What does a ‘great dad’ look like?

kelley family 2I recently read research indicating that by 2011 fathers had nearly tripled the amount of time they were spending with their children as compared to 1965 (from 2.5 to 7.3 hours per week). No doubt this trend has been heavily influenced by research findings revealing the impact that a dad can have on his family and children’s emotional and social health.

It got me thinking about my dad – one of the 1965 variety – and a fabulous one at that! What do I mean by a ‘great dad’? Did he break the ‘2.5 hour’ mould and spend immeasurable amounts of time with me? Probably not. Did he take me out on formal ‘dates’ to spend time with alone? No, that rarely happened.  So what did he do?

Well as I thought about it, it all became clear. He didn’t just give me ‘time’, he gave me memories – wonderful stunning memories. Memories that today, twenty years after he died, play out as stories about what he did, what he shared, where he came from and how much he loved me. Like the time he took the four of us kids to the local shop and announced, ‘Choose an ice-cream – anything you like’.  Well, we were excited – no twin poles on the regular budget today.

So after seeming hours of review and the disapproving glances of the shopkeeper who clearly thought we were dreaming, we chose two Giant Sandwiches and two Hazelnut Rolls and marched them up to the counter. The woman glanced over at my father, looking for his say so, to which he said, “Yes we’ll have two.” She looked confused, as did we all, until he added, ‘Yes, two boxes – one of each of those love”.  Our faces changed from crestfallen to elated. Not just ice creams for us but boxes of them. Every time he did things like this (and he did them consistently), they became stories in my memory bank that more than 40 years later evoke memories of love and pride that my dad could feel like this about us! We weren’t just worth the best ice cream in the place, we were worth the whole box.

kelley familyYou see, the research comes as no surprise – dads spend time with your kids, don’t simply give them things but be with them – it really makes a difference. But can I add, i

n addition to the ‘currency’ of time is the ‘currency’ of memories – create memories, great memories that even twenty years after you’ve passed away, your kids are still telling their kids about the ice cream that changed their lives.

Kelley Chisholm

(Photos taken at a whole family holiday in Bali, earlier 2013)

About Kelley

Kelley is a speaker, author, overseas aid worker and perpetual student. She is passionate about women and gender issues, both in the local and international context, which underpins her enthusiasm for kinwomen and its contribution to women ‘living their finest life’. In 2014 Kelley completed a Masters in International and Community Development before establishing The Foxglove Project. Foxglove is a registered charity focused on supporting international development projects that are sustainable and driven by indigenous leadership. Kelley’s paid work requires her to travel extensively to evaluate and support projects supported by Australian funds. This experience and networking enables Foxglove to partner with outstanding overseas agencies delivering real opportunities for the poor and vulnerable to lead independent self-determined lives. Kelley combines these passions with a love of family and faith. Across more than 30 years of marriage, Kelley and her husband have worked through many of the challenges of building a relationship while raising three sons. Their boys have now finished high school changing the dynamics of family life and relationships. One of her great joys is sharing parenting lessons and learning from good and bad (sometimes disastrous) experiences. She uses humour and common sense to talk about the everyday challenges facing parents in today’s context.