Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Dads who write on fatherhood share their fears, lessons and best moments

Christopher Shulgan and family.

Christopher Shulgan

Toronto-based author of Superdad: A Memoir of Rebellion, Drugs and Fatherhood

The most important lesson I learned from my father is how to be a supportive father when your child messes up.

What I most want for Father’s Day is a soccer game with the family, without tears and every one of us scores a goal.

If my kids had to describe me they would say I am fun, hopefully? Also obsessed with their table manners. Such as closing their mouths when they chew.

As a father, I am trying to give my kids the tools they require to succeed, or … good luck.

The thing that makes me worry most as a dad is careless drivers.

My happiest moments as a dad are seeing the kids doing something for themselves, and, obviously, when they remember to close their mouths when they chew.

One thing I’ve always wanted to tell my father is: Already told him. I talk to him a couple of times a week.

The thing I need to work on most as a father is patience.

Fatherhood in three words: an acquired skill.

Adam Mansbach.

Adam Mansbach

Author of Go The F*** To Sleep

The most important lesson I learned from my father is that a job should be something you love. Every day, he went to work at The Boston Globe full of excitement. Actually, maybe he just wanted to get away from us. I never thought of that before. Maybe the lesson was to have a job that gets you out of the house. In which case, I have totally failed.

If my kid had to describe me they would say I am the best father in the world. I know, because I just asked her. And told her the right answer got her ice cream.

As a father, I am trying to give my kids confidence, unconditional love, my record collection when I die.

The thing that makes me worry most as a dad is impending environmental collapse and also the world’s hatred of women. I don’t want my daughter to spend her adulthood searching for clean water and fending off a bunch of idiots.

My happiest moments as a dad are trading jokes and puns and freestyle rhymes with my daughter, who is already way funnier than I am.

One thing I’ve always wanted to tell my father is thank you. Nobody’s childhood is perfect, but most of our parents are flawed, loving human beings who tried their best. Others have sentient robots for parents. This does not apply to them.

The thing I need to work on most as a father is patience. But I don’t really have a lot of time for that right now.

Fatherhood in three words: Can’t decide between “I love you,” “Put that down” and “Go to sleep.”

Brian Rosenberg, right, with family.

Brian Rosenberg

CEO of gayswithkids.com, a U.S.-based media company and social network for gay fathers.

The most important lesson I learned from my father is to show affection.

I know I’m becoming my father because I’m constantly hugging and kissing my kids.

What I most want for Father’s Day: To wake up to cuddles in bed followed by a relaxing family day, much of it spent outdoors.

If my kids had to describe me they would say I am fun, a great tickler and I like to sing a lot. Though they don’t like my singing.

As a father, I am trying to give my kids a loving and supportive environment to build their self-confidence and independence.

The thing that makes me worry most as a dad is not being able to keep my kids in a 24/7 protective bubble.

My happiest moments as a dad are those that remind me how lucky I am, i.e., getting a big warm hug for no reason or having one of my kids kiss me and tell me he/she loves me if they think I’m sad.

One thing I’ve always wanted to tell my father is how much I appreciate his openness about how proud he is of me, ever since I was a kid.

The thing I need to work on most as a father is to remember not to let those little moments slip by unnoticed.

Fatherhood in three words: fulfilling, challenging, exhausting.

Buzz Bishop with his kids.

Buzz Bishop

Calgary-based broadcaster and blogger behind Dad-Camp.com

The most important lesson I learned from my father is that singing "fishy fishy fishy, bite my hook," actually works if not to catch fish, but to kill time and entertain when fishing with kids.

What I most want for Father’s Day: An early morning golf game, an afternoon hike with my sons, an evening beer on the patio.

If my kids had to describe me they would say I am a shouter.

As a father I am trying to give my kids opportunity. I constantly try to make sure they have as many avenues open as possible. It's up to them to choose their own path, but I want to make sure the opportunity to fulfill their dreams is possible.

The thing that makes me worry most as a dad is how will I pay for it all. I need to milk 20 more years out of my career to get things paid for and being in traditional media, that's a stress that lingers every day.

My happiest moments as a dad are watching my kids do things I can't. From art to dance to their grasp of language, I'm constantly amazed that I actually created something that raised the bar higher than I ever could have placed it myself.

One thing I’ve always wanted to tell my father is I'm proud of the sacrifices he made to get us ahead.

The thing I need to work on most as a father is patience. I need to appreciate that sometimes you need to say something 17 times for it to sink in and not to lose my mind after the 14th request.

Fatherhood in three words: Love. Laughter. Poop.

Casey Palmer.

Casey Palmer

Toronto-based blogger at CaseyPalmer.com

The most important lesson I learned from my father is to constantly show respect to others, expect respect in all situations, and teach respect to my children so they can do the same as they grow up. Treating others with respect can carry you a long way in this world.

