This week the Brilliant Dad feature is Jon. Jon is the father of two and has been married for seven years.
He’s passionate about health & sport, community action, and personal development. These passions have integrally influenced his character into the man he is today.
He’s the Founder of This Dad Can. This Dad Can is an online resource for new, existing and expecting fathers. It resources men to be the Dads they want to be. Saving them valuable time and money by avoiding the common parenting mistakes. Join the 2900 other dads already benefiting from his website This Dad can.
1 Have you always wanted to be a dad?
I don’t think I ever viewed it as optional. I just viewed it as a given, the thing you do. That’s perhaps a tad immature. Let me reassure you that we did however, take extensive time reflecting and discussing the timing of when we intended to get pregnant and have children.
Having experienced my father being absent in my childhood, I felt I had additional impetus to be an involved dad, but also coupled with the feeling of deficit- lack of experience, example and isolation. Consequently, I had an appetite to be involved, hunt out information and seek guidance. My story is far from unique which is what drove my ambition to found thisdadcan.co.uk.
2 How did you feel when your children were born?
My initial response was relief. That baby and child appeared to have come through the process (birth) largely unscathed. The clinical environment, lack of explanation and contrasting intensity of calm slow pregnancy to quick intense birth, all contributed to a tad stressful experience for all.
Like many dads I found being turned away from my newly born daughter and wife (because of hospital processes relating to visiting times) bizarre, rather prehistoric and outdated. It felt rather devaluing of my role, my contribution and both my families and my needs.
3 What have been your most rewarding experiences so far as a Dad?
I’m currently teaching my daughter to write her name, that’s pretty awesome. When we’re out in public she will often passionately interrupts discussion to point out (with great enthusiasm) her first initial, on signs and text.
I usually sit down with her first thing in the morning. I found the slot before breakfast works a treat. Mum gets extra time in bed; my daughters attention levels are on point and other distractions (her sister) are minimised.
With increasing body of research, linking a dad’s involvement in their child’s education and the child’s educational attainment, not only do I view this as a progressive time for her development, but also a quality time for our bonding.
4 What are some of funniest moments to have happened to you as a dad?
My wife and I give one another a night off each week, it sounds very methodical (it is). It’s a regular evening (minimum) per week, for us as individuals to step away from the responsibilities of parenting and chores and get out of the house. One because we need rest bite from the kids, but also because we need to invest in ourselves.
My wife’s night off, often goes rather seamlessly. Despite being additional work for me, I actually find it easier. In my view our daughters often wind down easier and the process is rather peaceful. I think this is more a reflection of my calm lifestyle and approach to things.
However, on one occasion my youngest daughter decided to train her body and time her evening poo for when she was in the bath with her big sister and twenty toys. Oddly when it happened the eldest burst into tears and the youngest quickly mimicked. So as the rational, responsible parent, what do you do first, grab a child (which one), grab the poo (as it starts to become diluted and separated in the bath water), grab the toys. You can’t leave the baby in the bath whilst you get the wipes from another room, what comes first!
You know that bath, book and bed time is peak grott slot. It’s the time when your kid’s attention levels are depleted, your fatigue is creeping in and if timings don’t go to plan seamlessly someone is going to kick off either today or worse throughout tomorrow.
I would like to think the poo’mageddon was just one night, oh no. Not only was this one occasion, for a week it appeared to be the routine!
As a dad, I’ve never flapped as much as that week. After it happening a couple of times, you expect it and plan for it, but even then, have in the back of your mind, how can I stop this routine and encourage poo on demand. It perhaps explains why I’m so pedantic about our kids now not drinking the water whilst in the bath.
5 Have there been any situations with your children that you have found difficult to cope with?
Following the birth (the first twelve months), I was constantly confronted by the pressure to conform to financial responsibility and striving. Whether it was marketing aimed to encourage me to buy products which develop, protect, or secure my family’s future. Peer influences no doubt had a big influence: keeping up with The Jones’s, as their financial goals increased. But also, my own personal spending goals: new purchasing habits which communicate my character as my identity profoundly changed being a parent. I regularly caught myself up in the early hours searching online for Land Rover Defenders. Something which would communicate my outdoor adventurous passions, despite those passions ‘actually’ having less and less association with my life today. Naturally with these pressures I could have gravitated towards long working hours and sloppy work life balance.
To add to this, early on in fathering, was mentally more of a challenge. I would come in from work and have a couple of hours with a screaming child. This was a particular testing time for my future as a father. It would set the foundations of my outlook on parenting and whether I was sufficiently capable and competent. My daughter would daily reject my efforts and this at times dramatically shaped my view of my role, contribution and identity. Often, I would feel incompetent, not able to make a difference and subsequently be at risk of disengaging from my responsibility to my wife and child. At times the pressure to provide and the lure of work, appeared to be the less conflicting solution.
New dads often relate to their experience with words such as; daunted, overwhelmed, very stressed, excluded, inadequate. This scenario with little tailored support for dad, can lead to further corrosion between the father child relationship and greater pressure on mum.
Attempting to be a proactive dad I would seek support from professionals. But often found myself in a room with my wife, the baby and a professional, with the professional not even acknowledging I was in the room, let alone, ask about my health. It’s somewhat concerning now we know, what we know of the importance of mental health and how it’s linked to relationships and physical health.
6 What are your dreams and hopes for your children
My dreams and hopes for my children are that they will continue to mature into individuals who can rationally form their own views and outwork their ambitions, whilst recognising the value of the inter dependence to the community around them.
Our daughters are fantastic examples and often surprise us with their generosity towards others. We don’t take credit for this, we’re not sure where they’ve got it from. My hope is that they continue.