've also had the experience That almost textbook when you read about what the medical associations have found out about transgender kids is the This was a kid that was sullen, alone, depressed, self-harming, ended up doing inpatient treatment, suicidal ideation. Today, this is a kid that's relaxed, smiles easily, great sense of humor, excels in school, good friend. Everything you would want for your teenage kid, that's what's happening with this kid now. Self-assured and confident.

Chris Zito [00:16:32]:

She is a powerful example to me because part of what I experienced was I felt like I had to come out Because I was afraid to share this information with certain friends of mine because I knew that if they reacted a certain way, I'd lose them. I was afraid that I would share with a buddy of mine. Oh, well, when they asked about Vincent, oh, Vincent is now v. Vincent has come out as transgender, and and v is a a girl now. Dog. And if they reacted poorly to that or didn't support it, I knew that I would lose that person. Now I can happily say that Dog. So far, that hasn't happened, and I had to live with that fear.

Chris Zito [00:17:08]:

That was a new fear that I had to live with. And then I had, but I also had to remember, like, the I don't have to come out because it's her. She's the one that has to come out. She's the one that has to live with us. Watching her maneuver And live her life, and it's something to see. She does it. And, well, what can I say? She's my kid, so I'm a little biased, I guess, but she's a badass.

Chris Zito [00:17:31]:

I'll tell you that. She really is.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:17:33]:

So talk to me a little bit about that maneuvering when you talk about having to come out yourself and be able to share your own truth and your child's truth to people around you, but you also are in a very public profession. You are a radio host. You are a dad. You are an individual who is doing stand-up comedy. You know, people know of you, know your person, your persona that they know on, the You know, the radio waves, and they get a certain perspective of who you are, and they box you in that way. You now become the advocate for your child in your own life, but at the same time, you've got a part of yourself that people don't know. So talk to me about that journey that you had to go on and kind of the reaction that you've received from your friends, the public, etcetera as people start to to learn more about your own life.

Chris Zito [00:18:34]:

Well, it's an interesting thing. My relationship with my listeners is a really interesting thing Because radio is such a personal medium. I mean, when I'm on the air in the morning, most of the people who are listening are sitting in the car by themselves, and it's just us. And it feels very personal. And, of course, I'm a typical morning radio host. I talk a lot about my wife, Elizabeth. When I do the up she's with me. People will be like, oh my god.

Chris Zito [00:18:58]:

You're Elizabeth. And they will ask her about certain incidents I've discussed on the air. Dar. She's kind of gotten used to that over the years that she knows that people are gonna think they know her, you know, because of the stories that I tell. And so they think they know me too. And when I'm on the air, it's a version of myself. It's very close to my real life when I'm on the air in the morning. My stand-up is a little different.

Chris Zito [00:19:19]:

You know? Comedians notoriously lie for comedic effect, whether it's an exaggeration or whether it's a complete fabrication. I mean, I have stuff in my life. That is, you know, everything I do is told in the 1st person when I do my stand-up, but some of it's a complete lie. It never happened. You know? I mean, that's the classic thing. You know? The comedian gets on stage. Hey. A funny thing happened to me on the way over here. Nothing happened on the way over here.

Chris Zito [00:19:45]:

Nothing. I drove here, and I got here, and everything is fine. But so that's why sometimes, with Vi, I don't talk about having a transgender child in my stand-up act Docs. It's just because I haven't figured that out yet. I haven't figured out how to be honest and funny about it at the same time. The closest thing I found is that quip about saying you couldn't just come out as gay. I think there's something there about how this is now the thing that's got people upset. Whereas you go back 25 years. For 30 years, it was the same thing with kids coming out as gay. And I don't know.

Chris Zito [00:20:18]:

I feel like so often in my act, I don't mention the All the kids, or I'd use sorta generic pronouns for v. But I also still have this stuff about living with a 16-year-old boy and what that's like. About how 16-year-old boys have nothing to say. You know, sleeping with a 16-year-old boy could be like an oak tree. Oh, what a sparkling conversationalist. And that stuff, sometimes I still use those jokes because It just is, and that's always been when I talk about my kids in my stand-up act, there's always a lag, you know, because I have these jokes about them that I know work, and people are paying to laugh. And so I do the stuff that I know they're gonna laugh at, and there's a lag because I just don't. I don't have a 3 or 5-minute chunk of funny stuff about My youngest being transgender. I just don't have it yet.

