published Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Chattamoms: Pat and Gina Neely on parenting

Pat Neely writes candidly about his family's hardships in "Down Home With the Neelys," the best-selling cookbook written with wife Gina.

Mr. Neely's father died when he was 11, leaving his mother with five children to support. Mr. Neely and his four brothers had to work to help their mother meet household finances. The brothers learned the restaurant business from their uncle, then opened their own Neely's Bar-B-Que.

He credits this experience with developing the work ethic he has today.

During their appearance July 11 at the She expo, the Neelys were asked how they are instilling their work ethic in daughters Spenser, 20, a former UTC student, and Shelbi, 15.

"They've got it easier than we had, but they work," said Mrs. Neely.

"Gina is an outstanding mother who instills discipline, respect for themselves and how to carry themselves. Together, we instill the work ethic," Mr. Neely said.

"Shelbi is 15, and she's been working since she was 10, initially at the family restaurant, but it became too difficult because people kept asking for her autograph. Now she's at a neighborhood restaurant. Spenser also works.

"Kids need to have chores they are responsible for around the house, to know we have expectations of them. It's one of those things that's very important," he said.

Do you still eat meals together?

"Yes, as often as we can," Mrs. Neely said.

Do your daughters always travel with you? (Both young women attended the She expo.)

"As much as they can with their work schedules," Mrs. Neely answered. "Since we've been doing these shows, Spenser has taken an interest in film editing. People don't think about careers like that until you are around them.

"In spite of all the craziness the last two years, they have been on the ride with us. They are very humble," Mrs. Neely said of her daughters.

'GOOD FOR YOU' FOODS

Hamilton County Parks and Recreation has scheduled the final nature outing in its Kids Time series at the Tennessee Riverpark, 4301 Amnicola Highway. From 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Shelter No. 4, children 5 and older can join outreach staff of the Creative Discovery Museum to explore the theme "Good for Me & for You." Activities will focus on where food comes from, how it is grown and how our bodies turn it into energy. Registration is required by Wednesday, and a minimum of 20 children must sign up. Call 842-6748.

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