Dad’s the word – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

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Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor

Fiona Tatton

Dadtastic

Hello and welcome to our dadtastic Fathers’ Day edition. We’re celebrating the fathers who are championing gender equality by supporting their partners and who aren’t afraid to think differently and rebalance their priorities in their careers in order to be present for their partners and their children.

Let’s be honest – life today is tough, whatever your career, and we’re all trying to achieve more with less. Society demands everything cheaper, faster, better. We want it all and we want it now. And increasingly that means we want it 24/7.

Cast of superstar dads

How do modern dads shape up? We’ve assembled a cast of superstar dads who are doing their best at making sense of the work / life juggling act or work / life see-saw as some now call it. We’ve also spoken to world renowned experts to look at the changing role of fathers in the workplace. Finally we’ve heard from daughters too about how their dads shaped their lives and supported their dreams and ambitions, and how this made a difference to who they went on to become.

I’ve mentioned my own dad before. He’s sadly passed away now a few years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I realised how much of an influence he still has on my life and the decisions I make every day.

“When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back.” Linda Poindexter

My dad was an engineer and I know he would have loved me to follow in his footsteps, but alas, this was not to be. He would always be on hand to help me with my maths homework, but he’d been at a very well respected private school so long ago that all the methods for working out problems were all taught differently, so although following my dad’s methods would get me to the notionally ‘correct’ answer, the working out was ‘wrong’ by more modern comprehensive school standards.

Old school when it came to school

Even though my dad was old school when it came to school, he was actually way ahead of his time in other ways. Ours was one of the first homes in the country to have UPVC double glazing (rock’n’roll – I know!). One of my Christmas presents from my dad when I was little was one of the first solar powered calculators. It wasn’t massive like those comedy old school mobile phones, but the solar cell only worked well if it was July and you were using it in direct sunlight at noon.

I remember going to see my dad staffing an exhibition stand in Manchester that demonstrated how it was possible to create engine oil from orange peel. We’re talking way before recycling or being environmentally friendly was ever thought of by the mainstream. (As part of the research for this article I randomly, and somewhat naively googled the name of the project – ‘ManOil’ – to see if I could find anything about it. Needless to say that search engine optimisation means that you get a different product entirely..!)

My brief train driver phase

My dad was firmly of the mind that women could do any job they chose, so I suppose that was why I too developed this belief. (I had a brief train driver phase when I was at school, I rode a boy’s bike until I was about seven – I would still ride this bike now if I could. It rocked.) So the influence of my dad is undoubtedly one of the reasons I set up Womanthology and I love the fact that this means my dad is with me in all the work I do.

Set your standards high. Choose your friends carefully. Believe you can achieve anything

When I’m trying to make an important decision about my life or the people in it, I always ask myself what my dad would think and why. This means that (rightly or wrongly) I set very high standards for the people around me. So if you set your standards high, choose who you spend your time (and energy) on carefully, and believe that you can achieve anything, well then you really can achieve anything.

I was never pressurised to perform at school or university – I simply wanted to do my best to make my parents proud. I was first in my family to go to university. My dad had followed the equivalent of today’s apprenticeship route to take his professional exams at night school as he couldn’t afford to go to university. He was without a doubt one of the cleverest men I’ve ever met in my life. I used to love bringing him broken things and ‘help’ him fix them. (OK, this means I used to break stuff a lot…)

There were no ‘mistakes’ and only learning at home – something that I’ve recently revisited. There’s a Stephen Swartz quote that says, “So much of me is made of what I learned from you.” And it’s true.

I’m proud to have put together a celebration of all things dadtastic, so thank you to all the contributors who have shared their knowledge and personal insights. I hope you enjoy this celebration of all the amazing dads out there who are supporting their partners and their children by putting their families at the heart of all the decisions they make and everything they do.

This issue of Womanthology is dedicated to my dad.

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