Meet Later Dad: Darren Lisiten

NAME:  Darren Lisiten

AGE:  43


RESIDENCE:  Long Island, New York

CHILD’S NAME/AGE: Caden, 19 months

PROFESSION: I work as a business strategist and executive consultant to Krupp Kommunications, Inc., a PR and branding agency founded by Heidi Krupp, my wife, as well as work on other projects.  I had a previous business in design and manufacturing where I had a factory in China and created trend jewelry and accessories.  I am creative and focused.  I work hard and am very ambitious.

I care deeply about my health.  I work out often and make great effort to stay in physical shape and eat healthy.  Unfortunately, my father passed away too young at 56 years old, and my mother has suffered with cancer for over 17 years.  Neither of them focused on self care or living healthy, and that’s motivated me to be just the opposite.  Seeing the effects their values about health had on their wellness has given me the impetus to not only live differently, but to pursue a very different life for our son Caden.

I really enjoy learning and growing and ultimately mastering whatever I take on.  I like to read when I get free time…particularly books about success and achievers.  I literally devoured the Steve Jobs biography…he was a genius and is an idol of mine.  I also keep up on trends in finance, business, etc.   

I’ve been fortunate that my work had me travel around much of the planet.  I’ve visited Asia, Europe and other countries.  While there’s still many places I would love to see, the traveling I’ve done has given me a perspective on life. I deeply appreciate cultures and understand people on a deeper level which has given me a deeper gratitude for life in general.  I love different foods from around the world, as well as design.  It’s amazing to see that while everywhere you go, things are different, yet in so many ways the same.

I am by no means a fanatic, but I am, for sure, a bit of a foodie.  I found myself inspired, after Caden was born, to learn to cook and prepare healthy, great tasting meals both for him and our family.  Growing up and living in New York and near to New York City, I have always had easy access to good food.   I’ve chosen to avoid eating most meat aside from fish and some organic turkey as well as most dairy products.  Cooking has become both a means of connecting with my son as well as an outlet for my creativity.

My goal is work throughout my adult life to create financial freedom for my family, with an aim toward spending my later years revisiting my artistic talents and pursuits.  I studied fine art and painting in college and have a  yearning to further develop those abilities.

Q:  Tell us what your road to marital life and ultimately parenthood was like. 

A: I met my wife later in life I suppose by many standards.  Back in 1993, when I was just 22, I opened a factory in Mainland China making kids jewelry, and it took off quickly.  The factory ultimately grew to over 1800 production employees, and we had a stateside warehouse and distribution center, plus retail outlets that employed around another 300 people in the USA.  I was just a kid out of school without any formal business degree or experience when that business was in its prime.  I gained a great deal of travel and other real world business experience and a passion for creating and growing businesses.

Perhaps the one downside was that I invested so much time in work that I neglected  my personal life.  I had good friends from college and made many friends who I remain in touch with today from around the world, but dating was hard, given the amount of traveling I did and the length the stays required.

About 10 years ago while attending a personal growth and development seminar with Tony Robbins in Fiji, I met someone who introduced me to my wife.  We were introduced as two people who would most likely not be interested in each other romantically, yet had a similar need to get out more and spend time away from work.  Heidi, a talented and seasoned Publicist and owner of Krupp Kommunications, was also residing in NYC.  When we finally met, we become fast friends.  Though each of us had other romantic involvements, we were drawn to spend more and more time together.

Almost right after we met, we agreed to help each other with our respective businesses.  She had a growing PR firm and needed guidance  handling details and operational responsibilities, and I had a line of fashion accessories and giftware to promote.   We started to counsel each other, and before long, our attraction grew, and the friendship evolved.  Neither of us expected it, but we welcomed it.  We each truly wanted to find someone to care about and spend our lives.

We technically had our first real “date” in Paris.  Right before I was leaving for a trip to attend several trade fairs, one in Germany and another in Paris, Heidi and I spent a romantic night in NY.  Heidi herself was going to travel to Florida for business and to meet a guy she was dating.  I, too, was dating someone I planned to meet in Germany during my trip.  Once I arrived in Germany, I emailed Heidi and after some back and forth banter, she agreed to leave Florida, get back on a plane to NY, drop off her dog Isaac and take the next flight to Paris to meet me.  We’ve been together ever since.  (By the way, Isaac is a 5lb Yorkie who may as well be our first child.)

