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13 of Australia's most well-known dads on what fatherhood has taught them.

From toddlers to teenagers, every stage of parenthood comes with its own set of unique challenges. 

And with no instruction book or owner’s manual (they should really make one of those), it can be even harder to navigate.

But while there’s no one-size-fits-all way to tackle parenting, the ups and downs along the way teach us a lot.

Happy Father's Day to all dads everywhere. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

It teaches us valuable life lessons. It teaches us resilience. It teaches us how to find joy in the simpler things. And it teaches us how to live in the moment.

In celebration of Father’s Day, we asked 13 of Australia’s most well-known dads to share what fatherhood has taught them.

Here's what they had to say:

Grant Denyer

Television and radio presenter, Gold Logie Winner, and father-of-three.

"It's taught me very much to appreciate the moment and living in the now, which I never did pre-children. I was always, you know, grossly looking forward to the next achievement or the next rung up the career ladder. But kids don't care for that. They don't care how many likes your last Instagram post got, and they don't care how your day works. They like looking at a tree or seeing the shapes in the clouds. My kids have taught me to see beauty in everything that I've never seen before.

"We're in this phase where we've just had our third and probably final child, so I'm really celebrating every little new milestone, like I never did before. That first giggle, that first bath, all those firsts. I'm locking them in as permanent memories in my head because I never want to forget it. Whereas, when I was younger, and having kids, it was all a blur. 

"[My advice to dads would be] stop, slow down, and just lock in those little memories, because it goes too fast. And as life gets busier and they get older, it fades away, so just cherish it. Even if it seems silly or stupid or not even much of a milestone, they're really big moments that you're going to miss when they get older. So drink it in."

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Colin Fassnidge

Chef, My Kitchen Rules judge, and father-of-two.

"I have a friend I worked with who has older kids who have left home. He said he now craves time with them and misses having them around! I alway think about that now. 

"I see my kids grow up so fast, and I love the changes; I relish it. Being a father is a privilege and a life-changing experience. 

"There are many bumps in the road and slamming of doors but it’s made me calmer. I think more about what I say and do, I’ve learned to hug and say 'I love you' more, I try to get the most out of life with these little people by my side. I call it making the memories... for when I’m no longer around."

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Sam Wood

Former The Bachelor Australia star, 28 by Sam Wood founder, and father-of-three.

"It has taught me so much but most importantly, it has taught me to slow down and be in the moment. Being a dad is the most important thing in my life. Other things are still important, but I understand now that they can wait."

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Jock Zonfrillo

MasterChef Australia judge, founder of The Orana Foundation, and father-of-four.

"It's taught me so many things, but one that I still can't fully comprehend is the power of affection and touch. There are those moments in the middle of the night when you hear one of the kids and, even though you just want to stay in bed, you jump up and give them a cuddle, and they doze straight back off. 

"Isn't it extraordinary that you can have that effect on your little ones, that they get so much security and comfort from being in your arms? They're special moments for me."

Mitch Tambo

Australian singer and songwriter and father-of-three.

"Being a stepfather to three beautiful girls from ages five to 15, and expecting our own little cherub very soon, has taught me so much. 

"I’ve realised I have capacity in areas I didn’t know existed within me. I’m pretty good at being the make-up dummy and if you're up for it, I can play with a Barbie Camper and dolls reasonably well! Every day, I gain a deeper insight into three amazing girls at three completely different stages in life, and I have the privilege of calling them my daughters. Not stepdaughters, but daughters."

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Matt Fahd

Founder of TMRW Kids, Gogglebox Australia star, and father-of-one.

"Being a dad has taught me so much, but most importantly, it has really helped me re-focus on what really matters in life. Before being a dad, I'd find ways to stress over all the usual things in life – career, relationships, etc. I've found that since becoming a dad, those stresses are still there, but I see them as positive stress – stress that helps me move forward.

"Whilst my son is doing well and is happy and healthy, all those things really don't matter in comparison. Ultimately, it's taught me to be grateful, because having a healthy family is such a gift, and everything else is just a bonus."

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David Genat

Australian Survivor star, international model, and father-of-three.

"It's a huge question. But I guess being a dad has taught me that I don't know sh*t. But I have to figure it out. And I've gotta figure it out quick.

"Before becoming a parent, I was mostly living for myself. And once I had my first son... I started seeing that not only do I have to care for and protect my kids, but we have to teach them stuff, and we need to be an example for them.

