Teenagers And My Epiphany

I constantly review myself, it’s something I have always done. If I had hair I’m sure I would be pulling it out as I watch my teenager wade through this decade of her life. As I slurped a glass of wine last night I had an epiphany. Being truthful this is a rare occurrence for me, so fasten your seatbelts and here goes.

Im not saintly and if being honest they are possible the only humans who could parent a teenager without having a few moments of despair, madness and a lot of shameful ones, like screaming and resorting to power of I am the parent. Throughout my parenting career I have had some pretty special moments which I am not so proud of. I have changed and evolved, mentally and physically through each of my 5 decades, and not so gracefully physically speaking.

As I poured my second glass of wine and Murf (my dog) joined me with her slice of ham, I began to think! Of course there are lots of normal teenage behaviours that send me to orbit, and huge amounts of teenage girl stuff that I don’t understand, which I think is trivial, but is not because it matters to my teenager. I have moaned and groaned about how my little angel has changed to the point I don’t recognise her. Well, that’s a load of xxxx! I blinked and missed the fact that my daughter is changing into a woman! The good news for me is I still have time to be included in her journey. So it’s time to saddle up and pack my bag.

First on my list of self improvements is to own up and apologise if I have a little moment of poor behaviour! This is going to be tough, especially in the mornings we have to get to school. I cannot stand tardiness, it drives me insane and I have been known to shout in extreme cases. This achieves nothing and I always feel guilty when I am receiving just picture and no sound on the drive and matters are made worse when I don’t get my kiss goodbye as she gets out of the car. I spend the day regretting my actions and can’t wait to see her after school, time goes so slow until she gets back into the car.

The famous eye roll always gets me going, I mean what the hell is that about? This I know every parent of a teenage daughter has experienced, they all do it. Nope, I am not going to get the ring with her, this invitation, I will decline, instead of giving her the power of me overreacting. I am the mature person and will lead by example. I will wait my time to discuss whatever it was that caused the annoying roll of the eyes. After all this is just a phase and she will grow out of it.

My little angel is 15 and I know what that means, BOYS! To the best of my knowledge there is no poxy, zit faced, little toe rag on the horizon. I fear that will change this summer. Despite the many ways of harming this creature I have dreamed of, it is simple illegal and my daughter needs me at home and not in jail. Last summer I jumped the gun and mentioned the birds and the bees, I can assure you her eyes nearly rolled out of their sockets. I retreated and thought better of it. I took a different approach and waited till Christmas when the mood was good and simple said that I had noticed boys looking at her, she stopped me and calmly told me that they had covered it in school. That opened another door for me and I explained that my wish for her was to be treated with respect and also to treat the young man the way she would like to be treated. I got a hug and a kiss on the cheek and was reassured that matters were under control. The relief on my behalf was biblical but I know this topic will be revisited many times of the coming years. Today I ordered a book which I am hoping will offer me guidance.

On occasion I have gasped for air at some of the clothing choices teenage girls wear, and on disco nights I have had to bite my tongue to the point of it nearly falling off. My first reaction is what the hell? What kind of message is being sent out? So I poured my third glass of wine and have convinced myself that this is just a way to get noticed. I arrived at this explanation as I have noticed over my 50 years that women dress up when they go out and the reason being is they want to look good and if an odd look from a male is received it’s just one of admiration. It is also a learned habit watching Mum getting ready for a night out and even I have been known to make an extra effort before I head on a night out. Sadly for me the results of my efforts tend to fall on blind eyes. Dressing appropriately and not like the Kardashians is the beginning of the journey to adulthood. Whilst I have gasped I have never needed to say your not going out looking like that, I have always thought that she looks amazing and proud that is my daughter.

All teenagers are or become at some point self-centred without even knowing it. Their wishes and problems are the only thing that matters and everything and everybody needs to get on the same page as them, God forbid I might have had a bad day or anyone else. I remember being like that and it is normal so Im just going to grin and bear it and offer support or words of wisdom.

