One Day You’ll Thank Me: Jason Gunn’s genius mission hack
Kiwi entertainment icon Jason Gunn has written a children’s book in the hope of encouraging parents to be more present with their children. Photo / Delivered
Welcome to the Herald’s parenting podcast: One Day You’ll Thank Me. Join parents and hosts Jenni Mortimer and Rebecca Haszard as they navigate the challenges and triumphs of parenthood today with help from experts and celebrity mums and dads from across Aotearoa.
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Jason Gunn knows all too well what it’s like to be a busy parent. Besides a legendary TV and radio career, he has raised four children and is now enjoying being a grandfather.
This week on One Day You’ll Thank Me, he shares a smart trick for accomplishing something in parenting that’s crucial but often missed due to the distractions of our devices: being present.
“I remember somebody teaching me and I did this with my kids and they loved it and I encourage all parents to do it,” he tells the podcast hosts.
“You’re in the car, the phone rings. Your kids look at you and say “just let it go, okay?” You pick up the phone—obviously you’re hands-free, everyone—and you say, “Hello, good day.” And you look after your children [roll their eyes].
“And then you say, ‘Hey, look, can I stop you there? I can’t actually chat right now because I have a VIP in the car with me… Can I call you back? Very important person in the car with me, so I have to let you go.
“And you’ll see your kid say, ‘Are you kidding me? Who’s the VIP?’ And you say, ‘Dude … you’re a VIP. You’re the very important person … I’m not going to interview right now.’
“Honestly … it’s the most amazing thing and your kids say ‘close the front door.’
Gunn says it is important to “go out of our way to make our children feel that they are the most important thing in our lives at times”.
It’s a lesson repeated to him by his own son, who, after Gunn suffered a heart attack and considered returning to radio, tore up his father’s contract and urged him to instead focus on spending quality time with his family .
“My son, Louis, often has this thing he wants to say to me. At critical times in my life, he said, “Dad, what does success look like?”
The question prompted Gunn to end his radio career and start his own business. And when his son made First IV and Gunn was able to travel around the country and watch him play rugby, “he would come up to me before every game and say, Hi Dad. This is what success looks like.’
These moments where Gunn experienced the joy of being truly present with his children are part of what has inspired his latest endeavor: writing a children’s book. He and his brother Andrew have made up the story of Jason Mason and the world’s most powerful itching powder.
“I want parents to be present with their kids, read this story with them, do silly voices with them… I think when kids look back on time with their parents, that’s what they’ll look for… quality time .”
Gunn describes Jason Mason as an ordinary boy who finds himself in extraordinary situations – his favorite premise for a good story.
“So here’s what I love most. It’s not famous people telling me what ordinary things they do. Cool story bro. What I love is when ordinary New Zealanders tell their extraordinary stories. Now, that’s a story I want to listen to , right?
“The best stories are ordinary people who have had extraordinary situations, and that’s what Jason Mason is. It is as if he is a completely ordinary boy, and he discovers something extraordinary about his great uncle. And because of that, he gets to go on and do some extraordinary things. And that’s what I love about it.
“I want kids to realize that they don’t have to be extraordinary. Truly extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people.”
Gunn, whose early years in television saw him master the art of entertaining children, says he hopes his new book, much like his VIP tip, creates an opportunity for parents to put down their devices and engage with their children.
And he says Jason Mason has already received some good feedback. “I love it when I hear, ‘Hey, Jase, I read this book with my kids every night and we laugh so much.’ I go, job done. If a parent reads to one child and gets that quality time, job done.”
- To hear more of Jason Gunn’s smart parenting tips and find out which Kiwi reality show is making him physically sick, listen to this week’s episode of One Day You’ll Thank Me below.