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Let’s hear it for the boys

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Let’s hear it for the boys

The role of dads in the family unit has evolved considerably over the past decade and on September 1, we celebrate all of the men who help to raise the next generation.

I have been fortunate to have two dads in my life – the dad who brought me into the world and the dad who helped to raise me from a young age.

I have learned so much from both of these incredible men and felt safe knowing that they have my back.

The My Weekly Preview team takes their hats off to all dads and those who have stepped into the role of father figure – the uncles, grandfathers, brothers and foster carers who become a source of strength and support to fill the void when fathers are absent physically or emotionally.

I have spoken to three incredible dads to share their take on fatherhood.

 

Rob Palmer

The former Better Homes and Gardens presenter, 2010 Dancing With the Stars winner and author with wife Gwen and children Gruffydd, 14, Branwen, 11, and Greta, five

I learned a lot from my dad, John Palmer. I started working in his company during school holidays when I was just nine years old and it led me to carpentry, which became my first career.

A couple of things Dad would tell us include, “99 per cent of the things you worry about never happen” and “let’s not worry about what happened yesterday; let’s work on making tomorrow better”.

He was always one for not holding grudges. He would never let us go to sleep without agreeing on a no-grudges policy, whether you felt like it or not. These are some of the great things I now do with my kids.

Time goes pretty quickly and although people tell you how fast your kids grow up, I’ve only just now realised my son is 14.

My dad and my kids were the inspiration for my latest project, my book called Dad Hacks. I’ve always liked to be able to do things to impress the kids and the stuff they enjoy is often the stuff I get a laugh out of, so I compiled some shortcuts that make life easier. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek way of engaging your inner child and letting go of the stuff we take too seriously in order to enjoy our family.

There were hacks in there I got from Grandpa and my dad, but they also used to do a lot of stuff for us that we couldn’t include in the book – like how Dad actually made moulds to cast fibreglass for a curved waterslide in the backyard. We stuck a hose at the top of that one. He also fashioned a slippery dip out of sheet metal once.

I have a bit on the boil on the work front with my YouTube channel, radio work and ambassadorial roles for Masters in Building Training and Medtronic, who make insulin pumps as I have type 1 diabetes. I am also rebuilding a cubbyhouse at home.

My five-year-old is pretty keen to have one in a tree… I got her to build in LEGO what she wanted me to make in the backyard and there is no way I’m going to be able to come close. I was trying to buy myself time by giving her that project, but all I did was buy myself an impossible dream. Her LEGO model has a garage with a boat in it, a spa on level three, and that’s just the outside edges of it. The rest of it is quite detailed.

I find that kids love to impress their parents and the act of being in the yard with your kids creating memories is one of the best ways you can spend Father’s Day.

The perceived role of a dad has changed dramatically as I’ve grown up. The stoic, tough and hard expectations made it a challenge for dads to show emotion and creativity because they thought they had to have this hard provider role. The more today’s dads engage in their community, develop skills and show their creative side, the more fun they can have with their families.

Man with a Pram

Man With A Pram is Australia’s first National Father’s Day Fundraiser Event, which will bring new fathers and families together across the country to raise awareness and funds for programs that support new fathers.

Dads Group Inc is hosting Noosa’s first Man With a Pram event on September 1 from 8.30am.

New dads, mums, grandparents and friends can join in with prams and carriers to create ‘the village that raises a child’ with free coffee and light refreshments from Bakers Delight, followed by a social walk and activities.

Meet new people and enjoy some quality family time.

Entry is by donation. Visit manwithapram.com to find out more.

Todd Widdicombe

92.7 Mix FM radio host with children Fynn, 17, Noah, 15, Nedd, 12, and Isla, 10

The other day my 10-year-old daughter Isla, the genuine light of my life, asked me what it’s like to have kids, so I just interrupted her every 11 seconds until she cried. Then I sneezed biscuit in her face. Later I woke her up in the middle of the night to tell her I’d lost a sock in my bed before asking for eggs for brekkie and after being given exactly what I asked for, refused to eat it. Being a dad is ace.

You know that awesome feeling you get when you bung on an old pair of jeans and find 20 bucks in your pocket? It was nothing like that. Becoming someone’s dad is the most incredible feeling. All you know is that life as you know it has changed forever and that finally someone looks at you the way you look at lasagne.

There’s a sense of protectiveness you never thought you had in you and it grows stronger with each child who joins your crew. Then you have a pink one and it’s then and there you realise you’ve acquired the skills to go all Liam Neeson on someone’s ass if you need to.

