Movember Yogi Roth Dadvice Fatherhood
"The Son is the Father to the Man" Image by: Yogi Roth
Movember Yogi Roth Dadvice Fatherhood
25 June 2021

Yogi Roth Gets Real About Fatherhood and Self Compassion

7 minutes read time

Motivational speaker, author and athlete Yogi Roth gets real about fatherhood and self-compassion.

What has parenthood taught you?

As a kid, I learned the greatest gift you can give someone is time. As a parent, I think it works both ways. It’s not just me pouring into them or them pouring into me. We have a 7-month-old son and a six year old son. Before I became a father, I would wonder why my friends who were dads would want to spend the whole weekend with their kids. I’d wonder ‘Why don’t you want to go watch the game?’ I get it now. I just want to hang with them because, as we’ve seen, time just flies. They’re growing like weeds. Time is going to keep going by. I think you learn lessons from parenthood every day and if you’re not, you’re not looking for the lessons because they’re everywhere.

What life-changing advice did you get from your dad?

My dad used to tell me this quote ‘The son is father to the man.’ I was always confused by that grammatically. I never got that until being a dad. And I completely do now. There’s a world where my kids are also fathering and nourishing me.The cycle of life also opened my eyes to the meaning of that quote over the last couple years. My mom just recently passed away. Now I’m fathering my Dad to a degree at times. I’m checking in on him versus him checking in on me.

How has being an athlete impacted your parenting style?

As an athlete, I think you always fall to your level of training, and as a parent, to your level of mentality. If I’m not on my mental and physical game with workouts, being in shape, trying to be sharp and get enough sleep, I’m not going to be the best version of myself. None of that is easy. That is my greatest challenge. Waking up at 5:30 a.m., we do our family workouts most mornings and we just have a blast in our house. It’s a competitive house. We draw from a deck of cards and compete to see who can complete a series of exercises based on the suit and number of the card. It’s hilarious and intense, and everyone – even the baby – is involved!

Is there anything about parenting that has surprised you?

The joy is infinite. Whether we’re painting each other’s faces on Halloween or my son wanting to go ‘box riding’ - which consists of taking cardboard boxes and dragging them around on the grass - it’s the little joyful things like that elevate me. And our father/son conversations are everything. We have deep talks. He says so many brilliant things. I think there’s a lot of dynamics around hilarity in kids. I definitely laugh much more now than I did prior to having kids.

How has your own dad inspired your role as a father?

My dad has been a tremendous influence on my parenting style. He impacted me so much that I even made a movie about him called “Life In A Walk,” which follows myself and my father, Will, on our trek along the Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage through Portugal and Spain.

The reason we went on the walk was because my Dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer years earlier. As he was going through it, I realized I didn’t ask him enough questions. So I took him on this walk and asked him all these questions over the course of a couple weeks. And we ended the sojourn on Father’s Day. I remember looking at my calendar that morning and seeing it was, in fact, Father’s Day, and thinking 'there’s no way this is true!’ My wife and I also got married on Father’s Day, so that day always has a significant meaning for me.

Both of my parents were family therapists and child therapists. I’d like to think that my Dad’s calm demeanor and willingness to seek out knowledge has had a major impact on me.

Do you have any favorite memories of your father?

Every memory I have of my Dad begins with him reading a newspaper with a cup of coffee. He was always pouring concepts into his brain and that’s what we do now. We still get the newspaper delivered here. When I step back and look - right, wrong, or indifferent - he modelled a lot of behavior for me. And now, I call him all the time.

Once I got married I told my parents ‘Mom and Dad, you’ve got to stick around because I’ve got a totally different book of questions!’ Then after becoming a parent, I had an encyclopedia of questions.

Every second of my life, my Dad guided me, and I believe that a parent's job is to model behavior. I think during the pandemic, it’s easy to say - and I’ve said it - ‘Man, I just need a break. The kids need to get out of the house.’ Then I had a mentor ask me ‘Yogi, didn’t you want kids? If you wanted a family, it’s your job to model behavior. So accept the responsibility and don’t flinch.’ Once I heard that in April of 2020, I started catching myself when I would get frustrated or seek the alone time that I was accustomed to pre-pandemic.

What have been your favorite fatherhood moments so far?

Becoming a parent has brought me so many blessings. On a recent morning, our older son was crying, laughing on the floor because he figured out his mom’s password to her phone. Little things like that become our most cherished moments. Another favorite moment of fatherhood so far was being by my wife Amy’s side as she gave birth. The miracle of witnessing that was just beyond words. I didn’t expect any of the feelings or emotions that just pour out of you. And I will never forget when our oldest son really squeezed me for the first time. I was picking him up out of the car and he gave me that kid squeeze and I cried on the spot.

Our little guy, every morning when we pick him up out of the crib, he recognizes us and smiles. The first time I took our oldest surfing, he was three. And he fell in the ocean. I was scared. I picked him up and salt water was in his eyes and he looks at me and says ‘Can we go again?’

And I was like ‘Yes, let’s roll, dude!’ That could’ve been the ‘I’ll never go to the ocean the rest of my life moment.’

I’m so glad it wasn’t. We’re surfing weekly now.

What has been the most unexpected aspect of fatherhood?

My wife said is best. Your life totally shifts, but you don’t care. While I still need my breaks and try to meditate and surf once a week, the desire to be with my family is constant.

What are your views on family therapy and mental health?

When you get to the part of the life cycle where you lose someone, you want to be around as much love as you can. Throughout a period of seven months, I had a son and lost a mom. We bought a house and moved. We were both furloughed for a period of time from our jobs. It was a lot of changes in a short period of time. I’m a mission-minded guy. For me it was always about the next play. And Amy is the same way. She’s a CEO of her own company called KindTail, a total entrepreneur, and an incredible mom. But we learned during the pandemic that we needed to take some time to breathe. And we learned through therapy. So we began family therapy. And I enjoy talking about it because we say ‘Destigmatize mental health’ all the time and I say it all the time. I’m the champion of it. I say it on television and I’m the first guy to get on board, but I never really did it. What I recognized through therapy is both of us are terrible at self-compassion. Over the past four months, we’ve gone really hard on leaning into the work and recognizing we were terrible at self-compassion, but we are working at it every day.

Why is Movember’s Family Man a resource you’d like to share with other dads?

As a result of the pandemic, we’ve definitely lost a sense of community. I’d love to share Family Man with dads because it could be a good kickstarter to getting dads together. What I’ve learned is none of us are experts. And how jacked up is that? If I was going be a lawyer, I’d go to school for a long time. If I’m a broadcaster, I’d prepare my tail off for every show, but as a parent, you don’t really have a class. It’s the number one job you have and you never really get trained outside of a couple books and a podcast or whatever it is. Community experiences are very cool because everyone is learning in different modalities and sharing that to me is vital and I do seek that.