Dads and daughters – Sharing a passion for football

Like many other dads of daughters, I don’t see the fact that my child is a girl as a reason not to share my hobbies, interests, and passions with her. When I was a child, I had zero interests in common with my parents and that has carried on to adulthood. For me, it’s wonderful to (so far) be able to bond with my daughter over shared interests.

But it’s not only selfish reasons why I do this. I see genuine value in the things I am encouraging her to engage in, that will help in her growth and development. Increasingly, Football is one of these areas where dads and daughters are bonding over.

SSE, sponsors of the Women’s FA Cup, shared with me the story of 12-year-old Daisy McGregor and her father Kenny. He is a passionate football fan, and has been taking her to see his beloved Peterborough United since she was 5. She loved it.

At age 6, Daisy was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a condition which causes her to to have various involuntary spasms such as coughing and twitching. It’s been a very stressful thing for her to live with – but Daisy found something that helped her cope with it: playing football.

Starting with simple kickabouts with her dad, he then encouraged her to join the local all-girls side Yaxley Football Club. The positive effect on her symptoms has been huge.

Check out more on their story in this video, the latest in the SSE Dads and Daughters series:

So what started out as simply a dad sharing his passion for football with his daughter, has developed into a life changing activity for her. Us dads shouldn’t feel uneasy about engaging our daughters in this way. Just because it’s something we as men love, which hasn’t been considered a ‘girly’ activity or interest in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t be something that girls won’t engage with fully too.

It’s great that Daisy was able to find a girl’s club near her. The girls’s game is getting a tremendous boost from The FA SSE Girls Participation Programme, with more than 60 clubs taking part around the UK, giving a much needed boost to the number of girls only football settings.

I’ll support any campaign with the goal to increase girls participation in sport, boost their confidence, break down gender stereotypes, and celebrate the positive outcomes when dads bond with their daughters.

For more on Daisy and Kenny McGregor, and the SSE’s Dads and Daughters campaign, head to their website.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with SSE, one of the UK’s leading energy companies, supplying energy to around 8.21 million customers throughout the UK and Ireland.


Dad’s Breakfast Club – with LEGO DC Superheroes

Dad’s Breakfast Club is a great London based meet up for fathers. This event included quality food, lots of LEGO, DC Superheroes and more.

The lure of either LEGO, DC Superheroes, or a slap up breakfast would be enough to get us out of the house early on a Saturday individually – but all combined for a Dad’s Breakfast Club meet up? Yes please.

The event tied into the release of LEGO DC Justice League Gotham City Breakout! on Blu-Ray/DVD, and was the latest Dad’s Breakfast Club event run by father Greg Stanton (aka London Dad on instagram).

It was held at Cau, St. Katherine Docks in London, a typical quality chain eatery (from the team behind the high end and similarly Argentina inspired Gaucho) that you get in this part of London  – so I knew we were going to get a nice brekkie.

There was a buffet of good English breakfast staples (pork & herb sausages, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, etc), as well as pancakes with maple syrup, and my favourite item – brioche bacon baps with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo & ketchup. I actually ended up having two of these. In fact I ate so much food I didn’t eat again until dinner.


LEGO DC Superheroes were represented by themed colouring and a giant LEGO Batman sculpture as we walked in. Most excitingly, every table also had unopened LEGO Batman sets for us to build. These ranged in size from the smallest sets available to some of the largest – such as this LEGO Batman Killer Croc Sewer Smash Set

Dad’s Breakfast Club is a great way for dads to join as a community to share time with their children. Greg and the other dads I met were warm & welcoming, and it was nice to see a collective of dads with their kids. As I often blog, LEGO is a great joint activity for parents to do with children, so it was awesome to see all these dads with boys & girls enjoying making Batman LEGO together.

We left the event with a goody bag, containing a Blu-Ray & DVD copy of the film (including a limited edition Nightwing figure) and LEGO superhero key rings. Additionally, we took home the LEGO set my daughter had constructed pretty much by herself (while I was busy eating successive waves of my delicious breakfast/brunch).

The Dads Breakfast Club 'LEGO DC Justice League Gotham City Breakout' goody bag
The Dad’s Breakfast Club ‘LEGO DC Justice League Gotham City Breakout’ goody bag

Also in the goody bag – and a little bit sexist – was a DVD ‘for all the mummas’ a stereotypical rom-com. It can be argued that an event like this is a bit sexist too. One the one hand, I know plenty of LEGO & superhero loving mums who would love this.

But then again, there are very few dad centric events and groups in the parenting world, so this one is to be celebrated. It’s probably aimed at a family set up that differs from ours. On a Saturday morning, my daughter is more likely to spend time alone with her mother given I have been home parenting all week while my wife has been at work.

