var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-41362908-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + ''; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();
Home / Latest News / Fatherhood stories from all kinds of dads

Fatherhood stories from all kinds of dads

The single dad

Matt Trevett, 40, lives in Penarth and is dad to  three-year-old Isobel. Matt and Isobel’s mum split  up 18 months ago, and Matt has his daughter 50%  of the time.

“I met Izzy’s mum a few years ago and quite early on in  our relationship she became pregnant. It was the first  child for both of us, and I was a blubbering mess when  she was born. I always wanted to be a dad.

“Her mother and I split up in November 2011,  when Izzy was about 18 months old. We went through  mediation and agreed 50/50 custody, which I was  chuffed with, but I was petrified. At that point, I had  looked after her on my own for a couple of hours but  I hadn’t done overnights. The first couple of times  she stayed over I camped by the side of her bed.

“Over time, my confidence has grown and I now  trust my instincts. I booked us into baby gymnastics,  and I’ve taken her to mother and toddler mornings. I  couldn’t give a monkey’s that I’m in the minority, I’m  having fun with my little girl, that’s what matters.  We’ve got a happy, healthy relationship, we’re like  friends.

“Every morning she comes and gives me a massive  cwtch. Every night, I tell her Mummy and Daddy love  her. We agreed no matter what’s happening between  us, nothing negative should be said in front of Izzy.

“The other day her mum took Izzy to the theatre  and I picked her up. When we got into the car, she  said, ‘I want you to live with Mummy, Daddy’. I didn’t  know what to say. Izzy’s mum is a very good mum, we  both put our daughter’s interests first.

“With running my own marketing business, I don’t  have regular ‘office hours’, but I cancel everything  when she’s around. People tell me she won’t  remember, but I will.

“I’ve had a romantic relationship since, but my  commitment to Izzy was a strain and it fizzled out. If  it means I remain single until she’s independent,  that’s the way it’ll be. Being a father means  everything to me.

“I want Izzy to grow up and make her own  decisions – her mother and I will guide her, but I  want her to be a strong, confident person,  surrounded by friends. I want her to be happy, to be  her own person and have the confidence to chase her  dreams, and her mother and I will do everything we  can to help her do that.”


The Army dad

Andy Sheehan with his daughters
Andy Sheehan with his daughters


Andy Sheehan, 37, is dad to seven-year-old Emmy and Izzy, who is three. They currently live in Brecon, where Andy is  a  colour sergeant instructor at the Infantry Battle School with the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

“I joined the Army in 1995 as a single soldier. At  the time I wasn’t thinking about family, I was only  young. I met my wife Shelley when I moved to  Catterick as a corporal in 2006.

“I’ve been on operational tours in Northern  Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan,  but we’re in Brecon now for another 12 months.

“I had to go away a day after Emmy was born,  so it was four weeks before I could be with my  family. I got back and was told that five days later  I was going to Iraq. I had to go four months  without seeing my family.

“Saying goodbye was tough, because you’ve got  kids involved. With wives and girlfriends, they’re  used to us going, but it’s different with children,  especially going into conflicts and not knowing if  you’ll come back.

“I always had the family in the back of my mind  when I was in Basra. I had pictures of my family  inside the tent, so when I came back from  patrolling for 12 hours and was dusty and tired, it  was nice to see them.

“When I went to Iraq, Emmy and Shelley gave  me a little green stone – they called it a lucky  stone, so I kept that in my pocket the whole time.  It did bring me luck because I came home.

“Being an infantry soldier, you’re always on the  front line. There were many times in Iraq and  Afghanistan when I was under fire. My driver was  shot in the head and killed and I had to try to  retrieve him under fire. It’s a part of being in the  Army.

“It never occurred to me to leave the Army  when I became a dad. It’s a fantastic job, but you  do miss your family. It’s hard when you go to  cuddle them and they run to their mummy.

“Being a dad means the world. I would do  anything for the girls, but if they grew up and  wanted to join the Army, I don’t think I would let  them. I might feel differently if they were boys.

“There are loads of things, especially when  Emmy was younger, that I missed out on. When  Shelley told me Emmy had taken her first step,  it’s hard that I missed that because I was away.”


The second chance dad

Chris Todd with his children
Chris Todd with his children


Chris Todd, 31, from Swansea has three children with wife Gemma  – Amylia, five, Alanya, four, and eight-month-old Theo. Chris was  diagnosed with leukaemia at 26.

“I was 26 when I became a dad. When Gemma  told me, it scared me to death, but I got my  head round it. I’m man enough to say I cried my  eyes out when Amylia was born.

“I’m a professional footballer (currently with  Eastleigh FC in Hampshire) and when Amylia  was born, I had a big match the next day  against Stevenage – I was playing for Torquay.  We needed to win and I remember getting  home after the birth and trying to sleep at  3am because I had to get up at 9am, but I was  on such a high, I was just thinking of getting  back to my daughter.

