Attitudes are changing and it’s time to let go of gender stereotypes. More dads are choosing to play a more active parenting role in bringing up their children than their fathers did. This is highlighted by the decision for The Prime Minister’s partner Clarke Gayford to stay at home with their first child Neve Te Aroha Adern Gayford.
We know that the best thing for babies is to be in a loving and connected relationship, ideally with their mum or dad, and it’s wonderful to see more dads taking on the role of primary caregiver.
Two Kiwi dads, who are proud of the role they are playing in the bringing up of their children, have created an online ‘dad cave’ to provide men with support in their parenting role. It is a forum where they can chew the fat, ask parenting questions, or simply share dad jokes.
Will Fleming and Greg Buckley are the Auckland dads behind the RadDads Facebook page. Every week they create new videos that explore fatherhood and “all the weirdness” that goes with having the “best job in the world,” Will says. It’s essentially the online, male equivalent of a mother’s coffee group, but with 2,500 participants.
They launched RadDads five years ago as a podcast. It then morphed into video interviews with famous dads such as former Prime Minister Bill English and news presenter Mike McRoberts. When Mr English was interviewed, he spoke candidly about how “fast” he was at folding cloth nappies - with six children he needed to have a good pile of nappies!
Now the RadDads are focusing on growing their online community.
“It’s a place where dads can come in and talk about all things dad-related, with other dads,” Greg says.
One man recently posted about how he thought his new-born hated him because the baby cried every time he picked him up. There was a flurry of activity from other dads who sympathised, saying that they too had felt that way in the early days. They urged this worried father to be patient as he and baby would soon bond. They told him to hang in there and make mum as comfortable as possible.
“It can be an unglamorous existence doing the hard yards as a dad. There are so many champions out there, but we want to celebrate the every-day man,” Will adds.
The RadDads were inspired to put the “everyday dad” on the map by trying to break a world record. Last year they attempted to catch a ball from 103 meters. Unfortunately, they weren’t successful.
“It was about creating fun content, getting ourselves out there and proving that two regular dads could break a record,” Will says. They accepted their failure. “It’s about the pursuit of success and failing sometimes – just like parenting. You may not always get it right, but you keep on trying,” Will says.
Will and Greg believe one of the reasons their Facebook community is so strong, is because men are embracing being more hands-on with parenting than the generation before and are looking for support and guidance.
They are thrilled that Clarke Gayford is going to be a stay-at-home dad when Prime Minister Jacinda Adern returns to work. The RadDads acknowledge that the couple will have plenty of people offering advice, but say to take it with a grain of salt. Clarke should not be afraid to make some mistakes and learn from them, Greg says.
One of the RadDads’ favourite taglines is: “There’s a right way, there’s a wrong way and there’s the dad way.” It’s even on a t-shirt.
A lot of dads are just trying to get some confidence under their belt. Just because a dad does it differently, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong, Will says. He will make mistakes as he learns the job, but just like mum, he is doing his best.
Check out the Rad Dads here: