Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Florida
Husband to Valerie Lopez Henderson (wife of 16 years and pharmacist at the VA Hospital) Dad to Elijah (12) and Ethan (9)
Life for Brent Henderson is definitely busy. Between his work as a professor at UF, his participation in his church and his many other activities, keeping up with home life and work life is certainly a balancing act. Although he may sometimes have to work late into the night to get to everything he needs to, Brent always makes time to spend with his children and wife. Although his life may be busy, it is also a rich one, full of love and service to others.
What does your typical workday look like?
The alarm goes off at 6 so I can get up, get the kids’ lunches ready and drop them off at school. Then I head to UF to teach my courses and meet with students and colleagues. I try to keep one day a week just for writing up my latest research, and on that day I’ll head to Pascal’s or Cymplify coffee shop to work where I won’t be interrupted. I’m also very active in my local church (the Gainesville Vineyard), so I try to find time to meet with our pastors or work on my next sermon during the week. Typically I’m home by 5 to help my wife out with dinner and help the kids with homework or get them to piano or violin practice. Admittedly, after the kids are in bed, it’s sometimes back to work for a couple of hours! Sometimes in the evening I’ll have a board meeting for Maya Health Alliance (a Guatemalan healthcare NGO) or work to do for the Gainesville Christian Study Center. I serve on the board of directors for both organizations.
When and how do you make time for yourself?
I love an early morning walk, an hour in the hammock with a book and an occasional evening with a great beer and a good cigar.
How do you balance work life and family life?
Probably not as well as I should! But I make sure that every day I listen to what my children have to say and that they know I love them. My wife and I go out for a meal alone together as often as we can so we can stay connected and talk about life. We also make a big deal out of the kids’ birthdays. I plan elaborate parties for them and Valerie makes amazing food. And my homemade Halloween costumes are legendary. Ha!
What are 5 things you must have at work?
Coffee, a few quiet moments to pray through my day, my laptop, a language problem to solve and more coffee!
What sacrifices/compromises have you had to make?
My dedication to my family probably means I don’t get as much research done as I could, and my commitment to my work and other organizations probably means I don’t spend as much time with family as I could. There’s always a sacrifice for one or the other, but that’s where balance comes in.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
My parents. My mom is a high school teacher and my dad has worked in the car repair business most of his life. They worked hard, long days to support the family, yet always made time for us and showed us how to love others well.
What advice would you give other working parents?
When it comes to time with your kids, it’s about quality, not quantity. Be intentional about how you spend time with them and the conversations you have. Spend time alone together, one on one. Do things together and let them lead. Done with intention, a morning trip to the springs can be more meaningful than a week at Disney.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My wife, my kids, my parents and my siblings.
What is your go-to breakfast?
I often intend to eat breakfast, but usually forget.
What is your coffee order?
Freshly ground black coffee pour over. I’m a coffee snob. Ethiopian varieties are my favorite.
What is your must-have work tech item?
For fieldwork, a high quality audio recorder is a must.
Finish this sentence:
I hope that I have taught my children… that living lives full of love, forgiveness, service and sacrifice is the only way to really live. Nothing else is worth much.