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April 17, 2023

Episode 95: Getting Out of a Rut and Other Lessons I’ve Learned with Jerry Dugan

In this episode, DJ invited podcast host and author, Jerry Dugan, on the show to discuss the “rut” we all get stuck in with the day in, day out life of marriage and children. Listen in as they talk about doing all the ”right” things but still not feeling fulfilled or impactful and how you can turn that around by implementing some practical tools and advice to live a more fulfilled life and find success in the areas of faith, family, fitness, finances and future possibilities.

Jerry Dugan is the CEO and Senior Consultant of BtR Impact, LLC, a consulting and training company focused on helping leaders define success on their terms so they can live fulfilled, meaningful lives with impact and not lose their faith, their families, or their health. Since 2015, Jerry has been the host and producer of Beyond the Rut podcast, a show that shares encouraging stories and practical advice to help pull listeners out of their ruts and into lives worth living. It's not enough to get out of a rut. He wants you to live beyond the rut.

• [13:33] Jerry discusses having positive parent-to-child communication and creating an open environment for your children to speak to you about difficult topics.
• [20:25] DJ shares: “I think what we've done over the last few decades has been devaluing the role that fathers play in a child's life, boys and girls. And we need to get that turned around.”
• [24:56] “Nobody has ever been a perfect parent.”
• [41:35] Jerry shares his belief: “We’ve got to help them navigate the world they're going to encounter…”

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Tender Warrior by Stu Webber found on Amazon

Link to 40 Developmental Assets


DJ Stutz  0:00  
We think you should know that Imperfect Heroes podcast is a production of Little Hearts Academy USA. 

You're listening to Episode 95 of Imperfect Heroes, Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world. And I'm your host, DJ Stutz. 

Do you ever feel like you're doing the right things, but something is missing? You work at a job you like you work hard to take care of your kids and strengthen your marriage. You go to church and help out at the school. And it may seem to others, like you have it all. But the truth is, you're stuck in a rut. Well, let me introduce you to Jerry Dugan. He served in the US Army as a combat medic, and managed to come home. He has a great family and a good marriage. But at some point, he recognized that he was living in a rut. And it was then that he put his leadership skills to work, and he was able to pull himself out. But he also helped others along the way. Since 2015, Jerry has been the host and producer of beyond the rut podcast, and this is a show that shares encouraging stories and practical advice to help pull listeners out of their ruts and into lives worth living. It's not enough to get out of a rut. He wants you to live beyond the threat. He currently lives in Dallas, Texas, and he is enjoying the empty nester life with his wife, Olivia. And they have two adult children, three cats and a dog, and no car loans. And there's so much to learn. So let's get started.

If you liked what you hear in today's podcast, be sure to rate review and tell a friend. And if you do this, I have a special gift for you. I'm going to send you a digital copy of my living and kindness workbook and journal for free. And this workbook is going to help guide you through five areas of kindness, and make those areas a part of your life and your family traditions. There's also places for you to journal what you are doing to make kindness part of your life. And so you can keep that for generations to come on the webpage of the podcast, You just go to the top and you'll see reviews, click on that. And then click on leave a review. And it's just that easy. It all happens so easily. 

You are so busy doing all that you believe is necessary to make sure your family is healthy and happy. And I've been there working so hard to keep the house clean and the laundry done along with homework and hockey practice and soccer practice and gymnastics. And then you get up early to make healthy lunches, get the kids looking good and off to school with everything they need on time. And then you head off to work to be the exemplary employee. And then it is off to get the kids maybe make a dinner or maybe head off to another practice, or perhaps a church event. You don't even see it happening. And you know, you should be happy. But it just doesn't all add up. The truth is you're in a rut. So let's listen in. 

Welcome, everyone. And thank you for choosing to spend the next little bit of time with us here at Imperfect Heroes podcast. And today. I don't know how you get so lucky with getting all of these great guests. But I have been very fortunate lately. And today is another great guest. His name is Jerry Dugan. And he's with And, you know, Jerry and I as we get to know each other. It's funny, we've been talking about the things we wish we'd known when our kids were little right. And so Jerry, why don't you just give us a little bit on what you do and and what you have going on.

Jerry Dugan  4:30  
Awesome. So I'm the host of a podcast called Beyond the Rut. And the idea behind this show is to encourage men who are Christian, they're married, they have children, they have all the boxes checked of what success is supposed to look like. But if you were to ask them to share what they really think or feel, they'll tell you they feel stuck in a rut. The career isn't what they thought it would be or the career is hurting the family or something's going on. They just don't feel like they're living that life and significance and impact for their values and their beliefs. So Oh, yeah, I share encouraging stories of people who've been there came out of it, and then some practical tools and advice. So that listeners live that fulfilled life and find success in the areas of their faith, family, fitness, finances and future possibilities. So that's my podcast. And then I just launched my own business, BTR impact, which strives to help servant leaders succeed in their career, build teams that make impact, and preserve their faith and their family in the process. So yeah,

DJ Stutz  5:28  
well, and that's so important to put if anything's gonna challenge your faith, it's raising kids, I think. Really,

Jerry Dugan  5:39  
I had a pastor who said, Be careful if you pray for patients, because you will definitely grow in the hardest way possible for that. I was like, alright, live my wife. I was like, stop praying for patients stop praying for them. We got to stop praying for that, why? That's why this is all happening. In prayer,

DJ Stutz  5:56  
patience, he's answered that prayer nicely.

Jerry Dugan  6:00  
We're patient, just tell him we got it. We got.

