What I Learned From Being A Dad

My wife has spent the past few weeks being poked, prodded and prepped as she gets ready to give birth to what looks like a bowling ball.

What did the doctor tell me to do?

Don’t forget to keep the tank full.

Don’t have too many beers at the footy this weekend in case you need to drive her to the hospital.

Don’t stress her out.

Cue the canned laughter. It’s like I’m on the set of Everybody Loves Raymond. Or maybe I’m like a doughnut-dunking Homer Simpson…you know, the stereotypical bumbling buffoon of a dad.

It’s not just Hollywood that pushes this parental propaganda. For decades, developmental psychologists have largely dismissed fathers as being irrelevant. (If this were the 70s I probably wouldn’t be allowed in the birth suite).

Yet dads are important, and this Father’s Day I want to acknowledge the hard work they do.

Most DIKs (Dads I Know) pride themselves on being the provider for their family. They haul their tired arse out of bed in the dark, and get going to work. They return home after dark, often to a series of full-scale catastrophes (the toy truck has run out of batteries, there’s a rebellion against eating vegies, the dishwasher hasn’t been stacked properly). They flop into bed, then wake up a few hours later with a snotty-nosed kid elbowing them in the face.

Then they back it up, and do it all over again.

There’s no time to press pause and ‘find themselves’. Not that it matters. Most DIKs have already found their purpose: looking after their family. It’s their job. It’s their duty. And besides, spending time with their kids pays huge, life-changing dividends. The truth is that your kid doesn’t care about the make of your car, the location of your house, or the size of your pay packet. They just want you around.

Case in point: My dad isn’t an educated man – but he wanted me to be one. That’s why every Sunday morning we’d sit down and watch Terry McCrann on Business Sunday, and then read the business pages…that I now write for.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small business family, so I remember my dad always being around, or more to the point, I was always around him. Today, my son Louie runs around the Barefoot Investor office, and our farm. Even though he’s just a little boy, I’m intentionally showing him the joy of work, and giving him the confidence that he can do stuff (and stuff he does).

“We’ve got a job to do!” he says excitedly.

At which point chooks go flying. Betty the sheepdog gets manhandled. And we invariably end up puttering around the paddock in the exact replica of his prized plastic toy John Deere tractor. (Coincidence? … sure).

Scott-and-Louie copy

Fathers matter a whole lot, and they touch every aspect of their kids’ lives — by giving them confidence.

So today I’m doing a shoutout to all the dads. It’s a hard and often underappreciated job that you do.

By being a good dad, you’re having a huge impact on the world. Just you wait and see.

Tread Your Own Path!

The Ultimate Father’s Day Present

We’ve now replaced everything we lost when our house burnt to the ground.

Well, almost everything.

You see my wife’s father died a few years before I met her. And in the fire we lost some of the last remaining photos of him, the letters he’d written, and the paintings he cherished.

How does my wife explain who her father was to me?

How does she explain who grandpa was to our son?

Her physical reminders are now lost in the ashes.

So if you’re lucky enough to have your father still with you, here’s how you can give him the ultimate Father’s Day present. Today, whip out your phone, hit ‘record’, and ask your dad the following questions:

1. How did you meet Mum?

2. What advice can you share with me about money, life and happiness?

3. What does being a dad mean to you?

4. What are you most proud of?

5. How would you like to be remembered?

This is not for Facebook or Snapchat. It’s for you and your family’s legacy. One day, it’s all you’ll have left of him. And you’ll treasure it.