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Feb. 7, 2022

Episode 33: Finding Joy in Parenting with Craig Parks

In this episode, DJ was joined by Craig Parks whose own son is on the autism spectrum and taught him a lot about parenting, patience and love. Craig shares with us specific ways and things that we can do to find joy in parenting and he dished up some great advice on how to keep things engaged and positive, while still helping children understand there are expectations and boundaries.

Craig Parks is a dad of two kids and has been a camp director for 25 years as well as being a professional musician.  He has learned a thing or two about creating joy, laughter, and smiles in place of stress, nagging, and strained relationships!  His Parenting A to E method helps parents learn to create lifelong happy memories with their kids! Music, activities, and rituals can all elevate the mundane to the memorable! Learn the secrets of a camp director.


• [5:29]  “My life's work has been about helping kids find their own voice and their own power, their own creativity…”

• [6:38] Craig explains what his A to E Parenting Method is… 

• [12:16] Craig explains about how some of his happiest childhood memories revolved around music.

• [16:10] Craig believes that lullabies and bedtime rituals are a sacred time with your children. 

Share with us how you’ve taken it from the mundane to memorable and found the joy in parenting… and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @littleheartsacademy!

For more information on the Imperfect Heroes podcast, visit:

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DJ Stutz -
DJ Stutz:

Craig Parks-


DJ Stutz  0:13  
You're listening to Episode 33 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. In today's episode, I'm talking with Craig Parks, who is a dad of two kids, and has been a camp director for 25 years, as well as being a professional musician. He has learned a thing or two about creating joy, laughter and smiles in the place of stress, nagging and strained relationships. His parenting A to E method helps parents learn to create lifelong happy memories with their kids, music, activities, and rituals can all elevate the mundane to the memorable. learn the secrets of this camp director, there's so much to learn. So let's get started.

And before we get started, I want to let you know that Little Hearts Academy USA has something really fun going on right now, a scavenger hunt. There are 15 things to do with your kids during this cold season. And when you're done, you can scan your hunt paper and email it to me. And you will be entered into a drawing for one of two one hour sessions with me. And I usually charge $77 for one of these. You only have until February 14 to scan your homepage, and then email it to me. So take this opportunity to have some fun with your kids. And then maybe get some of your parenting questions answered. Be sure to listen to the end of this podcast and be one of my linger loggers. Before we get started on today's show, I want to give a shout out to my listener of the week. Lisa, who posted this on my Facebook page. I just finished the crying baby episode. We're expecting a granddaughter in June and this episode is a good refresher. So the episode she's talking about is episode 15. How to manage a screaming child without screaming yourself. And Lisa's comment reminded me that this podcast is great for both parents and grandparents. And I know that I have a few grandparents who listen and some have even participated in my group coaching program. So if you know a grandparent, let them know about Imperfect Heroes podcast.

Craig Parks was a fantastic guest. And we had a wonderful time talking about specific ways and things that you can do to find joy in parenting. And he shared some of his songs, had great advice in how to keep things engaged and positive, while still helping children understand there are expectations and boundaries. And you don't have to listen to me very long to know that my mantra is to find joy in parenting. And as we do, we strengthen our relationships with our kids. We learned so much about who they are, and let them know just how precious they are to us. And so one little note, when we were recording this, I was working my way through COVID. So you might hear some oddities in my voice, and still working on fully recovering but as they say, the show must go on. So with that in mind, let's listen in.

I am here with an extraordinary father, one of our imperfect heroes, and his name is Craig Parks, and I am so excited to have him here with us, Craig, why don't you tell us a little bit about your family and what you do.

Craig Parks  4:28  
Right. Well, thanks for having me here. I'm really honored and I am a dad of two fascinating human beings. My son Jonah actually just turned 18 A week ago. Yeah, I know. It goes by quick. And then my wife and I got the courage to have another kid about 10 and a half years later, so I got a seven year old daughter as well named Shama although she's going by the name Shira now she decided to go by Ciera but she still lets me call her nurse Shama. And they are really amazing human beings and My son, Jonah, is a very talented drummer and DJ and a musician. And he taught me a lot about parenting and patience and love. When I became a dad, he also happens to be on the autism spectrum. And I also professionally have worked with kids for about 30 years as a camp director of day camps for kindergarten through sixth graders, and as a mute professional musician, and a kids musician as well. So combined with all of that my life's work has been about helping kids find their, their own voice and their own power, their own creativity, so that they can grow up into empowered, creative human beings who are helping to bring about a better world for all of us. And it's been an incredible joy. And I'm now at that point my life where, you know, I've trained so many people how to work with kids. And I'm just excited now to share my message further and help parents, because I believe that, especially in working with really young ones, there is so much joy to be extracted, being with our young hands. And sometimes parents just don't necessarily know how, and I've got a parenting A to E method that really is very, very easy and help set a context so that parents can easily tap into their own power of creativity, and get so much more joy with their own kids. So I'm really excited to be with you today, TJ and to share some of that.