Many of the dads I spoke to had been signed up to attend by their other halves. For some families, this can be a way to ensure dad and the kids get time together away from mum – who also has a morning all to herself. I know how important that is too.

But this Saturday morning was for me & the munchkin. Given the combo of LEGO, superheroes, and a quality breakfast – on paper this event seemed like a great way to spend a Saturday morning with my daughter – and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.

For more on Dad’s Breakfast Club, please follow them on Instagram.

Justice League: Gotham City Breakout is out now.


Disclosure: I received a free ticket  to this Dad’s Breakfast Club event, which are normally £25.


A Dad Looking After His Kids Isn’t Being a Mother. He’s a Parent.

Dads, here’s formula for how to make a post go on viral on social media…

Write a lengthy exposition on how difficult it is being a parent, but then add a bit of dad magic – write about how you didn’t realise how hard ‘mothering’ your kids is; apologise to all the mums for how tough their life is; apologise to all the mums again for how easy dads have it; plus try and look handsome yet tired in accompanying photo of you and your kid/kids.

Seriously, try it. Get it in front of the right eyes, and boom – a viral post that will get picked up by the Daily Mail, etc. in no time.

The most recent one of these has labelled himself DadMum, and his post falls back on a parenting myth/cliche that really needs to be consigned to the wastebasket of outdated ideas: The notion that a dad taking care of his kids makes him a mum.

There’s nothing wrong with being a mum. I’m married to one. She’s awesome. But as things stand at the moment, I’m at home with the kid while she’s working. I’m not ‘being the mum’ and she’s not ‘the dad’ for working. We’re parents – she’s a working one, I’m at home.

I’m going to venture that the majority of people who share these Dad-Apologist posts & memes are not fellow dads, but mothers. A scan of the thousands of comments on them tends to confirm this.

It’s tough being a mother. There is a whole genre of parenting posts by mothers about how tough it is being a mother. I’ve always seen it as an extension of the networks of fellow mothers they may have IRL. In tough times, it’s always good to know you’re not alone.

As a stay-at-home dad, you may think that these dad posts are the types I would share. Except, they’re not aimed at me – they’re for mothers too. These are dads playing ‘mother’, because they don’t see the term fatherhood as related to the sustained barely organised chaos of being a parent. They’re not alone – the term ‘mothering’ is still interchangeable with ‘parenting’ for much of society.

Sharing content on social media is a curious, post-millennial phenomena. Facebook, Twitter, et al are micro blogs – similar to what you’re reading this on now. But by sharing, an individual is publishing. Sometime people share things that have wound them up (the Mail Online business model). More often than not however, it’s a sign of approval.

With these parenting role reversal posts, it’s also a way of saying ‘look how cool this dad is – he gets it’. It helps if the guy is good looking too – a DILF if you will. But he’s a fantasy. He is not a Dad turned mother. He’s still a father. And this father really doesn’t get it at all.

Dad-Apologist posts reconfirm the view that the dirty, messy, grumpy, sleep deprived, stressful aspects of parenting are women’s work. Yet the ability to support your family financially by having a career, and the enjoying fun times with your kids, is ‘being a dad’. That ‘the struggle’ is a woman’s burden alone.

By all means, lets celebrate and support fellow parents who are battling through tough times, but let’s stop labelling dads who care for their kids as mothers. We’re not. We’re still dads, whatever we may post online to the contrary.

The Lonely Dad in the Corner

You are there with your child, but you feel alone. You also feel awkward, perhaps a little shy, but try not to show it and smile.

All around you are mothers with their children, who all seem to know each other. You smile as you make eye contact, hoping for a hint of a connection – but nothing.

You try making conversation, but none develops. Your hopes of meeting new people, making new friends, forming bonds with other parents for the sake of your child are dwindling.

You end up sitting alone in a corner, watching your child play alone while all around you a community you long to be a part of continues on oblivious.

I know this dad. Once upon a time, it was me.

Whether in parks, cafes, playgroups, or classes, when we moved to this area gone was our network, our antenatal group, the mothers who didn’t bat an eyelid at the stay-at-home dad in their ranks. Looking back, I realise their unconditional acceptance empowered my self esteem as a father.

Hoping for the same, I found it lacking in my first forays into the local community. While I am more than happy in my own company, for the sake of my child I knew I needed to form new friendships and networks.

And I did. It all worked out fine. I found the right groups. I got to meet mothers and fathers who wanted to engage. We have formed good friendships, and so have our children.

Which is what makes what happened this week so disappointing. Part of my efforts to engage in my new community saw me volunteer to help out at a local playgroup, that a mother with a girl the same age as mine had just agreed to take over. It was the first group I attended where mothers – like this one – talked to me.

