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While we might be called Happy Mum Happy Baby, we’re a place for every parent. This Father’s Day, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the best lessons we’ve heard from Dads who’ve joined Gi on the podcast. Because they’ve shared wisdom, humour and a surprising amount of tenderness. Here’s a taster of some of our fave Parenting Lessons from Happy Mum Dads across the last NINE series’.

 

Rangan Chatterjee: Take the pressure off

Author, presenter, host of the podcast Feel Better, Live More and dad to two children Rangan Chatterjee is striving to simplify parenting in the same way that he’s striving to simplify health. In his episode with Gi, he reminded us all there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’:

“You don’t have to be a perfect parent. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Do the best that you can. If you get it wrong, it’s okay. You don’t need to be perfect. Your parenting doesn’t need to be perfect and your kids don’t need to be perfect. We’re all perfectly imperfect. Take the pressure off, do your best and it’ll all work out in the end.”

 

 

Marvyn HarrisonMarvyn Harrison: They’re their own people

Founder of Dope Black Dads, Marvyn Harrison, set up the community as a space for fathers to come and share their experiences when he realised that fatherhood wasn’t as easy as he expected. For him, parenting was a realisation that his kids weren’t just miniature versions of his own thoughts and feelings.

“I thought fatherhood was easy. I thought it was me just as I was being loved just for who I am! But they’re their own people. I just thought that they would kneel into my way of being and my perspective. And they don’t. They reject it sometimes. They don’t want to do things and so sometimes I’m coaching my son and he’s like ‘I don’t want to be coached, just give me a hug’ or ‘leave me alone’. You just you can see in his face. They’re like ‘don’t tell me Instagram quotables right now. I don’t want your power speech’.

“I thought I would just be this person and my kids would love me for it. But sometimes you just got to be the bad person. You got to be someone that they don’t enjoy to create the boundaries that they need to be better people”.

 

Ashley Cain and Safiyya VorajeeAshley Cain: Advocacy can be confronting

The entire nation was captivated by the story and smile of Azaylia Diamond Cain, daughter of Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee. Azaylia was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia in 2021 and sadly died after her short but intense illness. Ashley and Safiyya went on to launch The Azaylia Foundation in their daughter’s name to raise awareness of childhood cancer and support other parents of children with cancer. Ashley told Gi about the importance of advocating for your baby.

“This is why what we’re doing is so important now because we took our daughter to the doctors and we got told that she had a cold, we got told she had colic. We got told that she had constipation. We were given things for her nose to get snot out. We were given laxatives. All of that time our daughter had such a high leukaemia count it was scary. She had tumours in her spine, in her stomach in her spleen, in her lungs and we were getting sent away from the doctors saying she’s got constipation. Now we pushed for that but if we’d have left it another two weeks, we’d have woken up at home and our daughter wouldn’t have been breathing.”

“So what we want to do is we want to make people aware of the signs and the symptoms so if parents do see something, they can catch it early. If they do get turned away from the doctors, they can go back in and push for for another opinion or a second opinion. Because a matter of weeks is crucial, even a matter of days is vital when you’ve got these symptoms. That’s why we want to shine a light on childhood cancer. If you’re going to a GP and you’ve taken your baby three times, get them to take their blood, get them to give them a test because and if you are concerned about your baby, push for that.”

 

Josh Widdecombe: Ease the pressure

There are so many pieces of advice we’re given when we embark on the journey into parenthood, but comedian Josh Widdecome remembers that the best piece he was given was not to put himself under any pressure for the moment of birth to be some kind of ‘Hollywood moment’ where the whole world would suddenly make sense.

“I think there’s a really good lesson for people who are like me, who kind of do the research at school. I read all the things, write the essay. Actually, it’s quite freeing to be thrown into something where you don’t have that much control. Where you have to react rather than there’s not much you can do because suddenly, your child has hand, foot and mouth, and that’s it. That’s the next three days of your life and you’ve just surrendered to it. And I think that’s a really good kind of life lesson about how you can’t control everything.”

