“Why a Father Matters” – Interview with Todd Dulaney, Grammy & Dove Nominee

Recently Jeff interviewed Gospel Music sensation Todd Dulaney about his relationship with his father, and its impact on his life. Todd is married, has four children, lives in the Chicago area and is 34 years old.

Jeff: Tell me a few words that describe your dad.

Todd: Tough, disciplinarian, firm, masculine leader. He was the type of father that didn’t say, “I love you,” but he did so many things to let us know it, which taught me that what you do is more important than what you say.

Jeff: What did your dad do right?

Todd: He never left! My father staying in the home taught me the greatest lesson that anyone could have taught me. I saw two people stick it out and make it through. Also, he never gave up on me. I was troubled growing up, but the one place I had safety was with mom and even more so with dad. He never left and never gave up on me. That really shaped my life.

Jeff: Is there anything you wish your father would have done different?

Todd: I would have liked him to say, “I love you” and affirm me more verbally. He wasn’t a man that liked to say how he feels, he’d demonstrate it in actions, and I appreciated that. But now I tell my kids, “I love you” all the time. You face so much growing up, trying to be a tough guy, maintain stability with friends. You need a safe place to go home and your father, the man you look up to the most telling you “I love you, you are doing a great job, keep going.”

Jeff: Was there anything your father did that drove you nuts at the time, but looking back you now appreciate?

Todd: I felt like the arguments between my dad and mom were a little harsh. Now, I would like to apologize for judging him because now that I have a wife, I realize these are real life discussions that have to happen. He stayed and loved my mother his whole life, and I’d like to tell him I salute him for having the tough conversations and staying.

My father passed away 4 years ago, and I wish he could see what God has done in my life. Every day I stop and think, “Look what your name has become!” It means something positive to people everywhere and I hope he’s proud. I also wish my father could see all his grandchildren.

Jeff: What do you want to be sure your kids hear from you?

Todd: “I love you”, I want them to know that I have done the best I can to prepare them for any situation–school, mentally, what you do when another kid doesn’t want to be your friend. I want them to feel prepared for what they face outside home.

Jeff: What role has faith played in your life?

Todd: I was raised in the church–a Christian background. But I strayed away from it. Later it came alive in my heart and it has played a role bigger now. I thought I hated [faith] and wasn’t interested in it at all. But God had a plan all along–and a journey. I was really a heathen, and now–I am able to say I have been there.

Jeff: Was there some kind of event that caused you to rethink your faith-life?

Todd: I had a coach my 2nd year playing baseball with the NY Mets, Brett Butler. One night we had random curfew checks, and I was out late on a date at the movies. I tried to get back to the hotel–running to my room, and Brett was sitting in my room waiting for me. He said, “I am not even worried about the curfew, but I am concerned about all this alcohol.” He talked to me for an hour and he told me about how much talent I had. He also said, “But you are doing all these stupid things. I don’t want to see this opportunity taken from you.” He shared the gospel with me. I had heard it all my life, but for whatever reason, when he shared it with me that night–I was at my lowest place. He could have had me cut from the Mets. I started reading the Bible that night and continued it to today. 

Fun Fact: Todd’s recording of “Victory Belongs to Jesus” has over 55 million views, and he is a Grammy and Dove Award Nominee.

This interview is an excerpt from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son.

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