Local fathers emphasize importance of being involved in children's lives

Sunday, June 17, 2007
Jeff King took time off from work Friday to be with his daughter, Kristin.

SIKESTON -- People often look to their dad for encouragement, support and advice, especially when it comes to sports. All fathers are special people.

There are also fathers who go above and beyond. Sometimes it means closing the doors to their business. Sometimes it's participating in a dance recital, helping out in the classroom or just taking a child out for treats.

Being a dad to 13-year-old Kristin trumps business for Jeff King, owner of King's Jewelry in Sikeston. "There are times I have to close my business just because she has a practice or a game," he said. "I hate closing my doors, but it's worth it."

King said he and his wife decided their main focus was to watch and be part of Kristin's life as she grew up. "We have the rest of our lives to grow our business," he said.

Kristin has played soccer since she was 4, and King has been involved ever since, as well as coaching several years.

Jeff Miles dances with his daughter, Allison.

"He gets more involved than other people's parents," Kristin said. "Some people are like 'No wonder you're so good, because you do stuff all the time.' They don't have the opportunity to do that."

As a member of the J.B. Marine Soccer Club, Kristin travels to St. Louis twice a week. She said that gives her more of an opportunity to talk to her dad, and discuss what's going on in their lives.

Kristin described her relationship with her dad as "pretty special." And although she also has a strong bond with her mom, she is definitely a Daddy's girl, mostly because of the time they've spend together, on and off the field.

Ricky Green of Sikeston is also involved in the sporting lives of his sons Kyle, 14, Austin, 8, Tyler, 6, and Riley, 5, as a coach and a fan. They also ride horses and go fishing together.

But one of the unique things he does with his sons deals with school. Green is one of the few dads who went along to help teachers with class trips. He also went to water day. "I was the only one there," he said. "It makes me feel pretty good. Real good."

Green works for his father-in-law's family business, which makes it a bit easier to get off work. But he still sacrifices a lot of time to be a big part of his children's night, although he said it is worth it. "A lot of people don't try to get out and do that," he said.

As a certified public accountant, Jeff Miles doesn't get to spend a lot of time with his family between the first of the year and April 15. So he makes up for that by spending a lot of time with his children Allison, 7, and Joe, 4, during the summer.

He has coached both children in indoor soccer and T-ball. His family spends time in the backyard, hitting the ball off the tee, and just last week, the four went to the golf course.

"They enjoy trying to hit the golf ball," Miles said. "Sometimes it's not about trying to improve technique or hit the ball the farthest, they just want to try it on their own."

One thing Miles did this year with his daughter was participate in a Daddy-

Daughter dance.

"My daughter was very excited about the Daddy-Daughter dance and it was something that she was wanting us to do together," Miles said. "It put a smile on her face for us to do it together."

Miles and several other fathers danced to Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl," with their daughters. "Definitely when you hear the song come on the air you think about the dance and you think about your daughter," Miles said. "She mentions it all the time -- she'll come up and want to do it even when the song's not on."

Miles said he's sure this is one dance his daughter will remember in years to come, especially since they have it on video.

Although Bryan Montgomery isn't 6-year-old Audrey Whitten's biological father, "step" isn't a word they use. "If anyone asks me, I claim her as my own and always will," he said.

Montgomery is engaged to Audrey's mom, Whitney Whitten, and said he plans to adopt Audrey after he is married. "I met her when she was 3 years old and it didn't take long, I just fell in love with her," Montgomery said. "I've always wanted to be the No. 1 father figure in her life."

Montgomery tries to mirror his relationship with her after his close bond with his parents. "The more I can be a positive influence and the better relationship we can build while she's younger, the better relationship we can have when she's older," he said. "Hopefully she'll appreciate the time and hopefully she'll get something out of it that she can carry on whenever she's a parent as well."

His fiancé is happy he gets along well with her daughter. "She's always wanted a good, strong fatherly figure for Audrey -- one that she can be proud of as far as trusting and things like that," Montgomery said.

In addition to family trips, Montgomery takes Audrey to Lowe's to buy items for their house, or out for a treat after picking her up from school or the baby-sitter. "Any time that I can spend with her is definitely well worth it."

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