“When you see him smile, and recognise you, it just blows your mind”
Welcome to our first “Dadhood Insights with [Insert Name Here]“!
During the last week of each month we will be focusing on (and celebrating) insights, beliefs and lessons from dads of different ages, generations and backgrounds. It is safe to say that we are excited to share these insights and welcome any thoughts and comments you may have!
For our first ever Dadhood insight chat we were lucky enough to sit down with James, a first time dad, and Harry a fourteen month old who loves smashing a bit of pumpkin into his mouth.
How are dads different today?
Probably one of the biggest things would have to be the environmental factor of disposable nappies. I don’t think back in the day our dads would have been aware of the impact of that.
We’ve got those cloth nappies, and they seem okay and good, but washing them every day until the kid is out of nappies…that’s, um, crazy.
I think also that dads today don’t feel they have to be needlessly aggressive – we don’t always have to be full on and tough, but can be more relaxed or connected with the kids.
How are you different and similar to your dad?
I want to make sure I talk to him and discuss things with him as much as possible. My dad doesn’t really open up much, so I guess that is something I hope to do differently.
A similarity is our even-tempers. It isn’t about causing stress, but more about helping create a relaxed and calming influence in the house. That’s always been modelled to me and something I’ve taken on.
Being an affectionate and hands on dad is more of a thing these days. I mean, it’s a different generation, and that was just how our dads were. I think our dads were focused on trying to provide other things for us as their way to be hands on.
Looking after the house and our responsibilities seems to have changed too. It’s different for Claire and I since I work from home (which is amazing). When you’re not trying to keep the kid fed, clean and warm, you’re trying to actually live in a clean place. And be able to eat. That’s important for you to do too.
That’s the thing though, you do whatever is necessary to care for the kids.
Don’t get me wrong my dad did exactly that, it just looked different. He did the 9 to 5 thing, but would always come home and then kick the footy with us. Looking back, that was probably his way to touching base and getting Mum some space away from us.
How do you learn to be a dad?
Looking back at memories of what I went through seems to happen a bit. I guess I try and work out the lessons that were learned and looking back and seeing how it happened, or why, helps with that. Knowing the values I’ve been taught and believe in probably directs the dad I want to be.
Oh, seeing terrible parents is an AMAZING way to learn too. I recommend that.
I’ll watch and chat with my brother. It’s nothing formal or really serious, but I’ll see how he does things and then see if that’s something that would work with Harry and us. In the end, it’s on the job learning, often through necessity.
You would be surprised how quickly you learn how to put on a weird suit-sleeping-bag, thing on a baby…but press studs suck. Zips all the way.
Something you didn’t expect was…
I was terrified of being limited and feeling like there was this ticking clock on my life as I knew it. I had no idea just how much (and quickly) I would get to know him. The amount you like your kids is crazy – more than I thought possible.
And how funny they are. It’s ridiculous how funny he is! He already outshines me with his timing and comedy. When you see them smile and recognise you it just blows your mind.
I had no idea how much I just wanted a healthy baby, no extras, just a happy and healthy kid.
What are some traditions you want to recreate or start?
Something I want Harry to know and believe in is that you can be strong, assertive and brave, but nice and kind at the same time. Obviously that takes a while to learn, but hopefully I can help him discover that.
Three things you should never do:
Never leave the head of the bed (or your wife’s side) during the birth.
Never forget the food, nappies and clothes…you ALWAYS have to have that stuff on hand.
Never stop exercising and seeing people – you’ll go mad.
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