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Every year, in Australia, Father’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of September. This year, Father’s Day 2022 is being observed on 4 September. The occasion, akin to Mother’s Day, is all about honouring dads and everything they do for their children and families.
To mark the day this year, we invited three Mablers to share their journey of fatherhood and what it means for them.
Tim Ragg: Go get your dreams
“Being a father is the greatest honour a man could have. Having children is an absolute gift that every man I believe dreams about,” says Tim Ragg.
Recalling the first time he saw his daughters, Tim says, “They were the proudest moments of my life. There is something very special about watching them open their eyes and looking up at you.”
Tim is a proud dad to two girls, 3-month-old Harper and 8-year-old Riley. He is also a Mable Brand Ambassador and recently received a Mable Community Grant to fulfil his sporting dream of playing at the upcoming Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) World Cup in the UK in October.
A go-getter himself, Tim’s aspiration for his girls is “to be the best version of themselves they can be, and for them to go for their dreams”. He adds, “I’ve always said to my 8-year-old, ‘If you have dreams, they are always achievable! I will always support you and help you however I can.”
Tim looks up to his own father as an inspiration. “Honestly, I just establish the same values that my father has taught me, and I teach my kids what I learnt from him. At the end of the day, fathers are the guiding lights for their children.”
He adds, “If there was one piece of advice I could share with other dads, it would be: Be a guiding light for your children, make sure you speak with them, and spend time with them. If you do this, they will learn to trust your judgement and understand where you’re coming from.”
Joshua Lim: Be kind
Josh is a dad to two boys, aged 4 and 1.5. His older boy, Josiah, has a rare genetic condition with an intellectual and physical disability.
“Like many parents of a child with disability, it has been challenging in many areas of life, but it has really grown me to be a kinder, more empathetic person, and given me a different perspective on life,” shares Josh.
Josiah has epilepsy (seizures), and Josh recalls that a few years ago, Josiah ended up in hospital several times because of it. “It was scary and unforgettable. I pray and hope that he won’t have many more of these,” he says.
It’s why, for Josh, being a father means “Being a stable, loving and encouraging presence in the life of my wife and two boys. I want to be someone who helps to build up my family”.
As such, Josh hopes that his boys are kind and care for others, and wants them to know that “they are loved for who they are”.
As is with all parents, while there are challenging moments in life, there are those that make us beam with pride. Josh recalls one such recent moment with his family. “For Josiah, we get so excited when we see him meet goals. Recently, I was really proud that he managed to do a short bush walk near our house. My youngest son is 1.5 and I have enjoyed seeing him being kind to his brother and also some of his friends.”
In parting, Josh shares an important piece of advice, “We are all going to make mistakes because life can be hard! I think what matters more is how we pick ourselves back up and keep trying to say sorry and continue to keep going. Don’t give up, our children and partners need us to keep going.”
Kevin McGill: Be compassionate
Like Tim, Kevin, too, believes that being a dad is a privilege. “There are people who want that experience more than anything but, for whatever reason, cannot and Father’s Day can be tough,” he acknowledges.
Dad to a 7-year-old daughter, Kevin says being a father means “putting your family first, thinking about how decisions and choices impact your family”. He adds, “As a parent of a child with disability I am also a carer, an advocate, a support team coordinator, a filler of endless forms and a wearer of other hats.”
As such, he hopes for his daughter to grow up in a society that accepts her. “I want her to belong. Our society needs to stop treating people like my daughter as ‘other’. I want her to be valued as a different person, not viewed as a burden to society, whose ongoing care needs need to be regularly justified,” he says.
Compassion is something we could all do well to get and give more. In the case of families of additional needs, the need for compassion is even more pronounced. “The systems we deal with on a daily basis can be incredibly challenging, these interactions can feel unnecessarily cruel when we turn to these systems for help at difficult times,” Kevin shares.
As a parent, Kevin is passionate about playing a role in improving the systems his family interacts with every day. “I want to do this, so that the next family that deals with these systems has an easier journey and a less stressful experience.”
Kevin is proud of his daughter’s ‘can do’ attitude. He recalls her first day at school. “It was incredible. Choosing the right school was very difficult, we could not visit any of the schools because of the pandemic and lockdowns. It felt like a gamble. We were very nervous, but she took it all in her stride!”
Another proud dad moment was when she started her swim lessons, Kevin shares. “Our daughter has always been a water baby – pools, rivers, oceans, whatever! We knew swimming lessons would be helpful and we started the search early as there are not a lot of swim schools that cater specifically for children with additional needs. Once the lessons started, there was no stopping her. The best moment was the look on her face the first time she realised she could use goggles to see underwater.”
When asked if he would like to share any advice for parents, Kevin says, “I don’t feel particularly well equipped to pass on wisdom, but there are a few things I wish I knew earlier in the journey as a parent of a child with disability.
“There are amazing people on YouTube, Instagram, podcasts, etc., who have been through similar experiences and are openly sharing their stories. It is incredibly helpful and affirming to see and listen to stories that echo your own.”
He adds, “You might be surprised to discover what resources exist in your suburb or nearby. Find groups online that may service or visit your area. The NDIS has meant there is a real demand for services and resources, this is starting to be addressed.
“Get really good at advocating, you will be doing a lot of it. The good news is that many people have been on this path. It’s OK to fail. It is not the end of the world,” he signs off.
Editor’s note: We would like to thank Tim, Josh and Kevin for sharing their lovely stories and insights with us for Father’s Day 2022.