DJ Stutz  6:04  
I've heard that at church as well. And it's so true. So true. Yeah. And there's so

many things that I know for me, so I've got the five kids, and so many things for me that I just thought were so important. And such a big deal. And I was worried about this or that or what someone might think whether it was someone from church or someone within the family, or just some stranger at the mall, my kids having a fit, right. And now I'm kind of like, man who cared. That was the wrong thing to be worrying about. And so I think that as I've grown in my own patience, and my own understanding, and understanding who I truly do answer to, and whose children I am watching, yeah, truly, it makes a big difference. I know that you have something like what the 40 points?

Jerry Dugan  7:02  
Oh, learn about? Yeah. So I guess a little bit of the background, my wife and I grew up in broken homes. So as kids growing up, I think we tallied it up five divorces all together, oh, my gosh, while we were growing up, I think three on my wife's side, and then two. And so when you look at the statistics, like for married couples, if one of the two people in that relationship experienced divorce growing up, I think the rate of divorce is 50%, higher than the couple that did not experience divorce growing up. Well, when you have both partners in the marriage, who experienced divorce growing up, their rate of divorce is I think, 189% higher than baseline. And we didn't know that statistic going into our marriage, we just knew that. We saw our parents go through it a lot, that we didn't want to go through it ourselves. And we just said during day one, like, We want somebody who's in it for the long haul, committed. It's not just love as a feeling but love as a commitment kind of thing. And that, whatever we do that we raise our children up in a way that they see what healthy relationships look like. So we already kind of went in without knowing how to pull that off. We came in with that commitment. And somewhere along the lines, we got to attend a Christian marriage retreat called Weekend to Remember with family life. And that really helped us lock in our values as a married couple and to be on the same page there. And while I was working for a battered women's shelter, one of the pieces that we talked about was something called the 40 developmental assets. And I learned about it at a conference I attended about so how do you break that multiple generation curse of men being abusers, for example, and then, you know, falling right into abusive relationship better. So you see that repeated generation after generation, this gets passed out, and it's healthy marriages were not modeled. This other type of relationship was modeled and you just kind of fall into that. There's an organization out there called the Search Institute. They're out of Minnesota. And it's gonna say it because it's me, Minnesota. citizens of Minnesota, I'm sorry, I just had to do I had an army buddy. She was from Minnesota. And that's how she said it all the time. And we all just said it. But that wasn't the point that right.

DJ Stutz  9:23  
I'm all about rabbit holes.

Jerry Dugan  9:29  
So the Search Institute out of Minneapolis, that is Minnesota, right? Yeah. They wanted to know, okay, we got these folks who were incarcerated. What did they not have growing up that the folks were the most successful in their careers, their leaders. They have a good family life. They're married, their children grow up to be upstanding citizens. They build wealth for that. What is the gap and how do we help fill the gap? And what they found out was that for those who are successful In relationships, and business, and just self resilience, they had growing up 40 developmental assets, not all 40. But they had a lot more of those on average than those who you found in prison. And while we were kind of prepping for the calls, like, oh, man, I got to find the stats for this. Because yeah, this was like, huge. So this, you could find this on search But what they found in the research, so this is like sixth graders through 12th grade, handed reporting on high risk behaviors. So if you have so it's like 40 assets all together, 20 of them are internal assets, those are just inside of you, you've kind of developed them yourself. 20 assets are external, that's what your community, your parents, your neighborhood, your kind of pour into you. So if you are, let's just look at like alcohol abuse, for example, or alcohol use for sixth graders through 12th grade. If you had 21 of those assets are higher, there was like an 11% reported that yeah, if you use alcohol underage, it more than doubles, if you only had 11 to 20 of those assets. So 26%. Now, if you had less than 10 of these assets, 45% of those students said that they use alcohol. And we're talking about people that even 18 years old, yet you look at violence, less than 10 assets, 62% have engaged in some kind of fighting, hitting carrying a weapon of school, compared to 18% of those who had more than half of those assets. And other school problems skipping school, see average are less 44% If you had less than 10 assets compared to 10%. And so And on the flip side, if you looked at like healthy relationships, career and so on, on a longitudinal scale, the more assets you had growing up, the more likely you are going to have successful life. And I was like, wow, that is the cheat sheet. And I took that home shots to my wife. And we just started looking through like, Okay, what did we have growing up? And both my wife and I had, I think my number was around 11 assets growing. And my wife was around, let's say number like 10 or 11. And we're like, wow, we shouldn't be here. We had a sidetrack because, like, what would your prison gang name be? And she's like, Jerry, that's not the point. I'm like, Yeah, you're right. Okay, we're back. We started looking at what do we provide our kids. So the external assets of my wife and I can control and so we looked at, there's this category of support. So family support, our there are high levels of love and support being shown to your kids, from the parents, not just the parents, but to your extended family as well, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and we chose after I got out of the Army, to go to where my wife live, when she grew up, because that's where we had the most family concentrated, that would be positive on our kids. We didn't know the 40 development assets. When we made that decision. We made the decision based on where do we get the most free babysitting out of our family? We made that decision? Turns out it's asset. Number one, we're like, yes. They were good parents. And then there was positive family communication. So that parent to child communication being positive, that the child feels comfortable enough to seek advice from us, because we knew like, especially as teenagers, they get advice from each other. And that sucks, because we didn't know anything when we were teenagers. They don't know anything when they're teenagers, but we know him through it. So how do we foster those kinds of relationships with our kids so that when they are 1314 years old, and they're being exposed to things like sex and alcohol, drugs? Yeah, we weren't going to be guaranteed that they wouldn't experiment in any of this stuff. But how do we have the conversation open, so if they did, we can help them navigate it, or equip them so that they could say no on their own and kind of be confident in themselves and the rest is up to them? It's like you're going to school, you're going to hang out with your friends, you're going to sport events, we can't control every single aspect of your lives. We don't want to because when you're 18, we kind of want to not pay for you anymore. Let's say he's 20 now and he's like, I'm 21. And he's like, Dad, I can't believe you sat down like but you've been on your own since you were 19. So

DJ Stutz  14:08  
yeah, it's kind of workshop well done.

