Dad’s Business volunteer Andrew Day has a simple message for fathers today: Be a bother!
The father-of-four is urging dads to reach out for help if they are grappling with challenges and falling short of their own expectations as a parent.
“Don’t let things get worse just because you don’t want to be a bother,’’ Andrew said.
“There is strength in leaning on one another for support so you can be there for your kids.
“For dads learning to parent without a father figure, sharing the load is even more important.’’
Andrew was just 12 when he lost his father, a watermaster in the Riverland, to illness.
“Dad worked nine to five but then he’d be on call, so quite often he’d be out flooding paddocks all night before leaving for work again at six in the morning,’’ he said.
“It was rare to spend time with him.’’
When Andrew became a father at 18, his vision was clear: “I didn’t want to become the dad who doesn’t know his kids.
“But low and behold, years later, I realised I was that dad, working 50 to 60-hour weeks in retail and not seeing my family much.’’
The toll of Andrew’s absence at home emerged during an argument with his youngest daughter.
“She turned around and said, Dad, you have no right to comment on my life because you’re not part of it. She was 12 – the same age I lost Dad.’’
It was the push Andrew needed to reach out to Dad’s Business for support.
“I wanted to be a better partner and father; I wanted to take down all the walls I’d put up in the belief that, as a man, I couldn’t show emotion because I needed to be the rock for my family,’’ he said.
At Dad’s Business, Andrew found understanding, new confidence and self-belief.
Based at Elizabeth Downs, Dad’s Business provides parenting and other supports to empower men of all ages.
Activities come from a place of hope and focus on building self-esteem and addressing shame through acceptance and honesty so that dads recognise the value of fathers in family and children’s lives.
“I have learned how to own my successes and failures but also how to be more tolerant of who my children are, to support them in what they want to do, and teach them lessons that embrace who they are,’’ Andrew said.
“The impact I’ve been able to have on their lives by being a better father has had a ripple effect. I can see it in my daughter and the attachment she has with her children.’’
Three months ago, driven by a determination to support other dads on their journey through fatherhood, Andrew joined Dad’s Business in a formal capacity as a volunteer.
“I’d love to think Dad would be proud of the father I am now,’’ he said.