 

Jake Graf: Remember what you sign up for

At the end of every episode of Happy Mum Happy Baby, Gi asks guests who they would write a letter on parenthood to if they could. Actor, screenwriter, director and transgender rights activist Jake Graf said he would write it to “all of those parents out there who have a child who has told them – probably taking huge amounts of bravery and courage – that they feel different that they feel that they’re gay or they feel that they’ve got a crush on a boy at school or they feel that they’re trans or that their gender doesn’t fit them or they’d like to be called another name.”

As a parent you signed up to having maybe a gay kid, maybe having a trans kid. It’s unlikely because statistically that’s just the way it is. But if you do then you’re blessed because this child has trusted in you enough to tell you how they feel and who they are.”

“I always think, particularly now that I’m a dad – would you rather that your kid aged 20 or 25 says to their friends,  ‘I was so lucky because when I came out and I was scared and I was worried and I knew that society made me feel like I wasn’t really what they wanted, I wasn’t the norm but my parents made me feel loved and accepted and supported and because of that I know I’m strong and I don’t doubt myself and I have self-confidence and I’m so lucky’. Or would you rather be the parent of a child who says ‘when I came out my parents made me feel unloved and unsupported and invalid and those those relationships are ones that we have yet to heal because they just weren’t there when I needed them so badly’?

I think if you are any kind of parent in the world please choose the former because it’s not going to hurt you and I assure you it will hurt them.”

 

James DIY DadsJames aka DIY Dads: There’s beauty in sharing

Adoption has often been shrouded in mystery, but with more of the community opening up about this route into parenthood, it’s becoming less so. James, father of two by adoption praised the power of connection, community and stories.

“The ability to share those different slices of parenting and life, I think it just enriches everyone’s understanding. I listen and see stories and interact with content about people’s experience of middle of the night breastfeeding but I’m not going to do that. That’s not going to be an experience I’m going to have. But I can appreciate and understand the challenges that come with that and how that might mentally impact someone. That might make me a better friend or it might make me a better ally to a work friend or whatever. You don’t need to have to lived in that experience to learn and to be curious and understand more about it. I think that’s that’s what the beauty of sharing those stories kind of gives.”

 

 

Nigel Clarke: Raising multiracial kids means frank conversations. Early

George Floyd was murdered by a policeman in Minneapolis in May 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was the catalyst for a huge wave of protests around the world and sparking a rise of awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. In August, during Series six of Happy Mum Happy Baby, Gi was joined by Baby Club co-host Nigel Clarke, who spoke candidly about raising multiracial kids

“Having children that are multiracial and being a Black father you talk about race a lot earlier I think with your kids than than let’s say if you were white so I have talked to them about race and race is, I wouldn’t say in their face, but they’re aware of it and they’re aware of the diverse nature of this the world we live in. They’re also aware that could mean that you get treated differently or you could uh bump into racism or prejudice or all of those different kinds of things so they were much more aware of it. But when the George Floyd thing happened they got to see a different side of it. They saw protesting, they saw police and protesters going against each other. I think it took a bit more of a scary tone for them.

I remember one evening my son came to me and he said to me daddy “I’m a little bit scared. I’m thinking about lots of things” and I asked him what he was thinking about and he said “well the Black Lives Matter thing and whether we are going to be hurt” and I had to just literally sit down on the end of his bed and and talk it through with him.”

 

Vernon Kay on Happy Mum Happy BabyVernon Kay: C-sections and stigma

As a man who needs little introduction, Vernon isn’t one who has historically talked much about parenting. But now as the host of his own parenting podcast, Parenting Past the Pandemic, he was quick to be honest about the ongoing work-in-progress of fatherhood and touched on the stigma around C-Section births.

“Tess was a million dollars after the natural birth compared to the cesarean for obvious reasons. I think there’s so much around that isn’t there? C-sections have this stigma which they simply shouldn’t have because it’s major surgery. No one goes into that light-hearted. But people think that it’s easier to have a c-section than a natural birth but a c-section is major, major surgery and you can’t do anything for weeks after.”

 

For more amazing life lessons from other incredible parents, listen to Happy Mum Happy Baby, wherever you usually find your podcasts. It’s packed to the brim with ace stories, tips, advice and – possibly most importantly of all – solidarity from parents who just get it.

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