Jerry Dugan  14:12  
So so the support is all around like child to adult relationships. That's the first six assets. Empowerment is around communities that value youth. So we had our kids involved with serving in church. Yeah, if they're like a bicycle drive, we were out that we couldn't afford to buy bikes for kids, but we could actually show up and help move them off the truck, get them set up for a job and get those when they were old enough to volunteer they did. My daughter wasn't old enough to volunteer and somehow found a loophole like if mom and dad volunteer with her, then we could so that's how we got her to serve boundaries and expectations so huge. Oh, yeah, like there were only a few rules we enforced fanatically. One was Don't lie to us, because eventually we find out and that will always be worse. First thing if you told us the truth. So again, patients, the first time one of your kids comes up to you and fesses up to something, it is so hard and I get mad at that. I want to be mad, but they just told the truth. So I gotta reward the truth telling, but still some consequences here. And so then I've empowering them, like, how do you want to fix this? And yeah, and letting them kind of choose their own corrective action was kind of like, sometimes we're like, oh, that's a little too harsh. You can't go cutting your hand off, son. That's I don't know where you read that. By eye for an eye thing. But you didn't kill us. And we didn't actually have a conversation like that. But it was like that. grabbed me for four weeks down. I'm like, did I've seen you without your Nintendo DS, you will fall apart. And one day, we'll just do one day, one day, no video games. And then don't ever do it again. Okay, dad, and the by the end of the first day, Dad, I'm so sorry. Please keep going. Can we be done like, four more minutes. Because you got to live up to your promise. So you say you're gonna punish you, if you do the thing. As a parent, you have to follow through on that. It's like, yeah, otherwise, they know, oh, my mom and dad are never going to punish us. They just threaten it. And then they just they don't learn. And so that was the other thing like, well,

DJ Stutz  16:18  
they learn. They learn the wrong things. Exactly. Yes. But they learn.

Jerry Dugan  16:23  
Yeah. So we always had to be careful about what we offered up as a consequence for the behavior we didn't want. Because we knew we'd have to execute on that. And do I want to do that to my child? Or is that the right thing to do? My child and so that that always gave us pause? And which was good. So yeah, that's just a dose of those first 20 assets. religious community is on there a number of times throughout the whole thing? Yeah, and I was just, it's really cool. And then the internal things we would talk about to parents to kind of see, like, if you recognize your kid doing these things, support it, encourage it, don't push it too hard. But like things like, if your child is giving him or her son, my daughter would give herself homework over vacation. We're like, go for it. Yeah, everybody else is outside playing. But if you want to do that, and study that, that's cool. They turn in their homework on time. Yeah, that's awesome. You know, bonding with other students bonding with their teachers. If they show they care for other people, like if somebody's alone at lunch, they want to go include that child. It's really cool. I'm glad you did that. Or our son was known for just tattling on himself. We're like, Okay, we probably did that a little too well. We got to be at a friend's house and you hear like a bang and a loud scream. And of course, the parents all open the door, and you see kids, and they're kind of like, they instantly stopped crying in either was bloody murder being screamed. And you'd hear all the kids kind of say not nothing happened, nothing happened. And my wife's like, we've got this. Hey, Jacob, what happened? Well, this kid was taking her stuff away and pulling her hair. And so that that girl was punching him. And so he screamed, that was him his screen? Yes. And then what was your partner? I was kind of cheering her on to get him. And I'm so sorry. And they were like, wow, so he's like, even telling on himself. And yeah. And they were was so and so like, Where was your sister? She's just over there playing with her own thing and could not care less what was going on? And then everybody would just fess up like, yeah, find that that's exactly what happened. Man. Wow. So those are the the 40 developmental assets. That's all 40. But right, just see, and those providing the first 20, as best we could, as parents was kind of our mission at that point. Can we give them opportunities to serve? Can we reward them for telling the truth? Can we make sure that we create a safe enough environment that they can always tell us what's going on? And sometimes, we created such a safe environment that my daughter's friends when they were in high school would come to us and just open up and I'm like, yeah, I gotta go, I got a thing. And they're like, why? Like, there's too much information coming out now. And I just need to go find a thing, Jacob, let's go to Taco Bell or something. Yeah, I'm going to take a podcasting something. But it was that safe place for her daughter, and so much so that her friends felt they could confide in my wife and really work through some things. Because again, were teenagers getting their lessons from, if not from adults, or getting it from each other. And my wife would ask, like, Is this too much? Or like, well, you know, ideally, these kids would have this kind of relationship with their parents. You're the next best thing. They need an adult to talk with see, from experience, what are they going through, and they've told her a number of times since graduating high school, thank you because I was able to work through this issue or now I can handle this better because I add your input and advice and I can see it, it just had to be that's the way out because they weren't getting it somewhere else. And so that that's just sort of like a big wow, that we weren't expecting to have that kind of impact.