I remember my parent having opinion on some of my friends, at the time it was not helpful and I tended to do the opposite. Thus on this topic caution will have to be used. I know her tribe is the most important thing in her life currently and while it is tempting to pitch in my advice I am not going to. I have always encouraged my children to talk about things that may be of concern to them and to date they always have, either to Mum or me. I trust my daughter knows the difference between right and wrong and I have respect for her to make such judgements. All lines of communication are always open and as a family we spend enough time one on one to check up on things.

Glass of wine number 4! Of course there will be occasions when I will have to call out bad behaviour. This I have always done consistently and my girls know exactly the rules and where the boundaries are. If crossed, the punishment fits the crime. It’s important to be the adult, the mature person in the room. Once dealt with I move on and there is no reminder and I certainly don’t hold it against them. I want my girls to feel safe and I try to be consistent, compassionate and authoritative.

Just Being A Single Dad

The 14th December 2004 and the 28th of August 2010 were the best days of my life. I always wanted children, Im not sure whether this desire was more fuelled in me because I was adopted or it just is part of my make-up. I must admit my first choice was always daughters and I am lucky enough to have my wishes come true. I was worried if I had sons I might be too hard on them and what if they didn’t live up to my expectations as a man. This is absolutely absurd obviously. However it does raise another point when contrasting the difference between Mum’s and Dad’s, we think differently and our behaviour is very different. As adults we tend to forget this and certainly in a relationship are less forgiving to one another.

Little angels

Being a Dad has brought me so much joy and I am learning (in real time) how quickly my daughters grow up and change as they progress through the different stages of adolescence. I also have learned what applies to one child does not necessarily apply to the other. I have a collection of very different hats that I put on during the course of any given day, and on occasion I have managed to wear the wrong hat and by God I suffer the consequences. Despite the bruises and damaged ego I frequently receive whilst raising my daughters, it is the best job I have ever had and the most personal rewarding. I am not naive to think my daughters will praise me when they reach 18 and shower me with admiration for the outstanding work I did. No, by then I am sure another younger man (full of zits, attitude and a six pack) will occupy their attention. I am secretly dreading this day, the day I am replaced and kicked to touch. I try to motivate myself that when that does happen it will signify what a fantastic job I did. What a load of xxxx! I won’t be brought out on shopping excursions like their Mum, my contribution may only be the money to pay for it. 

According to a poll, Dad is a pushover at home, apart from when it comes down to dealing with bad behaviour. I fully agree with this finding, except now that I am a single Dad. One of the hardest things of being a separated/divorced is you have to be both Mum and Dad when the children are with you. As a male my biggest fault was lack of patience, I had to work on that and I still do. Finding the balance took some time, although my girls would probable disagree with that statement. I tend to let the first misdemeanour go, if it happens again, I then explain why its not acceptable and if it happens for a third time, well let’s just say there is trouble which brings consequences. The follow through can be difficult if I don’t have the support of their Mum, then I find my girls get either confused or want to stay with their Mum for the easy life. I can only hope my consistency will earn me the respect of my daughters when they get older, time will tell. Age plays an important part of this, this was never an issue until the teenage years. 

There isn’t enough time for me to write about the teenage years and I am only at age 15. Pouting lips, fake tan, hair, nails, oh my god the list goes on. Oh and that look of Dad you are stupid! Yes, I am and never was a young woman but I continue to try to understand. I ensured there was a pretty little type of case prepared in her school bag in the event her first period arrived with all the necessary accessories for such a catastrophe. Thankfully that did not happen and even better news for me and her it happened when she was with Mum. I have been lucky enough to be trusted with hosting the pre-disco event in my house. This is when a group of teenagers take over the house, lock themselves into the bedroom and toilet, spend hours getting dressed, applying make-up, doing each others hair, listening to loud music and probable giving out about me. My role is to order pizza, drop off to disco and collect whilst remaining invisible and holding absolutely no opinion! Thank goodness I won’t be available for menopause!

