TYPES OF DADS
Maybe you think of the traditional family. Dad goes to work, and mum stays at home?
Maybe you think of a single dad. Mum isn’t on the scene – maybe she’s passed away or has moved away or very ill.
Maybe you think of gay dads. Ricky Martin is just one of the guys who has primary care of a couple of kids without a woman living in the home.
And there are still more of these, as grandparents take on a primary role. Or FIFO dads they fly into work and fly out. Dad sees the kids maybe just for a few days a month.
Older dads have it tough in some ways, they don’t have as much strength for those nights when kids keep them awake. Younger dads are still growing up themselves, and have to deal with their kids.
Hey, we’ve hardly started on all the differences, so hang on.
There are some differences across cultures. The Danish way is called hygge. It means to try hard to make it work together. Drop your phone and iPad and stuff – that’s not a bad lesson for any family! Work together to make our family work by sharing hugs. Leave your job, or your worries, outside, and listen to each other. Sing some songs together, be positive and laugh as much as you can.
When it comes Chinese people, we can’t do better than this quote: Confucius said: “In serving his parents, a son reveres them in daily life; he makes them happy while he nourishes them; he takes anxious care of them in sickness; he shows great sorrow over their death”. Adam, from India, says he works with his son on practical jobs around the house. He encourages him to learn practical things to help keep the home running smoothly. Most Asian dads do guide their kids when it comes to choosing a satisfying and useful job. So there are some strong cultural differences within families. Dads reflect the cultures they grew up in.
WHAT DO DADS SHARE?
Despite all these differences, dads share some important things. Dads guide their kids into the world of work. They talk to them about what they’re good at, and what jobs might suit their talents.
Remember: We all have to learn to BE THERE for kids.
Look at the dads you see in the street with their kids. Are the dads stuck on their phones? Or are they listening to their kids? Look and learn for yourself. I heard a kid say, just last week, “Daddy, are you listening?” Wake up, Dad!
Don’t miss the everyday fun of being around your kids. Simon, a dad in his forties, notices some of these moments.
“When I pick her up from childcare, she calls out ‘Dadda!’. She’s so happy to see me! And when I take her out, I love the way she looks at everything. Everything seems to amaze and delight her.
“And the hardest thing? That’s being the main breadwinner, and being on deck 24/7.”
Adam says “it’s great to see my son growing up, exploring the world, and expand what he can do. The hardest thing is looking after him when mum is sick, or away.”
WHAT DADS CAN DO
1. Catch your kids doing something good. And praise them- “I like to see you….” Or “It was great when you helped your mum clean up”.
2. Help work out what chores kids can do to be part of the family’s daily workings.
3. Help out with homework, try to be positive, and never nag.
4. Do talk to your kids about their progress at school and at sport and encourage persistent effort.
Being a dad is the most important job you will ever do. Do your best at it. You kids will love you for your efforts. And one day you might have the fun of being a grandpa. That’s more fun still, as I know myself.