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About the Author

Robert Joseph Barnhart

Robert Joseph Barnhart is a financial investor, speaker, film producer, and philanthropist from Houston, Texas. Born and raised in Houston, Robert loved riding his bike, climbing trees, and building tree houses growing up. He attended The Kinkaid School from kindergarten through senior year and, later, graduated with honors from Emory University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative religion.

Robert has two children, Shane and Phoebe, as well as one grandchild, Cullen. In his spare time, he loves taking walks in nature with his daughter and teaching her about flowers, trees, moon, and fairies. Robert’s current work focuses on creating awareness about the interconnectedness of all of life.

The inspiration for Phoebe’s Five Little Fairies spontaneously came to Robert as he was putting his three-year-old daughter to bed. She had a terrible time falling asleep and nothing seemed to get her to settle down. Out of the blue, Robert began to sing a song that suddenly came to him as he sat beside Phoebe’s crib later that night. By the end of the lullaby, Phoebe had fallen fast asleep.

Q & A with Robert Barnhart

Why does bedtime play such an important role to you as a parent?

My grandmother Agnes read me Winnie-the-Pooh at bedtime when I was little. I always enjoyed it, so much so that it made me want to give my daughter the same kind of experience.

Why does singing at bedtime have a special meaning for you?

When I was five, we lived with my grandparents for a year. Every night, my grandmother, “Gommie,” would say the Lord’s Prayer with me and sing “Jesus Loves Me” until I fell asleep.

What is one of your favorite memories as a child?

I loved riding my bicycle in our neighborhood, climbing trees, and building tree houses. My cousin, Angela, helped me learn how to ride a bicycle when I was five. What a thrill it was, riding my bike around the block. Ironically, not one adult was around to witness the occasion back in 1961.

What is your favorite thing about being a father?

I love seeing my daughter’s smile and hearing her laugh more than almost anything. It makes me happy to give her the attention she deserves as well as giving her room to grow up and be herself. 

What is one of your proudest moments as a father?

Watching my son grow into a man and become an incredible father, himself, fills me with happiness. He is such a loving and caring force in my grandson’s life.
 

What are some things you do for fun with your children?

I love flying kites, watching cartoons, and showing Phoebe how to crawl. I have great memories singing to Phoebe and reading her stories every night. I also loved spending the night with Shane in the wooden cabin we had in the South Texas countryside.
 

What advice would you give to new parents?

Treat your children like the human beings that they are from the get-go. Set an example with your actions. Praise them for their positive qualities, and don’t take their actions personally. I didn’t find it helpful to expect that my children needed to do whatever I said just because I was the parent. We must respect the dignity and self-esteem of our children from the very beginning. This Life is short and passes quickly, have fun with your children.

What kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind for your children?

After I’ve gone, I want my children to know that I always loved them dearly, and that I did the best could. I want them to have felt that love from me and use it to have positive self-esteem in their lives.  I hope they appreciate the work that I have done, however meager, to help make our beautiful planet a happy and safe place for all human beings.  I hope they appreciate that there is more to life than meets the eye, and hope they learn that the world of the fairies is real.

What do you like to explore in your creative work?

I believe resolutely that we are all part of one planet and we are all one. I feel that we have a responsibility to care for our world so that we have clean air, clean water, and healthy, fresh food for everyone. We need to be able to provide housing for all humans in a sustainable manner so that people can begin to live together in a peaceful way for countless generations into the future.
 
There is nothing more powerful than loving, kindness, understanding, and a listening ear. I like to explore the primacy of being – that each and every person is precious and worthy of respect. We do not have to do anything to be loveable. When we look into our own hearts, we find that each and every one of us is loveable just by the fact that we are, that we exist. 

For more about Robert and his work, visit www.anewunderstanding.org

Photos

Phoebe and Robert Collage Robert with son Shane Sketch of Robert and Phoebe Robert and Phoebe