15 Aug 2022 | Ailsa Wild
This Father’s Day, Ailsa Wild brings us a tender gift of parenting advice and relationship wisdom for all dads in her latest book, You’ll Be A Wonderful Dad.
The story behind this heartfelt book begins with a letter to a close friend. Filled with gentle, constructive and kind advice on becoming a father and being a supportive partner, Ailsa's letter was soon passed around to a much wider circle of dads. And it wasn’t long before the beautiful letter developed into a beautiful book.
You can read the introduction to You’ll Be A Wonderful Dad below, and don’t miss the companion book You’ll Be A Wonderful Parent by Jasper Peach (publishing in October 2022) for anyone beginning a rainbow family.
First up, I’m so excited you’re going to be a dad. It makes me want to cry a little just thinking of all the big tender, precious love you’re going to have.
Second, anyone who gives you advice about parenthood is probably talking to their past self or partner and not to you at all. So, keeping that in mind, here’s a big old dollop of advice as you begin this parenting adventure.
So, keeping that in mind, here’s a big old dollop of advice as you begin this parenting adventure.
I want to start with this: the current of sexism is stronger when you’re a parent, and it’s hard to swim against. If you’re in a male–female relationship (as I am), you’re much more likely to get caught in traditional gender roles once there’s a babe.
Women, when they become mothers, are generally told what they must and mustn’t do (far too frequently, by far too many people) and expectations of them are absurdly high. Many cultures hold lower expectations of men’s capacity to parent, although that has been slowly changing.
As part of that change, this book is a collection of high expectations for you as a dad. It is a book about how to love your family in the face of a culture that has historically left women alone with the domestic work and held men separate from the warm hearts of their families.
I hope you don’t feel like it’s a list of difficult jobs. Sometimes these things might feel hard, but the work itself can often bring great joy and satisfaction. You’ll try, you’ll manage some things and not others, you’ll make mistakes and learn as you go, and the love that grows will be rich and real.
This book goes through some of the practical and emotional aspects of being a great dad, which, in many ways, means being a great partner. YOU’RE PARENTING TOGETHER AND THAT MEANS SUPPORTING EACH OTHER. YOU WILL NEED TO BACK EACH OTHER UP WITH YOUR HANDS, MINDS AND HEARTS.
Some of what I’m going to tell you you’ll already know (sorry for the bits where I state the obvious) and some of it may not be true of your unique situation. Your partner knows better than I do what she needs. Listen to her before you listen to me. THIS TIME, OF BRINGING A BABY INTO THE WORLD, CAN BE A JUMBLE OF ANXIETY AND ANTICIPATION, AS WELL AS JOY. It may all seem unreal.
People might expect you to have feelings you don’t have – but this time is not about them. Pay attention to your feelings for your own sake. Sit with them for a moment.
How are you? What is it like knowing there’s a baby coming?
Take all the time you can to be with your partner and share your big love with her. You’re doing something immense together.
It’s going to be wonderful. You’re going to be wonderful.
Ailsa Wild was a professional acrobat and whip-cracker who ran away from the circus to become a writer. She is now an author, performer and creative facilitator with a history of deep collaboration. Ailsa is the lead writer of Small Friends Books (CSIRO Publishing), where she works with microbiologists, virologists and other scientists to translate complex science into award-winning narrative picture books. Her work has appeared in Meanjin, The Monthly, ABC online and #MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement. She has written two junior fiction series: Squishy Taylor and The Naughtiest Pixie (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing); as well as two books for adults: The Care Factor and You'll Be A Wonderful Dad (Hardie Grant Books). She lives with her partner and son in Melbourne.
This extract is from Ailsa Wild's You'll Be A Wonderful Dad, now available now in all good bookstores and online. Click here for your preferred online retailer.