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8 of Australia's most well-known dads share their best parenting advice.

There’s no denying it – parenting can be seriously hard work.

With no instruction book or owner’s manual to fill in the blanks, navigating parenthood often comes with its challenges.

But while there’s no one-size-fits-all way to handle to the ups and the many, many downs, there are plenty of parents out there who have offered their advice on parenthood.

In celebration of Father’s Day, we asked eight of Australia’s most well-known dads to share their best parenting advice.

This is what they had to say:

Ben Fordham

Australian journalist, sports reporter, radio presenter and father-of-two.

 

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Sam Wood

Former Bachelor star, personal trainer and father-of-three.

 

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“When it comes to being a Dad of course there is no manual and every situation is different but from my personal experience so far I would say: Don’t overthink or over analyse. Being a parent is more about feeling and being present than thinking. If everything comes from a place of love and you are making an effort I genuinely feel you will have a great relationship with your kids.”

“I would also say that communication with your partner is critical. Snezana and I don’t agree on all parenting matters but whenever we discuss it we realise there is a compromise that we are both happy with.

“The last bit of advice would be to not try and do too much. Being a parent to young kids is exhausting so choose your battles and be smart about it. We have become the hosts. It is much easier for our friends with no kids to visit us and have dinner or a BBQ at our place than to try and get all the kids in the car and go somewhere all of the time.

“The most important piece of advice is to enjoy it. The best bit of advice I was given is ‘long days and short years’. It is so true and I don’t want to miss a thing.”

Andrew Daddo

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

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“Hey new dads and dads-to-be, how good is Dadding?! It certainly lets you know you’re alive, eh? Especially when you’re reading bedtime stories on the couch and you send them off to clean their teeth so you can sneak in a quick kip before they come back.”

“Talking, reading, cajoling, wrestling, footy-kicking, swimming, surfing, swimming, singing and crapping on – looking back at the past twenty-one years and three kids, it seems any thing that was ‘doing something’ felt pretty good. If I started again, I think I’d chase the mantra of making memories to enjoy at the time and later. Sharing stories. Old fashioned stuff. You know?”

Andrew Daddo outlines all the ways Aussie parents do it far better than their British counterparts on our podcast for imperfect parents. Post continues after audio.

Tom Hawkins

Geelong Cats AFL player and father-of-two.

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Tom Hawkins. Image: Mark Kolbe, AFL Media.
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"Life as a parent is exceeding expectations. Being able to watch them grow into their own and witness them discovering the world is my favourite. It’s also been great watching Belle discover her interests. She is dinosaur mad and obsessed with running and balls, so I love being able to share my love for footy with my girls, either at games or playing with Belle at home. Belle loves the Cats and really gets into it now! Although our cheeky babysitter who is a Western Bulldogs supporter has also taught her to say 'Go Doggies', which she now does to get a rise out of Emma and I."

"Our household has become significantly busier since the arrival of our second daughter, Primrose. On top of that, my wife Emma has worked tirelessly for the past 18 months launching a clothing line for children, @homegrownkidsau all while supporting me and looking after our girls.

"We’ve learnt a lot about parenting and each other during this time. My advice for new dads (and mums) is to share the parenting workload equally, support each other and make sure you make time for each other. It’s always a work in progress and with our work schedules it’s never even. During finals I need extra support from Emma, but once I have a bit more free time, I’ll be able to take a load off her as well. I guess, as they say, communication is key!

"Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right all the time! It is hard work, but it’s worth it. I feel like as a dad of girls, my tough years might be when they get a bit older! So I’m trying to stay in the moment, not over think it and just enjoy this amazing age."

Richard Wilkins

Radio and television presenter and father-of-five.

 

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"It’s a brave person who offers parenting advice to others – sadly there is no ‘instruction book’, no ‘owner’s manual’, and no ‘money back guarantee’ that comes along with becoming a parent and despite the best intentions of friends, family and myriad experts there is no easy path to perfect parenting."

"Every child is magical, each situation unique, every relationship different and I believe the challenge is to spend as much time with your child as you can – make them feel safe and allow them to experience the wonders of the world and the opportunities that abound.

"Most of all – make them feel loved and allow them to be themselves."

Peter FitzSimons

Author, journalist, radio and television presenter and father-of-three.

 

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"I had a great father, but my favourite bit of parenting inspiration came from my mother. Back in 1956 my parents had a great tomato crop which was enough to move from the cottage and build a farmhouse."

"Realising that the verandah would be the obvious safe place for her youngest children to crawl and toddle around – without fear that we would wander off – Mum told the architect that she wanted the verandah to have gates on it.

"When the architect replied that he was happy to have the gates, but Mum would have to ensure that we kids didn’t swing on them, she told him straight: 'No, of course the children will want to swing on them. I need you to have them built strongly enough that they can do that without breaking them.'

"Bingo! Therein lies an entire parental philosophy. Within reason, your parenting has to allow them to do what comes naturally, in a loving environment – not bordered by a never-ending series of 'Don't do that!'"

Bachar Houli

Richmond AFL player, AFL's Multicultural Ambassador and father-of-two.

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Bachar Houli and his two daughters. Image: Michael Willson, AFL Media.

"I feel absolutely blessed and grateful to be a father. My three tips I'd give to new or soon-to-be fathers are: patience, enjoy it (because they grow quick), and be grateful because there are others out there who can't have kids."

Sean Szeps

Blogger, host of Mamamia's The Baby Bubble podcast and father-of-two.

 

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"Just because you didn’t give birth to the child doesn’t mean you can’t experience strong and negative emotional reactions to becoming a first-time parent. Be honest with yourself and others about how you’re feeling, asking for help if you think you need it. One in 10 dads experience depression-like symptoms after the birth of their first child and most will struggle in silence. That doesn’t have to happen."

"Other parents may try and make you feel bad for doing it, but I suggest you go on date night once a week starting the very first week you become a parent. Just make a habit of it. You need to remind yourself (and your partner) why you got into this “mess” in the first place by going on dates regularly to connect the way you used to. Oh, and try not to talk about the kids. You’re more than just parents!

"Ask for flexible hours and additional time off from work. A lot of pressure will fall onto your partner's shoulders, and because most companies haven’t adapted similar paternity policies for dads, you’ll need to speak up and potentially make financial sacrifices to be involved that first year. It's not 1950 anymore. It’s critical that you’re supportive of your partner and your child, doing your best to share the load as frequently as possible. I always say, 'when you’re dead, what will you wish you did more of: work or spend time with family?'"

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