Being Dad founder David Willans explains how lockdown has helped him find perspective and why dads need to know where to draw their own line
David Willans is a father of two, works as a consultant and explores what it means to be a great dad at the website BeingDads.
A friend who was at the end of his tether from the six-month juggle of work, family, lockdown, climate-changed induced extreme weather and repeated political catastrophe. ‘Where do I draw the line?’ he said, over WhatsApp.
It’s a very good question. When do you take on the responsibility? Parents are used to stepping up to sort things out, especially now. But by gods it’s exhausting.
Our culture tells us men take the lead. But we all know mums are the real heroes on the most important battle grounds of life. Relationships, friends, family. The things that all those studies of people on their death bed tell you that really matter.
When I look forward to the future, I find the only things I can see clearly now are the things that really matter. Who knows what type of lockdown or state of economy the next three, six or 12 months will bring? What I do know though is that I’ll put first things first. And the last six months have made me so much better at that.
I’m someone who’s always got too much on, has a rather loud ‘you should be better’ voice in his head and expects too much from himself. After hitting the wall last week, I’ve now got a note on my desk. GO SLOW. It’s helping. I’m more of the dad I want to be, and am still getting through enough, if not as much, work.
Hitting the wall forced me to draw a line on how I manage my time. I hope lockdown teaches us men to choose to draw the line with work, and we support women on working at the most important things in life.
We can’t do all this by ourselves though.
Our culture tells us the individual is more powerful than the system. A great thing, except when the individual can’t do enough because the system’s holding them back. Men who want to be stay at home dads are often locked into work by the gender pay gap. They want to take individual responsibility, but the system won’t let them.
Two income households are now the norm, because wages for most haven’t risen in line with the cost of living for decades. The top 1% have taken more and more at our expense. Where do we choose to draw the line on this stuff? Sites like this one are a great start, they’re making an alternative a reality. But the pandemic has show us deeper change is needed. I hope lockdown teaches us to be better citizens as well as better parents.
Those two hopes are rather large things. They won’t happen quickly, but I hope they happen. My last hope from lockdown is smaller.
Being a good dad can be measured in the strength of relationship with your children. I hope that living together like never before, we’ve learned how important that relationship is, and how time together strengthens it beyond measure. I hope we learn to where to draw the line around our relationships and learn the confidence to keep it.