DJ Stutz  19:57  
It's amazing, though the impact the parents have made Mom and Dad. And I think moms kind of get picked on a lot because there's so many single moms out there. Or there are moms who are working their butts off while dads watching their show, playing their game or whatever. And all of that the kids are paying attention. They're watching very carefully, but but moms will get a lot. But dads, I think what we've done over the last few decades has been devaluing the role that fathers play in a child's life, boys and girls. And we need to get that turned around. This is how I've kind of felt like it was at least for me, was the moms like, Oh, poor baby, and kids are better and whatever. And you know, dad's like, yeah, rub some dirt in it, you'll be fine.

Go play. Yeah.

But both roles, both of those aspects are so important, because they get that nurturing and that care and in that stuff, and they get nurturing and care from dad too. But they also get that toughness and the ability to not be victimized over the least little thing. And that's a huge role to be played. And now look at we've got a society now where the least little thing will throw someone off to, I can't go to work, I was offended by this or that, like, oh, my gosh, put on your big boy pants and get in their or girl pants, whatever.

Jerry Dugan  21:32  
As a society, we allowed, like an entire generation to not experience any kind of conflict or confrontation. And then from there learn how to navigate that confrontation in a healthy way. And that is a bummer thing. You know, one of the things that was clear to me was, oh, man, it I'm trying to think of who the news organization was that did this report. And I'd say it was in the late 1980s, maybe early 1990s. And it had to do with a wildlife preserve in Africa. So there was a breed of elephants that were about to go extinct. And so a bunch of young elephants were dropped into this wildlife preserve so that they can repopulate and not go extinct. What they started to find, though, are that other animals, big animals were being just gored to death, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, you name it, there were animals being gone. And they were like, oh, man, if the lions gone nuts, and they're like, No, we're tracking all of them. And there were nowhere. It was like CSI, there are nowhere near the scene of the crime. When this went down. what they realized was that the male elephants were now teenagers, and they had no adult elephants to kind of raise them. And it was just a realization that elephants are social creatures as well. And so the solution was get some old bulls, elephant bulls for other refuges, and bring them over here. And so they did that. And what happened was, now these older males, demonstrated and protected like the weaker animals and would keep these young teenage boys in line. And it was just sort of this realization, like, wow, this is true in elephants the importance of a male role model among teenage boys, to curb violence. What if we had mature men? Who are these father figures, to help young boys curb violence. And when you look at like crime rates, and who they're committed by, it's a lot of men doing it. And so that was sort of like an aha, like, there needs to be positive male role models in the home and in the community. And there was a book I came across by a guy named Stu Weber. He was a Special Forces soldier that served in Vietnam, became a pastor, and he wrote a book called tender warrior. It's just a very powerful book for me to read as a Christian father, and still talks about, you know, there are times when the father in the home needs to be the warrior, the protector, the provider, these are the values we hold to. This is it. But then there are times where the tenderness has to come out and realize, you know, my son is hurting and needs to navigate these emotions. Take off the armor, let him see the real you help him get those emotions, your daughter needs somebody to just hold her and make her feel safe. And I just remember reading that book and saying to myself, I want to be that for my kids. Yeah. And it changed. I was the stern guy. These are our values. And this is what we do. And there was a lot of like growth for me, even though I'm trying to apply the 40 developmental assets I'm coming from in home, trying to figure this out on my own. And so having these kinds of examples to follow, plugging into a men's group Bible study, every Friday, all those really poured into me to help me be what my children needed me to be as opposed to what I thought society wanted me to be. Yeah, they don't always get it right though.

DJ Stutz  24:56  
No one does. And that's the thing. I mean, even just as fun Mary We're mortal, right? Yeah, sure. They made mistakes, too.

It was Jesus. They lost him. Like, oh my gosh, how do I tell God I lost his son. I was out that this week.

That is so funny. Yeah, I was just about this. This year, I decided to devote my concentration on the New Testament. I did Old Testament last year. So I kind of rotate around and try and become as well versed in things as I can. So nobody, like nobody ever has been a perfect parent. It just hasn't ever existed. And so we don't want to hold ourselves to this standard that is so high, it's unachievable. But we also don't want to say, Well, nobody's been perfect. Or just say, kids do fine without a dad, I can walk away. Right? So being part of the team and being involved, and whatever, even if you come in, and you give five minutes, and you're like, Hey, where's my babies? I've been thinking about you all day. And I always feel better when I've seen you, and you're giving them that kind of a support, give just five minutes and and say, Okay, guys, I gotta go change my clothes. I'll be back. You can take your time, take 20 minutes, you know, and kind of take a minute and relax and whatever. And then when you come down or out, whatever, and you're ready for the rest of the night with the kids, but that first five minutes when you walk in the door for a dad and for mom, but is so so important to that relationship.

