JohnP: here’s a great male role model with some advice that I wholeheartedly endorse.
Hamilton man Cameron Rowe writes about trading roles and becoming an at-home dad.
Melanie had taken care of the kids for four years, but then a job came up she was interested in. We made a major change by deciding to swap roles. I would come home and father the kids, take care of the house and do everything she had done, and Melanie would work full time.
Back when I was working I thought I knew exactly what it would be like at home full time. But my after-work experience of the kids in the evenings and weekends was not the same as being alone with them for nine hours a day, five days a week, stretching into months. That’s a totally different story. Isolation is especially daunting when facing the new situations that occur as children grow up. I used to think I was pretty autonomous, but after a few weeks of dealing constantly with little kids I found cravings to talk to anyone who was not a child. Just like full-time mums, dads can struggle with depression and suburban neurosis.
To deal with these issues I have a weekly “Daddy Day Out” with another stay-at-home father. We tried to give them some experiences that have lots of physical activity and are more back to nature. We took the opportunity to go to Pirongia for bush walks and explained the basics of the bush and safety in the forest. On another walk near Huntly, the boys were stunned by the massive kauri trees towering above the forest floor.
As dads we talk about how things are going, what’s working and what challenges there have been. We have developed a level of honesty and sharing so we listen, give feedback, and give the encouragement needed for this marathon solo run. I’ve been told a lot of men talk only about surface issues and struggle to get deeper. This has been a great opportunity to get beyond the staple male diet of rugby and the weather. The combined meetings have been the best time in the week for both the kids and the dads.
Older parents have told me their kids grew up quick. I feel a closer, stronger bond with my kids than I did before. That has been the major payoff. I’ve experienced their lives growing up.
The biggest opportunity to change them and instil good beliefs and values into them is now. It’s harder to change the clay when it has already started to set.
Over the door of my son’s kindy reads the words, “Only you can choose the type of parent your child has”. For this period of my life I have chosen to be a parent that makes memories instead of money. I have invested in the hearts and minds of my children.