Parenting Advice From An 80s Dad To His Millennial Mum Daughter

Father's Day Blog
My dad and daughter putting the world to rights. They also share a love of hats.

From dodgy celebrities to microwave meals I can’t help feeling lucky to have survived a childhood in the 80s relatively unscathed, except for a fondness for Lilt and a mild addiction to apple flavoured Astrobelts. When my mum and dad became parents in the late 70s, parenting was very different. Things have changed a lot and I am often quick to dismiss their way as doing things with “Things were just different back then.” Seeing as it is Father’s Day, I would like to share my dad’s parenting advice which helps me to stay sane as I raise my girls.

In the 70s and 80s there weren’t different parenting styles, there was just one way, old school. When a Dad’s role was very clearly defined. He was the threat, the man who came in when mum got to 3. When you heard a mum shout 2 at the park all the kids stood up like meerkats because they knew there was a dad with a porn star moustache lurking with a rolled up paper ready to leap into action like Mr T. The 80’s dad took care of Saturdays, he ripped his Speedos on flumes over the local leisure centre carpark so that mum could go to step aerobics with her mate Pam. If you behaved, you headed for a Happy Meal, if you had been really good you got to sit on your own at the toadstool table but he didn’t sit with you. He ate his apple pie in peace and read Auto Trader but you didn’t mind because the kids table was a thing back then. He let us sit in the car and listen to Now That’s What I Call Music 12 while they went in to buy the latest must have accessory for his Black and Decker so he could turn the shed into a sauna. Then home to watch Jim’ll Fix It, Big Break and Blind Date while we ate burnt crispy pancakes and Chicken Kievs, finished off with a Butterscotch Angel Delight in a pint glass. Beige was the new black back then. Fast forward 25 years and my 80’s dad is now a millennial Grandad, or Goggog as he is affectionately known. I see him watch in bewildered amusement at his son in law knee deep in 50:50 parenting, desperate to take him down the pub so he can pass on his fatherly DIY knowledge to this over grown boy, but instead he is being kicked under the table by my mum and told with one look not to get involved. So he sits quietly watching Paw Patrol with his granddaughters pondering when it all changed and he stopped being his daughter’s hero.

One of my dad’s favourite sayings is “With a degree in hindsight we would all be millionaires” and he is right, it’s easy to look back at the past with the knowledge of today with a sense of smugness but let’s not fool ourselves, our time will come and our children will laugh incredulously at the the way we raised them.

My dad loves nothing better than giving advice, especially after a large glass or three of Chardonnay and here are 4 pearls of wisdom he has imparted on me over the years that are suitable to pass on to my children. As the great Baz Luhrmann once said in his Wear Sunscreen song, which should be everyone’s mantra for life.

“Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it, advice is a form of nostalgia.” So here goes…

The Best Gift You Can Give Someone Is Your Time
Take time to spend time with people, face to face or at the very least on the phone. Direct human contact will always be the best way to cheer someone up, although not in a Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby way.

Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down
I remember crying onto my dad’s shoulder after a glass of wine because my boss in my first graduate job was an utter cow (ironic given that I worked for a dairy brand). You are going to come across plenty of bastards in life, annoyingly usually in positions of power, and the trick is to learn to rise above it. Smile and nod as my mum would say but this isn’t about her. My dad is unashamedly proud of himself, it’s so outrageous at times it’s funny. When I was a teenager, I remember him putting his arms around me and saying “I bet you are proud of your dad aren’t you”. At the time I remember thinking he was an arrogant sod and I probably told him as much. Now I admire his thick skin and unashamed self belief.

United We Stand Divided We Fall
Growing up we always felt incredibly loved and secure and were always made to feel very lucky. However, we knew that we couldn’t play mum and dad off against each other, so the trick was to figure out who was in the better mood. As a mum to two young girls with a combined pester power to rival Captain Planet, I struggle with this but it is the only way to stave off resentment and present a united front.

Raise Your Kids Well But Not At The Expense of Your Marriage
My dad said when he came to visit our first daughter: “Your children are important but do not neglect your relationship with your husband, if you do you will wake up one day when the kids leave home with a stranger in your bed. Trust me I have seen enough of my friend’s marriages go that way.” Sadly he wasn’t talking about waking up next to Tom Hardy and it felt a bit premature to be talking about anything else other than the new baby but over the last four years I have thought of this advice so many times. When I feel I have nothing left to give and what I want to do is scream every insult I can at my husband for missing another bath time because a work thing over ran, I hear my dad’s advice, dig deep and say “I Love You. You bastard”

Happy Father’s Day Dad, please share it on Face Ache. Oh, and as the great Tina Turner once sang, “We don’t need another hero.” In fact I need a plumber so please could you come and unblock the loo, again? Thaaaaaaanks!

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