Last Thursday night, I’d been to a talk about puberty at my daughter’s school. It was the most lovely thing. With much giggling and learning, it was a real bonding experience and the girls all came with a parent or carer. A few brave Dads were in the audience but it was mostly mothers and daughters.
The next morning I posted an Instagram shot of the ‘party bag’ we’d got to take home.
What happened next was unexpected and delightful.
Well played Libra. That kind of brand interaction with customers and potential customers is smart, rare and so worthwhile.
I got a bit teary reading the response and I decided I wanted to know more about this dad's situation so I reached out via Instagram.
Here's part of what he told me about his situation (I've changed some names and details to protect his privacy and that of his daughter - the only thing more embarrassing than talking to your dad about your period would be having your dad talk to the internet about your period...)
Firstly, I will give you a bit of background info leading up to where we are today. Hope that's okay. So anyway, I had an abusive childhood. My dad left my two younger brothers and I when I was seven, so it was just mum and us three boys. I had to grow up very quickly. We did have a procession of men in our lives, until mum settled with one particular bloke. They had a child together so he was then our stepdad. He was violent towards mum and myself especially.
Being the oldest, I always resented him, because I had memories of my dad, and I always wanted 'my family' back together, not a family with some other bloke. My brothers have no memory of dad, so they embraced our stepdad as their dad, however I had the worst attitude, which he tried to bash out of me. Finally I cut him out of my life when I was 22.
As a result, I always said I didn't want to bring kids into this world. Then I met a girl who I thought I really loved, Kristy! We didn't plan to have kids, but eventually she fell pregnant, and we were married when she was seven months pregnant with our daughter Josie. Our son Zach came along 15 months later. It all happened so quickly!
I had no idea how to be a dad, because I never had a good dad to learn from, so my thoughts at the time, were that I just had to work 14-16 hours a day, 6-7 days a week to provide the cash for my new family, and Kristy would take care of the rest. We didn't communicate about anything, our party lifestyle changed into a workaholic/family life and eventually the marriage broke down. So in March 2008, I moved out. Josie had just turned three, and Zach was one and a half.
This is where my actual parenting started, because all of the sudden I had to take care of the kids every weekend on my own.
The eight years since then, has been all about teaching myself to be a better dad. I have seen first hand how NOT to be a dad, so I know what not to do, and communications has been the top of my list (aside from the violence, drugs, alcohol etc. of course, but that's another issue my kids won't have to worry about!).
So communication has become my key mantra with the kids. But I still wing it and kind of don't really know how best to go about it, and I always doubt whether I am doing the right thing when I talk to the kids about things. My male role models growing up were my footy and cricket coaches, so I have kind of treated raising the kids a bit like coaching in a sports environment. Which works really well for some things, like toilet training my son! I used the Explain-Demonstrate-Practice method and he was peeing straight into the water after an hour.