DJ Stutz  6:25  
Oh, thanks so much. Now, give us a little explanation A to

Craig Parks  6:29  
E, E to E and how it I thought I thought the alphabet goes to see, well, don't worry, it does. But the parenting method A to E, the A stands for effect. And E stands for E effect. So I think when we as parents get really intentional about the effect, the effectiveness of what we want to create with our kids, then we can be aware of our effect, and realize, oh, okay, we can create what we want to create, when we're super aware of our effect. How do we use our body? How do we use our voice? How do we use our face and our facial expressions? How do we use the tone of our voice, the volume, the dynamic of it all, and so much of what we want to create, and when we get intentional about it, we can do with an awareness of that. And I think certainly I've been working with kids of all ages, for a lot of years, I do believe that having my own son be on the autism spectrum. And he wasn't talking, he had no words at the age of two. And really not knowing if I would ever hear my child say the word daddy, or I love you. It was some pretty intense, scary times. But one of the ways that I really communicate and connected with my son at that time, but through my effect, through my facial expressions, and through where I move my body in space and time. And I can elicit smiles from him communication in that way. So there's, there's so much for us to tap into. And if you think about the importance of social emotional development, if we walked around with a flat effect all the time, our kids wouldn't learn anything, right? What helps them learn good, social emotional, is to be around people of great effects, they can learn, oh, this is an angry tone, or, Oh, that's a happy face. But if we walked around flat all the time in both our body and our, our tone, our voice, our kids wouldn't be able to learn much. So if we understand that, and really start tapping into it, it gives us access to really, really great joy. So if one of the effects that we want is laughter and fun and joy, we can use our body to do that, if one of the effects we want is for them to trust us that they know that we'll be there, listen to them, then where we position our bodies, even when they're talking, will will reflect that. And when we become really aware of that, we can end up creating the most magical connections and the most incredible relationships with our kids. And then for me as both a musician and as a camp director, to then actually utilize that information and use it with songs and activities and even like bedtime rituals and bathtime rituals and diapering rituals, so that you can elevate the everyday mundane into something that becomes really memorable. I know that my kids, my 18 year old remembers the songs that I sang with him and the activities that we did when he was two, three years old, four years old. My daughter just the other day hopped on my shoulders and she started singing, dancing on daddy's shoulders that I used to sing with her all the time. And she knows us and she will always remember this. These are really lifetime happy childhood memories. And when we think about being parents when we think about our own kids growing up, who doesn't want their kids to look back on their childhood and think, oh my god, I had such a great childhood. There was so much fun and joy with my parents. And and that's what I feel like I'm able to do is teach that to others. and I have done it locally where I work. And now I'm ready to kind of spread the message.

DJ Stutz  10:05  
Take the next step.

Craig Parks  10:07  
That's it. Yeah,

DJ Stutz  10:08  
yeah, what you bring up is just so important, we can be saying the kindest thing. But if we don't have the right body, the right facial expressions, there's been studies that I've followed and watched. And one of them, they did a thing with a mom, that would just have a deadpan face that very flat aspect that you talked about. And the baby would disconnect, look around. And then as soon as she started smiling, she didn't make any sound. All she did was just smile at the baby. And the baby would zoom right in at her. And so children are drawn to that. And I love the thing that you bring in with music. We sing in my classroom, all day long. I have people come to me and say, I need to learn that. But it's interesting that I had when I was very little, I had a babysitter, she had a really rough go as a child. And her mom was very disassociated with her and her dad had taken off. And she was probably 1415 When she was babysitting me. And she would sing the song about Alice in Wonderland to me, and I later got to meet her again. We ran into each other. And I was married, had a couple of kids of my own. And I said I still remember that Alice in Wonderland song. And I sang it with her. And she said, You know what, that is the one good memory that I have with my mom.

Craig Parks  11:43  
Yeah, it's incredible music, it just touches a part of our souls that nothing else can. And when we've become really aware of that, and then utilize it, it makes a huge, huge difference. With my own childhood, my dad worked so hard, he was often working seven days a week, I didn't get as much time with him as I would have loved. But one of my memories I do have been with him was him popping me up on his shoulders and him putting on music of like the Beatles, and Elton John, and then just flew off in the living room going round and round. And those are some of my most happiest childhood memories. it so much is associated with music, and the fact that I got to become a professional music and write music that appeals to kids in so many ways. It's been such a treat.

DJ Stutz  12:32  
Yeah, I don't know, I want to put you on the spot here. But maybe you could share one of your songs with us.

