What Does it Mean to be a Dad?

27 May

It occured to me recently that despite writing all manner of father and son content for over a year I have never addressed the most fundamental question; what does it mean to be a Dad? So without further ado I will put on my serious hat and try to do it some justice.

What it means to me to be a Dad changes often. In those early days I saw my role as a protector, overtime I felt that it was my job to make sure his days were full of fun and love, then I realised it was my job to teach him good behaviours and now I understand that I need to be doing all of those things each and every day. I’m not interested in Max having an ordinary upbringing; I want it to be extraordinary.

I try to be guided by my instincts as much as possible and pick up on the cues and clues Max leaves for me. I also reflect on my own upbringing a lot and think about my relationship with my Dad and some of the things that he did really well. Like any parent I make mistakes along the way but those mistakes are less frequent as I begin to appreciate the importance of being proactive to nullify potential problems rather than reacting to them once they happen.
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Being a Dad is also about leading by example and challenges me to push myself to be a better person. I want Max to grow up with a sense that he can achieve anything and to get every little bit of happiness out of life he can. I want him to realise, as clichéd as this sounds, that you do only get one life and to get the most from it. I have this absurd notion that we will be best mates all the way through our journey and that he is going to keep me feeling young and alive.

I am appreciated very much as a father by my wife and that’s very important to me. I know that she would rather be the main carer but she sees that he is getting everything he needs from me and trusts me implicitly. Attitudes towards Stay at Home Dads are certainly a lot more progressive these days and whilst I still get the odd comment or quizzical look, I feel overwhelmingly accepted. Most importantly the fact that Max is such a happy smiley little boy informs me that he appreciates the job I do.
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Above all else it’s important for me to expose Max to what I would call a ‘real childhood’. That means climbing trees, building dens, making bows and arrows and generally being a boy. I hate the idea of wrapping him in cotton wool removing all potential for adventure and yes a little bit of danger. I am also a stickler for good old fashioned manners and will do my best to raise my son to know the difference between right and wrong.

Parenting demands so much of you, it requires a level of selflessness that I didn’t previously possess. I’m honest enough to admit that there are days when I wish I didn’t have to do it but then he flashes me a smile and all that melts away. I always had a notion that I wanted to be a dad. I even convinced myself it was my calling, some people are here to be doctors, some people are here to be lawyers, some people are even here to be traffic wardens, I thought I was here to be a dad and I still do. For some people that might sound unambitious but for me it’s the height of ambition.
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As always linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess

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28 Responses to “What Does it Mean to be a Dad?”

  1. Aaron May 27, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    Wow, as a relatively new SAHD, it looks like you were reading my mind there. All except the quizzical looks form people when you tell them. I’ve generally had nothing but acceptance, and I am constantly surprised when I get the reply of “Yeah, I did for a while too” It seems that us Stay-at-home-dads are fairly common where I live.

    • daddownunder May 27, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      Where are you Aaron? Quizzical looks are few and far between and overwhelmingly I feel accepted but I suppose those things stick in the memory a little more. Glad you could relate to the rest of the post and thanks for commenting.

      • Aaron May 29, 2013 at 4:59 am #

        I’m in Blenheim, New Zealand. I’ve got to admit, turning up to our coffee group was a little weird the first few times.

  2. rickfarrar May 27, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Well written. I’d like to see what you write when Max becomes a teenager.

    • daddownunder May 27, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      We will see, things change all the time but I think some of those things are deeply ingrained

  3. Rory Mouttet May 27, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    I think Max will be pretty well grounded guy when he grows up. Kids are meant to be outside and manners and respect are among the highest on my agenda for my own 2 girls.

    • daddownunder May 27, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      Thanks Rory your very kind, sounds like we’re singing from the same hymn sheet

  4. mcshamo May 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I have never felt more scrutinised than since I became a parent, my boy always has me under the microscope, and copies me all the time. So I really get what you mean about leading by example.
    Thanks for sharing, great post.

    • daddownunder May 27, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

      Thanks for the comment mcshamo. I’m learning that he will learn more from me in his early years at least than anyone else….that’s a scary thought!