Jerry Dugan  26:40  
Yeah. When I would come home from work, my wife, for all my progressiveness, right, do the air quotes. They're the one person I married. Right? According to my friends back home, yes. But for all that the supporting of if women want to work, go for it. I'm where I bought, or alongside you, or whatever the case may be. I married the one person whose dream in life was to be a stay at home mom and raise our kids like, wow, yeah, my friends are never gonna believe that that's the case. But I'd come home and I know that she wants to plug in, she has been at home alone all day, and sending the kids off to school. It's like she's been climbing the wall, she's been kind of prepping the home, taking care of the kids before for a couple hours before I get back. So she's got them at that part of the day where they're just pent up with all kinds of energy. They're arguing all those things. So she wants to connect with me the moment I get home. So one of the things I would do is just sit in the driveway, before I walked in through the door. And, you know, because she'd hear the car pull up and the dog would kind of freak out like he's out there. I know, he's out there. And so my wife would ask, Why do you just hang out in the driveway for a good 15 minutes before he come in? And I'm like, because when I walked in that door, I want to be here for you. Not? Gosh, I still needed a fuse. Like I had a whole commute. And that time in the drive, waited a few years, I have zero excuses. The moment I cross that threshold, and she's like, Alright, so the first 20 minutes are mine. I'm like, yeah, so then as soon as I walk in the door, we say hi to everybody. And then it's Mom and Dad time just talking in the bedroom. And the kids are, you know, the first couple of times we did that the kids didn't understand. But then after a while they just they were oblivious that we even walked out of the living room. And it just helped us realign like, how did your day go? It was great. How did your day go? Well, the work sucked. But I'm glad to be home. What do we have on our plate for tonight, and we kind of create our game plan. And then we just have our night and one of the things I really loved was our kids would ask for me to tuck them in. And so we either did it together as a couple we take turns but there were nights where the kids would ask for me specifically and I loved it. They would say tell me a story from your childhood dad. I started writing how to tell the good stories. I could tell though. I wasn't always a good kid. That was when you're in middle school. I'll tell you that when in middle school you will ask for the stories that ended but so like having to tell them these stories like what was it like with my brother growing warm parents? Like they were curious what was dad like as? And I could have just been like, Oh, you guys just go to sleep. Listen, your mom go to sleep. But they were asking for that. They were curious. They wanted to know about my life. And so yeah, we would tell them stories from my childhood. And then some nights I'd ask mom, hey, tell us a story from your childhood. What's it like dads, you grew up together? Do you guys always live together? And we're like, no, that's the one that works. So you get to tell them about life that way and, and then telling story like reading stories. I don't think they made their teachers act out stories, but they made me act out stories. And it's just adding a voice to like if there's a lion, like a lion, choose what kind of lighting it could be like Simba it could be Mufasa it could be the one from Wizard of Oz. I don't get it read like a lion. Give it to get into and they'll just love it and it'll just remember that and I love doing that kind of thing I miss when my kids are little. I'm in no rush for them to have grandkids right now. I'm enjoying this empty nester thing. I'm like, yeah. Got my wife back for a little bit.

DJ Stutz  30:10  
Well, I will tell you, grandma land or Grandpa Land is the happiest place on earth. Yeah, no doubt about it. And the fun thing is, is when grandma and grandpa tell stories about dad when he was a kid, it's a whole new ballgame.

Jerry Dugan  30:26  
I cannot wait. My poor son, oh, I forgot.

DJ Stutz  30:33  
I know. I know, my older boy was like Mom, just don't, don't tell them about that you did it.

Jerry Dugan  30:39  
Put on like a perfect picture. Like I've got to get the meal just right, I've got to capture my kids doing everything on camera. Even if it means having them repose or redo something, it because they pick up on it very quickly, like, all our photos are fake. All the happiness you see on Facebook is fake. Our mom just makes us sit here for an hour until we get the picture just right. And just being open to letting life be messy, let it be human. But there are times where my wife and I would argue I mean, there's a lot of times where we're married. Argue. And we would argue in front of the kids. I remember one in particular, like it was the loudest argument they've ever heard, we were really yelling at each other. And our kids went to their rooms, we didn't even I didn't notice my wife. Notice that they went to the rooms and they shut the doors. And they were truly scared to the point of this is it that we're not a family anymore. We're gonna live on the street or dad's gonna live on the street. He likes camping, he'll love that stuff. But still, I don't want the family to end. Well, they didn't see was my wife and I had gone to our room to finish the argument because we realized the kids can hear and see what's going on. And we're scaring them. Let's pull it over here. And we worked it out. Like when we were done, you would never know that we had this crazy argument and shouting match going on. And I don't think I initiated this. I think my wife had said, our kids saw this. And when she said that I was like, oh, no, our kids saw this. But what they didn't see was that we resolved everything. And by now I think we knew about the 40 developmental assets. And I remember that one about like healthy communication. And I'm like, Okay, if we leave it at this, and we just go on about our day, they're not going to know how we resolve this, which means they will when they're adults. I was like, oh boy, all right. Hey, Liv, we probably should sit them down and let them know that we resolve this. And she goes great. You're gonna do it. Okay. She knew like I was the reason why we were arguing in the first place I was wanting to blow up first. It's up to me to be here. Yeah, it really was the night. So we called the kids out, I can still see that they were scared. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is this is so hard. And I remember just breaking down and crying and telling them this is I'm so sorry. For one the way I acted. I can't promise I'll never do it again. But I am sorry that it happened. And what we wanted to share with you is where we landed because you saw that the fight. You have no idea where we landed. And they're like, Oh, are we okay? We're good. And so this is we talked about after you went to your room, we went to our room. This is what we talked about the here's some new rules that we put in place for ourselves. Olivia and I, your mom and I, when we argue. So are you okay with that? I said yeah. Like, do you forgive me for blowing up? And then they gave me a big hug. I started crying some more. And wow, look at me like, I love this man. Like this guy. Bonus points. Heck, yeah. It wasn't an invitation argue more. It was just, this is hard. It showed I'd rather not done it and not cry. But yeah, it's just they remembered that. And I remember it. And that was the thing like anytime we argued, it was very important that we we followed up with their kids, let them know. Alright, you saw the breakout. Here's how it ended. This is where we landed. And every time they're like, Alright, great. And we always wondered like, are they paying attention to that? And I got to see my daughter. Well, I heard about it. I was already in Dallas at the time. But she had a boyfriend who was just kind of like falling apart, trying to break up with her. But he didn't want to and my daughter just picked up on all the insecurities he was exhibiting at that moment. And she said to him, hey, it looks like you're going through some stuff right now. And I'm there for you. I really am. But you need to go home and figure your stuff out for yourself. And then tell me morning if we're still together or if you've truly decided we're broken up. I'm here. It's up to you. So go home, figure it out. Let me know in the morning, get some good sleep. Think about it. Tell me in the morning. I'll support your decision either way, but I'm not going They just throw myself at your feet here. I didn't do anything. And so my wife called me to tell me all this because I moved up to Dallas ahead of my family, for job, which I ever do. But for some reason, we thought this was the thing we had to do. But to hear that story, though, I'm like, Yes, that's my baby girl. Yeah. In throw herself at his feet, she didn't like grovel. She didn't change who she was, just to make him feel good about himself, she saw he was in a bad spot. She didn't allow herself to fall down into that or be pulled under. She just told him, Hey, here's a boundary, go home, sleep on it, and tell me in the morning, what's your final decision and like, they paid attention.

