Meet EverDad Steven Rodriguez — a quick-witted, soft-hearted thirty-something father who lives in Upstate New York. The Michigan native relocated his fledgling family to the Empire State when he took a job as a pastor back in 2015. Over the years, he’s recorded an album and invested in the professional dance community as a musical accompanist, among other pursuits.
Steven’s energy and creativity carry over to the homefront, too, where the family man leads an active, plugged-in lifestyle. His wife, Joanna, works part-time as a professional dancer, which means Steven is always standing by to take on the parenting responsibilities when tech or performance weeks call mom away for a time. This give and take has enabled the dynamic duo to develop an impressively fluid parenting style as they raise their three kids — Cædmon (10), Esther (7), and Immanuel (3).
We spoke with Steven to understand his perspective on parenting ups and downs.
What is your most crucial core value as a parent?
Recognizing that the path of growth for each child will be very different. That’s one I’d name right off the bat.
I also like the concept that we are on a journey together that involves uncovering ways that we are deeply broken and wounded, but also discovering together ways in which we are experiencing new life and growth.
What were you least prepared for as a parent?
If I was going to answer that question honestly, I’d have to go really deep, really fast. I would say, the ways that your children uncover past trauma in your own life, along with character deficiencies that your kids trigger in you.
Parenting throws you back on yourself as you address guilt, shame, and hurt. On the positive side of that, your children offer you an opportunity to pursue healing in your own life even as you uncover ways in which your children are also experiencing hurt in their lives.
On a lighter note, also not getting any sleep for a long time.
What is your wife’s most incredible attribute as a mother?
She has an incredible ability to maintain a non-anxious presence in the midst of conflict.
Another of her most important attributes as a mother is that she’s really rooted in her body. She approaches parenting in a very holistic way, which connects to our desire to parent from a natural place. She sees our kids not just as work units or receptacles of knowledge, but as full people with an Earthly body.
Are you able to find self-care as a dad, and if so, how?
Yes. I really lean into the interplay between solitude and community — that it’s actually possible to disengage and be alone for the sake of others so that you can be more fully present to them later. That’s an important piece of self-care for me.
I’ve found it important and good to have a third space where you are not in your role as a worker and not in your role as a member of your family, but you just are as a friend to others. Being able to be free, in a certain sense, in those spaces can actually empower you to be more present as a worker and as a member of your family.
Do you ever bathe the kids or give them massages afterward?
Yeah, so this is a great “real dad” answer, because I’d say that, yes, I definitely give the kids baths. But my wife is often on my case because I did not properly lotion them afterward.
However, I’m kind of like the product tester, because my wife will introduce different products and then our family provides feedback on them. She’s tried different stuff, and we’ve come back and said “that smells gross” or “it doesn’t work as well as the non-natural version.” You have to find that middle ground.
If you had to summarize your best parenting advice into a single statement, what would it be?
This is something I’m not good at, so it’s a core value I’m working toward: a child needs to feel that they are safe, loved, and accepted before, during, and after positive change happens in their life.
What does Eden mean to you?
This may sound cheesy, but for me, it would mean getting back to the basics. Keeping things clean and simple and creating a place of safety and authenticity.