Thursday, 6 March 2014

David, Maya and Olivia



Name: David 

Children: Maya, 8 and Olivia, 4

Location: Chester

Expectations of Fatherhood: Nobody becomes a father with the expectation that, some years later, you will end up alone with two young children. But I did. It’s been two years now since I separated from the girls’ mother and we now share the childcare equally.

One thing that hasn’t changed is my expectation to remain a big part of their lives. I always understood that fatherhood was a big commitment and honour that to this day. I want to be there for them. They’re part of me.



Reality of Fatherhood: It’s tough being on your own at times. It can be exhausting and frustrating, plus you make a lot of personal sacrifices – as any parent does. But that’s the deal. On the other hand, being with the girls brings me moments of happiness, laughter and pride beyond all imagination. 

I’ve started taking them with me increasingly on travel journalism assignments and I love sharing these new experiences with them. As they get older, they’re becoming true little companions. That makes me very lucky.

Taking your children home for the first time: My memory is of struggling with a baby seat on a cold February afternoon while the nurses looked on, shaking their heads. I was better prepared for number two.

The best/worst advice: I feel I’ve learnt a lot of things the hard way but my advice to dads going through a divorce is to stay engaged. It’s easy to become an absent father. Your children need you in their lives; they need you to be around and involved in all the everyday things from homework to school runs, as well as school plays and parents’ evenings. So value yourself. You’re important too.


The hardest parts of being a father: The hardest part for me over the last couple of years is being both bad cop and good. It’s easy to be the soft one but tough to set the boundaries and enforce the rules, especially when you don’t have any back up. I’m aware that, at times, I’ve been way too strict, or gone over the top reacting to something, often something inconsequential. I’m still trying to find the right balance. I’m doing my best.

The best parts of being a Father: For me, it’s about making the whole journey. It’s the everyday things that throw up special moments. In particular, I try hard to foster a love of reading and words, and I encourage the girls to get outdoors and appreciate nature. That why we spend so much time exploring the park opposite were we live, tracing the changing of the seasons. I love seeing their enthusiasm reflected back to me.  

Has becoming a father changed you? Totally. But I'd like to think I've held onto a tiny bit of me. Being a dad is a huge part of what defines me today in both my personal and professional life. But I’m also, deep down, still me.


Hopes for your family: To be together and happy.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant dads? Remember dads matter too. 
As a dad, you have rights and increasingly society recognises the importance of your role. Don’t let yourself loose sight of that.



I've taken a whole new career avenue over the last couple of years, turning to family-travel articles as the mainstay of my journalism. There are not many dads writing about travelling with their kids, even fewer single dads, and I'm finding my voice in a mother-dominated sector.

I won a travel-writing award for one of the first pieces, a story about going on a Barbie cruise; read more at http://atkinsondavid.co.uk/?s=Barbie+takes+the+prize
I’ve also blogged about some of my travels and experiences with the girls. 
Read more at http://atkinsondavid.co.uk, or follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/atkinsondavid.



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