Craig Parks  12:38  
Yeah, I would love to. This is a song that I wrote in terms of just lifting the mundane to the memorable. Here's one that I do with my kids. And also I see with preschools as well. And it's really fun. And it's called wake up, wake up. And so when our kids wake up in the morning, right that is that right? There is an opportunity for something really, really cool and really special. And so I wrote this tune, wake up, wake up, and then what you do after you get wake up, you go have breakfast. And so I wrote a whole tune about waking up and having breakfast. And when my kids would sit there eating breakfast, I would sing the song to them. And there's a part of the song. The chorus is

Unknown Speaker  13:18  
Wake up. Wake up. It's breakfast time this morning. Yeah, you gotta wake up. No more sleeping, no more snoring.

Craig Parks  13:29  
And so when I do the song with my kids, and with the preschools when I do this, I'll tell the kids look, if I end up actually falling asleep during it, um, please just, you know, wake me up. And I know pop up, you know, again, it's like that effect, right? And, and they're just so wrapped with attention. They're gonna see like, asleep again. And it's just it's really fun. So this song's called wake up wake up, and it goes like this

wake up. Wake up. It's breakfast time this morning. You wake up. Wake up. No more sleeping. No more story. It's time to get out of your bed. Oh, crib your mom make a mess. up. Wake up. Wake up. It's breakfast time this morning. Oh, yeah, wake up. Wake up. No more sleeping. bellies and Deanna wants to be filled will give you breakfast. It'll be

Unknown Speaker  14:41  
it's breakfast time this morning. Yay. Tasty food to start the day. It'll give you energies you could shout

Craig Parks  14:49  
wake up

Unknown Speaker  14:57  
this morning. Yeah, wake up.

Craig Parks  15:00  
Mega drink the juice teacher toast and Joe oatmeal. That sound was gonna serve you. Hey, that's quite a deal to wake up. Wake up. It's breakfast time this morning. Yeah, wake up huh? Sorry,

Unknown Speaker  15:25  
no more snow

Craig Parks  15:36  
Yeah, the kids really love it. It'll give you that. And so you can shout and then you have them all go well, right. So there's that interactive part too. And it's really fun tune.

DJ Stutz  15:45  
I used to sing as a low, but remember Mary Poppins. And she had that song stay awake. So I would sing that song to my kids as they were in bed. And it was fun to see. I was visiting my oldest daughter with her family, and I could hear her singing that same song. And she said, I always love that song.

Craig Parks  16:07  
It's so smart, woke her up. And I'm a strong proponent of singing at bedtime. You know, there's a lullaby that I wrote for my son, which I always do, and and there's another song that I sing for my daughter now, every night at bedtime and bedtime rituals. And bedtime is such a special sacred time to and Yeah, another chance to use that effect, right? When you think about what kind of energy, right do we want to create a bedtime, we want them start chilling, so we can serve voices lower, and the way we move our bodies. Although I will admit, as a dad, sometimes I don't always adhere to that. And it really is a very sweet time. Yeah. You know, I love that you use the word

DJ Stutz  16:50  
sacred with it. Because that brings to mind something higher, higher calling something that is to be protected, and cherished. And you're right. Those times are magical. And I do believe they are sacred. It takes us almost into that religious realm.

Craig Parks  17:14  
Yeah. connection with our kids. It's it's very spiritual. It's very connecting. And it does have us feel beyond just ourselves to have to care for another human being another another human being is relying on us and our love and our heart and our ability to take care of ourselves well enough so that we can give them all the love that they need and deserve as well. It is it's very spiritual.

DJ Stutz  17:38  
Yeah. I totally, totally agree. So maybe you can talk to us a little more about I love what you said about mundane to memorable?

