International Men's Day: A chat with Douglas Green
17 Nov 2023 - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
To mark International Men’s Day, Douglas Green - one of our Partners and a founder of our Working Families & Carers Network Group - shares his experiences as a working dad (including a spell as a single dad), step-dad … and now grandad!
What do you know now that you wish you'd known 20 years ago?
- Don’t get consumed by guilt: guilt means you’re doing basically a good job because you recognise where you could do better. The folks who think they have it all sorted are probably missing some crucial stuff!
- You can set clear lines for your children without getting angry with them, anger makes things worse;
- Make sure you have time with each of your children individually, not always together as “the kids”.
How have you seen the role of dad changing?
With minimal legal changes, so many dads have stepped up in so many ways. We’re clearly not quite at an overall equal division of parenting, in which there’s been a transformation in the last couple of generations. And as long as men see other men being good dads, it’s a positive cycle.
What advice would you give to today's generation of younger dads?
Listen to your parents: if you sometimes wish they’d butt out, remember they clearly did a good job with you, so perhaps there’s something you can pick up from them? And make sure you have time with your other half (if you have one).
How has your perspective shifted from dad to grandad?
I realised how wrong is the cliché that “being a grandparent is great because you can hand the child back to its parents as soon as it starts crying” etc. I actively enjoy helping our children and their partners by “taking the rough with the smooth”, and surely you’re not a real grandad until you’ve been projectile-vomited on!?
Has support improved for working dads? What could be better?
Shared parental leave is a big one, but the key thing is it becoming more and more widely accepted that dads play their full part in bringing up children, and there are no right or wrong ways to divide the labour. The more of us who work smarter not longer hours, the easier it will be to balance parenting with office working (and I speak as someone who’s been actively – and rightly - told off in the past for excessive time recorded).
What would you say to a couple thinking about where their balance of parenting sits?
Keep talking with each other, actively discuss and agree who’s best placed to do what when. You each bring something different, so make sure you can be proud of your contribution, and that you show appreciation of what your partner does too.