However, this group was struggling with numbers, mostly lacking promotion and awareness. It was also the last non-church run group in the area, and for me that was something worth saving.

We changed that, and it is now one of the most popular in the town. So popular, that instead of having time to meet and chat to new people when they arrive, I often only have a chance for a brief hello and explanation of how it works (a very short conversation) while I continue chopping grapes, washing dishes, topping up paint pots, and making sure my now 4-year-old kid is ok.

So when the new dad came along this week, I didn’t have the chance to speak to him. Often new mums arrive with a friend. If alone, and not chatting to anyone, I’ll try and have a brief conversation with them. I usually see them chatting to someone as the morning progresses. But it was particularly busy this morning.

I should’ve talked to this dad, but I didn’t. When it was all over, and people shuffled home while we tidied, I didn’t see him.

It was only later that the image popped into my head. Of him sitting alone. Surrounded by empty chairs. Staring at his child, playing alone.

I had failed him, this dad who had come along – just as I had a couple of years ago – looking to engage with other parents.

I hope that this snapshot memory I have of him was unrepresentative of his morning. That this was simply a brief respite for him from chatting to other parents. But I fear this was not the case.

When I had a similar experience, I stopped going to that particular group. Who could blame me, and who could blame him if he doesn’t return next week. But I really hope he does, to give us another chance.

Next time you see a dad alone with his child, especially at a playgroup or class, please don’t ignore them. Try and chat to them if you can, but at least smile if you catch their eye. It could make all the difference to them, and their child.

Daddy Swans Can Raise Their Kids Too

“There’s the mummy swan with all her babies!” exclaimed my three-year-old daughter about the swan on the canal with their cygnets. We had probably seen daddy swan earlier, picking fights with the local geese.

I’m one of the growing number of stay-at-home dads, and I’ve been home with my daughter since she was six months old. Yet despite having an at-home dad for most of her life, she still defaults to the assumption that the parent looking after their children must be the mother.

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. We had just left the baby & toddler group I help to run, where there were dozens of parents and carers – but I was the only man there. On the walk home, we bumped into a few more parents we knew, all of them mothers at home with their children. That morning, I had read numerous books to my daughter, including classics such as Where The Wild Things Are, Dogger, and some Mog books – all of which, like many in our collection, feature the mother as primary carer.

This ‘norm’ carries over into other aspects of how parenting in portrayed or perceived – including nature, where there are far fewer everyday examples of nurturing fathers to cite. We tend to humanise, or give character too, the animals around us. When it comes to their parenting, the gender roles can be perceived very rigidly, whether it’s a cartoon with talking animals or us observing their behaviour in real life.

But one of the things that makes us human is our ability to transcend nature. Unlike animals we can choose to suppress our urges, not act on instincts we know are not relevant to the world we find ourselves in, and change the way we parent to suit our circumstances.

Being the dad used to be seen as being the breadwinner, or the sports guy, or the one who cooks with on the barbecue. Some of those dad cliches apply to me. But I’m also the dad who’s at home with our daughter, loves cuddling her, will happily play dolls with her, and ties a damn good ponytail.

Reflecting this changing view of fatherhood, stock photography provider Getty Images has launched a special collection to coincide with Father’s Day. The images show fathers as nurturing, caring, and attentive parents, offering a more modern idea of masculinity and fatherhood.

These stock photos will become part of the everyday noise of the online parenting world, turning up in peoples social timelines and hopefully evolving perceptions about dads among those that don’t see fathers this way yet.

It’s easy to relax into accepted norms. Sometimes we need to curate the way the world around us is presented, to reflect not only the way it is, but the way we want it to be.

So when my daughter pointed out the ‘mummy’ swan, I felt the need to introduce an element of doubt and analysis into the conversation. “How do you know it’s the mummy swan?”, I asked, “It might be the daddy?”. She pondered for a moment, then decided that this time it was indeed the daddy, while it was the mother that was off having ‘me’ time battling the geese.

This may (almost certainly) have been factually incorrect, but learning isn’t just about facts. I am a great believer that one of the key ways we learn how to be human is through stories, and this includes the narratives we witness in everyday life. We take what we learn in these tales, to build up a vision of how society works. The fluidity of gender roles in parenthood is part of that.

And perhaps I’m being unfair on the poor old male Swan? They CAN change the way they parent to suit their circumstances. Cobs (as they’re called) are known to rear their cygnets by themselves if they lose their mate, so they clearly have within them the same desire to love and nurture their children as the female. So as far as we were concerned, daddy swan was with the kids that day, and we agreed they were having a wonderful time of it too.