Craig Parks  17:51  
Yes, so bedtime is certainly is one of them, right? I mean, you could just be that guy at bedtime, you just put him down, give him a kiss. And then that's it. Right. But for me, what would I do? There's like a whole ritual that leads towards bedtime, right? And includes bath time, right? And I've got a song for for bath, scrubbing. Right, there's that and then even getting them out wrapping them when my daughter was really little ice in the summer. And and I'd kind of flip around, and I go Daddy, daddy, and and then I wait for her to answer. And she go Shama you know, and, and so that's another, another ritual, it's like, she totally remembers that. Now she's seven, it's kind of a funny thing. I'll like I'll take her like sama and turn around, you know, and it's totally cracking up because I can't, you know, she's not little anymore like that. But she still fully remembers all all those bad times and that aspect, and the songs, right? Even just the way you dry your child, to put them in your lap to put them on the bed. Like all these things, if you realize the opposite, and they start associating this. Again, it's ritualized, and ritual has an important part to play in family life. And so once they have even having bedtime at night, closer to bedtime, it becomes part of the nighttime ritual, and bedtime ritual. And then finally, when we get into bed, there's always a book. This is for us, right, followed by a song. And that's always followed by gratitude, right? We'd say something we're grateful for. And then finally, this is a really, really fun ritual that we do every night. And that is hopes for the dreams. And she's like, Dad, what are your hopes and I will make up the craziest stories of what I hope her dreams will entail that evening. And then after that, like, give her a good hug, good kiss, and then boom, mount and this thing that she's turned up, it's like, well, you check on me in one minute. So that's becoming real friends, right? I'll bet yeah, of course. So leave a minute later, I'll come back and give her a final little kiss and then boom, and it's every night and so when she's gonna look back on her childhood and Bedtime. Again, this is every night, this isn't a one time thing. This is this is our ritual. And she's seven, we've been doing it since she was just a little a little baby. And she's always gonna look back on bedtime, and know this and have great loving positive associations. When we think about stories and the books in the song, the gratitude, hopes or the dreams, and all these things, it might sound like a long list of things, but it doesn't take long at all. And that time is really worth it too. And the other thing about bedtime, which is really interesting is that there's something about the night about trying to go to sleep that brings out a certain level of openness, honesty, in conversation around things as well. I'm not on my phone, there's no electronics, there's not like just laying down, that are snuggling, you just never know open up in that space, too. It's really, really beautiful. And again, that's the effect, right? Holding your child that physical touch, just a hug, right is an effect. And how do you do that? Can you just take your fingers and brush the cheek? And what does that signal. So there's so much that we could do that just shows our kids that were present, and we're there, and they are truly loved?

DJ Stutz  21:15  
Yeah, I really appreciate that. And I think too, we talk about what that does for the child. But think about what that does for you, as the adult, and how that draws you nearer, it brings you calmer for your evening. It's great benefits to everyone involved there.

Craig Parks  21:38  
It's so true. And the other thing, though, I want to acknowledge is that parenting can also be really, really hard. And it can be really stressful, and it can be challenging. And even in those moments, when we're aware of our effect. And, and we can use elements like humor to help defuse some things as well, I think is really important. And there are things that I've developed to help in certain situations, but musically with activities, I've come up with ways to get my kids to pick up their clothes off the ground, put it in the hamper, for example. And we could be annoyed and we can nag them. Or we could use humor and our own creativity and have it be a connecting event. Right. And, you know, I developed this thing called kickin catch where I teach you on your foot, chicken up in the air and catch it and then slam dunk all of a sudden, it's this really fun thing that they want to do. And that you can enjoy together and it's no longer you and them butting heads over something you're trying to get them to do and nag them to do. And there's another song X you want to share, especially with toddlers and two and three year olds when they discover the word. No, dad that's to hear it. That that's a magical moment, right? My daughter discovered the word no, she loved it. And so when she just started saying no to everything, I was getting frustrated. And then I ended up writing a song. And the song became so fun and playful that when she got into her No, no, we would sing the song together and we both kind of just laugh and it would like defuse that energy and it would like move us forward. It's really really fun song and, and these songs I'm sharing I have recorded but I haven't released yet to be part of what I'm going to be releasing the future as I'm figuring out where to go from here. But this is a song. So hot off the presses. It's called favorite word is no and it goes like this. And by the way, it was great because she recorded it with me when she was like three years old. So little tiny voice is great. So when I'm doing like for voice you'll that's where you can picture a little three year old boy. You're two years old. And I know the

Unknown Speaker  23:51  
favorite wound is no your favorite word is no to two years old. And we know your favorite word is no debate. Every word is no when

Craig Parks  24:04  
I say yes, yes, yes. You say no, no, no. When I say no, no, no, you say yes. Yes, yes. When I say maybe maybe maybe you say two years old. And I know

Unknown Speaker  24:20  
Geno's favorite What is your favorite food is no

Craig Parks  24:27  
favorite spice is a rager No, your favorite Mountain is a volcano know your favorite part of the alphabet is lm n. Oh, what does that spell? Oh, yes. I mean yes it dispels no not that. Yes it anyways you're two years old and

Unknown Speaker  24:47  
they know and we know your favorite bonus. Favorite word is know your favorite instruments the piano. Your favorite game is

Craig Parks  25:01  
Your favorite rock star is BA. No. Oh, you too.

Unknown Speaker  25:08  
Cuz I know. They know me know your favorite wound is know. Your favorite food is no.

DJ Stutz  25:17  
Your favorite word is wait, don't tell me I love that song. And I really love the idea of taking what could be a tense moment and the child says no. And your natural reaction would be What did you just say to me? Right? And instead you just pop into that song and they start giggling. And I think you get them? And I don't know, is that your experience that they come around so much faster?

