From the moment Jim Bredouw held his first child, he knew fatherhood was what he’d been put on Earth to do.
“I was all in. I was so excited. I loved it the first day and I still love it,” said Jim, a dad to three. “We’ve thought of them as complete people from the moment they were born. They just needed a little more guidance at 2 than they do now at 30.”
It all began in 1976 when he was looking through his sister’s photos from traveling the country and stumbled across an image of a woman named Anne. Jim was so taken by her and the dress she was wearing that he immediately drove from Seattle to Santa Cruz, California to meet his sister’s fetching friend.
“Between the way she looked, the fact that she had just broken up with her boyfriend and that she had designed and made this unbelievable dress at 22 years old, I was done,” he said.
After making the drive, Jim was walking up to Anne’s front door when her dog jumped on him, soiling his new white shirt. Instead of getting upset, he bent down and hugged it. Anne saw the entire thing from her front window.
“It got me off on a good foot,” he laughed. “I loved her dog as much as she did.”
They maintained a long distance relationship and a year later she moved into his house on Bainbridge Island.
“Anne says she never knew anyone who tried so hard,” he says.
The couple waited 10 years to have their first child, Minnie, who is now 31. Then came Miel, 29, followed by Henri, 26.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a dad until I met Anne, and she didn’t know she wanted to be a mom until she met me,” Jim said. “We were thinking of kids’ names the first few years we were together.”
After the two became parents, his love for Anne only intensified.
“My admiration just got deeper for her – and it was pretty deep already. Giving birth is a remarkably brave event, and I think a lot of men see a courage in their wives they didn’t know was there,” Jim said.
He describes her parenting style as “nurturing combined with no nonsense,” and says his own is “mostly acting like the largest kid of all, with occasional – mostly accidental I should point out – bits of wisdom and/or useful advice.”
“We are such different people and we bring different things to the party,” he said. “It was and continues to be a balanced and fairly easy partnership.”
When navigating through conflict, Jim treats his offspring like he would any other person he cares about.
“Upon reflection, if I feel like I behaved poorly, I try to make amends,” he said.
Anne is a clothing designer and Jim was a studio musician and wrote music for commercials. All of their kids were raised on Orcas and are highly creative. Minnie, who is married and lives in San Francisco, is a product designer focused on social impact. Miel is based in Los Angeles where she is a comedian, and Henri is a musician in Portland, Ore.
“Since both of their parents dropped out of college to start businesses in creative fields, it wasn’t really a surprise to us that they entered the fields they did,” Jim said.
For Minnie, he loves her “infectious enthusiasm” and says: “she starts out most days singing and imagining herself in a comedic storyline. It’s easy to get caught up in her fun nature.”
Miel has the quickest wit of anyone he’s ever known and Henri is kind, fair and confidently humble.
“Kids are like searchlights – any fissures in your character and they will shine through you and be visible on the wall. Your shortcomings are exposed by their pureness,” Jim said. “It’s like the mirror in sleeping beauty: they show you exactly who you are. You have two options: acknowledge and try to improve or just not spend a lot of time with your kids because it makes you uncomfortable.”
A few months ago, Minnie asked her dad if he’d throw her a fairy unicorn party on their Orcas property for her birthday in May.
So he ordered wings, unicorn cutouts, hanging decorations, balloons, a unicorn piñata and arranged for face painting by friend Stephanie Iverson. Anne took Minnie into town, and when she returned, the entire family was dressed to the nines for a woodland creature fairy bash. Miel prepared a big meal that everyone sat down to eat in costume.
Jim says he genuinely enjoys spending time with his kids and likes their company as people.
“I just like being together, whether we are in a different country or at home,” he said. “I know it’s fleeting. We are all alive and healthy and they are each with people we like. So I am soaking it up as long as it’s happening.”