In our May 1 issue, we featured Korey Cooper of Skillet, and her daughter Alex, as part of our Mother’s Day special. One of the more profound elements in Korey’s story was her account of how God, despite the crazy road life the couple endured in Skillet’s earlier days, gave her a clear vision that they were going to be parents.
We caught a first-person glimpse into their relationship, and even heard from Alex herself. This time, we sit down with John Cooper and ask him a few questions about fatherhood and get to know a little more about his son, Xavier.
CCM: What has been the biggest surprise to you in parenting so far?
JC: Before our own children I hadn’t been around kids that much, especially babies, so the biggest shock to me was the realization of just how selfish of a person I was. All of a sudden when you have kids, you have no life, because everything you do revolves around the needs of your child. That’s just a fact of life. However, it’s quite awesome how God uses that to teach us, again, that our lives are not our own. Our lives belong to Him—what we do, how we spend our time, how we spend our money—all these things belong to the Lord, right? So, it really stunned me when becoming a parent revealed how most of the time I was just living for me.
CCM: How are your two kids different from each other?
JC: First, both of my kids are very different. Alex is very intelligent, very much like her mother. Ever since she was really young, like three and four years old, we’ve been able to have very intelligent conversations about Jesus and being a Christian.
She learned at a very young age what it meant to love people, and even how to talk with them when they might be going through hard times. I like to say that she has been evangelizing since around the age of four or five, and in turn, she is exceptional with people.
Xavier is different, he thinks a little more like me. [Laughs] Not to say that he and I are not intelligent, but we often like to take the “scenic route” when it comes to getting somewhere—the need of further explanation on understanding something, at times.
It’s been great getting to understand how he thinks. As a parent, it’s been a needed reminder that we’re not here to make our kids into something that they are not. My job is to help them become who God wants them to be, not what I want them to become.
It’s funny, a lot of people seem to assume that our kids would be extremely musical for one reason or another, but they’re not. Those things really don’t matter to me—what counts are that they’re lives are pointing toward Jesus. Even at age nine, I can sense that [Xavier] wants to be used by God, and he is seeking the Lord to direct his life. The great thing about our kids being so different is that Korey and I have to go to God for direction on how to best lead them, as we also want to discern what the Lord is speaking into both of them.
CCM: What do you think that your kids have learned from you?
JC: I like to think that they have learned, from the both of us of course, what I just mentioned about our lives not being our own. I’ve always tried to impress that on to my kids. You can talk to your kids about anything, however, they truly learn by example. For instance, our kids will have seen us take requests for late night prayers outside of our tour bus after a show, knowing that all we wanted and really needed at the time was to be in bed.
Definitely one thing they have learned from me is that no matter what you do in your life for a job, for fun, or even how you dress—it’s more about what the Lord wants for you, and not what you want for yourself.
We have experienced the fruit of this, from both of our kids, as we have raised them on the road. At first, it was not our desire to have children while traveling in a band, but God had other plans for us. They have fully lived in to their roles and feel that they have been called to be out on the road just as much as Korey and I have. They are eager to talk to others about Jesus, live for Christ daily, and to be a light anywhere they find themselves. They have had a great impact on our family, and are such a blessing.
CCM: What do you think they might do when they get older?
JC: I find it amazing that you can already kind-of tell what they’re going to be good at in life, even at the young ages of four, five, or six. You can already take notice to what comes natural for them. My kids are both very creative—I wouldn’t say musical, but artistic in other ways. They are both excellent storytellers and character developers. As I’ve mentioned, my son has a very peculiar brain, sometimes it seems like he’s slow in figuring things out yet he’s exceptional at things like mathematics. You could say that he is very computer-oriented. I can definitely see him going into some sort-of engineering or architecture career.
Honestly, my daughter is good at just about everything she attempts. She’s so good with people—she effortlessly understands them very well. Even when she was five or six years old, she would make friends on her own. We would go to a park and she would meet new friends to play with and, eventually, she would come over and tell us “I think that kid over there is sad, they shouldn’t be talking about their parents that way, so I prayed for them.” Whatever she does, I would assume that it’s going to be involved in helping people.
I have observed a lot of Christian parents waiting too long in teaching their kids about the Lord. You know, really experiencing Him, His presence, worshipping God, and understanding the Bible. I think a lot of parents assume that because one might be a young child, they wouldn’t really be up for any of that. I know from experience that is not the case. When I was growing up, my mom was very intent on me experiencing God and learning about Jesus as a youngster—and it stuck with me.
I think too many Christian parents think that their kids will get that when they get older. I accepted Christ as a young kid and as I got older, I never really experienced any kind of a backsliding period. I never left God to go do what I wanted to, only to come back to Christ later. I believe it was my mother’s example that really grabbed me and never let go, so we have tried to instill those same methods in raising our children. I don’t think a kid is ever too young to begin worshipping God.
We all go to church together, but we also worship together at home. I don’t let my kids sit around and play Lego’s while we sing to Jesus, they have to sing to Jesus, too. I believe their lives have been impacted because they have experienced God from a young age, and I hope that they will never forget it. This is probably what I’m most passionate about as a parent.