Perhaps it was his childhood memories of family drives throughout the changing seasons and Christmas tree hunting in the Black Hills forests that led Gregg McNabb and his wife, Jena, to choose this area for raising children of their own. “It’s safe here,” Gregg explains, “and at the same time, Rapid City also gives you that ‘big city’ convenience.” Gregg and Jena were both raised in the Black Hills of western South Dakota—their family’s history begins with the two of them as high school sweethearts.
Years later, Gregg and Jena have three confident and gracious children of infinitely colorful and distinctive personalities. Falon is the oldest, fulfilling her role as “big sister” with a kind and nurturing demeanor. Caden is the middle child whose love of reading and passion for learning has made him exceptionally smart and creative. Jevon is the baby of the family, and Gregg and Jena both laugh while describing him as a typical youngest child—always “up for anything.”
It must also be mentioned…Jena and Gregg are expecting! Expecting the addition of eight-year-old Jayda, that is, who Gregg describes as “resilient; and sure of what she wants.” Jena insists that Jayda is already a part of the McNabb family, even though they have not yet completely finished the adoption process—the home-study is just finishing up, and a 6-month trial living period is about to commence. Because of Jayda’s matured communication skills, and also because of Gregg and Jena’s willingness to give to others, the trial period should pass with flying colors.
Likewise, the McNabb’s are no strangers to generosity and have opened up their home to others on various occasions before considering adoption. Beyond Gregg’s affiliation with the United Way and Jena’s work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Black Hills, the couple has a history of providing love and support to children who are not initially their own. They have both served as mentors in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and also taken Jena’s twin nieces into their home to support them through the last years of high school. In short, the McNabb’s hearts, as well as the doors to their home, are wide open. “We’re here to care for others,” Gregg and Jena agree, aiming to pass this sense of responsibility down to their children.
After all, parenting is all about mentoring. Jena maintains that the greatest reward she receives, as a parent, is seeing her children “making choices that are…good. Really good!” and witnessing the materialization of respectful and responsible young adults. “Those moments pay off,” Jena insists, “that’s when we know we’ve done our job.” Gregg derives his utmost prize in that sense of togetherness reinforced by family—the McNabb’s eat their nightly meals together, they practice their faith together, they laugh and have fun together, and they tackle serious, in-depth situations…always together.
Gregg and Jena admit that, from time to time, they’ve needed a little mentoring of their own. Sharing the best advice they ever received from another parent, the McNabb’s disclose that you can’t sweat the small stuff. “If you let the small things upset you,” they both say, “the big things will make you flip!” Gregg confesses that his wife periodically reminds him to let the kids be kids—and this type of communication is the hallmark of good parental teamwork. If Gregg and Jena could pass down one bit of information to other parents, it’s that communication is the key, and routine should be followed as much as possible. For example, the McNabbs congregate every Sunday evening during the school year to discuss the family’s upcoming schedule: dance, voice, guitar, piano, and violin lessons, after-school pickups, bible studies, etc.
Outside of the crazy schedules, the abounding love, and the incessant fun, the McNabbs believe that everything they do as parents, all of the hard work, is done so that their children can be happy. Jena’s greatest hope for her children is that they always put their faith first—then good morals, fine values, healthy relationships, and general happiness will follow. Gregg and Jena know that their children will make mistakes—but they trust that as long as their kids hold on to their faith, generosity, and compassion, each of them will be able to make the right choices.