DJ Stutz  35:44  
Bring up such an important point. And I'm so glad that you did in that arguments will happen. And I've, I have friends who grew up in homes, I did not have this, where the parents never argued in front of the kids anyway. And so then when they grew up and got married, and a disagreement would come, they thought the world was falling apart, because they'd never seen their parents argue and resolve it, and manage through it. And so but you guys took it even a step further, in going back to it, revisiting it with your kids and saying, Yeah, we had an argument, and we're sorry about that. But here's how we resolved it. And so now they're seeing problem solving strategies. They're developing their executive functioning, and they're moving forward with the example that you're saying, I don't think it's that and certainly, if it becomes physical, that is unacceptable on any level, if it's even verbally abusive, that is not acceptable. And so you have to have guidelines around your own arguing as a couple. But if you're staying within those proper guidelines for them to see, oh, they're not agreeing with this, you know, are moms really mad, or dads really mad, whatever it is. And then they see that, oh, wait, we're not breaking that. They worked it out. And then you come and tell them, that is just huge. And what a great gift to give to your kids. And I think even young kids can understand a lot of the basic on that because they're going through in their own lives with siblings with friends, classmates,

Jerry Dugan  37:21  
I think, in a weird way, my wife and I were blessed because like, my parents never fought ever. And then one day, boom, my Mom's leaving us. I'm like, What? What is going on? And then my wife, she experienced the opposite. parents fought a lot. The stepdad and her mom fought a lot. And so she saw what extreme fighting and yelling matches looked like. And so we figured, you know, somewhere in the middle is like, the meat, the real crux of healthy relationships, because you know, even the healthiest couples, they have disagreements, how they go about, it's just amazingly civil. Or the emotions are there, the frustrations there, but they communicate what they're really feeling. And I love that about couples, I can really do that. And 21 years later, I think I'm getting better.

DJ Stutz  38:11  
Oh, March will be 45 Oh, wow. I know, I was a child, I promise. But it takes time, and especially when you're young. And then. So often, people are young, they're new in their marriage. And then they start a family real soon. And I don't have any problem with that. Babies come when babies come. But I do think that you need to be aware as a young couple and maybe looking for those helps, like you guys went to that retreat, to help you think and put the parameters around your marriage, and finding those kinds of resources so that when these little guides do come in, that you've at least got more of a head start than others who just think, Oh, you get married, oh, you have a kid? Oh, whatever happens happens. No, no, this, this needs to be something that you plan out that you work on. And so that you're providing that atmosphere that is proper and good for yourselves and also for your children.

Jerry Dugan  39:14  
Yeah, yeah. There's got to be that intentionality will room for being human and just life being life. But yeah, definitely intentionality around what are the values this family should stand for? That we will always do and what are the things we will never do? So it's kind of like in business, where our strategic guardrails, what are our family guardrails? The things we will always do as a family the things we will never do in this family are these things and and stick to those, you know, the rest of the plans right those in pencil get ready to have a big eraser. You and I were talking about parents who kind of just tried to shelter the kids or be so strict on them that their kids never experienced life and a friend of mine that I've known since middle school. Her parents were strict Like donner, and the moment you got to college and didn't have that just kind of fell that fell by the wayside. You know, there was a struggle. She's doing fine today.

DJ Stutz  40:08  
Yeah. But she had a wild time, right? Yes.

Jerry Dugan  40:12  
Yeah. And I think about a baseball player I knew in high school, his dad was always there to tell him what to throw every single pitch didn't matter what the actual coach told the pitcher. Dad was behind the backstop, all through high school, all through middle school, tell him that kid wants to throw how to throw before the game, what to do, how to play after the game, what he did right and wrong, while the kid goes off to college to play for I think Stanford University, and we're all like, wow, he got a scholarship, go to Stanford. Well, he starts to suck as a pitcher. I don't know about the rest of his life. But he was getting. He used to have an era that was around 1.00, which is like, one Earned Run per game his whole career. He gets to college, and he's getting shellacked. It's like a 13 or 14 point. Yeah, he's just like, hit a thon batting practice, you know, come show up for this guy. And it dawns on the dad, oh, it's because the coaches don't know how to coach, my son. And the dad actually tried to show up to the university to coach his son on the baseball field. And I was just blown away that he was instead escorted out by security. My team, my university, get off my lawn, the police, they'll help you on your way out. And the kids career just tanked. Because he really didn't know how to live and think on his own. Right on the baseball field, at least. It's kind of the same thing in life, like, we got to teach our kids not to be just like us and do everything we say. We got to help them navigate the world, they're going to encounter when we're not around to the best of their ability. And that to me was like my number one mission as a dad, like, I've got them till they're 18. And all goes well. You know, I can be a part of that.

