Series of interviews with exceptional male role models.
An interview with an extraordinary man, but most of all, a father who nailed being a dad, John Adams from Dad Blog UK. Stay-at-home dad, blogger, writer and husband.
If you could give advice to yourself from the time when you just became a father, what would it be?
If I were to go back to when I first became a dad, I’d tell myself to be much, much more clued up about screen time, digital resilience and online safety. I am very hot on these things, but I don’t think I fully appreciated how embedded in our lives tech is. As an adult you have the self-control to put your devices away but kids have to be taught this. Some of the online behaviour I have witnessed among my kids’ friends has left me shocked. More often than not it’s because their families aren’t keeping an eye on what they’re doing. We’re the first generation to be handling this tech so we’re learning as we go along but yeah, I’d warn myself this was going to be a challenge.
What, in your opinion, does it take to be a good father?
Oh my word, what a question! You need to be fun, tolerant and patient. Most of all, you need to listen to your children and understand they are all individual. You should also be approachable. If a kid has a problem with being bullied, with their schoolwork or whatever, you need to be there for them so they know they are loved
What did fatherhood teach you about yourself?
I recently wrote about this actually. My kids are much more likely to speak up if they don’t like something than I ever did as a kid. They’re more outgoing than I ever was. Essentially what my kids taught me was that I massively lacked confidence as a youngster. I made up for it in later years, but this lack of confidence definitely had an impact on my younger years.
What are the differences and similarities in your parenting style and the parenting style of your mom and dad?
I am a totally different parent to my mum and stepdad. They went to boarding school with all that entails. This isn’t a criticism, but I’m much more open with my kids. The other huge difference is that my mother (and also grandmother) were my main carers. My kids have a dad as their main carer so the differences in parenting style are ginormous!
What’s the scariest and the happiest moments for you as a father?
Well I guess happiest moment would be the moments both my kids were born. There is nothing like that and every birth is unique. It was quite something when Helen, my firstborn, arrived. Minutes later a midwife swaddled her, put her in my arms, turned her back and walked off. I’ve spoken to other men who have had similar experiences and I think midwives do it on purpose: There’s no sink or swim, you’re a dad now and you have to look after your child! It’s a great thing to do in my opinion.
Scariest moment? Probably the time my youngest daughter ran away from me in a massive B&Q warehouse. She’d have been about three years old. My arms were full and so like a fool I told her older sister to run after her. The result? Two kids lost in a massive B&Q warehouse! Naturally I went after them myself but didn’t have much luck. I had just collared a staff member and was going to request a tannoy announcement was made when they both turned up. No harm done but that was a tense few minutes!
If you could influence policies and system, what would you do to support parents in the next few years?
Where do I start with this? I’d love to halt Brexit but as that isn’t realistic, I’d start by introducing ring fenced leave for dads as part of the Shared Parental Leave package. This would force employers to accept that men will take shared parental leave.I’d also scrap academy schools in England. I know you are based in Scotland where there aren’t academies, but I am deeply suspicious of them and hear horror story after horror story about how they operate and their lack of interest in the individualism of school pupils. They’re an awful concept and should be done away with.
While this isn’t so much of a policy thing, I would change policymakers’ gaze slightly. Over recent years there’s been huge interest in Shared Parental Leave etc. but what about dads of slightly older children? What support and help do older dads need? I’m not sure anyone has the answer to that because no one’s looked into it!
You are – stay at home – dad, did you ever experienced any negative comments towards you and the swap of traditional gender roles? What surprised you the most in terms of the opinion of others in this matter?
What surprised me was the reaction of men. I thought I’d be the butt of jokes when I became my kids’ main carer. To my amazement, they all wanted to know what it was like and how my wife and I made it work. Most mums largely ignored me. It comes back to the point I made about social support. I don’t think they intended to be rude but most mums simply assumed I’d go off and socialise with ‘dad friends.’ I have many dad friends, but they all work full-time. In the politest possible way, dad friends can’t be relied up when you need someone to collect your kid from school or you need childcare help urgently. That was negative, albeit unintentional.
Yeah, I’ve had to deal with being told I’m babysitting my kids a few times. While it should always be challenged, it comes with the territory!
I would like to say Thank you,- John for such an amazing interview and allowing me to have you on my blog.
If any of our readers got any suggestions about who else could be interviewed – let me know. I’ve got a few amazing role models in my sleeve. Thanks.