Your dad and family experiences
Becoming a dad can make you think about your relationship with your own dad or other male figures in your life, your family background and your experiences of growing up.
Even if you had a good childhood, most dads don’t want to repeat the things that didn’t work or weren’t positive. You might be very aware of what those things were, or you can think back to them.
He was there, but he wasn’t. He’d be at work or he’d be travelling for work. When I was a teenager, my father would probably spend 8-9 months a year away. I’ve vowed I won’t be like my father. I’ll be there to support my wife and raise my children.
– Callum, father of twins
But dads remember the good times too, and they do want their children to experience the things they loved in their own childhoods.
My dad was the parent who played on the street – not just with me, but with all the other kids. He’d gather everyone for an excursion to the local park or beach, or hold ‘back fence badminton’ competitions. He really prioritised the importance of play, and I’ve taken this on as a parent as well. My dad was also generous with praise – he taught me that every bit of my effort was worthwhile. I hear his voice in my own words when I’m praising my kids’ efforts now.
– Max, father of five
Rituals are things that only your family does. They help communicate ‘this is who we are’ and give you a sense of belonging.
As your baby gets older, you might want to continue a special ritual or activity you shared, or still share, with your dad or another male figure in your life – an uncle, stepdad, foster dad or granddad. It might be going fishing, winking goodbye or reading books together.
Did you or do you have a special ritual, activity or time with your dad that you would like to keep going with your child?
Every month on a Sunday my dad would pack up me and my brothers and sisters in his car and go for a three-hour drive. We’d get pizza, hop back in the car, then drive home again. I’d love to do that with my kids, but I don’t think my car would make it!
– Kev, father of three
Maybe you’re already planning new routines and activities for yourself and your children.
On a Saturday morning I’ll walk to the shops, get the paper and a coffee and walk back home while my wife’s still in bed. I might be able to take the baby when he’s a little bit bigger. I’ll put him in the stroller and get the paper, and we can have a coffee and the wife can sleep in. I’m really looking forward to that.
– Roger, expectant father (30 weeks)
Thinking about your family can sometimes bring up strong or painful thoughts and reactions. If it all seems too hard and you’re feeling worried or down, or you’re getting upset or angry with your partner or other people, it might be a good idea to talk with someone or get professional help.
You could talk to your GP or call MensLine on 1300 789 978. It’s a free and confidential service that can put you in touch with a counsellor.
Things you can do
- Are there any special times or things from your childhood that you would like to keep going with your child?
- What experiences would you like to be similar or different in your family? Are there some things you want to avoid? How will you make this happen?
- If you feel nervous or unsure about being a new dad, you’re not alone. No parent has all the answers – there are always things to learn. You can find information about being a dad by checking out our Fathers section and other parts of our website, getting together with other dads you know, attending parenting classes or checking out our online forum for expectant dads.