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What exactly are you, Dad?

I was given three pieces of advice by a wise old friend of mine – a veteran at fatherhood – when I discovered I was to become a father.

It’s terrifying.

Image of father and son at the beachEven though it’s hardly unexpected - one gets several months’ notice after all - the transition from bloke to father takes… well, at least two lifetimes.

Yet, one day you’re just an average bloke, and the next you’re someone’s dad.  And that is a very sobering experience.

I remember bringing home my day-old daughter from the hospital and gingerly placing her, fast asleep in her fresh white blanket, on the sofa.

“Now what the hell do you do?” I said to myself.

“Where’s the manual?” I thought.

Thinking about it now, it seems an age away. It was really, in terms of time at least - she’s 14 and my son 12, but it has been a long journey, as a dad. 

My friend’s wisdom has resonated with me ever since. It was his three rules of fatherhood.

1. Ignore every piece of advice you are given.
2. Everything changes all of the time. Mother Nature has done this before so let her be in charge.
3. Whether you like it or not, compulsorily, free of charge and for the rest of your life you are a member of the Dad’s Club.

It makes me smile and shiver all at once now, all those moments of worry, joy, frustration, more joy and even naked fear.

As dads, all we can do is our best. Protect them, nurture them and encourage them as well as the more orthodox stuff like bring home the bacon, slay monsters and find a comfy cave in which they can safely dwell.

Maybe at the end of all that, if you’re lucky, they’ll even like you.

I have unearthed another nugget of wisdom which will resonate with all those parents whose younger folk want to get on in their lives and in this particular context, to get their first property. To properly flee the nest and have their own comfy cave in which to dwell.

Especially in this generation where they are so handicapped by lack of housing supply, huge house prices and a financial environment which is leaving them drastically short of their dream.

My wisdom is this:

All the problems one encounters as a father get fewer and less dangerous but bigger and more expensive.

Whereas a few years ago I would have my heart in my mouth as my kids were found playing with a potentially lethally dangerous object, or climbing a tree to what seemed like certain death, I now worry that they will be able to move forward.

While I used to fret about schools and education, about their friends, about their health, I don’t any more.

My problem is bigger and more expensive.

How do we, as a family, help them move out and onward to the phase of their lives where, one day, they might feel the same quickening of terror that comes with impending parenthood.

While we are having a nice family time this Sunday (maybe I’ll even get a pressie off my kids, who knows?) we should all think of that as dads.

And then perhaps think about giving the Family Building Society a call.

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Family Building Society
Ebbisham House
30 Church Street
Surrey KT17 4NL
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