By: Reyna Gobel MBA, MJ
Rob Paulsen never had problems bonding with his son when he was a little. After all, he voiced Rafael in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. What’s cooler than that to a 6-year-old?
Parenting got tougher when Paulsen told his son to not drop out of college when he left college after an hour and 47 minutes.
We asked Paulsen, how he harnesses his “Turtle Power” over the years to chat with son growing up, in college, and beyond.
How did the Ninja Turtles help you bond?
We both experienced Teenage Mutant Turtles at the same time. I was the the cool dad among his friends in the years he was freaked out over Ninja Turtles. I was the still the cool dad making Ninja Turtle voices when he got older TO HIS FRIENDS. He would get embarrassed and hide with my wife when I went into cartoon mode.
When he outgrew the Ninja Turtles, how did you bond with him?
I paid attention to the music he was listening to and other pop culture of the times. When Gangsta’s Paradise came on the radio, I told him about Past Time Paradise, which Coolio sampled. When I was young, I’d bond with my parents over radio programming.
How did pop culture help you with parent talks when he was in college?
One talk was particularly tough. He was a junior and debating dropping out of school. I’m a voice actor who dropped out of school after one hour and 47 minutes. How do I tell him not to?
I didn’t tell him straight out “No!!.” I told him unless there’s something you want to do you are dedicated enough to do anything to achieve it, don’t do it. I left school at 19, went on tour with a theater company, and broke up with my girlfriend. I didn’t have a Plan B.
If you graduate college, you’ll have options. Employers will know you can be trained because you got your degree.
How did your son react?
He stayed in college, graduated with honors with a journalism degree, and now runs his own video game company with friends called Good Vibes Gaming. It’s on YouTube and TNT. He’s now 38.
Has your son ever had to give you a pep talk?
When I got throat cancer, I didn’t know if my career was over. I was a voice actor with a billion people hearing my voice in the Ninja Turtles, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, and Jimmy Neutron. But who was I beyond a voice? My son taught me people knew my name. Not just my characters. I wrote a book to inspire others called Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life. The good news was I didn’t lose my voice, and I can still be heard in the new version on the Animaniacs. I also give back back through work with Boo2bullying.com.
I’m so proud my son who almost dropped out of college, showed me my own options in life.