Area Dads Talk About Their Parenting Roles

. May 31, 2019.

What does being a dad mean?

In honor of Father’s Day, see how several local dads view their very special roles.

Dave Nelson

Dave Nelson

Spouse: Jenn
Children: Avery (10) and Macy (4)

Dave is a former teacher and a stay at home dad to daughters Avery and Macy. He and his wife, Jenn, a Saline teacher, live in Ann Arbor where Dave enjoys filmmaking in his free time.

What does being a father mean to you? I can say that being a father has been my top priority over career or anything else. I remember dreaming of having kids when I was 12 and always wanting to be a father. I didn’t foresee how much having daughters would change me. It has actually turned me into a feminist. Every movie I watch now I see through the lens of strong women characters.

Advice to other dads? You’re not going to be perfect and that’s not what it’s about. It’s more about just allowing yourself to be real, to be honest, to be open and authentic and not trying to get caught up into roles with fatherhood and how we are supposed to be. I think that kind of causes fathers to be too disconnected.

Best parenthood memories? My favorite memories are the adventures. There’s a hill over by Gallup Park with a trail, which we call “Ann Arbor mountain climbing.” We sat up there, had lunch, and had a blast.

Memorable Father’s Day? Four years ago on Father’s Day, my wife gave me tickets to see the band Cake at Hill Auditorium. In the envelope was an ultrasound picture of our second baby. That was pretty exciting, because we had been trying for three years and were almost ready to give up. We were considering adoption.

David Stewart

David Stewart

Spouse: Stacy
Children: Avery (19) and Aubrey (6)

David Stewart lives in Ann Arbor with his wife, Stacy, and their daughter Aubrey. Their son, Avery is a freshman at Kettering University. David is a cook for the University of Michigan and Stacy is a service development specialist for General Motors.

What does being a father mean to you? I’m there to teach Aubrey right and wrong. Going into her adult years, I teach things like how to be well-mannered, how to be kind to others and how to be humble, whether you’re winning or losing. I also have a stepson, Avery, but I don’t call him that. He is my son.

Advice for other dads? Have patience, because sometimes your child will try to test your limits just to see how you react to it. Also, spend time with them because your child will always appreciate those moments. Time flies, but the memories stay. Instead of buying them things, take them to a park or to the movies and don’t ever be too proud to do things like playing tea party.

Best parenthood memories? When my wife told me I was going to be a father, I immediately knew it was going to be a girl. We went for the ultrasound and guess what? I called it! It was amazing taking a first look at her and hearing her first cries when she was born.

Memorable Father’s Day? Avery gave me a Father’s Day card talking about me not being his biological father but stepping in and taking that role. You could tell he put his whole heart into it. When I read it, I instantly cried because it meant so much to me.

Brian Cox


Jason Sexton Photography

Spouse: Angie
Children: Ben (7) and Owen (4)

Brian and his wife, Angie, live in Ann Arbor and have two children, Ben and Owen. Brian and Angie are both undergraduate program coordinators at the University
of Michigan.

What does being a father mean to you? Originally, I had this daunting list of what a father does and what he should be, but really, if you’re doing it right, it just brings joy to your life. I feel like it’s an honor, especially when I think about my dad and all of the other dads I’ve known in my life.

Advice to other dads? You can read all kinds of books and talk to all kinds of people and try to educate yourself about how to be a dad, but ultimately you can’t read about how to do everything. You’re going to have to figure out a lot of things on the fly. Every kid is different. Things that work for one kid are going to be different for another.

Best parenthood memories? When their curiosity is sparked by something and they turn to me and say: “Dad, why does that happen or how does that work?” I think that is such a cool thing that they trust me to teach them.

Memorable Father’s Day? Our son Owen was diagnosed with cancer in mid-April last year, and he began intensive treatments. It was rough and it brought such a whirlwind of emotions. It’s sad to see your (any) child suffer with cancer, and at the same time so inspirational to see how brave and positive Owen is as he confronts it. In late May, results came back favorably: no detectable cancer! Though there are years remaining in his treatment plan, we are so happy that he had a positive result in one of the first major milestones on his road to “cured.” Having Owen (and Ben) at home smiling with me on Father’s Day 2018 will always hold a special place in my heart.

Robert (Bob) Murray


Spouse: Kristin Schrader
Children: Fern (11)

Bob Murray and his spouse, Kristin Schrader, live in Superior Township and have a daughter, Fern, age 11. Bob owns Murray Architectural and is retired from Murray Builders. Kristin is chief marketing and communications officer for Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan.

What does being a father mean to you? It is a great thing watching this little person grow up. I think it is a huge responsibility to convey everything I know and also see that this child has all the opportunities in the world. I’ve been really lucky because I have the best kid in the world. I come at this maybe a little differently than many fathers. Fern is my only biological child and, at 68 years old, I am older than most fathers (of children her age) and I think that makes me appreciate her even more.

Advice to other dads? You’ve got 18 years and that time goes by really fast, so you’ve got to jump in there and take the bull by the horns and stick with it. They’re not going to be around very long.

Best parenthood memories? Fern and I go camping together every summer and usually we pick a beach somewhere on the Great Lakes. Some of my best memories are swimming in Lake Superior, Lake Huron, or Lake Michigan. We show up at the campsite, unload the car, set up and don’t get back in the car until it’s time to go home.

Memorable Father’s Day? One Father’s Day we were at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and we each got our face made up as a cat and a monster.