Chris Zito [00:21:02]:

And until I do, I won't be doing that.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:21:05]:

In talking about standing up in that regard, I mean having to the humor in life around you. You know, there are definitely things in life where there is humor, and you can bring that real-life aspect. But the As you said, comedians can lie about that as well to bring in the dramatic or humor into the act itself. Talk to me about reality versus the lie, we'll say, in how your kids have been a part of your stand-up and how much they want to be a part of the stand-up.

Chris Zito [00:21:41]:

You know that it's funny that you asked that because they all have different reactions to that, depending on what I key in on. Yeah. Like, with my son, I talk about how he was destructive growing up. He still comes over to my house and breaks stuff. The kid owes me money. Ate me out of the house and home. So it's not exactly where his older sister, I talk about how she grew up and got a PhD. Dog.

Chris Zito [00:22:03]:

So he's like, really? You keep there's nothing about me, dad, that so but now, the Like with my 23-year-old, there was an incident that happened where the bit almost wrote itself, and it's a bit that absolutely crushes. It was probably 2 years ago now. Now, see, it's another late in my act; it's always a few months ago. She dragged us into the kitchen. You know? This is the idea of living with a kid this age that's almost done with college. You're not gonna ground her. She's technically an adult. She has her own money, and this actually happened.

Chris Zito [00:22:31]:

She pulled her mom and me into the kitchen. She opened the fridge. She goes, I wanna show you guys something. Do you see that yogurt? I put my initials on that yogurt because I bought it with my own money. And so my wife and I kinda looked at each other and smiled. My wife goes, well, honey, maybe Dad and I put our initials on all the other food in the refrigerator. How would that be? And then, of course, that's what happened. And so in the in the act, I say, I have a better idea.

Chris Zito [00:22:52]:

I'm gonna put my initials right on the fridge, Dodge. And then I had a real brainstorm. I'll just put my initials on the front door of the house. How do you like me now? And then she changed her tune and said, you guys can have some of my yogurt if you want. So, but that is based on an actual thing that happened, and you know? So it's really just a little bit of it. It just extrapolates it. You know? Play it out to the A little further than it went. And as embarrassing as you might think that is for her, she's been to my show a couple of times with girlfriends of Hers, and she's, like, nudging them.

Chris Zito [00:23:19]:

Like, this is it. This is the joke I was telling you about. That's, this is me. That's me. That really happened. So she's pretty excited about it. And for Vi, I tend to not do the stuff about the 17-year-old boy if if she's in the audience. I just leave that out, or I do something.

Chris Zito [00:23:32]:

I have other stuff that's about her that I just use, they or just I just avoid the pronouns. So although she's told me straight, she's very open. She's like she's she's like, you can talk To anybody you want about the fact that I'm trans. Anybody you want. She's very open about it. So that's what I mean. She's a power of example. She's probably more open about it than I am.

Chris Zito [00:23:52]:

Doug.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:23:52]:

So you are a busy guy. You are people know you, like I said, publicly, and they know your voice, But then they may know you in person in that regard too, or they feel like they know you, but you are busy, and you're wearing a lot of hats. You're doing a lot of things. You've got the podcast. You've got your radio show, you've got your standup. You know, you're you're doing a lot of different different things. You're hustling, and you're busy. So talk to me about as you had your kids, as they were getting older, how did you balance all of that and find that balance in your life To be able to be that engaged dad that you wanted to be. Well, for me, that's just a matter of where my priorities lie because that's one of the things that I Never talk about is work, life balance. It's not just because that's there are a gazillion speakers out there talking about work-life balance. I don't believe in work-life balance. I talk about the Life work balance. I flip it around. In fact, when I first had this thought, when I was developing this talk and the idea for the podcast, I thought about life-work balance. So I just Googled life-work balance, and you know what came up? One million pages about work-life balance.

Chris Zito [00:24:59]:

So when you look at the phrase work, like balance, it literally puts work first, and so that's why I think it's important to flip it around. And I know that it's made a difference in my career because of the priorities that I've set. Over the years, my oldest daughter growing up, we'd be watching TV. I'd see a comedian on TV that's Doc. His own special or, you know, here you know, it's, is there he is on TV on a sitcom? And I would say, hey. I know that guy. That guy featured for me when I used to travel when you were really little before I got into radio, and I was traveling, headlining comedy clubs, this guy middled for me. And she would say to me one time, she finally told me, Dad, how come you know all these guys on TV, but you're not on TV?

