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For Hugh Joughin fatherhood is about “being there and perserverance.
“I have kept trying to have my voice heard, to put forward my parenting viewpoints, which are sometimes different to Jenny’s [his partner].
Over time I got better at the things I used to struggle with, the whole “caring and nuturing” side of things with kids, which made me more confident about it.” he says.
How is his parenting different to Jenny’s?
“I’m a lot more relaxed with safety.issues, and I’m a lot less structured with them. There’s less planning involved with activities.
Jenny is big on giving them a lot of choices with everything, whereas I will make the decision half the time, or there will be maybe one or two choices. Sometimes I think they are actually relieved that they don’t have to make a choice”.
Once a fulltime provider for the family, Hugh quit his job about a year ago to pursue other interests. An offshoot of this was that he had more time being a dad. He and Jenny now both work part-time, and share the family duties. Hugh currently works part time with the Father & Child Trust.
Not that it’s all a breeze: “The day-to-day stuff can get pretty bad”, he admits.” There is constant give and take, compromise, and negotiation, and occasional conflict (“guys, you must try and stand your ground when you feel strongly about something”).
There are some times when I just want the kids to go away, I don’t want to deny that.” And: “Often I get those odd feelings, especially with having girls perhaps, that I’m superfluous to requirements”.
Having been a fulltime provider, he missed having a similar attachment to the girls as partner Jenny. “I guess I don’t expect much, but I’d know whether [affection] is there or not. That attachment, that bond is very important to me”
Which is ironic, given how he used to think about being a dad.
“The whole thing of having kids—I either didn’t think about it at all, or I thought it’d never happen. But I get a real joy from it, now that it’s actually happened. I think I would be really struggling in my whole attitude to life, if I hadn’t married and had kids.
It gives a big purpose to life, a real context. I’m really glad my life took that turn..”
Hugh, who has a passion for drawing cartoons, is proud that his girls’ artistic side is so well developed. And: “I see my surname at the bottom of those paintings they bring home from kindy and school, and it just gives me this warm glow.
They are my children (as well), my daughters, and through thick and thin, I am totally in their lives. What could possibly be better than that !
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