Cameron (father of Aurora, 18 months): Before we were parents, I had a vague idea because I worked in foster care for years but mainly with teenagers and 8-year-olds, and stuff. I didn’t know anything about babies, at all. So I wasn’t too sure what to expect actually.
Jenelle (mother of Oliver, 19 months): I did kind of see parenthood as a bit of a restriction, in some sort of way, for quite a while. I think in my 20s and early 30s I saw it as, wow, responsibility, you know. You don’t get to do all of those fun things that you get to do and then slowly, I think, once I sort of hit 33 to that 35, I mean, this overwhelming urge I think, came through of the beauty of children as well too and how they show us the innocence of life and I guess, the overriding urge to be a parent came through.
Mitch (father of Ellora, 4 years, and Adeline, 18 months): For me, I was quite nervous about becoming a Dad. Liv was definitely ready before me. So it took probably a few years for me to be up to speed with that. Before we had Ellie, I said to Liv ‘I don’t even know how to hold a baby. I’ve only held a baby for like, 2 minutes in my whole life.’ But as soon as I had her, you know, as soon as she was born I held her for hours and hours immediately and I just remember thinking ‘That was a stupid thing to worry about. You just learn it because you’re just doing it constantly.
Tim O’Leary (antenatal educator and therapist): If you’re about to become a parent or you’re just a new parent, I’d really love you to know, it’s okay not to know everything about kids. And to know that your kids will teach you along that journey and if you’re willing to learn, then it’s okay. All they need from you is just lots of love and care and that’s enough.
Olivia (mother of Ellora, 4 years, and Adeline, 18 months): I think before I had children, I had a lot of ideas and about how it would work and what I’d be like. But I think it’s a fluid thing too, I think we probably did model it off both of our parents and both our parents are very involved still in our lives.
Jenelle: One thing that really kind of struck me the first few months of having Oliver was, you know, what do I want to teach him, what do I want to say about the world so they’re important values to help him to get through life. You know, what you believe in or what you think is right or wrong and how to behave in society. Because if you don’t have any idea, neither will your child and then I think that kind of belief guides you when you’re parenting.
Tim O’Leary: Your cultural mix in terms of where you spend a lot of time growing up, your religious beliefs, your non-religious beliefs. Whatever it is, they’re all part of what makes you who you are, but you may not see them as factors that are in your parenting but they’re key in how you do what you do and why you make the parenting decisions. You’ve got some mothers saying ‘You’re too hard on him.’ You’ve got some dads saying ‘You’re too soft’ and vice versa. And all of these things come from everything that what makes you who you are.
Shabana (mother of Aurora, 18 months): My culture in my family is really about healthy eating. His family are wonderful, they’re very hands on with Aurora and want to take her everywhere and all the rest of it, but there are a few things that meant a lot to me, like healthy eating and not watching TV and just certain other things and they really got clashed with, didn’t they? There was a time you and I fought because…
Cameron: I would say our core values, I mean obviously we’re married and stuff like that and we have very core values and we, you know, agree on all of them but there were a lot of little nuts and bolts stuff that we didn’t think of…
Shabana: …we didn’t think of.
Cameron: …until it cropped up.
Mitch: Both of our families are very different so we’ve had to sort of make our own little, new family unit.
Olivia: And you just sort of pick and choose the things you like and what you thought was good and what worked and what didn’t.