Lifestyle & Travel,  Parenting & Paediatrics

What does it mean to be a father these days?

 

This will be the third Father’s Day without my own dad around to celebrate with. My father passed away in November 2015. I’ve never spoken about him, his death or the very special relationship I had with him.

I celebrate my dad often and our memories live on forever.

I would have liked to ask him to contribute to this post by telling us a little bit about what a father-daughter relationship is all about.

My dad was so painfully private that when he eventually agreed for me to create a LinkedIn profile for him, he refused to make his profile public (eye rolling and laughing). It defeated the whole purpose of the profile. He was and still is highly acclaimed in his profession, but he was never keen on putting personal stuff out in public.

Whilst he was very private, he was witty and would probably have cracked a joke. I imagine it would have gone something like this:

Me: “Dad, please write a piece for my blog and tell us a little bit about fatherhood?”

Dad: “No, I don’t want to write anything, just write there “Being a father means that your wallet is always empty.”

We would have laughed out loud, while drinking brandy and coke, and he just would have told me that he’s proud of what I’m doing for myself with my blog.

I see it as a basic and joyous way of saying, “You go ahead and do it, but I don’t want to do it.”

Read more: The Best Parenting Advice I ever got

I’m celebrating fathers and beginning with my own husband who is one exceptional dad! He absolutely loves my blog, and this is what he wrote:

Ian – The Poppet Dad

So, I’m not exactly a “new” Dad. I’ve had the privilege of donning the moniker Dad for nigh on 30 years now! In fact, I’m a pretty “experienced” Dad – to boys that is. However, having an almost two-year-old daughter has made me re-look at the “craft” of being a father.

I’ll be the first to admit that all those years ago, my boys are now 29 and 24, I could not even entertain the thought of a daughter. I “knew” then that little girls can’t catch a rugby ball (let alone throw one). They can’t play rough and tumble, or watch sport with their Dad and, apart from crying all the time for the smallest thing, would have to be entertained for hours on end playing dolls in a Wendy house. Call me naïve, it was a few years back when my hair was blonder, but I could not have been more wrong!

I have the most amazingly satisfying and fulfilling relationship with our daughter Sidney. She has proved me wrong on just about everything that I had previously, ignorantly assumed about girls. Not only is she smart, kind, loving, funny, mischievous, tough and brave, but she rides her bike like Valentino Rossi and can throw a ball – with either hand! And yes, she also occasionally plays with her dolls, thank goodness!

Sidney has shown me so much and taught me plenty. She has turned my world upside-down in a spectacular and positive way. She has made me wealthy without money and brings a special joy into my life every single day.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I love you Sidney Grace x

P.S. I am now a Grandfather – and so the learning continues!!

Read more: We’re going to be Grandparents!

I admire my husband’s relationship with our daughter.

Our little girl is very privileged to have such a hands-on dad. I personally believe that fatherhood today means something very different to what it meant years ago, for many.

That said, we have noticed numerous little things that need to evolve more with the times. We travel often, and one of the biggest issues we have is the lack of baby changing stations in the male restrooms at filling stations.

I got in touch with Don, the dad blogger behind the #IncludeDads initiative, to share some of his experience of being a hands-on dad with us.

The Don Father

www.thedonfather.co.za

On Being A Dad

Nothing anyone can say to you can explain what happens when you become a dad. It is such an extraordinary life-changing event, that it is impossible to conceive in advance how it will affect you, how it will alter your mind and how it will expand your heart. I was overwhelmed with love and pride. The kind of pride that only jumps into your body the second your child is born, and it’s this newfound pride that stays with you from then onwards. I never knew this feeling existed. It’s empowering, it’s humbling, and it’s probably one of the best feelings any parent can have.

I will admit, I was nervous about becoming a father. So many questions, so many ‘how will I know this? and ‘how will I know that?’ However, as Gia came into the world, all that nervousness went away immediately. It is a surreal feeling, a feeling of love beyond measure. A feeling so intense that it can’t be described or compared to anything else.

As a husband and dad, I love wholeheartedly. I give my undivided attention, and I marvel at every moment of Gia’s life. As a child, I never had the kind of father that joined in on the adventure of growing up, the kind of father that gave his attention to us selflessly and who thrilled in the excitement of being young and carefree. I know what I needed back then, and that is how I view my parenting and the decisions I make for Gia.