The most important lesson my offspring have taught me is to always maintain a sense of humour, no matter what the situation.

Whether it’s a jam sandwich in the DVD player, poo in the bath, or vomit in the backseat of the car (I tell ya, I’ll never billet another German backpacker again). Even in the darkest times you must think, this too shall eventually pass.  Like the LEGO your three-year-old just ate.

I have given my kids plenty of life lessons:

Religion – “You’d better pray that comes out of the carpet before Mum gets home.”

Logic –“If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, you’re not coming to the beach with me.”

Irony – “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Last weekend I gave my 12-year-old lad Nedd $10 to clean up the kitchen, then I mugged him on the way to his room, just to teach him that “life ain’t always fair”.

Don’t be horrified, I’m just joking! It was five bucks. I have nowhere near enough time to list all my shortcomings, but I just asked my boy Ben if he could think of any ‘dad fails’ and he reminded me his name’s Fynn. Soooo…

To be fair if you’re a dad and you’re reading this, you probably feel like you need more advice like Gandhi needs a meat tray right?

There’s always someone, somewhere telling you how to do it better, so here’s what I reckon: being a dad is 43 per cent making empty threats and 57 per cent picking up bikes from the driveway.

Add to that the art of opening a packet of barbecue chips without making a noise so as not to attract the attention of the kids and the dog, and every now and then telling your kid when they get a scratch to “rub some dirt on it”.

Enjoy being a dad. It’s like a roller coaster on the Goldie – exciting, terrifying, expensive and at some point, you feel like throwing up. But what a thrill ride. I’m stoked I have an annual pass.

Thomas Docking

Founder of Dads Group Inc, Queensland Father of the Year Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay regional winner and father of Evelyn, five, Annabelle, two, and Joseph, seven months

My wife Kate and I were on a planned trip around the world. We’d sold or given away everything we owned and were island-hopping to see what resort life would be like. It was a huge change of pace from the big mining company corporate life we had been living and we really loved it.

We had one too many celebratory cocktails and ended up being pregnant, resulting in a U-turn back to Melbourne to be close to family and start setting up with everything we needed for a new baby.  We were on Hayman Island when we found out and I was in shock for a couple of weeks, I don’t think I was ready for it.

Even now, five years later, I’ve had so many conversations with new dads and not many of them are ready for it, per se, no matter how planned or unplanned the pregnancy is. Their role in the relationship undergoes a bit of an identity crisis.

At the time, I found nowhere to get any support or anyone to talk to. I hung out with a friend who had little kids and found this was the best way to feel more confident about parenting.

So Dads Group was born. There are more than 100 groups around Australia, including Mount Coolum and Noosa, and dads with kids aged five and under get together for a free coffee and to have a laugh. None of us are perfect parents and there is unspoken social pressure around the elements we should perform in family life, but we want to diffuse that a little bit.

In any young family, the child is the first decision-maker because they determine whether there is any social activity going on. The mother comes next as she may be too tired for any social activity and then the third person is the father. That’s exactly how the father feels, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s simply a thing to be acknowledged. But when recognition comes in for the role they play in the family, there’s validation and then there’s a sense of purpose.

Dads Group is about supporting the whole family, not just the dad. By getting dads out in a social environment with their children, they are allowing their wife or partner a chance to rest and recharge and they are also building a great social network with other dads living nearby.

When we first formed five years ago, I was given a nice pat on the back, with comments like, “what nice idea for the daddies” and “ooohhhh, daddy day care”. But now governments are seeing the benefits of the group in being a serious prevention for suicides in young males because we are connecting men with like-minded blokes to strengthen social connection and give them a chance to talk and not deal with any problems in isolation. Now there are councils ringing me up, asking me to facilitate Dads Groups in their areas, which is fantastic.

We are definitely wanting to empower dads and are looking to scale on a global level.

6 best/worst dad jokes

  1. What’s the difference betweena hippo and a Zippo? One’s a little lighter.
  2. What do you call a French man wearing thongs? Phillip Phillop.
  3. You know, people say they pick their nose, but I feel like I was just born with mine.
  4. What do you do when you see a spaceman? Park in it.
  5. Did you hear about the guy who invented the knock-knock joke? He won the ‘no-bell’ prize.
  6. My wife is really mad at the fact that I have no sense of direction. So I packed up my stuff and right.

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Roxy has been a journalist for more than a decade and joined the MWP team at the end of 2016. She is a chocolate-powered writing machine who loves to engage with the Coast community, uncover untold inspirational stories and share information that can help people.

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