You made it. You’re here, and just quietly, it’s great to have you here reading this column. Don’t be fooled, it might have the word ‘School’ within the title, but there’s definitely no bells, hall passes or detention connected to this column.
Why ‘School of Dadhood’? Having spent the last eleven years working as a primary school teacher, school leader and teaching mentor I’ve worked with, supported and taught hundreds of kids. Which has sort of helped since becoming a dad. Sort of…and sort of not.
This weekly column is here to share real experiences and stories and offer a slightly different insight. Whilst I’ve been working as a primary/elementary teacher and educational leader in Australia for eleven years, every single day there’s some new lesson I’m getting taught as a dad. I don’t know about you, but just when I think I’ve got this whole dadhood thing nailed, things suddenly get upended – especially when a toddler is involved.
The biggest aim is that from sharing these experiences, stories, and perspectives, it might help any other dad or parent out there what they’re doing bloody well, realize other people make mistakes too and even bring a laugh or four along the way. Well, I’ll try my best, but it’s a two-way street, so, you know, do your part and enjoy it too.
Alright, ground rules covered. Let’s do this thing.
This week’s column just happens to coincide with our crew of four heading away with other families. All of whom have kids…because these are now your traveling buddies for the next 18-30 years.
And it’s bloody great.
Since first meeting the different mums and dads in our parent’s group (also called Mothers Group organized by local councils, originally to connect first-time mums) we realized we were lucky. Not only were they normal, but they were also real too. No pretending everything was perfect, fine and just great. They were open to admitting that sleep was now a distant friend, the pressures of dadhood can be pretty full on AND being a dad is bloody great.
Each of the dads I’ve become mates within this group all want to be dads. They’re excited to be involved in their kid’s lives and actually happy to share what’s happening with them.
For me, this was something I wasn’t sure would happen. I’d been expecting to meet dads who were fairly distant, purely focused on providing for the family through bringing in money or weren’t that open to chatting about what was happening to them and their families.
Just last night we all got together and enjoyed a few cheeky beers over a few hours. Yes, typical topics were covered: NBA playoffs, sports, and beer. But, so too we spoke about what we’ve been discovering as dads (particularly now with each of us having our second kid during this last year), what we admire in our kids and also some of the frustration we’ve been experiencing. (I swear SUVs we invented only to carry all the stuff you need as a parent of young kids…any tips anyone has out there, I’m all ears).
For me, these chats are brilliant. They’re the perfect blend of talking crap, having a laugh and getting some help, when it’s needed.
Whilst in the early days there may have been the odd gap or pause in initial conversations because each of us has been open to connecting with others dads we’ve gone past that stage. What had originally started as ‘dads meeting up’ has now become ‘mates catching up’. Truth be told, we’ve gone next level: mates who head away for a long weekend with our families.
Yep, we’ve gone Long Weekend Level.
I can’t help but wonder, have I simply hit the jackpot with this, or is this a similar experience to others when they’ve become dads? Are modern dads connecting with each other through these parents groups?
If this is something you haven’t experienced, what is it we could do to get connected? Maybe it might start with finding out if there are any local dads groups happening around you. If there are, take a positive risk and go to catch up. While it can feel a little (or a lot) daunting, the great thing is that everyone is a new parent, so your initial common ground for chatting is about you and your kids.
(If there isn’t, do what a mate of mine who lives in another city did and reach out to some mates who are new dads, or friends of a friend who are new dads. They started it up by seeing if anyone was up for a dad catch up at their local park and playground near a cafe. You’ll be surprised who will take you up on the offer!)
Over time other conversations spark up, but for those initial times you meet up, don’t worry if you’re only talking about you, your kids and what is happening. Chances are it will completely relate to everyone else is some way. The secret is to keep putting yourself out there, making the time to catch up with some other dads and then, suddenly, you’ll realize you’ve hit Long Weekend Mate Level!
Like all things worth doing, it’ll push you out of your comfort zone, but the payoff is pretty great. Keep me posted with your thoughts and experiences!
Hey, we bloody did it! The first column of School of Dadhood done and dusted. Good hustle everyone.
Here’s to the week ahead,
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.