Pitfalls of the Modern Dad Movement

Pitfalls of the Modern Dad Movement

Our generation has seen a definite shift in expectations of the man of the house. It’s not uncommon for dads to be much more involved with their children than our fathers before us. In addition to being the main bread winner for the family, modern dads are accustomed to playing more of a part in the household duties and bucking the stereotypical trends of yesteryear.

It’s a far cry from my upbringing.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a sob story. My upbringing was fantastic albeit tumultuous at times with respect to the old boy. Admittedly, I was a very sensitive and highly anxious child and Dad’s parenting style involved strict adherence to the old-school views of masculinity (a direct result of his own upbringing) which didn’t lend itself to my sensitive nature.

“Harden up. Stop being such a pussy“.

I didn’t connect well with my dad during my formative years. He did shift work at a coal mine so I didn’t see him much. I know that memories can be easily screwed but I don’t often remember him being involved with my sport or school life. I can’t remember him cooking or cleaning much and I had to battle to spend time with him. When we did spend time together I often felt myself trying to prove my masculinity to him, and failing dismally. Having grown up and experiencing what it means to work and provide for my own family, I now understand a little better that he would have only been working hard to do just that. He was probably just exhausted all the time but that’s not what a child sees.

However, at times I absolutely needed a firm hand to help force me out of my comfort zone. A good example is when I was too afraid to swim in the local public pool because I genuinely believed it was shark infested after seeing the swimming club logo of a shark on a sign next to the pool, which my young mind considered a warning sign. This was a problem because I was supposed to be competing in club night and it would have caused mayhem amongst my peers had I warned them of our supposed impending doom.

Dad’s solution was to simply hurl my tiny, frightened body directly into the (non) shark infested pool.

In what can only be described as a manic frenzy, I worked my way to the edge of the pool completely unencumbered by any form of marine life (emotional scars, on the other hand, were inflicted). It seems cruel but it is exactly what I needed at that time and I spent the proceeding years winning numerous swimming competitions. Dad’s action was the catalyst for lessons I learnt in the importance of hard work and discipline. Whenever I needed an extra boost whilst competing, I would imagine I was being chased by my Dad.. riding a fucking great white.

In stark contrast, let me introduce you to the Modern Dad. He works full time, cooks dinner, changes nappies, washes clothes, plays with the kids, gets involved with their learning and also tries hard to be a good husband. He’s a top bloke and family is his number one priority. He’s also exhausted and under an immense amount of pressure to perform in the mantle of a ‘Modern Dad’. Sound familiar?

Then, we have the Modern Influencer Dad. This guy can be seen publicly performing household duties whilst brandishing a child attached to his body with an overpriced human carrier, via his social media page. He posts lovely blurbs about how amazing his wife and kids are, everything is perfect, he has heaps of money and well-known brands like to provide him with complementary products to prove that he is a fantastic dad, and you could be too. His name is Steve.

Whilst he’s a top bloke and loves his family, Steve’s a bit of a problem for the average Modern Dad.

I have personally struggled with the expectations of the Modern Dad. It’s tough because obviously I want what is best for my family but I also don’t want to completely lose myself in the process. It’s difficult to find that balance. For instance, it is difficult for me not to feel guilty when partaking in my hobbies because I should be doing something that benefits the whole family. A quick scroll on social media has left me feeling deflated because other dads appear to be better fathers to their children or husbands for their wives. Ultimately this just leads to a nasty cycle of feeling inadequate or a little lost.

Our kids are watching and learning from our every move. Whilst it’s important to exhibit the desirable characteristics of the Modern Dad, we need to make sure we are also taking care of our own wellbeing. Importantly, our kids will learn from that too.

No dad is perfect. The best thing we can do as fathers is be present, learn from our mistakes (we will make many)and look after ourselves in the process.

The Defecation Dilemma

The Defecation Dilemma

There are countless things expectant parents are not warned about before they are blessed with the responsibility of raising tiny humans. I really wish someone had warned us about this one. Luckily for you, I am about to do just that. You owe me one.

When toilet training our eldest daughter we were faced with an unexpected problem.

