Darren Clarke is a Men & Family Relationships Worker with Dad’s Business. Through antenatal classes, parenting sessions, playgroups and other events in the Playford region, the Centacare program prepares young men for fatherhood. As we mark Father’s Day (September 3), and the start of National Child Protection Week, we asked Darren what it means to be a dad.
Working in Dad’s Business has been a privilege. A privilege in the sense of supporting many diverse dads facing many diverse challenges. But perhaps the greatest privilege this work has given me is the ability to reflect upon my own role as a dad.
I think back to the days when my now adult children were little ones. Upon reflection, I wish I had spent even more time with them, hugged them more often and told them `I love you’ much more than I did. This got me thinking about what they might say about me, so I asked them. This is what they said:
To me my dad is caring and supportive. I know he cares for me and no matter what, I know I can go to him for any problem I might have. It’s comforting to know that he supports my decisions and hugs me when they don’t always work out. He is also funny and smart, and that’s what makes him a great dad. I love him and I know he loves me because he tells me all the time.
– Naomi, 18
My dad is strong. My dad is wise. My dad is so many things a dad could be – and more. He makes me feel safe inside my bubble and supports me to feel calm when I feel at my worst. We cry and laugh together. But most importantly, my dad believes in me and inspires me to be strong, wise and independent. Dad has always been there for me. From the first note I learned to play on a piano to being at the singing contest last week, he can be relied upon. I tell him every day that I love him and he does the same.
– Talina, 22
As we approach Father’s day this year, my message is clear and simple: Dads are very important on many levels in their children’s lives.
Dads can support cognitive, social and emotional development just by being active and involved in their children’s lives. The reward is future adults who will convey the same strengths and messages to their children. As the saying goes, `You are parenting your grandchildren’s children’.
Happy Father’s Day.
Men & Family Relationships Worker