DJ Stutz  41:51  
Honestly. Yeah. By the time they're 1617. Honestly, you're more of an advisor. Right? Yeah, yeah. Cuz you're getting them closer and closer to that independent role. Yeah.

Jerry Dugan  42:03  
Oh, man, that shift was a big one to realize. Because my son got there first. That realization like, I don't just tell him what to do anymore. He says, I'm gonna take my input, or he's not. And, yeah, I got here two years earlier than I expected.

DJ Stutz  42:19  
But I think it was interesting, though, because you also mentioned that when your son would come to you and be honest about Yeah, I did this. And your response was? Well, okay, so how are we going to fix this? How are we going to make this right? And I think that is so huge in letting them come up with, Oh, I do have responsibility to make this right. And I have some choices. And when they're really young, you can talk to them about, well, we could do this or this, or maybe give them three choices, depending on their age, and their maturity and all of that. But I loved that you included that in part of it. It was their responsibility. They're learning. Okay, yeah. Thank you for being honest. How are we going? How are you going to fix this? Do you need my help? Is this something that you're going to be able to do on your own? And I think that kids really feel respected and enabled when they're allowed those kinds of options.

Jerry Dugan  43:24  
Yeah. And my son was probably harder than my daughter in some respects. Oh, yeah. You know, he played baseball through I think sophomore year. And I remember that freshman year and sophomore year, like he didn't make the actual JV team. So he was like on the practice squad freshman year, almost making the practice squad sophomore year. And I remember picking them up from practice. And, like, there was a big difference in work ethic on the team. And so for me, like it was meant to be a work ethic lesson. Hey, look at all your teammates, they hustle everywhere. And you're just sort of, I'm on coffee break up into the dugout, the guys who are on the practice squad with you like after practice has done, they're over at the batting cage until the sun goes down, and tuck it in their dads and turn on the headlights. They can keep pitching in the batting cage. You had your bag already packed, ready to go. And he's like, Well coach practices over. And I remember trying to convey this lesson about work ethic. If you really want to be on the team. You got to put in the extra effort that your teammates are doing, if that's truly your goal. And he was just sort of like that. And then I remember being upset about that. I have one of my kids at work ethic. I wanted baseball for him more than he wanted baseball for him. And I remember just being upset with him in the car. And he was, I believe 10th grade. And my wife had told me, Jerry maybe he doesn't like baseball. I hadn't thought of that. Possible. Yeah. Because he played it since he was like eight years old or seven years like it's such a young age T ball whatever age that was. He's been playing baseball ever since he loved the game, he had asked to sign up every year. There was never a year he didn't play. And so I just assumed he's got the talent. He asked the play all the time. Maybe he likes the game. And so I'm just trying to convey this like work ethic thing. This is how I was in high school. This is how your teammates are this is, this is the thing that baseball players do if you love the game, my wife was that open ear and that outside perspective that just said, maybe he just doesn't like it the way you did? What if this isn't his thing at all? Yeah. You know, he's already, you know, 15 going on 16. And he's been living up to our expectations. And I remember just kind of asking him about that. So then I had a second conversation with him when he left me in his room because he was upset with me. And I just remember having that conversation. I was like, Son, do you love the game? And he's like, Well, yeah. And I knew right. Like, oh, he has a tape. Yeah, it's not. I don't know if you've done anybody who plays baseball. But when you love the game, you sleep with your baseball bat or your glove. Mel the leather on your glove. Any chance you get you hold a baseball, just have something in your hands. I sent did none of that. I think I already knew he didn't love the game. And so why does he play if he doesn't love the game? And he just shared he likes to play the game. He doesn't like practice, like, same thing part of it? Yeah. I would do more hours of batting practice than anything. And I sucked at batting. Just ask all my friends in high school, they'll tell you. It's just like, there's something out there. You really love that you just he's like, how do you know? It's the thing that you'll watch videos and learn about? And nobody asks you to, and you'll no more fake than anybody else does. And I want you to find that thing. I really don't care if you're a baseball player or not. You're my son. I get mad because I see you're not doing your best. I'm gonna expect that if you no matter what. You're gonna get into underwater basket weaving or badminton. If you make the Olympics, I'm all for it, son. So obviously you're I learned that badminton was a thing, I think, or somewhere on that.

DJ Stutz  47:16  
I was actually on the badminton team in high school. I think there was a court additive sport when I was in high school in Los Angeles. Yeah.

Jerry Dugan  47:25  
I just thought was I think we played in the front yard during the summer and the actual competitive leagues and stuff. I'm like, there's a whole world out there. I don't even know. He wound up getting cut from the baseball team. He wasn't that he was upset about how he got cut. In the conversation there was like, well, nothing he told you was really knew. He knew this was common. He's like, Yeah, no, I just thought, well, thanks, coach. I'm like, Well, yeah, different conversation, son. Just again, that whole conversation about the thing that you really want to do you're gonna be passionate about. And other times

DJ Stutz  48:02  
that exposes itself when they're young. And sometimes it takes a little time. And so you have to be okay with that. Yeah. And so you put them in soccer, or you put them in piano lessons, or whatever it is, and you have to be okay with when they're done with the season or whatever, that they don't want to do it. Great. But let's find something. And it's fine to try a bunch of different things. Before you find where you really, you're a genius at. I believe every child is a genius in something.

