Green Country Grown-Up: Jonathan Oliver
Oliver, a stay-at-home dad and new author, is encouraging others to embrace opportunities
Jonathan Oliver, known as “J.O.”, has many roles; among his newest are stay-at-home dad and author. What began as a creative outlet chronicling a unique perspective on his non-traditional role of stay-at-home dad, turned into an important message about embracing life’s opportunities. His book, Joy in the Journey, accurately blends the struggles and blessings of parenthood with humor, clever parenting anecdotes and powerful life lessons. In visiting with J.O., he shares a little about himself, his background and why it’s important for him to encourage others to find their joy.
TK: Tell us about your family.
J.O.: I’ve been married for nine-and-a-half years to my amazing wife. We met in an MCAT prep course because, at one point, I was interested in medicine, but I realized that wasn’t the path for me. She continued with her medical education and is now a general cardiologist. We moved here from central Texas three years ago. From the beginning of our relationship, we always talked about the fact that she would likely want to continue working full-time if we had children, so we planned for that. We now have two beautiful daughters. Journey (3) was born in Texas and Justice (6 months) was born here in Tulsa.
TK: What are three adjectives that best describe you?
J.O.: Encourager, honest and personable
TK: What is your favorite quote and why is it your favorite?
J.O.: I like to say, “Life is what you are born with. Living is what you do with it.” We all have life but not everyone lives life. I choose to live life daily. Living life with intention is what leads to fulfillment.
TK: What is your favorite part about being a stay-at-home dad?
J.O.: The amount of time I get to spend with Journey and Justice during these formative stages of their life. I know this time is precious and will ultimately help to shepherd and guide them for the rest of their lives.
TK: What is the hardest part about being a stay-at-home dad?
J.O.: Being intentional with my marriage. I have to be intentional to continue to invest, grow and nourish my spouse and marriage. Being a stay-at-home dad is easy in the sense that Journey and Justice are going to demand the things that they need in order to survive. If Justice is crying, I know that is an indicator that there is a need that has to be met (ie. hunger, diaper change, a nap, or just to be held). Journey also has her behaviors and actions that are indicators of her needs. So, for me, it’s important to be proactive and not reactive. It’s obvious what my daughters are going to need; however, it’s a lot easier to overlook or neglect my spouse due to the fact that she may not make her needs known as loudly as small children do. I want to be a great husband first before I worry about being a great father.
TK: Why did you decide to write Joy in the Journey?
J.O.: Before I became stay-at-home dad, I traveled on the road about 250 days out of the year as a professional speaker and training coach with Rachel’s Challenge. I was also (and continue to be) a personal development coach and author. Becoming a stay-at-home dad was very isolating and lonely, especially after being in a career that involved speaking with people constantly. I wanted to do something that would allow me to stay connected and not lose myself in the identity of my children. Writing Joy In the Journey gave me the ability to remain connected to myself while still being able to encourage and support others.
TK: What are some important take-aways from the book?
J.O.: I wanted to dispel the myth that black men are deadbeat dads. Black men are thriving and growing in our marriages and our communities, and I wanted to put that message out there. Furthermore, I wanted to give all stay-at-home parents, particularly fathers, the information, confidence and encouragement to fully engage in the parenting process, their marriages and their communities. I want people to realize there is a shift occurring and more men are transitioning to the homemaker role than ever before. We, as men, are more than capable and are wanting and willing to raise our children.
TK: What steps did you take to embrace your unique position as a stay-at-home dad?
J.O.: Being a stay-at-home dad, I feel, is a calling on my life. This isn’t something that happened by accident. My wife and I knew even when we were dating that I was going to more than likely stay home and raise our children. I truly believe all the skills, tools and struggles that I have developed and experienced in my life have prepared me for this current stage of life. Being dyslexic and ADHD are also blessings in my role of being a stay-at-home dad because there is never a dull moment in parenting, so I’m always on the go, which keeps me interested.
TK: What advice would you give to others who are struggling with their current situation?
J.O.: First, ask the question: What is your current situation trying to teach you? Second, list at least 10 things that you are grateful for and why. I actually text nine people that are part of my accountability team my 10 things every day. I have been doing this for the last five years and it makes a huge difference when I am feeling stuck. I would also say to identify what your needs are. I truly believe that all people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole, so figure out what makes you tick and make sure you make time for it. Lastly, ask for help. This may include seeing a therapist. I have been seeing a therapist for the past five years, and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.
TK: Is there anything else you would rather be doing at this point in your life? If so, what would it be?
J.O.: Absolutely not. Being a stay-at-home dad and being able to chronicle my day and turn my experiences into encouragement and content has truly become a passion for me. I’m blessed to have such a strong, guiding hand in raising my daughters.
I currently have a new book coming out in spring 2019 entitled The Little Boy in Me. It’s about me writing back to my younger self from this current stage in my life. I’m talking to that little boy who grew up not knowing that he was dyslexic until he was a junior in college, yet still graduated from high school with honors. I’m also talking to the me who didn’t realize that he had ADHD until he was 30. After all the struggles and ups and downs, being dyslexic and having ADHD are two of the absolute best gifts that God has ever given me. I want to let that boy know that he is going to be ok and that we made it.
For more about Jonathan, go to: https://www.jonathanoliveronline.com/