What Father's Day means to Dad

KURTIS: Singer, Byron Bay.

Father to Mia Marli, Billie Skye, River-Jay and Leroy Stone.

“I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a dad and have a big family. I was 21 (in 1996) when I had my first baby girl; Mia Marli. It may seem young to have a child but I was ready and knew in my heart that I was going to be a great dad. We had a water birth at home in Byron Bay and it was an amazing experience to be a part of and something I'll always remember.

Watching her grow up was, and still is, a trip. The way she looks after her little brother and sisters is just so very special. The love you feel for your children is inexplicable, even though at times it can be tough and feel like a wild rollercoaster ride. Yet I would not change it for the world.

When I was 29 (in 2004) I had my second girl, Billie Skye. She is just the most amazing little girl. A year later I had my third girl, River-Jay. Both were water births at home. In 2007, I was the luckiest man in the world when I finally had a boy, Leroy Stone. He was born in our bedroom with his three big sisters watching on - it was a great moment in time and one I will never, ever, forget. I am proud to share that my wife Leah is pregnant again.

My experience as a father has been amazing and life changing. I love my kids, I love teaching them everything they want to know. I have come to respect what my mum and dad did for me. You really don't appreciate your parents to the fullest until you have your own children and then you understand all the stress you put them through.”

THOMAS GEORGE: Politician, Casino. Father to Stuart, Brendon, and Cameron.

“It changed my life becoming a father at 24. I'd started to establish George and Fuhrmann in Casino and fortunately we had young partners who were also starting families. It was a situation where I was working hard and long hours.

Having a large family wasn't unusual for me considering I came from a Lebanese Christian family where there were five kids. You made the decision of how many kids to have based on what you felt you were able to provide for.

The advantage of the boys being so close in age was that they grew up together. I think there was only ever one incident in their childhood where one of them punched the other! During school they all did up to Year 9 together then they went to boarding school at Woodlawn College. Going through school together made them very close.

Becoming a father is a very special time of your life - but it also involves responsibility. When Brendon went through the process (in 2007) of being charged then acquitted (on drug charges) it put a lot of pressure on the whole family. But the family just became stronger because of it.

When he returned from jail I think he came out very appreciative of home. No doubt he's been hardened by that experience. From some quarters there was criticism of me as his father. You never condone what he was supposed to have done, but I love him dearly. He is still my son.

Now I am a grandfather of three. Stuart has two children and Brendon has one.

I think this is the really special part of fatherhood! You don't have the same pressures on you as a parent and you have more maturity. There's nothing like it when your grandkids arrive at your house for a visit.”

SCOTT LONGDEN: Mullumbimby.

“My sons Baylin (5) and Jasper (3) mean the world to me - fatherhood means the world to me!

It really does. Nothing else I've experienced comes close for me. I've lived a very fortunate life, I love my life and yet, I've shared more of the greatest moments of my life with my sons. The first time I held them in my arms, time stood still for me and still does when I relive those priceless moments. I love the way they amaze me daily with their compassionate ways of being there for others, their enthusiasm at five in the morning, how quickly they learn and adapt to life, how present and 100 per cent in every moment they are. I love their unstoppable full self-expression, even when it's inconvenient for me, I love hugs so warm and strong, they can melt away the crankiest mood and cruellest event, and I love the sweet angelic faces of soundly sleeping boys. And to top it all off, they love me, they totally love me, and at this age they're still telling me; there is no end to what's to love about children?

I'm definitely not saying it's easy - I'm challenged here daily and more so than elsewhere in my life. But fatherhood is a true partnership: I contribute to my sons and they absolutely contribute to me. It takes commitment from myself, their amazing mother and our community. Fatherhood is my greatest teacher and student. It is the greatest job, yet there's no training and no financial remuneration. It actually also really is my job, working with other families to create harmonious living (or as close to it!). Fatherhood is the fusion of my heritage, my dad, my mum, my youth, my expectations and projections, and my mortality.

Everyday fatherhood means: unconditional love, laughing until you can't, tears for fears, and the cycle of play, eat, clean and then repeat until sleeping. It means unequivocal responsibility, no guarantees ever, continual surprises, perpetual juggling, seldom acknowledgement and knowing that you'll be judged more for what you didn't do well as opposed to what you did do fantastically.I left the corporate life three years ago - I was working for Queensland Health, and I left to manage the Uncle project in Byron Bay, and then moved on to work with the fatherhood project. Nowadays I run the dads and kids play-groups, give workshops for expectant dads and ante-natal team-parenting. I have a deep connection with kids. It's very rewarding, and its my contribution to the community. I hang out with lots of kids. If I'm at the park playing with them all people will ask me if they are all mine and I always say they are not all my blood, but they are all mine. The more love we can give children the better.

Fatherhood doesn't start and stop in my home and with my paternal children. Fatherhood is a philosophy whereby we see life as more than just us; we see life as a future we create, and we access our inner parenthood to LOVE ALL CHILDREN, regardless.

Baylin, Jasper thank you for the privilege of being your dad. I promise to honour you every day of my life. Karen, thank you for being a darling mother and sharing the rollercoaster!”

“ Fatherhood means the world to me ”


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