Several years ago, Dads4Kids organized a competition in which we asked the children of Australia for their input and ideas on how best to help them. Five hundred and seventy-five entries from young and old were received. Lyle Sims, one of the top three winners of the Dads4Kids Competition observed wisely, “Our young people are the future of our nation. As they go, so goes the nation. Our future is in their hands, their future is in ours”.
What do the young people of Australia think are the challenges THEY face? What do they think are the solutions to those problems?
Watch Matthew Hayden share about being a Dad
Dads4Kids asked on national TV, with the help of Matthew Hayden, one of Australia’s greatest cricketers: What is your greatest challenge and what do you believe is the solution?
Many of the entries to the Dads4Kids Competition were from children. Many of those children spoke very clearly about the problems they face. Their answers are just as relevant today as they were then, and the issues are the same.
Kim, South Australia: The greatest challenge facing children today is spending quality time with dads. With Dads living so busy lives working . . .
Jack, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not feeling wanted or needed. Some kids just want some guidelines and for someone in their life to say, “No, you can’t do that.”
Katie, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not having one of their parents around to look after them.
Jamie, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not having their dad as they are growing up.
James, South Australia: My dad committed suicide when I was 12 and it shattered me.
Tannika, Victoria: The greatest challenge facing children today is having their parents split up.
Ethan, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is watching their parents fight which often leads to divorce.
Jess, NSW: The greatest challenge facing children today is their parents being unsuitable to own a puppy let alone raise a child.
Michael, New South Wales: The greatest challenge facing children today is they want to have fun with their dads.
Laura, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not having a mum or dad to tell stuff to . . . children need someone to guide them through their life.
William, NSW: The greatest challenge facing children today is when your mother and father are divorced and they live in another state.
Julia, Queensland: I am 15 years old and I think the greatest challenge facing children today is, to be honest, not having a father. I don’t have one and it has affected me greatly through my life with finding attention from the wrong boys to fill that gap of not having a male in my life . . . I have a mum who loves me very much but there’s just something missing and it’s my father’s love. I never had a father figure in my life and that’s why I think so many kids my age and older . . . go down the wrong track and end up in a bad situation.
Julia’s heartfelt pleas are impossible to ignore. She is not alone. The children of Australia are crying out for fathers who will love them unconditionally, spend time with them, guide them and listen to them. While many young people brought up other pressing matters such as drugs, alcohol, health, obesity and bullying, the number one concern was the lack of a father figure closely followed by family breakdown. Sadly, for many children, it is one and the same thing.
Fourteen year old Paul from Queensland finished in the top 20 out of 575 entries. He talked about a number of important issues but also included having no mother and father as an issue of critical importance. His advice to parents is to the point:
Parents have to spend time with their children and listen and talk to them about the important things. Just go outside and spend time and have fun with your children. They will be a lot better off with their self-esteem and self-respect. That shows your children that you love them. I’m 14 and I still play out in the yard with my dad. I think it’s great that he could still be bothered.
Dads, “Listen to the children of Australia”. Young Paul’s wisdom is hard to beat.
Spend time, listen, talk, go outside and play and have fun with your children young or old.
Yours for our children
PS. Valentine’s Day is coming up on 14 February and it’s a day we as dads should not forget. The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love his children’s mother and I mean in every sense of the word. Be warned. It is a lifetime occupation and a never-ending quest, but it has great rewards for both your children, yourself and your wife.