Chris Zito [00:25:35]:

I laughed, and I said, because of you. Okay? It's because of you. And it's because I chose to the Get into this radio career so that I could still make people laugh and sleep in my own bed every night so that I could be around for my kids. You know, when my grown kids were growing up, I mean, I coached little league. I coached basketball, sort of. I didn't really coach basketball. I was just there kind of as the Wrangling children because I don't really know basketball, but I was active in my church. I taught Sunday school.

Chris Zito [00:26:07]:

I was, like, the acolyte director at this 1 church For a while, you know, so I was, involved with my kids, and the kids that I have now, I mean, well, my daughter, neither one of them are athletes, but my 23 year old daughter played the Topball in high school. I showed up at those games, and that I'm I'm very fortunate because of the radio job. It's morning radio, so I'm done by early afternoon. And listen. There's been there's plenty of days where I'm really dragging ass by dinner time because I get up at a ridiculous hour to do my regular job. But the other thing that is so important to remember, I think, is that this idea of showing up for your kids is a relatively short time if you look at your whole life. And my thing is that those crowd clickers that you get that you see the like, when you're young and going to nightclubs, you'd see the doorman use it to count heads. And to me, it's sorta like when you have a baby, the universe gives you one of those, but it has a big number on it, or it seems like a big number.

Chris Zito [00:27:03]:

And every time you show up for your kid, you click the And the number goes down. And, well, guess what? Eventually, the number gets to 0, and they're gone. There's no more showing up to do. You're hoping they'll let you show up, You know, because they have their own life and they're busy and, you know, you hope you have a decent relationship with them and you have their love and respect, they still want you to be a part of their life.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:27:21]:

Doug. So true. And it does go by very fast. And, hopefully, by the time your kids leave the house, you have created an atmosphere and a relationship with them that will be maintained and continued as they get older, as you get older, because that's important. That doesn't mean that you can't change the relationship so that if it's not where you want it to be when they first go off to graduate school or so on and so forth, but that it can change, and you can change it, and you can put more effort in To be able to rebuild that relationship. So I always put that out there as well. Now we always finish our interviews with what I like to call our fatherhood five, where we ask the Five more questions to delve deeper into you as a dad. Are you ready?

Chris Zito [00:28:07]:

I'm ready.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:28:08]:

In one word, what is fatherhood?

Chris Zito [00:28:10]:

Commitment.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:28:11]:

Now when was a time that you finally felt like you succeeded at being a father to a daughter?

Chris Zito [00:28:17]:

Oh, maybe when I watched the oldest one walk for that PhD. Although, I mean, I joke that I blame the parents with her, but, honestly, she is a self-made woman. I wasn't there footing the bill. Doug. She worked all the way through undergrad and graduate school, worked the entire time. And, I mean, She worked her tail off, so I don't know. Maybe the best contribution I gave her was the work ethic. You know? Understanding that, you know, you could just keep your eyes on that goal.

Chris Zito [00:28:44]:

I'll tell you something else. There was another time when the 23-year-old was not the guy that she was with now but a guy that she was with previously. When she broke up with this guy and why she broke up with him, I felt like, wow. She is standing up for her own values and refusing Doc. To be treated a certain way, she has strong boundaries around what she'll accept and what she won't, and I took some credit for that. She gets a lot of that from her mom. Dog. Mom is somebody with strong boundaries, so that was good stuff.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:29:14]:

Now, if I were to talk to your kids, how would they describe you as a dad?

Chris Zito [00:29:18]:

Present, I hope. Funny. They would definitely describe me as funny because I get more laughs from my kids than most dads do. I think to present the Patient. I think the ones that are living in the house now might say, patient. My older ones, maybe not as much. I was younger, and I didn't have any money. I was Scared about the landlord back then, which put me gave me a shorter fuse than I have now.

Chris Zito [00:29:41]:

But so, hopefully, the ones that are coming of age now would stay patient.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:29:44]:

Now who inspires you to be a better dad?

Chris Zito [00:29:46]:

Well, Doc. You touched on a tough one there for me because it's my own father who's gone. So I think that it's a special thing for me because I am in recovery, Dog. And I was a guy that when I was still a drunk, an active drunk, I had complete indifference towards this guy. And then, eventually, Doc. Through my recovery, he became the best guy I knew, and it wasn't because of a big transformation that he went through. Let's put it that way. So we got to be very close later in his life, and he lived to be almost 96.

