With Father’s Day fast approaching, the Samuel Windsor blog team is celebrating the important role that dads play in the lives of their children, step-children and grandchildren. We asked a panel of our favourite bloggers for their unique “dad’s-eye-view” of life as a modern father. If you fancy a chuckle, here’s what our quick-witted panel had to say…
Our panel of parents
Once the most read agony uncle in Europe, Stuart Hood – father-hood.co.uk – quit his job to spend more time with his son.
One half of the Daddy and Dad team, Jamie Beaglehole is adoptive father to two energetic boys and is on a mission to raise the profile of adoption in the UK.
A self-confessed “school run dad” John Adams of Dad Blog UK, runs the house, looks after his two daughters and writes about family life and the ups and downs of being a freelance writer.
An IVF dad, Phill Palmer of corporatedad.co.uk is a great source of information about the emotional journey involved in conceiving this way.
Andrew Norton aka Surfer Dad lives, parents, and surfs in deepest Cornwall, and loves nothing better than to grab his board and head to the beach for some “me time” in the waves.
So what did our panel of dad bloggers make of our probing questions…
What’s your definition of a good dad?
Stuart: “Wow, tough start. Here goes. In my opinion, a good dad tries his best at every aspect of parenting and works hard to find the optimum way to support his partner and child(ren).”
Jamie: “Dads are all completely different so this is a tough one. As dads Tom and I spend as much time as possible with our sons Richard and Lyall; involving them in our everyday activities and doing loads of fun stuff together. We hope when they’re grown up they remember having a lot of fun with us during their childhoods.”
Phill: “You just need to be there, physically and emotionally. You’re a guide and a teacher.”
Andrew: “My daughter says I’m a good Dad because I make her laugh, I listen and I (nearly) always say yes to play time. I’m happy with that definition, for now.”
What’s the most important thing dads can teach their kids?
Stuart: “Tai-chi. Just kidding. I’d go for respect. If you can teach your kid the importance of respecting themselves, their possessions and other people, then you’ve given them a good foundation.”
Jamie: “We try to teach our boys to do their best – to bravely face new experiences and difficult challenges. Our boys had quite a rough start to their little lives and arrived with very little confidence. So, we give them plenty of encouragement and always remind them they’re bright and capable when they’re struggling.”
Phill: “To laugh. There’s enough in this world to bring hate and sadness, the ability to laugh makes everything better, even if just for a moment. Laughing makes the memories of years gone by seem even better.”
Andrew: “To surf of course! And then maybe try other stuff that might also improve their quality of life.”
What have your kids taught you?
Stuart: “Along with the Baby Shark dance and the words to the Fireman Sam theme tune, my son has shown me the benefits of letting your emotions out and taught me to worry more about what my family and I need and less about what other people think.”
Jamie: “I’d like to say patience, although we do struggle when the boys are permanently in squabble-mode! One thing we have learned is children are very forgiving. When we make mistakes, get angry or perhaps treat one of our sons unfairly they quickly forgive and move on.”
Phill: “Money isn’t everything. I gave up high profiled jobs that paid ridiculously well to have more time. Be that bedtime or breakfast.”
Andrew: “To focus on what you’re doing and enjoy the moment, rather than stressing about what you’re not doing.”
What do you love the most about being a father?
Stuart: “The word daddy. When my son shouts it, runs across the nursery classroom and jumps into my arms my heart melts.”
Jamie: “The thing we love most about being fathers has to be the cuddles – our boys are very affectionate! In the evenings while we watch a bit of telly before bedtime each of our sons swap from one sofa to the other, cuddling me and Tom. Even now our eldest son is ten he still loves a cuddle.”
Phill: “My family. As a unit, we’re pretty special.”
Andrew: “Being a kid. Thanks to my daughter I can enjoy climbing trees, building sandcastles and bouncing on trampolines again – without embarrassing my partner.”
If you could start again, what would you do differently?
Stuart: “I’d make more of an effort to bond with the other dads in my NCT group and the dads I saw at early baby classes. Looking back, I lacked peer support in the first few months and this made things harder than they needed to be.”
Jamie: “Back when we adopted the boys they were very naughty and fought constantly. In hindsight we found it very difficult not to get angry. I regret spending so much of my time trying to stop fights and getting angry when I should have probably stood back and allowed them to burn themselves out. Keeping them occupied seems to be the way forward!”
John: “Not that I want to, but if I could start again, I would have paid a lot more attention to how kids interact with tech. I hadn’t really considered how ingrained tech is in our lives and thought my kids wouldn’t be engaging with it until their late primary school years. I still remember the day, almost seven years ago, when I found my eldest with my iPhone. She’d cracked the code herself and was playing a game on it! As parents, we’re the first generation to be dealing with the online world and I didn’t appreciate it would be such a big thing.”
Phill: “We went through IVF, so I would have started earlier in our lives and had more children.”
Andrew: “Buy my daughter the best equipment I can afford from the start, like a quality winter wetsuit or lightweight mountain bike. In trying to save a few quid I made it harder, longer and less enjoyable for her to learn. And if you sell them on afterwards, you can actually save money as they hold their value better.”
What do you hope will change for dads in the future?
Stuart: “I’d love to see the useless and lazy dad stereotype consigned to the history books.”
Jamie: “You know, even in 2019 there’s a clear imbalance of mums and dads on the school run, at parenting groups and generally around during school hours which suggests dads are less likely to take on an equal parental role. I’d like to see this balance out, with more mums progressing their careers while dads take time out to take care of their kids.”
John: “I hope we continue along the present path and that, slowly but surely, it becomes increasingly acceptable for dads to reveal their caring side and to have their abilities as carers acknowledged. Aside from pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is no aspect of childcare a man can’t do. In the 10 years I’ve been a dad, I have seen a lot of positive change. People are much more accepting of stay-at-home-dads and we need to see this continue.”
Phill: “I’m hoping the dad (cold)/mum (emotive) stereotypes are fading. There doesn’t need to be boxes. Mums don’t do all the nappy changes and dads can be there emotionally.”
Andrew: “I’ve noticed father-child relationships have changed with each generation. My grandad would hardly talk to children and certainly not hug them. My Dad likes a laugh and doesn’t mind a manly hug. I love cuddling and listening to my daughter’s thoughts. Maybe it’s a gradual balancing of parental roles. I don’t desire or expect a role reversal between Mums and Dads, but I do hope parents can choose their role rather than have it defined for them.”
Tell us a funny moment from your time as a father
Stuart: “Earlier this year, a friend convinced me to apply for The Sunday Times Style magazine’s Badly Dressed Man feature. I hoped that I’d get rejected on the basis on “already being pretty on-trend” but was actually fast-tracked to a photo studio in East London. I walked in and the feature’s stylist said “I was perfect”, which most definitely wasn’t a compliment. Two weeks later, everyone I knew saw my fashion sense getting ripped to shreds in a national paper. Still, on the plus side, I learned that green was really in for men this spring/summer.”
Jamie: “Our eldest son was once awarded the ‘good pencil’ at school – an esteemed prize, awarded to the best behaved kid in class at the end of each term. It was confiscated after less than an hour after he graffitied our dining table and poked his brother in the side with it.”
Andrew: “After an epic trip to New Zealand where we’d visited Hobbiton, seen killer whales in the wild and watched geysers erupt, we asked our daughter what she enjoyed the most. ‘the meat pies’ she said.”
Thanks for sharing your insights and funny stories with us, guys. Here’s to dads everywhere – Happy Father’s Day.