Jerry Dugan  48:39  
Yeah, it kind of hit me the next school year, I think it was the whole family of graded iPhones or switched iPhones, sorry, Samsung users. And of course, my wife wants to take family photos in the front yard with our new phones. And we're just having a hard time taking photos. And my son's like, I got stand there. Shift over like this right now. Don't do that. Like he's telling us like poses and he's like shifting us so that the color composition looks just right. And he takes these photos in portrait mode and, and then shows them to us and I still use some of those pictures today. And I'm like, wow, these look good. How do you know about this, and he's like, YouTube dad. But then like later on is girlfriend kind of wrote this really beautiful note and he shared it with us and the girlfriend kind of pointed it out. I will ask you talk about photography, because I know it'll keep you talking on the phone for another hour or two. At least you're tired. I was like, Oh, that's so cute. That's what my mom said. Oh, that's a kid. I'm like, wait a second. She knows photography is his thing. And he watched a few videos. Baloney. This guy will talk about Mr. Wise like what are you talking about? Our son talks to another girl about photography. The way I talk to you about podcasting. There you are. Yeah. My wife's like, oh, he likes photography. I'm like, No, he loves photography. That passion we thought he had for baseball, but he really didn't have. He's had it for photography.

DJ Stutz  50:15  
So you found it. Yeah.

Jerry Dugan  50:17  
And he went to school for a year to a university for a year to study photography, you want to drop an out. He hasn't picked up his camera in a couple of years. I'm kind of sad. But he's got that talent and he loves it. So deep down his dad, I hope he finds that passion picks it up again and just goes for it. But if not yet, he's doing good. He's Yeah. 21 He's held leadership role and like, Oh, my boy is doing grown up things.

DJ Stutz  50:42  
And that's such a reward. That's such a reward. Okay, so Jerry, if our guests want to connect with you find out more about you listen to your podcast. Where did they go?

Jerry Dugan  50:54  
To listen to the podcast, you can go to Apple podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, anywhere you listen to podcast, and just look for Beyond the Rut. Sadly, the autofill doesn't pick me up until you type the whole thing out. But if you want to listen to my friend Eric Fisher on Beyond The To Do List great shows. It does autofill for Eric and but not for me. But you can go to And there you'll find those episodes as well. blog posts, resources, all there at beyond the And coming out, I guess February, March of 2023. book by the same name Beyond The Rut, create a life worth living in your faith, family and career. It's the manifesto for beyond the rut. I just got the cover designs in this morning. And the formatted manuscript. So I'm like all like Yes, it's here.

DJ Stutz  51:43  
Nice, don't it? Yeah, good for you. That's really exciting. That's big deal stuff. So I always end my podcasts with the same question. And so I'm going to ask you, how would you describe a successful parent?

Jerry Dugan  52:00  
Oh, man, ultimately, and this is what I wanted, at a young age, kind of morbid. thought about what would I want my life to look like when I'm on my deathbed. And not many people in the early 20s. Think about this. But I did. And what I wanted was, hopefully, my family surrounding me. So hospital, families, their kids, grandkids, my wife, so I'm hoping she outlives me. And I hope it's still the same wife. Both of those. Yes. So I'm hoping for both of those things. But for that kind of scene to happen, I've got to have a deep enough relationship with my kids, and my grandkids. And if I'm old enough, great grandkids, to want to be there by my side. And and to say goodbye. And so for me, it's it's a long haul kind of thing. It's not just okay, I legally got them to where I needed to, and sent them on their way. So that's a whole life there. So some folks, you had a rough patch, as a parent, you got time to square it up, my mom and I patch things up. My dad and I, my dad and I are never been on the outs but just socially awkward, but we talk a lot more now than we did in the last 20 years. So it's never too late to reconnect with your kids to reconnect with your grandkids, um, in those relationships, but to me, that's kind of the sign of success is who's at your bedside when you're dying? And so

DJ Stutz  53:27  
That is an original answer. I haven't had anything like that yet. So that's, that's pretty cool. That's pretty cool. Well, Jerry Duggan, I am so grateful that you've spent this time with us and I'm sure we'll connect again and I hope that everyone will give your podcast or listen and look for that book coming out. I'm really excited. Let me know when it comes out now. Put it out on our socials.

Jerry Dugan  53:55  
Awesome. Well, DJ DJ, thank you so much. 

DJ Stutz  53:57  
You bet!

Transcribed by

Jerry  DuganProfile Photo

Jerry Dugan

Author, Speaker, Podcast Host

Jerry Dugan is the CEO and Senior Consultant of BtR Impact, LLC, a consulting and training company focused on helping leaders define success on their terms so they can live fulfilled, meaningful lives with impact and not lose their faith, their families, or their health.

His work experience includes serving in the U.S. Army as a combat medic, corporate training facilitator, and organizational development leader. He has led in combat zones and corporate offices learning the ins and outs for building teams and trust through servant leadership.

Since 2015, Jerry has been the host and producer of Beyond the Rut podcast, a show that shares encouraging stories and practical advice to help pull listeners out of their ruts and into lives worth living. It's not enough to get out of a rut. He wants you to live beyond the rut.

Jerry currently lives in Dallas, Texas, enjoying the empty nester life with his wife Olivia. They have two adult children, three cats, a dog, and no car loans!