Chris Zito [00:30:19]:

And boy, oh, boy. That was the December of 2019, he passed. So I don't know if your parents are still around, but mine are gone, and it's I don't expect to ever get over it. I just have learned to live with it. But when I still talk to him sometimes, and I I try to think of what he would do or what he would say.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:38]:

You know, I think just like you said earlier, when it comes to the fleeting time with your kids, as you get older, you have to remember that time with your own parents is fleeting, and we don't know how long we have. And I think that that is important to understand as well because I think that for anyone that has living parents, if your relationship is not strong and they're getting older, Revisit it and try to see if there's any way to salvage it. You know, sometimes that's not a possibility, but Sometimes there is. Being able to have that parent in your life As you can and as you will is important and will continue to be important as you get older.

Chris Zito [00:31:25]:

100%. I couldn't agree more. And I I've known men that have not been able to get to that place before their own father passed, and it's a tough one.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:31:34]:

And you've talked a lot about A lot of different things that you've learned along the way. As we finish up today, what's one piece of advice you'd wanna give to every dad?

Chris Zito [00:31:42]:

Well, you know, Docs. Still, for my own talk, one of the last things I say is to remind guys to dad like it's your job because it is your job. When you go off to work, that's your side hustle. I mean, it's so important to provide for your family and be a part of your family. You know, this idea of the dad that's, You know, that old cliche that it's probably 75 years ago of the dad that comes home from work, sits down, he's reading the paper, or he's the watching sports, and he doesn't really even know his kids or where you know, which one's which or where they go to school or what. That's not what it was like when I was growing up in my house. Even though my father was of that generation, he's a World War 2 veteran, but he was a very devoted dad, a very loving father. I think maybe because my mom Dom was sort of sickly.

Chris Zito [00:32:29]:

He had to step in and do a lot more parenting than other men of his generation. So that's what I would say be engaged with your kids because It's so great. It's so great to get to know them, and there's nothing like it.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:32:42]:

I love it. You mentioned your own podcast. And you mentioned the fact that you're a radio host as well. People wanna find out more about you and what you're doing. Where should they go?

Chris Zito [00:32:52]:

Go to ChrisZitoSpeaks.com. That's where they can find out everything about me as far as my speaking career. There are little excerpts from the talk. There's a video on there. There are some testimonials. Meals. There's a way to reach out to me if you wanna book me to give a talk. Chriszitospeaks.com.

Chris Zito [00:33:07]:

If you wanna hear the radio show, I mean, if you wanna hear me cracking wise talking between songs Dogs the kids are dancing too, then you could just go to the go to the Iheartradio app and just search my name, and my show will come up, and you can listen at any time. You can listen to Dog. Anywhere in the world, Chris. That address, again, the world.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:33:24]:

Oh, and you do have the podcast as well, and people can find that.

Chris Zito [00:33:27]:

Yeah. The pod is called Dad Like Your Job. It's available on the iheartradio app or wherever you get your podcast. Dad Like It's Your Job publishes every Thursday. As we're recording this, the latest issue The latest episode features you. So there you go. So check that out.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:33:43]:

Well, Chris, I just wanna say thank you. Thank you for being here for everything that you're doing to support your own kids, to be a great example for other dads, and to challenge and help other dads Along their journey, and I wish you all the best.

Chris Zito [00:33:57]:

Same here, Chris. I really appreciate the invitation. It's great to talk to you.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:34:01]:

If you've enjoyed today's episode of the Dads with Daughters podcast, we invite you to check out the fatherhood insider. The fatherhood insider is the essential resource for any dad that wants to be the best dad that he can be. We know that no child comes with an instruction manual, and most dads are figuring it out as they go along. The Fatherhood Insider is full of resources and information that will up your game on fatherhood. Through our extensive course library, an interactive forum, step-by-step roadmaps, and more. You will engage and learn with experts, but more importantly, dads like you. So check it out at fathering together .org. If you are a father of a daughter and have not yet joined the Dads with Daughters Facebook community, there's a link in the notes today.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:34:47]:

Dad's with Daughters is a program of fathering together. We look forward to having you back for another great guest next week, all geared to helping you raise strong, empowered daughters And be the best dad that you can be.

We're all in the same boat, and it's full of tiny screaming passengers. We spend the time. we buy the presents. Bring your A-game because those kids are growing fast, the time goes by just like a dynamite blast, calling astronauts and Firemen, carpenters, and musclemen get out and be in the world. Choose and Be the best dad you can be.