"It's not enough to just tell them stuff, you have to show them stuff. And I think that requires some skillful wisdom and integrity. I'm not saying that I have that or that I have much of it, but I know that what I teach my kids is going to affect how they see the world and how they interact with it. So, I'm doing my best job to try to give them truth and kindness for their journey.

"Parenting is a pretty tall order. It's one that continually brings us back to reflect on if we are doing a good job as people, both in how we're connected to this earth and to each other. So the better we can do for ourselves, the better we can do for our kids. And it sounds cliche, but kids are the future of this planet. If I can build kids who love the planet and love people, then I feel like I'm doing okay."


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Les Elias

Gogglebox Australia star, voice-over artist, and father-of-three.

"Being a dad has taught me to listen – a child always wants to be heard. You’re the role model, children watch your actions and listen to your words. When they grow and develop, I grow and develop. 

"As a father, no matter what, you love each other, period. You love something so much bigger than yourself. I couldn’t imagine a day without them or the dramas that come with it!"

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Andrew Daddo

Author, host of Mamamia’s This Glorious Mess podcast, and father-of-three.

"I'm probably meant to say fatherhood has taught me patience and acceptance and resilience – and at times, it definitely has. 

"Mostly, the lessons from being a father are about being part of something bigger and understanding that what seem like little things are actually the big things: securing the home front over the work front. And, of course, I’ve learned about love. I love my kids, my kids love me – and best of all, we’re becoming quite good friends."

Peter FitzSimons 

Author, journalist, and father-of-three.

"I have learnt so many things. It is, yes, a joy. But sometimes it ain't easy. I actually think I have got better at it as the years have gone by. One thing I have had to learn that has not always come naturally to me: I need to listen, not just speak! 

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"Even more unnaturally: I have had to learn that just because I am older and more powerful than you, my child, doesn't mean I am automatically right, because I say I am right, that's why! One way or another, though we have been blessed with three children, now fine adults, that my wife and I are extremely proud of, and really do give us a much more uncomplicated kind of consistent joy!"

Cameron Daddo

Actor, musician, presenter, and father-of-two.

"It has taught me tonnes of things. I pretty much used to do what I wanted when I wanted before I had kids. And now having fathered through infancy, childhood, teenagers, and early adulthood, I still find ways to do the things that I want and need to do, but I've had to learn the art of making sure that they have their needs met.

"I guess it's a bit like a love bank. We make deposits in their lives when we love them, when we support them, when we protect them, when we cheer for them, and when we give them space to make mistakes and grow. And that's how we fund that love bank account.

"But you've also got to understand that this balance can shrink as well as grow. Every time I miss something because I'm busy at work or I ignore them for the TV or the phone, or I project my own crap or expectations on them, I'm chipping away at that account. So we've got to keep a good eye on that love bank account. Thanks kids for teaching me that."

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Lochie Daddo

Actor, television presenter, and father-of-two.

"Being a dad has taught me to just be in the moment. But not just being in the moment... enjoying the moment with your kids. 

"As we get old, I'm realising that those moments are few and far between. Being a dad is awesome and I just want to enjoy it and be in the moment with my children while they're children."

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Sean Szeps

Host of Come Out Wherever You Are with Sean Szeps and father-of-two.

"The parenting space is, justifiably, a mum-centric arena. There's a bunch of different reasons why that's still the case – biology, history, culture or personal interests – but no matter how many steps we take as a society to balance the gender scales, fathers are still (mostly) labelled as uninterested, lazy or downright uninvolved buffoons. It's a trope that's really hard for a well-intentioned man to escape.

"But if I've learned anything from fatherhood in the last four years, it's that modern men – on average – are very interested in being equal and active participants in the parenting experience. With each year, I meet more and more stay-at-home dads. Dads who own the household chores. Dads who prefer sing-a-longs to footy practice. I've spoken to a dozen fathers this year who raised their hands and requested that they be equally involved in feeding (pumped breastmilk or formula) so as to not miss out on that initial bonding experience. And more men are opening up about the emotional changes that they face when transitioning from a man to a father.

"We don't have to pretend that we're 100 per cent equal during pregnancy, we're not. But we won't get anywhere as a society if we continue to place new fathers in a 'bad dad' parenting box before they get a chance to prove themselves. Do they exist? Of course. But it's not the 1970s anymore, times have changed. We all know better. Most men I meet want to be loyal, loving, passionate, involved fathers and husbands. I see it each and every day."

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Listen to This Glorious Mess, a twice-weekly look at parenting as it truly is: confusing, exhausting, inspiring, funny, and full of surprises.

Feature Image: Instagram.

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