What I most want for Father’s Day: Time. I’ve always kept busy with numerous projects, but with two kids under 3, the hours I used to spend toiling away on code and sketches is hard to come by.

If my kids had to describe me they would say I am the funny parent who sometimes talks like a robot and went out of his way to learn the Paw Patrol theme song. I’m good for wrestling matches, piggyback rides, or a good story before bed. I’m Daddy.

As a father I am trying to give my kids choices. My grandparents came to Canada to give my parents better opportunities in their adult lives, and my parents had children here so we could get Canadian educations and open doors that were never open to them. Now, with the leg up my parents gave me from being born Canadian, it’s my duty to pay it forward and help my boys become the best they can at whoever they wish to become.

The thing that makes me worry most as a dad is that I might fail to prepare my children for the big, bad world out there. Since the day I became a Dad, I accepted that I wasn’t there to live my kids’ lives for them, but rather arm them with the tools and skills needed to make good life decisions—but I always worry that whatever I’m doing simply won’t be enough.

My happiest moments as a dad are those peaceful ones amid the chaos, snuggling on the couch to read a book or napping with our infant son nestled in my arms. The older they grow, the less of these moments I’ll find, so I try to take as many of them in as I can.

One thing I’ve always wanted to tell my father is how much better I understand his life now that I’m a Dad myself, and all the apologies I need to make for being such a troublesome child when he just wanted what was best for me. So now I hustle constantly to become the kind of man he always knew I could be, just to show that his efforts weren’t all for nothing.

The thing I need to work on most as a father is taking good care of myself so I have enough rest to be patient, enough time to be present and enough health to be in their lives for a very long time.

Fatherhood in three words: Exhilarating. Maddening. Perfect.

Chris Read.

Chris Read

Ottawa-based blogger of CanadianDad.com

The most important lesson I learned from my father is humility. The ability to admit that you made a mistake and either apologize or correct the course that you are on is always a lesson from my father that I carry with me.

What I most want for Father’s Day: Whatever the kids made for me at school. Those are always my favourite gifts because they get to flex their creative muscles.

If my kids had to describe me they would say I am fun, because I try to make as much time for them as I possibly can to do whatever it is that they want to do.

As a father I am trying to give my kids everything I had and more. We focus a lot on creativity, respect for others and the positive effects of hard work.

The thing that makes me worry most as a dad is without a doubt, social media. We didn’t have to live in the age of Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram and I am petrified for the hard lessons they are going to learn that we never faced as kids.

My happiest moments as a dad are watching my children succeed at something when I know they put in the work to make it happen. There is no better feeling than seeing the pride in your child’s eye, knowing that they accomplished a goal.

One thing I’ve always wanted to tell my father is: I lost my father just before I had my first child and now that I understand the joys and struggles of parenting, I would love to be able to thank my father for giving me such a strong example of what being a good dad and man should look like. I draw on his lessons often and am lucky to have had such a great father.

The thing I need to work on most as a father is my patience. How you behave in the moments where you feel like you are at the end of your rope will stick with your children and mould the way they behave in those same tough times. I need to do a better job at lengthening my rope.

Fatherhood in three words: Greatest gig ever.

Warren Orlans

Toronto-based tax consultant who blogs as The Urban Daddy.

The most important lesson I learned from my father is that life can be very short, so it is extremely important to spend quality time with my children while they still want to spend time with me.

What I most want for Father’s Day: I’m happy with a hug and a smile, and I’m thankful for my wife who made me a father.

If my kids had to describe me they would say I am: Well, I asked them and I got; “tall, bald, fat, funny...” Then after the laughing I was told that I am the “Best father in the entire world, and the second best person in the entire world after mummy!” I’ll take that!

As a father I am trying to give my kids an understanding about how to be kind and respectful to people, to treat others as they would want to be treated and to be honest and respectful. While it is important to not let others take advantage of you, it is also important to understand why people do and say things, and it’s not always important to make issues out of misunderstandings.

The thing that makes me worry most as a dad is everything. I most worry about how to handle teenagers and am SO very thankful that my wife has taught high school because I was a very sheltered teenager, so my views would be very unpopular to my kids.

My happiest moments as a dad are frequent and often and are not just related to success in school or extra-curricular programs. I want to be there to support, encourage and cheer on my kids through the good and bad, high and lows. When then need me, and I’m there for them, makes me happy.

One thing I’ve always wanted to tell my father is how awesome my wife and my kids are. My father passed away ... so he didn’t get to really know how awesome my wife is and he never got to meet my children. He would have loved them all so much and he would have realized that all those years of correcting my essays actually paid off.

The thing I need to work on most as a father is consistency! Where children see a lack of consistency, they see opportunity and they also see confusion, especially around rules and expectations. Greater consistency benefits myself and also my kids.

Fatherhood in three words: Best ride ever.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.