We dated over two and a half years, and got engaged in Hawaii on the very beach where we fell in love while dating about six years ago.  We were married a few months later.  It’s funny because when we were dating, we discussed how neither of us came from wealthy families and did not consider it essential to have a big, costly wedding.  Well, that lasted only until Heidi tried on a wedding dress.  Once she did, that idea was over.

We had not one but literally two weddings!  Our first was in Fiji at Tony Robbins’ glorious resort Namale.  We had an idyllic Fijian wedding right on the shore, where she was carried down to the beach by Fijian men dressed as warriors on a bamboo leaf chariot built for her.  It was an amazing destination dream marriage!   Unfortunately, we could not share it with family and friends since it was so far away.  Despite my hopes to keep it simple, we then had a second wedding.  We had a ceremony at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park in New York City followed by a party with 125 friends and family.

We shared the dream of wanting kids.  Unfortunately, Heidi had fibroid tumors outside her uterus that required surgery on two separate occasions to remove them, as they caused excessive bleeding and discomfort. While we were dating, she had the second of these surgeries, and the doctor said that despite the success of the surgery, her fertility would likely be compromised due to scar tissue formation resulting of the operation.

We were dating seriously at that point, and decided to learn about options for fertility assistance.  We came to understand that since her tubes were likely blocked from the scarring, that we would potentially go the IVF route.  Neither of us was ready to marry just yet, but we wanted to do all we could to preserve our chance of having children together if we tied the knot.  We also learned that as women age, their supply of eggs becomes less and less reliable and likelihood of pregnancy decreases rapidly.  Since we both met close to 40 years of age (she was 39 and I was 36) ,we took this seriously.

We went through IVF nine times, once before marriage.  It was never easy.  It was an emotional, costly, stressful journey…one we remained committed to it until we found doctor, Dr. Geoffrey Sher of SIRM, who was able to help us have Caden.  Heidi openly shared her personal parenthood journey on      

While it’s always a sensitive topic I also wanted to mention, as Heidi does in her blog, that she was adopted.  Growing up, she always felt a sense of confusion about why she was adopted and had pain surrounding it.  Like me, she has mixed emotions about her childhood and she was raised, but without question, her desire to become a mother stems from a deep wanting to reconcile childhood pain.  I was very motivated to keep pushing for us to have a biological child, one she would carry to term and bond with through birth, breastfeeding and more, as I wanted her to, on some level, hopefully heal  past wounds.

When we learned she was pregnant, Heidi was certain she was not.  Her past disappointments with failed IVF cycles and a deep rooted fear that she might not be able to conceive a child, put her in an emotional place where it felt safer to not let herself believe she was pregnant.  That way, it wouldn’t be a letdown if she wasn’t.  I will never forget the instant Dr. Sher told her the pregnancy took.  Heidi broke out into spontaneous tears of joy and laughter.  We all knew in that moment that we had reached a milestone.  All the stories you often hear about not giving up and determination are real, and we were now one of the successes.  Caden was a mere multi cell embryo embedded in Heidi’s womb and already he’d brought so much happiness to us.

Q: What do you see as the positives and challenges of becoming a later in life dad?  

A: For me, being a later in life parent is wonderful.  I got to live a great deal of my life without limits and was able to mature and grow up before assuming the responsibilities parenthood mandates. My travels, my business experience, my having saved some money and built career momentum and my overall sense of confidence in myself with many things are all assets to parenting.

Heidi and I experienced a significant amount of time together (though unfortunately much was impacted by the rollercoaster of IVF cycles) and got to at least in part plan for and prepare for parenthood.  That’s not to say anyone is really ever fully ready, but it’s a very different kind of uncertainty when you’ve built other muscles and understanding before taking on the throes of parenting.

Being later in life parents, Heidi and I sometimes worry we might not be around long enough to spend enough of our lives with our son.  But at the same time, we realize life is not predictable. 

Q: What has most surprised or delighted you re: being a father? 

A: It is amazing to see our son thrive.  The first three months were like a blur…sleepless nights, he cried at times for what seemed like hours for what felt like no reason. And for me, at first, it was not easy to connect with him.  But once he started to smile, and bite my nose (When he was about two months, I’d lean over to kiss his baby face, and he’d bite my nose, a trick that was not so funny when he’d do it to others, and once before a business meeting left Heidi with a major red mark on her nose that lasted for two days), and then eat solid foods, it was all uphill from there.

