Country musician Justin Moore understands the value of growing up in a small town, one where everybody is proud of you and your success but never lets it go to your head. That’s why Moore, a multiplatinum-selling artist who’s been a mainstay of the Country charts since 2009 with such hits as “You Look Like I Need a Drink”, “’Til My Last Day,” and “Small Town USA”, wanted his four children — three daughters and one son — to grow up not in Nashville, but his hometown of Poyen, Arkansas which has a population of 300.
“I’m a product of this small town and it’s been good for us because everybody is happy for me and proud for me and what I’ve been able to accomplish in my career, but nobody really gives a damn,” Moore tells Fatherly with a laugh.
While Moore’s music career takes him away from Poyen every week, he makes sure to prioritize family above all else. That means playing 120 shows a year, but heading home as soon as possible after each one to help his kids with schoolwork, take them to church, and coach their softball and basketball teams.
“I could go out and do a lot more shows than I do but I don’t because one of the most important things in my life, one that comes before music and career, is being a father and husband,” he says. Moore, whose new album Late Nights and Long Necks comes out April 26th and is a proud dad through and through, was excited to share some of the biggest lessons he tries to impart on his kids. Here they are.
You Gotta Have Faith
First and foremost, I want to teach my children how great god is. I want to teach them to believe in Him, about his sacrifices for us, and that they need him in their lives. My dad and mom were great examples of a Christian household and always made sure to show us how important that was, so I’m trying to model my household like the one I grew up in. So my kids are in church every Sunday and Wednesday, we pray every night when we tuck them in, and my wife and I are always trying to incorporate religion into their lives.
A Good Work Ethic Starts Early
Making sure that my children know the value of hard work is extremely important to me. I do this by example, showing them what good work ethic is as far as my career is concerned. But day-to-day, the best tools that my wife and I have for teaching this are chores, which all of my older kids have, and sports. I played sports all my life and my nine- and seven-year-olds are into softball and basketball right now. I also coach both of their teams. I think sports are so important for young kids because they check a whole lot of boxes — they teach you accountability, how to lead, when to follow, how to handle success, and, most importantly, how to work hard.
There’s Nothing Wrong with Being Competitive
I’m very, very competitive. No matter what we’re doing, I’m going for your throat. The guys on the road with me make fun of me for it. But I play to win. This competitiveness has helped me a lot. Take business I’m in. If I didn’t have that in me, I wouldn’t be here 12 years after starting my career. So I want my kids to know that it’s okay to want to be competitive and to see that I work hard and compete every day to do what I do. I think that will serve them well. I don’t want them to be overly competitive but I do want them to understand that they are good enough at whatever it is they’re passionate about and have the spirit to prove that.
You Learn More from Loss
Now, a competitive spirit is great — to a point. My nine-year-old daughter is, like me, unbelievably competitive. If ya’ll are playing tic-tack-toe and she loses, she’s distraught. She’s incredibly hard on herself. I want my kids to learn that, as long as you do your best, if you lose you have to be okay with that. No matter what you’re doing in life, whether its sports, career, or anything else, your goal is to do it as best as you can do it. And sometimes that’s going to be good enough and sometimes that’s not. As long as you try to achieve your best every day, then that’s great.
Here’s another example with my daughter. She got a B on a quiz the other day for the first time in her life. Other than that, she’s had all As. She wept. Because she got a B. A B! I’m like, “That’s great! A B’s good! It’s not your total grade. It was one test.” But that’s just her competitive spirit which can serve you well but also be detrimental if you allow it to eat at you. I explained to her that as long as she did her best and studied, then I’m proud of her and she should be proud of herself. Whether that means you get 100 or a C, your best is your best.
Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated
I always teach my kids to be kind and treat others the way they want to be treated — the golden rule, which used to be up in classrooms when I was their age and in school but isn’t really so much these days. This is incredibly important. And so my wife and I try our best to instill in our children to respect everyone — people your age and up and down — until they’re disrespected. And then they can handle it a different way.
One of the reasons we live in my home town — a town of 300 people — and not Nashville because I wanted my children to have a “normal” upbringing. I didn’t want them to be effected by what I chose to do as a living because I didn’t feel like that was fair to them. If they were privileged beyond what any other child was privileged, I felt like that would be a negative in their lives.
I’m successful and they’re proud of me, but they just see me as Justin, the point guard on the 2002 state champion basketball team and the catcher from the baseball team and the child of Tommy Ray and Charlene. And that’s been good for me, which in turn has been good for my kids. People don’t treat me differently than anybody else and they don’t’ treat my kids any differently because of what I do for a living.
Family Comes Before All Else
A big thing I want my kids to know that family is the most important relationship they’ll ever have. To use an example of my nine-year-old again: She has a number of great friends — and she herself is a great friend — but if her best friend punched her in the face she’d hug her. She’s always nice to her, does for her, and so on. She’s great like that. But she can sometimes be a bit hateful to both her sisters, especially the seven-year-old. I’m an only child, so I’m unfamiliar with that sibling relationship but I’m always explaining to her that her little sisters are constantly looking up to her no matter what she does and that she needs to set an example and show them that they’re important, that she loves them, and that she treats them well. Because when all is said and done, family is everything. No matter what.