I have always considered myself an ideas man.
Give me a blank piece of paper and a problem and I am in my element. I love nothing more than dreaming up possibilities and solutions. If I had my way, I would open an ideas consultancy where people could visit me with a specific scenario; it could be a business idea, a suggestion for an app, ways to end a relationship or a plot to kidnap an international dignitary. For a fee they could then buy the rights to an idea that would solve their problem, delivering them into the captive presence of a Head of State or similar.
Fatherhood excites me for the same reason. When you are a parent you get your own blank human straight out of the box (forgive the analogy) to shape and mould as you see fit. Some people may also see this as a control freak’s dream, but I see it differently. To me, raising kids is the ultimate creative expression. Better than a iconic novel, a killer paste up of a hipster lobster or a festival anthem that makes even summer itself dance. It is the closest we get to playing God, if you discount that amateur community production of ‘Life of Brian’.
This week is Father’s Day in Australia and the few other countries who had something else on when the US, UK and pretty much the rest of the world decided to celebrate the day back in June! That means an increase of content and conversation around the concept of Fatherhood.
It also means a ramping up of the usual Fatherhood stereotypes. Rarely do we get anything other than the subservient, goofy, sportsbot Dad or the glossy, high-achieving-yet-distant statue Dad.
Sometimes you’ll see cardigan wearing, stay-at-home Dad, but quickly he’ll be stamped upon by an animated typography call for him to ‘Man Up’ and visit his local hardware chain for 30% off liquid nails.
But it doesn't have to be this way. We don't need to conform to these ideals, we just need to get creative. Quick tip- it usually doesn't require liquid nails.
On this site I profile dudes who are creative and engaged Fathers. I think it is pretty straight forward as to why being engaged and present is an important part of brining up well-adjusted kidlings; ones who won’t go off drowning kittens or blowing up letterboxes.
But what of this concept of creativity in Fatherhood I hear you ask. How does that play out? Good question. Allow me to elaborate in my own self-imposed 400 word limit.
Our culture is constantly moving and evolving, so the ways we teach mini-humans to adapt to it must also keep pace, if they are any chance of making sense of it all.
To be creative is to take something that wasn't and turn it into something that is and that has value. Now this ‘wasn’t’ could be a blank page, a fresh SD card or a few rocks and some craft glue. In the right hands that blank page becomes a manifesto that move hearts, minds and cities; and the SD card can help capture what the eyes of others don’t. Those rocks and craft glue? Well that becomes a pet rock to act as a confidant for a misunderstood country kid just trying to make it in a big city accountancy firm.
Creativity is needed as a Father if you are to influence and shape young lives. What is a baby beside a blank canvas? That is a rhetorical question and I do realise they are a complex mix of DNA, flesh, bones and a soul, but please go with me on this…
Creativity is about unique expression and each Father has something unique that only he can offer his kids. It could be a secret whistle to attract possums, a trick to hack iTunes for free rentals or the recipe for the perfect burger.
If he is disengaged or absent, everyone in the equation loses out. The kids don't get the benefit of his creative touch upon the canvas of their life and the Father misses an opportunity to make a statement to the world reflecting all he values, perceives and knows. Very few artists are pure naturals, most are by-products of their influences. Some of us may have lacked influences, but that is no reason for us to not pick up the brush and start painting.
Kids should be a parent’s greatest work. They should be the masterpiece that we are most proud of. The something that wasn’t, that becomes something that is.
Happy Father’s Day.