Father’s Day is Sunday!
Aidan Casey is one of our new leaders of the Santa Mozzies. The Mozzies are the ‘Men of Santa’, our group for dads of Santa Maria girls. Aidan is father to three daughters, they are in Year 9, Year 7 and Year 4.
In honour of Father’s Day on Sunday, we asked Aidan to tell us a little about his experiences and philosophies around fatherhood.
What do you see as your role in your daughter’s life?
The metaphor I like for my role as a parent is that of a belayer, being the person holding the safety rope to a rock climber. We are not able to climb the wall for them, nor are we able to pull them up the wall, for they will gain nothing, in fact we have to leave a small amount of slack in the rope, so they can climb freely. Our role is to watch them, guide them, and most importantly catch them when they slip and of course encourage them to try again.
What are your hopes for your daughter?
My hopes for each of my daughters are that they will each be peaceful, joyful, compassionate and healthy.
What qualities would you like to instil in your daughter?
The qualities I would like most to instil in my daughters are those of empathy and kindness, integrity and honesty, aliveness and optimism, self-worth and self-belief.
What are the difficulties you have encountered in raising your girls?
Supporting my eldest through that transition from tween to teen I found challenging as the girls have so many major influences and changes happening all at once at that age, all influences that, as a man and a generation older, I had zero experience with at the time.
Where do you go when you hit a wall with your daughters?
I’ve learnt that you cannot actually force them to do anything. And you never win an argument with anger, statements, punishments or yelling. As men we often want to fix things, put in place an action plan, talk sense into someone, control things. I find it much more effective when I stop and first look at the actual importance of what we are disagreeing/arguing about, rarely is it even important. That slows me down to look for the guidance and the learning in the situation, for her and for me. I am then able to act much more effectively and from a place of love and empathy.
What’s something that has worked really well for you with your girls?
I like traditions; traditions that build communication and togetherness. For us it’s Monday afternoons, afterschool we do something fun together. Another is at dinner we have a tradition of each sharing the best and worst things of our day. Reading a chapter of Harry Potter to my two little girls most nights is a nice thing we share together. I’m sporadic with this last one but I really like sitting in my eldest daughter’s room at the end of the night and checking in with her for 2 – 10 mins depending on what she needs and wants. We have fun names for each of these traditions, they are real bonding times.
What is the best advice you were ever given with regard to parenting your daughters?
The best advice I received was that as our girls become teenagers they strive for and explore independence, at this time they can often push off us hard and as a parent that is a shock and really hurts. Don’t take it personally, don’t react with anger, driving them further away. Communicate the boundaries effectively but support them in their development and be there as a stable base when they need you.
Is there a piece of advice you’d like to give other dads?
I feel that it’s so important as a father to find connection points: Explore their interests find something you can connect with and use that to build connections. Share your interests, maybe some of your old interests, things you liked as a young fella yourself, if they show interest build connection there.
Girls get their value and worth from their fathers, so be reliable, be there, and show them you value them more than anything else.