With Father’s Day this weekend, we want to take this time to thank dads across Ontario for their hard work and dedication. Recognizing that this day will surely look different because of the pandemic, we asked some of the dads in our community to share their experiences and recent lessons learned from parenting. Here’s what they had to say.
Casey with his sons
Do what works for your family.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to celebrate your Father’s Day. Manufactured holiday or no, it’s up to each and every family to determine what it means to them and what they want to do with the day. Me, I learned this lesson the hard way with a post in 2018, realizing that declaring Father’s Day as a holiday only for Dads was woefully short-sighted, and with any luck, we’re headed into a future that doesn’t limit its father figures by its genders. – Casey Palmer
Being a father has taught me to be humble, to listen to the needs of my child without prescribing meaning all the time, to follow the loving ways of my partner whose capacity to love has taught me to challenge my patriarchal tendencies as provider, fixer, saviour and rational robot. – Christopher Canning
Realize you’re not perfect and that’s okay.
Being a good father means being a good human. It means striving for the best version of yourself while accepting (and sometimes embracing) your shortcomings. – Javeed Sukhera
I’m not a perfect dad, but I do get that this pandemic’s affecting my kids in ways I can’t even understand, so it’s important that I take the time to listen to them and respect their feelings whenever I’m able to do so. (Spoiler alert: I’m not always able to do so.) I won’t say that their tantrums are always warranted, but we do try to hear them out and help them resolve things instead of just yelling at them. – Casey Palmer
Find silver linings from the pandemic.
I’ll say that I don’t think my bond with my kids has ever been stronger than it’s been thanks to the pandemic—without all the distractions that used to keep us busy, we’re able to spend time on our terms instead of just keeping up with everything in our schedule. – Casey Palmer
Whether it is walks in the woods, board games, or conversations over meals…it is our connections with our kids that matter far more than anything else. – Javeed Sukhera
As a father, I have used this time to really connect with my children while working at home, and I am my children’s acting Phys Ed teacher in the backyard! Their mental health is my #1 priority. – Norm Di Pasquale
Parenting lessons from the pandemic.
The pandemic has helped remind me how important presence is. We spend so much time being busy or focusing on our productivity that we lose sight of how powerful it is to have time together as a family. – Javeed Sukhera
The best way I’ve been able to support my daughter during this pandemic is showing up with calm, present, and honest energy. While it hasn’t always been easy, acknowledging her big emotions (like fear, worry, and sadness) as they arise without making them about me always makes the situation better and more loving. – Christopher Canning
Christopher with his daughter
I thought I was an involved parent before, by taking the kids to all their activities, playing with them every day, and making sure to be home to read to them at night as often as possible. But what the pandemic’s taught me is that I had no clue what goes into parenting our children full-time, and this experience has challenged me in ways I’d never have dreamed. I think we’ll all be affected, for better or worse, and spend a while recalibrating once the pandemic comes to a close, but what I hope we learn is that if we can make it through this as parents, we can probably make it through just about anything. – Casey Palmer
I’d encourage dads to celebrate that fatherhood is a gift. – Javeed Sukhera
Be grateful for being a dad. – John Lawrence
Take care of you.
For me, the best advice I have for other dads is to do the hard work of learning about ourselves and focusing on the things that need healing, including the way we raise boys and the way we expect fathers to be within our patriarchal society. For many men, we need to examine relational trauma and the way we are raised as boys not to address our emotional or spiritual needs, or the way we’re not supposed to ask for help, or not speak up when we are struggling. The best thing I’ve ever done for myself, as a father, is ask for help (from professionals and friends) and welcome in the support. This has been all the more important during this pandemic, when I’ve needed to ask for emotional support from my partner and therapist while also offering that foundation of love and support to my six-year-old. – Christopher Canning
Know you’re not alone.
Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) worked with Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) to conduct a poll through Ipsos to check on the mental health and wellbeing of families.
Findings showed that COVID-19 has greatly impacted the mental well-being of families. There has been a spike in families that feel stressed to the point where they felt they could not cope or deal with things and 28% of families reporting increased tension in the household. This can result in more serious mental health and addiction issues.
Please know help is available for your child and family. CMHO child and youth mental health centres are still open in communities across Ontario. Free help is accessible from mental health experts who are ready to provide an assessment and treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. Find help here.