She was absolutely petrified of doing poos on the toilet.

Oddly, number 1’s were fine – no issues there. But when it came to the prospect of discharging faeces into the exact same location as the urine before it, frightened screams would fill the air and my wife and I had absolutely no idea what to do. It was mayhem. We would run around aimlessly and bump into each other while we franticly and hopelessly tried to resolve the issue for our petrified little girl.

Naturally, we thought there must have been something horribly and horrendously wrong. But we would undertake the usual checks and ask the usual questions to no avail.

Is it hurting? …No

Is your bum bum sore? …No

Is there a tiny shark hiding in the S-bend threatening to swallow you whole? …No

It was time to try some alternative tactics. My wife is a teacher after all, surely she could come up with something to dispel the fear.

We purchased a small replica toilet potty (complete with authentic flush noise at the push of a button) thinking it may be the sheer height that was causing the issue. Nope… panicked screams akin to those you would expect from a human being torn apart limb by limb at the mercy of a hungry crocodile.

Next idea was a reward system. This comprised of a poster on the wall which could receive a fun sticker upon successful No. 2. This actually worked… for number 1’s only. The stickers seemed to make their way onto the poster and the toilet without having completed the necessary task to earn the reward. In the end, no good. More screams akin to that of a human plummeting towards the ground from the top story of the Q1 Building.

We were running out of ideas now and tried one last thing.

Poo coaching. Similar to the way a doula would coach an expectant mother through the intense physical and emotional challenges of labouring the birth of a human child, we coached our 2-year-old daughter through the passing of human waste. Complete with breathing exercises and a calming song which was developed in collaboration by my wife and daughter (The Rainbow Song – lyrics below).

It didn’t work first try but eventually we had success. A dream run with no screaming. Honestly, I think our daughter was a bit shocked when it was all over and there were no serious repercussions.

When she got through it, we celebrated like we had never celebrated before. Tears of joy streamed down our faces as we embraced, jumping and shouting like we had just won the actual olympics.

It was a beautiful family moment. But achieving the amazing result wasn’t without its struggles.

Hopefully this will help other parents out there having similar issues (assuming this is a common problem). Let me know, comment below!

Red, orange and yellow.

Green, blue, purple and pink.

These are the colours of the rainbow.

It’s a lovely day.

The Rainbow Song – Composed by my wife and daughter.

The Most Terrifying thing Parents Endure

The Most Terrifying thing Parents Endure

Going to a public toilet with your child.

Warning: this post contains high concentrations of toilet humour.

You know how it goes. You’re in the middle of Woolies and your little one complains of a full bladder. ‘Awesome. Perfect timing’ you think to yourself.

So you stop mid-way through the weekly grocery shop, abandon the half-full trolley and hustle to the Parent Room so your kid can do their business. While you’re waiting for them nature calls and you also get the sudden urge to go. “Shit“.

You’d hold it if you could, but the urge is too strong.

I’m not sure why, but being trapped in a toilet cubicle with your child seems to spark a curiosity within them which would rival that of Einstein. Innocent, relentless, unfiltered questioning ensues:

“Are you doing a poo, Daddy?”

“Can I see it?”

“Shhh”

*Child attempts to open the cubicle door*

“Don’t do that! Close the door!” Says Dad in a panicked whisper yell.

“Was that a fart?”

“Shhhh”

“Are you doing another poo, Daddy?”

“No more now, Daddy will be finished shortly” again, communicated in a panicked whisper yell.

“Why do you have so much hair, Daddy? Why is your face red?”

“My legs are sore, can I sit down? I’m hungry. It smells in here. Can we go to the playground? I love dancing. Can I have a present?”

It is at this point you find your forehead coated with a generous helping of nervous sweat. You finish what you were doing and hastily get ready to leave.

Frazzled, you open the cubicle door. Low and behold, there is a welcoming party of other parents waiting for you to exit, each sporting polite smirks of quiet content and empathy. They heard everything and they know exactly what you’ve just been through. They can laugh, because they’ve been there before. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing for you.

I just hope it doesn’t smell too bad in there for the next occupant!