Jeff Foxworthy on Being a Dad
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy likes to talk about his job – but not just his job as a comedian. He also likes to talk about his real job as a dad. “It’s the most important job you have in life,” Foxworthy says. “One-hundred years from now, nobody will care what kind of job you had, what awards you’ve won, none of that matters. But they will care about what kind of kids you left behind.”
Foxworthy, married for 32 years to Pamela Gregg and father of two daughters, Jordan, 25, and Jules, 23, had to teach himself how to be an involved father – his parents divorced when he was 9. So what kind of father is he? Atlanta Parent asked him about that role.
AP: What’s your style as a dad?
JF: My wife is the glue that keeps the whole thing together, but I’m very hands-on. When the girls were young, I almost exclusively drove them to school each day (his two daughters and his brother’s three, who lived next door). I read to them at night. I liked talking with them and being with them. When they were school age, I would lease a plane and fly home after a club date so I could be there the next morning – it gave me 100 days more a year with my kids. The other job I had was I wanted to show them in the way I treated their Mom how they should expect to be treated by a guy.
AP: What’s one of your favorite memories about being a father?
JF: That’s a tough question. One thing I did with them was I always tried to take them on trips, just them and me, one-on-one. When Jordan was a teenager, 10 men at my church (North Point Community Church) decided to take our eldest daughters to Kenya on a mission to work in AIDS orphanages. It changed her life. (Jordan as a teenager did cupcake sales to buy mosquito nets for children in Africa to protect against malaria; when she was a senior, she was invited to the White House for a conference on kids changing the world. Jules also has done missions to Kenya, and Jordan and Jules both continue to do humanitarian work.)
AP: Your talk so proudly about your daughters, so you’re not one of those dads who always wanted a son?
JF: The dad and daughter bond is just a special thing. Before the girls were born, I would have said I always wanted to have boys because I like to bow hunt. The good Lord knew what I needed more.
AP: What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make when it comes to your daughters and family?
JF: That was probably the decision to leave L.A. People in the business told me, ‘Your career will be over.’ It was one of those hold-your-nose-and-jump moments. I’m so grateful they got to grow up here. (The Foxworthys moved to Los Angeles for “six months” in the 1990s because nobody in TV would hire a comedian who lived in Atlanta. His comedy career took off, with club dates, TV appearances and The Jeff Foxworthy Show. They stayed 7½ years, but wanted their children to have a normal life, to grow up with their families and cousins, so they moved back to Atlanta.)
AP: Your career didn’t seem to suffer at all, so no regrets?
JF: I don’t regret it one bit. Being a comedian is what I do. Being a husband, dad, brother and member of the community is who I am.
AP: If you could give one piece of advice to new dads, what would it be?
JF: It’s an important relationship. You see a lot of good moms, but not as many good dads. A friend gave me a small jar full of beads – there weren’t that many beads – and he told me each bead was how many weekends I would have with my child before she leaves home. I kept that jar on the kitchen counter for years to remind me to never take that time for granted. By the hour, by the day, by the week, time goes real slow, but by the year it flies by.
– Amanda Miller Allen