  5. Beth May 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Thank you, I really enjoyed reading that. I am a SAHM rather than a SAHD, but can still identify with much of what you said. I smiled when I read the last paragraph, and how many think that is unambitious to want to be a SAHD. I had many ‘ambitions’ for my life, things I thought I wanted to achieve and do (and with the study and career I had gone into, would have achieved them). But then my three precious kids come along – all those things suddenly meant nothing.
    My new ambition – to get to the end of my life, and have my kids able to honestly say that
    1. they always felt loved
    2. they always knew Mum (and Dad) were there for them
    3. they were taught the things they need to know for life (like those manners you were talking about!), and
    4.they had a lot of fun being part of our family.
    Despite what some people think, It is not unambitious wanting to be a dad or mum, or unambitious wanting to stay home with them rather than do the childcare thing. It is the most important job we will ever do. Probably the hardest job, too! But the smiles, the laughs, the little hand that reaches out to hold yours, and the little voice that says ‘I lub (love) you’ make it all worthwhile.

    • daddownunder May 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

      Thanks Beth, great reply and four very rewarding ambitions that will keep you very busy, I’m sure you’ll achieve them all.

  6. JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter) May 28, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    Beautiful and honest. And so simple. x

    • daddownunder May 28, 2013 at 7:07 am #

      Thanks Jodi, its a pleasure to write something like that when it all just spills straight out. Glad you liked it.

  7. Me May 28, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    I think you are doing an amazing job with Max. I know that A would have loved to have been a SAHD except ‘back in the day’ Dad’s didn’t do that – but then neither did I – we both worked !!
    It sounds like you have a great plan for how you are going to raise a well rounded, well mannered young man !
    Have the best day !
    Me

    • daddownunder May 28, 2013 at 7:50 am #

      Hey Me, your comments always come from a lovely positive place, so thanks for that. I hope you have the best day too

  8. Alicia May 28, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Being a mum or dad is a great thing to aspire to be. I always wanted to be just like my mum, I had no real idea of how hard that job would be. I don’t know what it is like to be a dad, I do know that I respect and love mine with all my heart, and appreciate all that he has given me in life, and not one of those things are material xx Keep up the good work 🙂

    • daddownunder May 28, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Thanks Alicia, I don’t think when we talk about stay at home parents there is much difference between dads and mums, I try to give him the bits that his mum would if she was at home as well as what comes naturally to me.

  9. always josefa (@always_josefa) May 28, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    Beautiful post, no doubt Max will appreciate reading it one day when he is older
    Josefa from #teamIBOT xx

    • daddownunder May 28, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      I will be shoving it under his nose as soon as he can read Josefa : ) Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Mum of Five Girls... (@VeronicaNeal101) May 29, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    Thinking Max is one lucky boy

    • daddownunder May 29, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Shucks Veronica thank you.

      • Mum of Five Girls... (@VeronicaNeal101) May 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

        You’re welcome! I’m sure your efforts and devotion will help to create one outstanding young man. And since I have 5 daughters who will one day be looking for outstanding young men (hmmm challenge!) I hope that there are others out there doing as good a job as you.

      • daddownunder May 29, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

        Stay in touch Veronica and we will simply set them up when they’re in their thirties ; )

      • Mum of Five Girls... (@VeronicaNeal101) May 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

        It’s a deal 🙂

  11. Emily @ Have a laugh on me May 29, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I’m proud to say that EVERYWHERE we go people comment on how great my kid’s manners are – and that is just such a big win for me! It’s a small thing that means so much to many! Great post, and you’re totally rocking this SAHD thing me thinks – I bet your lovely wifey says the same 🙂

    • daddownunder May 29, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Good manners are so important, it does however set them up for a lifetime of frustration because of the sheer volume of people with no manners at all : ) Thanks for always saying nice things Em, you are the best cheerleader a blogger could wish for!

  12. amumsreality June 11, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    I love the part you wrote about giving Max a ‘real’ childhood, as a Mum and a teacher it is something that seems to be lacking these days in our society. There is nothing better than seeing children jump in puddles, make mud pies, explore gardens and dig in the dirt, so much can be learnt through experience can’t it?

    • daddownunder June 11, 2013 at 5:58 am #

      Its memories I suppose, I don’t want Max to grow up and have a childhood full of memories that centre around computer games and tv. It aids the imagination and develops a passion for nature and the outdoors. So yes as a fellow teacher and parent I think we’re singing from the same hymn sheet and I wish lots more people were. Thanks for sharing.

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