Some time ago

As my daughters evolve into fantastic young women and travel through each phase, and I know I have tougher challenges speeding towards me, I embrace all of them, even the ones that I don’t understand as a Dad. I longed to have children and in some way it has and continues to make me complete. The rewards heavily outweigh the sacrifices for me. Unlike Mum’s I cannot give birth, breastfeed and a whole heap more things that make Mum’s so unique. Byt, this single Dad tries so hard to be the complete parent and loves his children so much even when the tough decisions have to be made. I am living in the moment and each day get reminded the true meaning of unconditional love. Being a Dad has taken me to the edge on occasion, but made me stronger and certainly more patient. Of course I fear for what the future holds and change comes with time but one thing is true I will always be there for my daughters. They don’t know this but they have fulfilled a big void in my life and I will spend a lifetime repaying them!

Listen! Covad-19 Will Change Us Forever Unless We Social Distance. Time To Stand Together.

The public health crisis threatens each of the 7.8 billion people on Earth. Each day brings a “new and tragic milestone”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. As I write this there are currently Coronavirus Cases: 345,338, deaths have reached 14,925 and 99,541 have recovered. Please click the link to view as I can guarantee this figure has dramatically risen. Covad-19 is spreading faster than we can track or test. Public life is grinding to a halt. And yet many people seem unfazed by the Coronavirus.

Covad-19 is taking over the world
“I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

While governments have and continue to issue guidelines for older and high risk citizens we are beginning to witness our politicians to give more definitive advice on how we need to isolate and social distance if we are to defeat Covad-19. Reflecting on the weekend that just passed there seems to be ongoing selfish and reckless behaviour during this pandemic. This will speed up the spread of the virus which will definitely impact the older and more vulnerable people in our communities and add to the workload, danger and stress of our medical professionals. 

Information tells us the virus appears dramatically less fatal for those citizens under the age of 50. The guidelines and strategies of governments is easy and simple to understand: if low-risk people don’t socially distance, then the whole containment process is not effective. Putting it in layman terms it is like playing Russian roulette with our elderly and sick, you are pointing the gun at them and pressing the trigger if you do not social distance.

I understand that people are stressed, scared and want to socialise, but look at what happened in China and Italy by people not social distancing. It is a tough ask and I am sure some people find it confronting but we all have to do our bit. Do people not find it threatening, I imagine if there were F-16s, Shenyang Y-5s, Sukhoi SU-34s or Hawk T1s flying overhead things would be very different and people would be off our streets. It is up to us adults to ensure we abide by the recommendations set out by our governments and the World Health Organisation. But too many people including our youths are disregarding the social distance measures in our communities and not only putting themselves at risk putting older and vulnerable people at risk. Pointing the gun at them and pulling the trigger, it is that serious. The majority of us are doing the right thing but to that minority you need to listen to the advice, this is life and death! If these measures are not adhered we will go into lockdown and this battle will go on for a lot longer.

Businesses have closed down for our benefit and my heart goes out to these people who have spent years building it from scratch and this virus is having a devastating effect on them economically. Our medical professionals are working day and night to save our loved ones, these sacrifices are for us and yet some people are ignoring the guidelines and putting lives at risk. Shame on these people. A more draconian measure will be introduced because of these idiots. Social distancing is a responsibility and in todays modern world we have access to Skype, FaceTime, text messaging and lots more other methods to stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones. Perhaps these are understandable human reactions to this massive uncertain crisis, but it is a weak justification for a choice that puts one’s short-term enjoyment ahead of peoples health and possible lives.

Coronavirus is creating a world that is less free and not as open as we were last month. I do not think it had to resort to this but because of incompetent leadership, inadequate planning we now find ourselves on a new and worrying road. Coronavirus will continue to have a devastating negative effect on our economies and it will increase tensions between countries. Since the end of the World War 2 America has been the international leader (and done an amazing job worldwide) but because of its governments incompetence and self-interest there will be a shift of power and perhaps we saw this coming and history proves to us there is always a change in power over the centuries.  International alliances have been poor and inept, if the two most powerful countries, China and America cannot put to one side their differences and stop blaming each other they might be more credible in the eyes of the world that looks to them during this crisis. The European Union has failed its members and not been able to provide assistance to its five hundred million citizens!

social distancing
“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

The media in all its forms have shown to us mere citizens that there are so many examples of the power of the human spirit and kindness of us ordinary people demonstrating leadership, resilience, kindness, empathy, love and being selfless during this pandemic, that gives me hope for all of us occupying planet Earth that we will prevail and we will beat Covad-19.