Craig Parks  25:56  
Oh, totally. Yeah, I mean, I would have interacted, right. So I'd be like, you know, your favorite spices are Reagan and she'd be all over it. No, you know. And so we would just and I would just start cracking up this little voice doing that, right. And, and certainly like you, and I've worked with little kids for a lot of years. So developmentally, we also understand that it's really appropriate, right, and for kids to be doing that, and to be experimenting with their power and to discover the word know what that means. So for us, as adults to kind of honor that, and be playful with it, rather than getting in a space of just deep frustration and angry with them. You know, it's me, that's it, I found it to be much more effective. Yeah,

DJ Stutz  26:40  
I love it. And I love anytime that you could take a situation that may get a little stressful or frustrating, or whatever, and use music or humor to just turn that puppy around. And this song really does that.

Craig Parks  26:58  
Thanks. You know, and you'll appreciate this. So I run a summer camp as well. And so when you want to get the attention of say, 100, campers and 30, staff, people and it's loud, here's a quick little tune that you can use to get their attention. Instead of being quiet and doing all that stuff. I wrote a song called the world's shortest song. And so all I need to do is you know, I'll just like top my lungs, like, here does everybody though? Shortest song and you set it up that way everyone is like, Oh, and you go 121234. And because and because all the kids know that. They know the song, when I go 121234 They sing the law and all sudden, boom, you've got their attention, right? And so that's perfect. It's a great example of being able to get their attention in a playful way in a way that doesn't, you know, you don't have to have your blood boil. And there's there's so many ways to get kids attention without having to be like, Shut up or require everybody come on, you know, who wants to be spoken to that way? Nobody, right?

DJ Stutz  28:03  
When when I always I love the idea that as soon as you when you start feeling yourself getting tense stuff, as an adult, I'm frustrated with this kid, we've got to hurry. We you know, all of those situations Get to bed for the last. That's your signal that you need to calm down. Yes. And so if you have these songs, or silliness, things that are in your back pocket that can lighten the situation. It helps you it helps the child. It's fantastic. It's all about relationship building. How can you learn from someone that you don't have respect for that you don't trust that you actually might be in fear of you can't? Well, you are learning, you're learning lots of things. But are you learning the right things?

Craig Parks  28:58  
And that's a great point, TJ is that kids are learning. And so if we, as the adults get really conscious about what do we want them to learn? Do we want them to learn that the world is a safe place? And that you can trust? Or do we want them to learn that Whoa, I can't express myself or if I do, I'll get screamed at or, you know, they are they're taking all these messages in whether we want them to or not that they are so the more conscious we can be about the E write about the effect that we want on them. I think that our relationships get a lot stronger for that and the enjoyment of the relationships get better for both you and your child.

DJ Stutz  29:33  
Absolutely. Absolutely. It's interesting as I look at parents who seem to have their family in order, you know, you see that family. First off, that can be safe. Well, first off, things probably aren't as calm there as you think they are. But when I see those families, it's it's the ones that have that strong relationship, but they are completely invested in each other. And it doesn't mean that the parents are doormat. They have their standards, these are our standards, this is what we're doing. They pick their battles, but they're able to express things in such a calm manner. They invest the time into how was your day? Good? What does that mean, a meteor didn't hit you like, what does that mean? And they continue the conversation. Good isn't good enough for an answer. And they invest that time with their kids. And I've heard people say, Oh, I'm so busy. Oh, well, you got to figure that one out, don't you? Are you telling me that you're too busy for your kids, or you've got your kids in so many different things, that their whole life is about sports, or something else? Instead of relationships, that's got to be part of it. Look,

