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It’s important for fathers to know that they are important figures in their children’s’ lives and that it’s OK to have a strong connection with your child.

I was told that I was highly unlikely to have children due to medical reasons; this was somewhat hard to take in or accept, and was something that society hadn’t prepared me for. Going through a number of IVF treatment cycles which were all unsuccessful, we decided to take a break from it all. It’s a draining process both mentally and physically, especially for women, so we agreed to put the process on hold to safeguard our wellbeing.

One day, within that year (2015) I received a picture of a pregnancy test, reading ‘positive’, I couldn’t believe it! I walked out of an important meeting and called Charlotte with excitement. Then, nature took its natural course.

Watching my son being born was the most beautiful experience, and one that is difficult to put into words. I salute Charlotte for carrying him whilst working full time, which was somewhat inspiring. 30 hours of intense labour, culminating in the final push – where my hand was squeezed so tight that it nearly got ripped off – her face going through every colour of the rainbow before our beautiful sunshine finally appeared.

This is where it really begins for me… fatherhood.

I held my son against the bare skin of my chest and flooded Bradford Royal Infirmary with tears of both joy and relief. He was here safe and sound, darting his eyes left and right silently. The feelings and emotions I experienced in that moment are difficult to put into words.

Nothing prepared me for fatherhood, there was no written manual, and I am making it up as I go along. However, I feel as though I have a huge part to play being Leo’s father. I have a responsibility in being present in Leo’s life and having a connection with him. He can come to me as much as he can go to his mum, and I have a responsibility to be a positive role model for my child. What does this mean though? Am I just here to do the stereotypical father role that society sets out – drop off to school, drop off to football, get up and go at my own pleasure..? Nah, that’s the easy route.

Fatherhood for me is being there for my child through his highs and his lows.

I want to bake with my son, have meaningful conversations, I want to speak with his school teachers, attend his appointments, I want to expose him to people from different backgrounds, to books and to music. I laugh and cry with my son and he knows that he can talk to me as much as he can to mum.

I’m not saying I’m the perfect father – I’m yet to meet one – however, it’s important for fathers to know that they are important figures to their children and it’s OK to have a strong connection with your child.

I tend to think before I act in front of Leo, since I am cautious of how this will affect him as he grows. For example, I love books, but in practice struggle to read them. However I understand that this could have an impact on Leo’s motivation to read. So one day, I picked up a book, sat on the sofa and pretended to read.

To my surprise Leo ran to his bookshelf, aged three at the time, chose a book and sat next to me, translating the illustrations into stories. It was just amazing to witness him copy this behaviour.

I sometimes read bedtime stories to Leo or help him with his homework, which also alleviates the pressure on mum being the default adult in doing all these things. Yes, there is still the stereotypical view that the father should just go to work and come home and that’s his job done, but we have a duty to break that cycle.  It’s important to do so because this allows fathers to create and develop more meaningful relationships with their sons and daughters. Children should feel comfortable in approaching both parents. The dynamics in society have changed and parents need to share responsibilities. I have also witnessed fathers not taking responsibilities, is this because they don’t understand what their role is in being a father? We need to see more of fatherhood in conversations, videos, images, stories, blogs and good practice in society.

I always see and hear many great examples. Fathers cooking tea with the children, helping with homework, and it’s always humbling to hear these stories of dad’s playing a vital role in the household.

I am implementing good behaviours into Leo’s core. Children will often imitate our behaviour which will be remembered in their adulthood. By doing this, I am helping to break the stereotype of mum’s doing all the household chores, supporting all the children’s demands’ whilst working full time. I have just as much responsibility for these things as the father.

There is no script to follow and I believe there shouldn’t be a step by step guide for parenting but we should share good practice. I teach Leo kindness and to look after those people who he comes into contact with. I teach him to always question things and be in touch with his emotions. Being a good role model to children is such an important and key ingredient for their mental health. It’s like planting a seed in the soil, you can keep watering the seed but is that enough? I want to water the seed, give the plant food and sunshine and remove any bad weeds whilst it’s trying to grow. I hope my plant will grow and blossom with its roots stood firmly into the ground, bringing smiles to those walking by. 

I have a shared role in caring for my child.

I’m still learning.