My Neighborhood, A Brief History, And The Coronavirus Threat.

My family and I live in Galway City Ireland. I live with my daughters 50% of the time in Bowling Green, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and famous because Nora Barnacle, if you don’t know, was the wife and inspiration of celebrated Irish writer James Joyce. She lived in this house with her mother and six siblings until 1904, when Nora left Galway and travelled east for Dublin, where she met Joyce. There is more to this street and it has no doubt changed over the centuries but I think the character has remained. 

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley

At the beginning of the last century The Bowling Green Mills were in existence and renowned for their homespuns and specialised in tweeds, rugs and blankets. Michael Lydon also manufactured fishing tackle. At the entrance to the street the Church of St Nicholas was built in 1320 and Franciscan friars arrived in Galway in 1296. Us Irish and especially Galwegians are known for being laid back and we have an old saying “ah sure it will do for now.” In 1883 the numbering system of the houses in Bowling Green were in a disarray and there were four number 5s, nowadays there is just one number 5 and that is were I live. Our little street is now more or less exclusively residential, while the frontage of the houses remain pretty much the same the insides bare no resemblance to that time in history. Our little community varies in age, race, religion etc but we are neighbours and we all feel connected to our little street we call home. Galway was first recorded in 1124 and in 1232 a baron named Richard De Burgh took Galway and created a town. For centuries Galway was dominated by 14 families known as the tribes of Galway. The mayor and the leading citizens usually came from these 14 families. They were the Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, French, Font, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerrett families. 

“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it. – Marianne Williamson

In the 16th century Galway was still a thriving town and port. The main import was wine. In 1505 some of the streets of Galway were paved. In 1610 James the first gave Galway another charter, which made the city and the land for 2 miles around a county in its own right. However Galway suffered fatally in 1649 when plague struck the city. Over 3,700 souls lost their lives. An extraordinarily rough winter along with the arrival of thousands of refugees from Limerick created more misery for the town. Sir Charles Coote allowed the refugees to enter Galway, fully aware that of the troubles that they were bringing to Galway. In August 1651 the English under Edmund Ludlow laid siege to Galway. After a long fight Galway finally surrendered in April 1652. Throughout the 17th century and 18th century Galway continued to thrive and in the late 18th century suburbs started to grow outside the walls.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

At the beginning of the 19th century the population of Galway was about 5,000 but fell during the 19th century. Galway and Count suffered severely during the potato famine of 1845-49 and there was a huge loss of population. A great many of the inhabitants of Galway in the 19th century lived in poverty and squalor. During the 20th century Galway revived. By 1950 it had about 21,000 inhabitants. The population of Galway today is estimated to be close to 80,000.

Galway is the European Capital of Culture this year and everything the City had planned will be affected by Covad-19 and I fear the opportunity to show off our wonderful city will be lost. For centuries Galway has survived whatever has been flung in its direction and the Coronavirus will be no different. It poses a very different threat and Galwegians will face it head on. Looking through my window onto Bowling Green the street is very quiet and eery. I haven’t seen any neighbours venturing outside so I am sure they are stocked with food and remain safe. This tight community will keep a watchful eye out for each other far beyond Coronavirus.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

Community can be a formidable force, capable of achieving the seemingly impossible. To confront this crisis, we need to work together. My worry is, this is something we can’t see, there is no Hurricane damage, no tsunami damage! What I mean I fear people will become frustrated, bored and stressed and feel the need to blow off steam, we can’t go to the bar or gym we are stuck indoors. We all have a profound need for social connection and because of Coronavirus we feel vulnerable, a lack of control, we are scared! Soliders often speak of the bond that occurs with them on the battlefield, a profound human bonding despite the anguishes of war. Life makes no promises, today its frightening but today, tomorrow and next week Coronavirus will inspire kindness, connection and we will come together and support each other, lean on one another for strength, laugh. This is what a neighbourhood look likes. #Besafe

Our Children, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and the War Years

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) like the Second World War is a time of huge upheaval for our children and of course, us the adults. Whilst our towns and cities aren’t being evacuated we are adjusting to separation from friends and family. Many Grandparents and those who are vulnerable are scared and because of the threat posed we can’t visit to give them a hug of reassurance. There are no bombing raids and no threat of our men heading to war with the possibility of not returning. But this is a time where we must take precautions and adapt quickly and humanely with respect and empathy. Like the war, we will win but there will be disruption and shortages which will continue long after Covid-19 has left our boarders. This will have a long lasting effect on our children.

Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.     
William Shakespeare

It is terrible to live in fear with the possibility you will loose someone that you love, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Unlike the war years we don’t have to wait for the postman, we have social media and communication is live whether by phone, text or video. I believe following Covid-19 will be our best history lesson! 

The threat of the Coronavirus is here and unlike the war the battleground is not being played out in Europe, Africa and Asia it is world-wide and will affect all of us. We are not trying to defeat Nazism but something far worse, something we can’t see, something hidden. We have a responsibility as family members, neighbours, colleagues, christians and humans to come together and unite to fight this virus. We can learn from the war years, In 1938 when war seemed imminent some precautions were put in place for instance air raid shelters were distributed, gas masks were issued and night-time blackouts were planned. Today it is social distancing, washing our hands, ensuring those who are at high risk remain at home and the washing of hands. We know what we must do to slow this Covad-19 down. The one big difference is there are no B52s overhead and no bombings just now a deadly silence, the battlefield is very different and we are all on the frontline. But we are lucky there are no mass evacuations of children, this virus holds no prejudice of race, religion, sex or nationality. There is no ‘Kindertransport’, to escape Natzi persecution. The British Government in September began a huge evacuation of children from towns and cities. Most kids travelled with their schools and lived with foster parents, an adventure today most children would dislike. Thankfully we have the control of our children’s destiny and remain with them to guide them through and beyond Covad-19.

Our children don’t have to live under the constant threat of invasion, our fear is Coronavirus. Thankfully the information to date on this virus is our young are at low risk and I hope this remains the fact and they will get to fight another day. Unlike the Children during the war years where many were killed at the hands of violence. 

Today our homes are built to our needs, and in many respects we take a lot for granted. At a flick of a button we have heat, water, television and of course the internet. War time homes may have looked similar on the outside but inside many families had outside toilets and a bathroom didn’t exist for most. Children often shared beds with their brother/sister or even their parents. In war ravaged Europe many homes were destroyed and families left homeless. Today, our governments are desperately trying to fight this virus and package economic resources to give many of us some breathing space as employment dries up. We may still have our homes but the fear of loosing them is very real.

The Coronavirus has completely disrupted the education of our children. Our teachers are working hard using the technology we have available to keep some sort of normality and of course ensuring are children are still engaged in their studies no matter what stage of school they are at. I have hovered up all of the help from our educators and during the so called school week have my daughters up and ready for home school. My patience will be tested and of writing this I have not suspended or expelled any of my two pupils.

Never give in.. never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force.. never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.     
Winston Churchill

As of today I am going to introduce a diary for my girls to keep. I hope it will be a valuable history lesson and something in decades to come they can share and look back on and learn from. My Grandfather was prisoner of war for five years and his diary is kept in a museum, those times illustrate a truly horrific period in our history and I pray the times ahead for us will not be the same.

I look forward to the end of Coronavirus and celebrating how all of us made a vital contribution to beating it. Most of all I look forward to the change this will force upon us and the reminder of the responsibilities we have as parents, friends, neighbours, relatives and humans. Stay safe!

Our Children Are Exposed To Cyberbullying.

Children must climb over obstacles to develop into the wondeful individuals that they are.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”  — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

We all know or at the very least are aware of the dangers that smart phones pose to our children, it may seem easier just to ban them but that’s not a practical solution. They are not under our direct supervision every hour of every day. Thus they have lots of opportunities to get online, so it is up to us to navigate our loved ones and teach them how to use and be safe online, but most importantly build a relationship with our children to communicate with us should they have any negative experiences. This gives us, the parent the platform to assist and help them deal with any online bullying they may experience.

There are no decisive laws in existence that directly relate to online bullying and remember we are discussing children so it is worth keeping in mind they are minors. Cyberbullying is not just limited to children who have a reputation for behaving badly, and it has become a lot more common than what we think for various different reasons, such as peer pressure, jealousy, boredom, trying to be cool, judgmental and lack of parental involvement as things at home are difficult, like a marriage break up. So why is it happening? It can be a form of entertainment, a method to inject drama, power and sometimes the bully just does not see they are doing anything wrong and view it as a harmless joke. But what is consistent is the bully has a sense of invincibility because it is hard to get caught compared to the traditional bullying that was carried out on the school yard and in public view.

This modern day epidemic is not just a western world crisis it exists worldwide. It is growing in the U.S, Europe and India to name just a few countries. While our children are happy to chat on WhatsApp, Messenger, Snap Chat and post pictures on Instagram, we need to make them aware there also exists a dark side to social media. Unlike the old fashioned bullying where it ended once you got home, technology now brings it with the victim 24/7. It is scary knowing our children can be threatened, intimidated and picked on nonstop.

What is cyberbullying? It is when children use online technology to hurt other children. Essentially they are using the internet to hurt, embarrass and harass other children. This is done on purpose and typically ongoing. It can be carried out by a single person or a group of individuals posting hurtful things.

We must nurture our children and give them the opportunity to be a child.
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.”  — Stacia Tauscher, dancer and artist

It is essential to point out that not all online arguments are cyberbullying. Kids will have conflicts with other kids online, whether it is teasing, jesting or just joking. Children tease because it can spark off a fun way to provoke a reaction in someone else, and they may want to give as good as they got while being teased themselves. Teasing can reinforce a relationship by showing closeness and affection with another child. While teasing can be used to strengthen a relationship, it can also be used to alienate, criticise, and embarrass another person, which may diminish the relationship. The affectionate interaction of teasing can turn confrontational when the child being teased is distressed by the teasing.

So how old are our children when they begin to go online? Children as young as three have access to the internet and most of our children spend more time socially online than we do! Television still remains the media of choice among young children, with kids aged 5 to 8 spending around 64 minutes watching television each day, a number which is even higher in the 2 to 4 year old age group. About 88% of teenagers have access to the internet from various different tools. As smartphone access has become more prevalent, a growing share of teens now report using the internet on a near-constant basis. Some 45% of teens say they use the internet “almost constantly,” a figure that has nearly doubled from the 24% who said this in the 2014-2015 survey. Another 44% say they go online several times a day, meaning roughly nine-in-ten teens go online at least multiple times per day.

So, how do we as parents prevent cyberbullying? We must educate our young ones and prepare them for life online. Explain what exactly cyberbullying is and discuss with them what to do if he or she experiences cyberbullying. Keep all lines of communication open and teach our children respect for others online. What can we control? Monitor or kids usage of technology, educate ourselves of what devices, apps and technology our kids are using. If your budget allow it, use a contract for your Childs phone. This way you can see and manage your Childs technology use.

Let Dad’s Be Nurtures Too!

I was brought up to treat women as equals without exception. As soon as I had children of my own I wanted to be completely involved and I did everything possible apart from breastfeeding. Both my children weren’t interested in breastfeeding so I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to spring into action early and do my fair share of bottle feeding and my ex was able to get some much needed rest. This included during the night, after all they were my miracles too and I cannot put into words the absolute love and devotion I had and still have for my daughters. 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

My ex wife and I never intended our marriage fail along with our plans, dreams and aspirations. But it did blow up in our faces and like many others before us we became an unwanted statistic. Ironically we were really prepared to cope, possibly because we knew we were heading for the edge of the cliff and when we did go over we had talked things through in all matters to do with our children so when I left the house we all knew what was happening and had involved the girls in the conversation, at least the bits they could understand.

From the moment my girls departed the womb I was going to be the best Dad in the world. When a relationship ends and you have children it means you have to be Dad and Mum when the kids are with you. This meant my mission was to be an absolute amazing Dad and do my very best at being a Mum when I had to be. I know I will never be a Mum but be there emotionally. An example would be being really worried my daughter might have her period during school hours so I bought a little pencil case and got some pads, wipes and knickers, a kind of start up kit. Thankfully this did not happen and the accessories were never used.