As I mentioned, I am devoted to living healthy, and since Heidi was breast-feeding Caden (we believed this was the healthiest for him,) I wanted to bond with him like she was.  I committed to feeding him too by cooking and preparing all his food and still do.  Heidi likes to call me the “Daddy Gourmet”.  I found and created great recipes for wholesome organic purees and other foods.  I get so much joy knowing we are doing the best for him through nutrition.

Through our work, Heidi and I have access to many inspiring thought leaders and experts in the field of wellness, health and diet.  We became friends with Ron Rosedale, a leading medical research doctor, and Ron taught me much about the most current understanding of health, diet and lifestyle.  He shared the importance of the right fats and limitation of simple carbs especially for a developing baby.  He explained that with proper nutrition, babies brains can develop faster and so much of the inclination people have today toward major chronic illnesses can be diminished.  Only time will tell if what are doing will help Caden avoid later in life illness, but one thing I do already see is him learning so fast, and he’s a super happy child.  He loves to laugh and sing and play and lights up a room instantly as he smiles ear to ear and with his eyes.

I love coming home from work and having him run up to me and say “daddy – ug”  — Caden talk for “Daddy Hug”.  I enjoy teaching him fun things and just watching him grow. I delight in witnessing him reveal himself to us with each passing day.  I have such positive expectations for what is to come and never imagined loving anyone or anything this much.  (Caden is not yet two, so perhaps from what other parents tell me, I might see some of the darker sides of childraising in future months/years, but I am up for it.)

Q: What do you most want to teach your child?  What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting?

A: I want Caden to take care of his health, to lead a life filled with exercise and focus on staying fit.  I want to inspire him to care about what he does, to take life seriously but also to venture and dare to take on challenges, to travel and learn through experiences.  I want him to develop strong, positive values and understand what that means and to find happiness.

I see my role as providing him with guidance but also setting him free to explore and become all he wants without limits.

I had a great relationship with my father.  He was a kind and caring man who took a tremendous interest in his children.  He was creative, and while he never achieved what some might deem as great business success, he always found a way to be self- sufficient through good and bad times.  I cannot say I agree with all of his or my mothers values, though by way of contrast, those have shaped my own by defining not what I want to aim for but rather what I seek to avoid. Perhaps the values we have about what we move from, or avoid are as telling….maybe even so than those we see as those we move toward.

I want to do all I can to be here as long as possible to support and love Caden and provide a base of comfort and security and open him to all possibility.

Q: Do you and your wife take on different aspects of parenting?

A: My wife handles most of his daily needs and works with his nanny to plan his classes, play dates and supplies.  I am his “Daddy Gourmet” and plan his food menu. We both love him deeply and revel in his learning, growing and really all that he is.  He’s a constant source of entertainment and joy.  I feel like we want all the same things for Caden, and we both work hard and are committed to giving him a better life than either of us had growing up.

Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a dad later in life? 

A: I believe the real job of being a parent is to set a prime example and be as loving and caring as possible.   It’s hard to be all you can and need to be as a parent until you have lived enough yourself, until you have gained experience and wisdom.  We live in times where the pace of change is blinding, and only getting faster.  It’s critical to spend quality time with your spouse and to live your lives before you become a family.  So, I honestly say go for it!  The more of you you develop before becoming a parent, the more of you you will have access to give.

Q: Do you recall anything from your own upbringing that you’d like to pass on to your child or other parents?

A: I do not have the fondest of memories of childhood or my parent’s specific parenting.  There are things that stand out as things I would say to avoid.  In my youth, I considered the pursuit of a career in fine art.  While I cannot say if the advice my parents gave discouraging me would have impacted my life for better or worse had I not listened, I believe parents should take an active role in creating a learning environment but be open to allowing and encouraging their child to be anything they strive for.  In contrast to my parents message, I want to ensure Caden is aware of the almost endless possibilities as long as he’s open and committed to the pursuit of his dreams.

I see our son playing drums, reading, singing, drawing and more, and I often speculate what he will grow up to do, love, value etc.  It’s my job to provide him with confidence, experience and open options, but unlike my parents, regardless of good intentions, I never want to limit him.  I think people can do amazing things.  We live in a time when a college kid can and did create a multi-billion dollar company in his dorm room, and parents cannot ever know what little thing they say or do that plants a negative seed in a child’s mind that they cannot do something, which may alter the entire course of their life and limit the gifts they might have shared with the world.