Parenthood is extremely rewarding. Yes, some days will be long, and the nights even longer, dinner will probably only be eaten after 8 PM, but it’s okay. What I have come to understand is that as much as you are learning how to be a parent, your baby is adapting to being in the outside world. Take it easy. Enjoy the happy mornings and stay calm through the cranky afternoons, listen to your parenting instincts, and support one another.

Above all, I have learned to love like I never thought possible.

The #IncludeDads Initiative

“Campaigns such as this assist to identify very important barriers to fathers’ involvement, and it also helps us to change the environment to encourage fathers to become more involved caregivers and supportive partners.” ‒ Andre Lewaks, Sonke Gender Justice

Let’s understand one thing: the idea of “Moms and Tots Only” parking spots and signs is very outdated. We are living in an age where dads are a lot more hands-on and play a more active role in the lives of their families.

In the beginning, every time I pulled up to a parking spot that read “Moms and Tots Parking Only,” I would wonder why. Who decided that dads need to be excluded from the text on a sign. I still don’t have an answer to that, but I guess that these kinds of signs have just become the norm. No one has actively raised the issue of changing them.

As dads, we want to be included and considered.

The #IncludeDads is here to raise awareness about something that has previously been overlooked.

It all started about two years ago. I had never paid these kinds of signs any attention until I became a parent. Then they hit me flat in the face. “Surely this can’t be right,” I thought to myself. That is when I started noticing all kinds of signage purely aimed at moms. I remember on one particular outing, going to a child-friendly play restaurant and needing to change Gia’s nappy. When I asked where the baby change rooms are, I was told that they were in the women’s toilets and that I was not able to go in there and change my child. My wife had to go instead. This raised concern and left me wondering “Why? What if my wife was not with me? How would I have changed my child’s nappy?”

The response to #IncludeDads has been extremely positive. This further validates that modern parents agree that Dads need to be represented more. I have had moms, dads, grandparents and so on, emailing and messaging me on social media to give their support and/or nominate a mall they would like to see adopt the #IncludeDads initiative. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel; all I want is to remove the old stigma attached to these kinds of signs.

“But it’s just a sign?”

I do understand that some might say, “It’s just a sign,” and moms or dads can park there, but in the same breath, there is no reason why these signs cannot include dads. I don’t expect the malls to change the signage to “Mom, Dad & Tot” signs. Something as simple as “Parent & Child Parking” would be great.

The first mall I contacted jumped on board almost immediately. They were excited to welcome this change and were also passionate about the message that the #IncludeDads initiative delivers.

“At Hillcrest Corner, we pride ourselves on our pay-off line: ‘We’re Family,’ so when we were approached and asked to join the #IncludeDads initiative, we couldn’t help but get involved! We believe in progressing with society, and we know that dads are just as involved in their children’s lives as moms. We will be changing some of the Moms & Tots signage to include dads so that fathers can feel just as important!”

There are many layers to #IncludeDads, and I hope to address more than just parking signs. I have had many requests from moms and dads across South Africa to address the need to have changing stations in malls that are not for “Moms Only.”. In general, the malls are welcoming of the idea. I have been led by requests from community members, asking for malls in their area to jump onboard. Just recently, another mall in Durban confirmed that they would be changing their signage within the next year to “Parent & Pram Parking”. I am so excited about this.

The campaign is currently in the its first phase, which is to address the parking bays. However, I believe that the phrase #IncludeDads is extremely powerful and can be applied to so many aspects of parenting.

#IncludeDads

I personally hope to see many more getting involved in this initiative and sharing the love.

Happy Father’s Day to my favourite person, my husband, my baby-daddy (those are all the same person), and all the other super awesome dads, those who are here with us and those who have already left.

I feel especially grateful and I am celebrating the positive impact that dads make in our society.

With Love & Gratitude,

Laetitia

This is not a sponsored blog post

*Our Father’s Day Shoot was sponsored by Leigh Benson Photography and Woolworths Food in Dainfern hosted us for the shopping shoot but all views and opinions are my own.  When I received these images they brought me to tears. Leigh was able to capture the true essence of this daddy-daughter relationship which I treasure with my entire being.

 

 

 

 

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