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An open letter to dads without a dad

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To the dads like me – who never had one,

You’ve got no blueprint for this. Just a list of the what-not-to-dos it feels like you’ve been writing your whole life. 

You’re a dad now. And you know what that means? You’re already better than him. Better than he was. Better than he could’ve been. You turned up. You’re sticking around. If you only get one thing from this letter, get this: you are not your father’s son. You’re a dad.

Father’s Day. At first I was oblivious to it – you don’t know what you don’t have, I guess. Then, as I got older, I just tried my best to ignore it. When I first became a dad I used to downplay it, even get annoyed when my wife would make a big deal about it. She told me to pull my head in and lighten up. These are the moments that matter. Enjoy them.

Pretty quick I realised that it’s just as much about my kids as it is about me. They absolutely love it, and it might’ve taken me a minute, but I love it too. Love seeing how happy the day makes them. Love the presents they made or (Mum) bought for me.  Every pair of crappy socks, every lame mug and every card – every single one makes me genuinely happy.
 
That’s what I think about on Father’s Day now. All that good stuff. You’ve got yours too, so focus on it. Accept that Father’s Day might always be a tough day, and that it’s okay for you to feel angry, sad or pissed off. If you’ve got family, a partner or kids around, you just need to be open and tell them what’s going on. They can give you space, support – whatever you need. For me, I choose to focus on my kids and family and enjoy it. 

Never having a dad made me really conscious of the kind of husband and father I wanted to be. It’s been tough, and even though this is still all so new and unknown, I’m making it work, and I’m figuring it out. I’m writing my own blueprint for what fatherhood is, what a husband is – not just for me, but to show my kids what a real man looks like.

And you know what? I love being a dad. My proudest achievement is my daughters. They challenge me every day. They drive me to be the best man I can be, and they make me truly happy. 

The best things are the small things: teaching them new stuff and life skills, guiding them to be good people, taking them to sport, rumbling around on the weekend, and how they can always make me laugh. Even yelling for the 10,000th time to pick their stuff up off the floor is something I’m going to hold on to and treasure forever. 

Seeing them grow into smart, kind and strong young women really makes me proud.

Happy Father’s Day. We’ve got this. You have got this.

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