Craig Parks  31:10  
I'm a proponent of getting kids involved things. But you're right, it can be overdone, where it becomes stressful for the kids. Just ask yourself, Is this about me? Or is this about my child, because if we were the basketball star, or the soccer star, as a child, we want our child to have that too. But maybe they're not into basketball, maybe that's not their thing. Maybe they're into art. And I think as much as possible, if we can get our own egos out of the way and tune into well, who are they? Because this is their life now. And again, exposing them to different things. Beautiful thing. But I think you do make a good point in terms of it's about the relationship and the relationship is about doing that deep listening, like who is this human being in front of me each and every day? No and arranged with ourselves? Who are we? And who do we want to be? It's funny, I think a lot of pair I mean, you and I, we work with kids for a lot of years, right. And so parents who might be listening to this might say, Well, I'm not a professional musician, or I haven't worked with kids for all these years. And my main message to the parents in terms of the whole parenting A to E method is that I don't want people listening to me, Wow, that guy's full of charisma, he plays guitar, so I can't do these things. The reality is like, what I'm teaching is, in the course I'll be offering eventually is, is teaching them that you break it down, I'll teach you how to use your eyebrows, like anybody can use your eyebrows, I'll teach you how to use your mouth, I can teach you like, when you tilt your head a certain way, it communicates something, this is something we are all capable of. Right? I'll teach you that if you want a kid to feel less intimidated by you, that if you're aware that if you bend down and your eye level rather than standing up way above them, it creates an energy and so I'm hoping that your audience is not going to just dismiss this and be like, well, that's a really good trained professional, these things that were that you and I are talking about today. Anybody can do. You don't you don't, it's not like, Oh, you're charismatic or not? No, anybody can learn to make their voice go super high, or super low, when you know when we're just aware of it. And I think that for a lot of parents, if they can kind of release some of their own ego around it. Our kids are waiting for us to be playful. They're waiting for us to be loving and silly and sweet. And all we have to communicate these things as the body that we've been given, right? And this voice that we've been given. So if we really start understanding, well, how do I use this body? And how do I use this voice? You know, we chose to be parents and to go on that journey. And it is that word again, sacred it is the most sacred journey that we have is to raise our kids. And so I'm really, really excited because like I said, I've taught so many people how to work with kids as a camp director, hiring and training, so many people. And the opportunity now to teach parents through the use of songs. And again, like the songs are very easy that I'm singing. They're, they're very usable through activities that I've done. They're very simple things. And so if somebody is like, well, I don't know, I'm not a camp director. I don't I don't know, like 15 Different things I could do with my kid. If I only have 10 minutes before we have to go somewhere. I'm like, Oh, well, here's some things that are really easy. And you can utilize just 10 minutes, just five minutes and do something connecting, playful, joyful. You know, I'll never forget, before I became a parent, I was playing racquetball in a local racquetball center. And I told this man who I just met, and Mike had to become a dad for the first time in a few months, and this dentist had pulled me aside and said, Listen, I got to tell you something that nobody told me when I became a dad and I'm on a mission tell future dads. I'm like, what is it? What is this thing he's about to tell me? It says, Okay, that's what I need you to know. Are you going to witness the birth of your child? Like, oh, yeah, definitely like, Okay. Nobody told this to me. When my first child was born, my child came out purple, and I freaked out. And I had nobody told me that my baby born purple. And I remember thinking, it's funny, I remember thinking, Wow, thank you. And I didn't know that either. And it turned out that my son was born, he actually came out purple. And I remember that moment. And I'm like, I didn't freak out, because I knew I was prepared. And I now want to kind of be that person for others is, there's information that I have, that I know sweetens the relationship between parent and child. And it's not difficult. It's actually quite easy and quite fun and quite joyful for both the child and the parent.

DJ Stutz  35:49  
Yeah, and I think that's it, I mean, finding the ability to find joy in parenting. And that's what I'll say, at the end of my Facebook Lives. Or at the end of my podcast, I always say, let's find joy in parenting. And I thought it was interesting, I had a guest. Let me see, her episode came down the last week of the year, the last Monday of last year. But it was fun when we were talking about parenting. And she said that parenting is a privilege. And not everyone gets it. And that could go two ways. Either they don't get it mentally. Or they don't have the opportunity to have kids. There are people with problems with having children. And so I think that recognizing what a gift this is, and yeah, the children are struggles, some of the time, right, some more than others. All of that is for our growth and their growth. And it's amazing how we move forward with that.

Craig Parks  37:04  
Yeah, it really, and especially during this time, during the pandemic, right, these last couple of years have been really challenging for our kids. And it's really challenging for ourselves as adults as well. In fact, I remember at the start of it, it didn't take me long to kind of fall into a bit of a funk. And my late March, I was going in and I wasn't able to work with kids. I wasn't and I was really fond. It's always about being creative. So what am I going to create in this situation? And then I just got this idea. And I turned to my daughter, who was five years old at the time, and I said, Hey, Neshama, would you like to do a show with me? And she said, Yes. So we ended up creating a show called party party central on my facebook live on my Facebook page. And it's an interactive, so that has music. It's got games and activities parents can do. And it's, it's silly, and it's fun. And it turned into this weekly show. And at the time, I thought oh, this the we all thought the pandemic would be like, okay, by mid April, we'll be good. And then it occurred to me, I'm gonna be doing a weekly show for a while, how do I create all this content. And the magic in it? TJ was, is that each week, because I was spending so much time with her funny, crazy things would naturally happen between us. And I bet we should do that on this show. And we've done 64 episodes now, of parts Party Central, I put up a few on YouTube. So if any of your listeners want to check it out, I think I have three episodes. So you could look up parks Party Central on YouTube. That's, you know, that's something I created with my daughter. And we now have, you know, 64 episodes where she'll be able to look back and see all of the relationship building all of the different things that we did. It also I think, role models for for her that, hey, when we're in hard situations, we can just get down or we could get creative. And it's challenging to get creative. But to me, that's always the solution is how can you get creative? And how do you get creative with other human beings so that we can lift each other up?

DJ Stutz  39:04  
I love that, as we're taping this, getting over COVID. And so my voice comes in and out. So I apologize. But yeah, I love that you you can either get let yourself get down, or you can move forward and get creative and say, Oh, how will we make this for our good? Because we can make everything for good. Turn it around, learn from it. Think of the example that you're setting for your kids?

