How Angel Maldonado prioritizes, invites feedback, and handles fear as a father.
Tell us about your family.
My wife Christina and I have been married for 14 years. We have two daughters, Layla and Aria, ages 7 and 4. We live in Atlanta and have been there since 2004. I was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in central Florida and I met my wife at Florida State.
What’s it like being the only man in the house?
It’s amazing. I grew up with all boys in the home and a single mom. My life has been committed to mentoring young men. I thought I wanted to have boys. But, God knew what I needed was girls. They take care of me. It’s been a great change of pace. I have to adjust to a different range of emotions. They’ve made me a better man in so many ways. I’ve learned to be gentle, gracious, and patient in my speech. They’ve helped round out my rough edges.
How do you navigate the demands on you as both an entrepreneur and dad?
It starts with keeping my priorities straight. God is number one. My relationship with my wife and girls comes next. My definition of success begins there. Practically, I rely a lot on Christina for her feedback and advice. I tell her that if any of my projects and endeavors are detrimental to our family, I’m willing to let them go. That’s brought her a lot of security.
Prior to my current work as a pastor, I was in the media industry. I helped start a news show for the local NBC station when I moved to Atlanta. Then I helped start a lifestyle show on the same station. And a technology show after that. That was supposed to be a part-time gig. But, getting something started takes a lot more time than I expected. I did it for a few years, but in 2015 my youngest was about to be born and I decided to let it go. I felt like I was at my limit. I knew I had to let something go in order to be who I needed to be at home. It was tough to let go of that money and of that influence, but it was the best choice.
How do you handle fears you have as a father?
I care about how my girls will grow up. Most importantly, I want them to get right with God and make it to heaven. I want them to be pure. I want them to be successful. I want them to be servants. It’s tough when I see my weaknesses in them. It brings fear because I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I’ve made or struggle with the same things I struggle with.
I’ve worked with so many young people and have seen how huge their relationships are with their parents. As dads, we feel a lot of pressure. What’s helped me the most with that pressure and fear is to decide to do my best to please God. And, to recognize that’s all I can control. If I do that, I can be at peace. I have to put in the work and work on my character and my integrity. But, I cannot control the results. I need to make bold, loving decisions. But, I can’t control the outcomes.
We always ask: How has becoming a dad made you a better person?
Having children is the ultimate form of self-denial. Learning to give and serve others has challenged me. I’ve also learned so much about God. I’m a broken man, striving to be a father, loving my daughters through the mistakes they’ve made. Being a dad showed me a deeper outlook on how much God loves me, how God cares for me in the tough times.
We always ask: What do you believe is your finest fathering skill?
I make them a priority. Christina often says that. Prioritizing them gives them security. They know their importance in my life. I don’t do it perfectly, but I aim to engage emotionally with each of my kids each day.
We always ask: What’s one thing you’ve learned from your father?
My parents divorced when I was 4 years old but when I would visit my father in Puerto Rico, I learned things like what it means to work hard, do things right the first time, and how to treat my little brother.
My mom remarried a guy, Jim Bird, 20 years ago. Jim was my wrestling coach. And I have so much respect for him. So many men took advantage of my mom. With Coach Bird, he has been such an example of commitment and consistency. Commitment is a lost art in our society. He had no kids of his own but he has committed himself to my mom and to her three boys like we were his own. He gave me the example of fatherhood. Jim treats my mom so well. He values her. It means the world to me and to my brothers.
We always ask: What is your favorite activity to do with your kids?
On Valentine’s Day, I had three Valentine’s dates. My girls both are at the ages where they’re such fun dates. It was fun to talk and laugh and to see how excited they were about time with me by themselves. Getting that time alone with them was really different and great. Going on those dates is something I try and do consistently. Even if it’s McDonald’s, that one-on-one time is really important.
Postscript: inspired by Angel’s story? Check out a few of our other interviews: Kevin Heldt, Adam Thomason, and Mike Morgan.
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