“I was diagnosed with leukaemia six months  after Amylia was born. I remember taking the  call and looking at my daughter, thinking, ‘this  can’t be happening’.

“My child was like a goal, I wanted to be  better for Amylia. She was my rock, along with  my wife, who was amazing.

“When I was diagnosed I was told I may  never have kids again which devastated us  because we wanted a big family.

“When we found out Gemma was pregnant  again, I was overjoyed and overwhelmed. It  was like something sent from God, she was a  gift, a great hope.

“Health-wise at that time I had good scores  on the leukaemia front but it was never  guaranteed, I was still fighting it and that plays  on your mind.

“Having the girls carried me through darker  times. They don’t know I was ill. In years to  come, my book More Than Football in the  Blood will be perfect to give to them and say  ‘this is what Daddy went through’.

“Having Alanya was very special, but having  our third, my son, after being on treatment for  nearly four years, I thought it would never be  possible. When we were told it was a boy, let’s  say it brought back the tears again.

“This completes it. We were so overjoyed and  happy, we’ve got a perfect family. I thank God  because it’s just such a special thing.

“It was always my ambition to have kids, I  come from a big family. It gives you an ambition  in life, bringing up kids and leading them in the  right direction. I just want them to have health  and happiness. If you’ve got those two things, the  rest falls into place, you won’t go far wrong in  life.

“I didn’t think  I was going to be there for my  first born let alone my third, and I still feel  overjoyed.”


The foster dad

John McDonnell with wife Catherine
ohn McDonnell with wife Catherine


John McDonnell, 46, lives in Penarth with his wife Catherine. The couple have three  children – Victoria, 25, Daniel, 21 and Curtis Lee, who is 15 – and have also been foster  carers for 40 to 50 children over the past nine years.

“Catherine had two children when we met, and  then we had Curtis Lee together. I wanted more,  but we were advised not to try. Then we were  watching Children in Need and saw a piece about  fostering and thought we could do it.

“We were in the private sector for five years  but weren’t getting many placements, so we  switched to Vale of Glamorgan Council and have  been full since. They’re crying out for foster  carers.

“We’ve had about 40 to 50 foster children,  about 12 of whom have stayed for a year or so  and the others respite, all under the age of 10. I  left full-time work to concentrate on fostering,  so I’m a butcher part-time now.

“We have two at the moment and they’ve  spent two-and-a-half years here. We’re honest  with them, if they’re old enough to understand.

“The two we have now are from a sibling  group of five or six that has been split up, but  they know about their brothers. They don’t  have contact, but one day, it’ll be up to them.

“We know a bit about them before they come  to the house, we’ll set up the bedroom with  something they like, Bob the Builder or  whatever.

“When they come to us there’s no confidence,  no self esteem – you do all the hard work and  then they move on to something even better,  you hope. We’ve had a couple of babies straight  from hospital and we’ve moved them into  adoptive families. We stay in contact with a  couple. We had one who came to us at 10 weeks  and left us at two years. He’s now five and  thinks we’re his aunt and uncle. We couldn’t not  be part of his life.

“We don’t treat the children any differently  from ours. Every child that’s come into this  house I’ve treated as if they’re my own.

“I went to sports day recently for the little girl  who’s staying with us and she was with her  friends, telling them, ‘there’s my daddy over  there’. She knows I’m not her daddy, but she  still felt she wanted to tell everyone I’m her  daddy. When that happens, it’s worth  everything. She knows she’s going to get a new  family, but she still sees me and Catherine as  her mum and dad.”


The gay dad

Craig Owen with son Osian
Craig Owen with son Osian


Craig Owen, 37, lives near Bridgend and is  dad to three-and-a-half-year-old Osian*  (*name has been changed). Craig came out  as gay when he was 19 and chose to become  a dad with a lesbian couple who he’s been  friends with for more than 20 years.

“I always pictured myself being a dad. As my  sexuality dawned on me and I came out halfway  through my first year at Aberystwyth University,  one of the most painful parts was the realisation  I was sacrificing those dreams in actually being  true to myself. There were very few positive role  models of masculine gay people then, let alone of  gay families.

“At university I became friends with two  lesbians. We were involved in campaigning for  lesbian, gay and bisexual equality. After  university, I became a support worker with  African charities based in Wales, and I’m also  an outdoor pursuits leader, including camping,  hostelling, mountaineering.

“At a reunion in Aberystwyth in 2007, I had a  conversation with my lesbian friends about  co-parenting. They were married in 2005 and  had been fostering, and were talking about how  they’d like to have a child together and if I  might be interested in being a dad. We joked  about it but realised it was something we could  seriously do.

“Osian was born in January 2010 and it was  one of the most magical days of all of our lives.  Osian’s mums are the lead parents – he lives  with them and they do what I call most of the  hard work.

“Being a dad is incredible, but it felt a bit  historic. We campaigned for equal rights and  there we were years later pushing a pram down  the promenade in Aberystwyth where we once  waved placards.