Craig Parks  39:37  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's it's been a real joy. And it's crazy to think that you know, I mean, here we are almost two years later, my daughter seven now and one of the segments we do on the show is called you can ask this viral ad question. She's so wise she'll answer your questions. And people would type in the chat questions and she would just come up really funny things and here we are two years later, and she's now doing ask a seven year old But it's been really fun. Yeah, but that's

DJ Stutz  40:03  
true. It's funny you ask kids all kinds of questions and the answers they come up with are pretty insightful or pretty funny. Or but you're right. They seem to always have an answer. Most of them. Some are a little shy.

Craig Parks  40:19  
Yeah. And you just remind me DJ that like, when we raised the bar on our often get right to it and exceeded a lot of times, when we were laying down. And I said, you know, every show needs a theme song. And here I am Mister professional musician. I'm like, you know, maybe we could write one together. And like, right away, she puts out her own tune. And she actually wrote the theme song to the, to the show is every week, you know, and we do this whole, like, crazy, funny, stick around. And I'm like, this girl wrote this theme song, check it out. And she always seems a different theme song from like, another TV show or movie. And like, that's not it, you know, eventually. So seeing the one that she wrote. So we have this little, like, really funny stick around the whole deal. But she wrote the theme song, right? And, and when we open up those spaces for our own kids creativity, we can get really blown away by what they'll come up with to.

DJ Stutz  41:08  
Oh, absolutely. Do you have another song you want to share with us?

Craig Parks  41:13  
Yeah, this is a song actually, we we close out parts party central with? Oh, fine. And it's, it is a bit of an anthem at the camp that I direct. And it started with a discussion I was having with these four and five year olds, about how do we make our world better? Like, my kids? How do we just make this world a whole lot better? And all these little hands went up? You know, and I call on this one kid, this one kid said, share I'm like, Yes, came as we just all shared just a little bit more how great that'd be. And then another kid, kid, I said, Be nice. I'm like, Yeah, right? We just be a little nicer, you know? And then another kid said, listen, yes, we all listened just a little deeper. And so out of these answers, I ended up writing a song called share and be nice. And it goes like this

Unknown Speaker  42:07  
and be nice listen to your yo friends, listen to yo friends to help do well to bring peace to share me not everyone. Friends, listen to your friends. World to man. To man, bring peace to bring peace.

DJ Stutz  43:37  
Two Oh, yeah. That was lovely. Okay, so as we come near to our end of our episode, I always asked my guests the same question. So I'm gonna ask you, how would you define a successful parent?

Craig Parks  44:08  
Great question. Are you honestly expressing your most loving self? And if you are, if you're just expressing your most loving self, then you're successful parent. And that does not mean perfect, because we're all gonna make mistakes, all of us. It's not about that. I think you're successful parent. If you are consciously doing your best to create love in this world. That's it.

DJ Stutz  44:36  
I love that. Yeah, and I like that you said doesn't mean you're a perfect parent. No such thing.

Craig Parks  44:43  
No. In fact, just to add a little humanity to this. I'm going to share a not so perfect moment for me because I think that it is important for us to see each other's humanity as well. And also that when we can apologize to our kids, it's really great role modeling that we're not perfect. If there are ways to repair relationship, and my daughter had this penchant for spilling drinks and water, in the backseat of my car a lot. And one day when I was probably grumpy and tired and hungry, it was like, the third time that week, and I got really frustrated. I was like, um, and I like, went to it, and I cleaned it up, and I just I ended up grabbing one of her pieces of artwork to dry the spill. You know, and I, and right, and it was, it was awful. And I felt terrible. And later, and later that night, when we're in like the bedtime, Rachel, what we're talking about earlier, I had a chance to calm down. I told her us, I made a really big mistake, I got really angry and just I just want to apologize. Like that was not right. And that was your art. And I feel awful. And I love you. And I'm not perfect. And I'm sorry. And it was a very sweet moment between the two of us, you know, because I got to see her dad with an open, vulnerable heart, apologizing. And she saw that I'm really not perfect. And that I can understand that when she's not as well. So we're going to have those moments, right, we're just we're not going to be our best. But even with that it's an opportunity for repair. And it's an opportunity for more love and expression of love.

DJ Stutz  46:25  
Yeah. In fact, that's what I was thinking, as you were telling the story was that even when we mess up? That's an opportunity. Yes. And so I love that you said that. That's great. So people want to hear more from you or get in touch with you, where do they go?