One of the things that really annoyed me was most of the women I knew thought I woulds not  be able to cope, this will be an epic fail and even some women were willing me to fail, waiting for the gaps to appear and me to loose total control. In truth I hadn’t time to fail. My kids were having their own little trauma’s, like not enough milk left for their cereal, a friend not talking to them, having too much homework, starting secondary school or just the usual sibling arguing.

Of course I made mistakes but was quick to learn any decision I made affected everything, but I was determined to hold everything together including myself even when it takes my girls a lifetime to get out the door or just out of bed in the morning. I also remind myself frequently I am not perfect and I am sure I do things that irritate my girls, most for the right reasons! I am also aware the girls will try to play us off each other and it is so important not to talk their Mum down even if I agreed with what was being said. She is Mum and like me adjusting to life as a single parent 50% of the time. Our marriage may have broken down but my respect has not and I would like to think she feels the same.

The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal.
Kurt Vonnegut

I worked for three years in Childcare as a General Manager of two leading and large facilities. It is unusual to find a male within this industry and I was expecting some negative feedback. In the largest unit parents, children and colleagues embraced my addition and contribution but in the other one not so much. Mum’s had real concerns which automatically led to dad’s having concerns which in turn led to an email being sent to the proprietor which the content shocked me. My gender was attacked and it was assumed all men were not capable of being in a position of responsibility to look after the safety and wellbeing of children. I can safely say this is the only time I was left speechless and hurt. It took me one year to win all of the parents, ironically the children took to me immediately and to this day I see them sometimes out and about and always get a warm welcome. This was the best job I ever had and feel privileged to have worked amongst such a great group.

Naturally enough when my marriage ended I was responsible for organising playdates for my girls with their friends some mum’s were cautious. Again, I felt my role as a parent was questioned. I would never presume to mandate to a parent who should care for their child. But, it was obvious the only matter of fact that was being questioned was my gender and not my capabilities as a parent. It is not a competition as to which gender makes the better parent as each gender is different and brings something unique to the table. Internationals woman’s day was last weekend and I celebrate that and want my daughters to be the best they can. But surely all things being equal Dad’s deserve the respect of being capable of caring for children especially when they put themselves out there? Or am I tainting all women with the same brush and I should just put it down to ignorance and prejudice? Lets look at the bigger picture;

Prejudice, light in the end, new day, new beginning, Children

Would you want your child cared for a jew or a catholic, an Asian or a Europen? It is very hard when it looks like that and if it did such views would be challenged as they perpetuate prejudice. No more than the opinion that a man is less qualified than a woman to care for a child.

A major contributing factor to the thought process here and no doubt it is a very uncomfortable one for some women to acknowledge is the subtle inference that a male is more likely to pose risk of abuse. Without a doubt tis is disgusting and vile but a fact, there is a greater risk of abuse occurring at the hand of someone in a child’s family or social circle. We, as parents are hardwired to protect our kids and will always do everything in our power to protect our children, that’s our job and God we love our children.

As parents, like within the childcare industry whose workers undergo extreme vetting to ensure our children are protected and there are safeguards put in place like how and when a male interacts with children and from what age. What I am trying to say is do not unfairly view every male as a predator. Men can and do provide an equal measure of care and nurturing like women. We are as good role models as women for children. You must agree that young children should not be conditioned to a view that nurturing and care are only elements that a woman can provide. Is this not like saying only men make good Engineers and Soliders? I want my daughters to have the opportunity to pursue whatever career they wish and I know women make fantastic Engineers and Soliders and believe it, Men are more than capable of looking after children and making a great parent.

Unfortunately single Dad’s will remain to be scrutinised and receive strange looks from the Mum’s and as my children’s social circle widens I am sure, because I am a single Dad they will think twice and even three times before making their decision whether to trust me to care for their child during a play date with my daughter. I don’t expect you to make a hasty decision but please don’t make that decision purely based on the fact that I am a male.