Fatherhood times six
BIG HUG Dr. McCarty holds 6-month-old Will as he gets a hug from oldest son, Lee, left, Ross, Julia, Mary Ann and Molly. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
June 16, 2002
Just like the Brady Bunch, Dr. Britt McCarty's clan has three girls and three boys.
The oldest is Lee, who is 11. Ross is 9. The oldest girl is Mary Ann at 7 years old. Then comes Molly, now 5. Little Julia is only 3 and last, but not least, is 6-month-old Will.
Today, on Father's Day, Dr. McCarty will celebrate with his wife of 18 years, Amy, and their six children. People often ask him, "Why so many children?"
And he simply says: "God has blessed us with children and they're fun."
McCarty and his wife both came from small families. He has one brother, and she one sister. The couple married right before his senior year in dental school at the University Medical Center in Jackson. They then moved in Cincinnati, Ohio, so he could complete his residency at the Children's Hospital.
Seven years would pass and the couple, who are natives of Jackson, have returned to Mississippi where Dr. McCarty opened his own practice specializing in pediatric dentistry in Meridian.
First father's day
At age 31, McCarty became a father. His first-born was a son, who was named Lee.
"If you stop and think about it, it's really overwhelming becoming a father, because of the responsibility that a father has in shaping and influencing the lives of his children," McCarty said. "I think a lot of fathers don't realize the power they have in their family."
Seventeen months later another son, Ross, was born.
"When you have kids you stop and think about what you used to do before you had children. I remember I had all this time but what did I really do with it?" he said.
Over the next several years, girls arrived. The couple's third child, Mary Ann was born, followed by Molly and Julia.
"The key is to remember that children are welcome members of the family, but not the center of attention. Each time we had another child, we didn't let the new baby take over," he said.
The family recently welcomed its newest member, 6-month-old Will.
"When the baby was born everybody was rooting for a little brother," McCarty said.
McCarty takes his role as a father very seriously.
"It's important just to spend time with your family give them guidance they need morally and spiritually."
He draws on his own experience with his father, John, a retired educator who served as assistant superintendent for Jackson Public Schools and was a professor at Millsaps College.
"My father is my hero," he said. "My dad had a great influence on my life. He provided spiritual and moral guidance. I think he's just a real wise man a man of good character."
"It's not like in the post War World II era, where dads went to work, made the money, came home, sat down and read the paper," he said.
Today's dad still go to work, but they come home, help clean up, feed the children, give them baths and then hope they get to read the paper before they fall into bed.
McCarty refers to the old saying: "I may not can spend quantity time with my kids, I can spend quality time with them. But the only way you are going to have quality time with your kids is spending a lot of time with them."
In today's society, more and more teen-agers are having babies. McCarty said this situation concerns him.
"They're kids having kids," he said. "It's the children who end up suffering."
He recalls a article by Dr. James Dobson. The article was about a greeting card company that had donated hundreds of Mother's Day cards to a prison. They gave all the cards out and still didn't have enough.
"I remember reading that the officials from the company thought, 'Wow this is such a huge huge success, so we'll do the same thing for Father's Day.' They were shocked when they didn't give out a single card."
McCarty wonders: "Are these men in prison because their fathers were absent in their lives? Maybe if their dad had been there, things would have been different?" he said. "A father is more influential in the lives of his children than we realize."
Homeschooling the children
McCarty and his wife, Amy, decided to homeschool their children early on.
"Amy was more into it than I was at first. We thought about it and prayed about it God just kind of led us to do it for our family," he said.
He said homeschooling is not right for everyone.
"It works for our family. We are able to be the influences in their lives and see exactly how they learn," he said.
The couple have found advantages to homeschooling. They can tailor-make the curriculum for each child so that each can learn at his or her own pace.
McCarty has a philosophy on homeschooling "Anybody can do it, but it's not for everybody."
With six children, extracurricular activities keep everyone busy.
Lee and Ross like to play baseball and golf. They take part in the Upward Basketball program. The three older children take piano lessons and the entire family is involved in activities at Highland Baptist Church.
"What we have to remember with our family is not to get overloaded," McCarty said.
Supper time is a special time in the McCarty household.
"One of the main things we cherish is sitting down to supper each night and eating together," he said. "I think that's one thing that America has lost. Families don't sit down together at the table anymore."
So, for this father of six, the question is: Are any more children in the future for McCarty, 42, and his wife, Amy?
He smiles really big and said, "I think our quiver is full. We'll kind of wait and see what God has in store for us."