Craig Parks  46:45  
Alright, well, you can go to www dot parenting And if you go there, you will get you know, the song was talking about earlier dancing on Daddy shoulders, which by the way, you could change the dancing on mommy shoulders, too. If you go there, and you put in your email, you will get a professionally recorded song plus a video of me explaining all the different ways you can and the lyrics of the song. But you'll also be on my email list and I'll be getting it out and with more valuable information on how we can become more harmonious. Great. So there's there's that and you can write to me at Craig parks, at parenting Also, I do have a couple of songs on Spotify. One is the the banana song. So if you want to promote healthy eating, it's a short very funny song that kids make my own children but also my campers and my preschoolers love, love love. It's called bananas. And for those of you are trying to keep your family healthy by washing hands, I have the hand washing song, which is really fun and talk about lifting the mundane into the memorable. All of a sudden, washing your hands, which we do every time several times a day becomes a memorable thing. So the handwashing songs are really really easy and fun song for kids to learn how to wash their hands properly and with a really good group. So so you can hear those two songs on Spotify. You can hear parts part, you can see three episodes of parts Party Central on YouTube, and you can get your free song and activity at WWW dot parenting I'm on Instagram as well parenting harmony on Instagram, if you want to follow me on there. And Craig, parts of music on Facebook. So thank you that

DJ Stutz  48:29  
is awesome. Now is that where they would go to see your episodes?

Craig Parks  48:33  
Yeah, well, they want to see the Live episodes that's on my just personal Facebook page. And then they could write to me and friend me and put a message saying I heard you on the imperfect heroes podcast. That way. I'll know where I got it. And then I'll let them in. And that will be friends and they can watch doing weekly episodes for over a straight year. And now we're doing like once a month because it got pretty intense. But we're we are still doing occasional we did one a couple weeks ago. We did our 64th episode in the Shama saying when I'm 64 by the Beatles. Oh, so

DJ Stutz  49:04  
cute. Yeah, it's great. I love that. Okay, well, and I'll get all of that information in our show notes as well. So our listeners if you didn't have a pen or paper ready, just scroll on down. And we'll have all of that for you. So Craig Parkes, I'm so excited that you chose to spend this time with us. And I look forward to hearing more from you. And maybe we'll have you on again when your album is ready.

Craig Parks  49:31  
Now be great DJ I so appreciate everything that you're doing to help all of us parents, be better and have the parenting so much more. Enjoy. I'm honored to be on the podcast. Thank you.

DJ Stutz  49:44  
I appreciate that. Great, so we'll talk to you soon. Sounds good.

Craig is so energetic and positive, and you can hear how he values his relationship with his kids. And then he expresses that to them on a regular basis. And I loved the terms that he used, making the mundane, memorable, and how he noted that times with your children are actually sacred. And I love that he recognizes the truth in that. So what are some of the ways that you make the mundane memorable with your children, I'd love to hear about it. post on my Facebook page, Little Hearts Academy, USA, or on Instagram, you can post it and then tag me at Imperfect Heroes Podcast. And you know, your posts may just be what someone needs to hear. So put that out there, those good intentions, that positive vibe, and maybe help some of your friends, here's something that they need to hear from you. So remember to turn into my facebook live every tuesday night, this is your chance to ask questions, get a little extra insight. And I know that those who are saying, Don't do Facebook anymore, but this is worth coming back for about a half an hour each Tuesday. And where else are you going to have the chance to get such great advice on the issues and the things that are important to you. I'm working on expanding to Instagram. I've already done a couple of lives with guests. So there will be more to come there. Are you up on all things Imperfect Heroes? Register for my free newsletter at and never miss a beat. And of course, all of those links are in the show notes. So just go down and give a look. And while you're looking at the show notes, why don't you just leave a rating and review. That is a great way to help us out to reach new people and to help other families. 

In my next episode, I am talking with Amy Buckley. And I know I talked about her at the last episode, but we had some technical glitches going on. And so instead of her being on this week's episode, she'll be next week. And Amy is a teacher in Northern California. And you know, with all the disruptions to learning in the past two years, and the disruptions that continue in a whole variety of ways. We had a great conversation about how to understand what your child is needing help with, and then how to find that help. So learn what I mean by tuning in to the next episode. And until then, let's find joy in parenting. 

Hey Linger Longers. I need your help. I am looking for experiences of parents who have had to work with a teacher that just doesn't get your child. And I have to admit that this does happen once in a while. I would love to hear how you manage through it. And then how you helped your child as well. So send me an email at Like I always say the link is in the show notes. Okay, I'm gonna go now.

Transcribed by

Craig ParksProfile Photo

Craig Parks

Dad and Camp Director

Craig Parks is a dad of two kids and has been a camp director for 25 years as well as being a professional musician. He has learned a thing or two about creating joy, laughter, and smiles in place of stress, nagging, and strained relationships! His Parenting A to E method helps parents learn to create lifelong happy memories with their kids! Music, activities, and rituals can all elevate the mundane to the memorable! Learn the secrets of a camp director.