“The most important ingredient is the  friendship between me as his dad and my  friends as his mums. We’re not in a traditional  mother and father relationship, but to Osian,  we’re Mummy, Mammy and Daddy. Anyone  who thinks about doing this would need that  strength of relationship to hold together for the  rest of their lives. It’s not about saying, ‘I fancy  a kid, I’ll find some lesbians’.

“Everyone comments on how happy Osian is,  and how relaxed the family dynamic is. The  selfish feeling is that it makes your life  complete, but I’m so excited about seeing him  grow up into his own person.

“We were really conscious from the outset  there could be big challenges in terms of being  an unusual family set up, but stuff it if people  think it’s an unnatural family, there aren’t that  many natural families anyway.”


The stay at home dad

Phil Lee with his family
Phil Lee with his family


Phil Lee, 44, from Gilwern near  Abergavenny has an eight-year-old son,  Alex, with his wife Jane. Phil runs his own  internet marketing business from home so  he has more time to spend with his son.

“When I was younger, my father would go out to  work at seven in the morning and come back at  six and only spend time with me at weekends.

“My parents came from a humble  background and were driven to better  themselves. My father spent a lot of time  travelling to the US as well which, in the early  ’70s, was quite a rarity. He’d be gone for two,  three weeks at a time.

“I was always conscious that I wanted to see  more of Alex than perhaps my father had seen  of me. The chance to work flexibly from home  came up and it was too good an opportunity to  ignore. I work in internet marketing, which  allows me to work pretty much anywhere I  have an internet connection, and into the  evenings if I need to.

“I’m able to do things like pick Alex up from  school and take him for a swimming lesson. He  wouldn’t be able to do that during the week if  my wife and I were working full time in  Cardiff. My wife works for the Welsh Local  Government Association and she’s able to  work two days a week from home.

“I’m working with (women’s economic  development body) Chwarae Teg in telling  sons about the importance of both men and  women taking responsibility for parenting and  looking after the household, but in truth, I  don’t think Alex realises our set up is any  different from anyone else’s. I like to think he  might notice, and once in a while he’ll say  thanks, but when I was eight I was more  interested in cars and trains.

“When I was growing up I didn’t think about  it, I just accepted my father worked long hours  and went away, then came back and showered  me with presents.

“I remember being determined that when  my wife was up breastfeeding at two in the  morning, I would get up and keep her  company for however long it took. I think I  managed that for about two days before the  tiredness got to me.

“Unless someone tries to put the idea in  Alex’s head that the woman’s place is in the  home shackled to the sink, then I don’t think  he’ll question the way we do things. If he has  children, I hope he chooses to bring them up  in the same way.”


The famous dad

Enzo Calzaghe with son Joe
Enzo Calzaghe with son Joe


Enzo Calzaghe MBE, 64, lives near  Newbridge in South Wales. He’s a father of  three, and his eldest son, Joe, is a retired  professional boxer and a former world  champion.

“I was brought up to treasure the family. My  father would punish you for your wrongs, but  you still ended up loving him.

“Last year I brought out my book, A  Fighting Life. It’s about family life, not just  boxing. It’s about my kids and what life  should be all about – family is the most  important thing there is. Without family it  really doesn’t matter how rich you are or how  poor you are.

“I was 21 when I first became a dad. Jackie,  my wife, was only 17, so we started young. Our  eldest, Joe, is 41 now.

“When I first became a dad, I was so excited.  It was a treasured thing I’d always thought  about. The same applies to Sonia, 39, and  Melissa, 37, because I am a father of three.

“Boxing was something I was brought up  with. I was two-and-a-half years old when we  left Sardinia and moved to Bedford.

“Joe getting into boxing was a fluke. I  wanted to bring him up as a good footballer,  but he was feeling dejected not being picked to  play, so I bought him a speedbag just to keep  him busy.

“There was a gym 800 yards from our house  in Newbridge, and the trainer there, Paul  Williams, became Joe’s first trainer and I was  second trainer. The first ever fight, Joe lost. He  came in crying, ‘I can’t believe it’.  But even  when he lost, he kept on.

“I can’t really call it pride, it was more of a  satisfaction for him. I am proud to have him as  a son, but it would have been the same if he  was a boxer, footballer, whatever. I was with  him not only as a boxer, but as a father and a  friend.

“Learning to be a coach, I learned how to  take psychological knocks. If he got beaten or  hurt, I coached myself to accept these things  rather than panic, which helped Joe too.   Working with Joe, he was able to develop the  confidence to become the best he could, the  confidence that he was a champion.

“For me, being a father is about the  confidence of knowing I’ve got the love. I can  be a hard taskmaster and they love it. I don’t  always think I’m right. Joe tells me off more  than I tell him off, and I accept it. You can  argue with your kids, but they’re still your kids.  Your mother and father never stop being your  mother and father.”


Check Also

Just why does parking make so many people so damn angry?

Between  Brexit chaos and a black hole the size of three million planet Earths you’d …