Dads with a Difference

Christine Hennebury
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Today's fathers make their own parenting rules

Chad Bishop, manager of Ultramar in Mount Pearl and father of Raevyn, 7, says the old stereotype of the father who came home from work and sat down with the newspaper is no longer valid. And he sees that distant sort of fathering as too limited.

"It's not like that at all," he says. "There's an equal emphasis placed on the kid, the house, the job, on me and Hilary. It's way different now."

Chad Bishop and daughter Raevyn, 7. Submitted photo

Chad Bishop, manager of Ultramar in Mount Pearl and father of Raevyn, 7, says the old stereotype of the father who came home from work and sat down with the newspaper is no longer valid. And he sees that distant sort of fathering as too limited.

"It's not like that at all," he says. "There's an equal emphasis placed on the kid, the house, the job, on me and Hilary. It's way different now."

Musician Chris LeDrew, father of Max, 3, sees the value in some of the traditional aspects of fatherhood but he doesn't embrace the notion of father as patriarch.

"I think about being a role model for your child, stuff like that, providing for the family."

But for the daily tasks he emphasizes how he and his partner Michelle Lester, owner of Coo Chi Coo boutique, work together.

"The mother does so many things, and you just try to be the tooth brusher if the mom's being the story reader. You're just kicking in, just trying to do your part."

Bishop feels much the same way. He and partner Hilary Young-Laite, manager of the Photo lab at Shoppers Drug Mart in Mount Pearl, try to share the housework and the childcare.

"We never really decided you'll do this and I'll do that. It's kind of day by day; you do this today and I'll do that today. You take Raevyn to the park and I'll clean up the house, that kind of thing."

Both fathers enjoy schedules that allow them more time with their children than many parents.

LeDrew spent most of his son's first two years as a stay-at-home dad before beginning his master's degree in English in the fall of 2007, and his class schedule means he still gets more daytime hours with Max than a lot of dads.

Solo time

Bishop's 7 a.m.-3 p.m. shift means he can be there for when his daughter gets home from school.

And since both of the moms work in retail, these dads get just as much practice parenting solo as their partners do.

"Michelle works every Saturday in her business so I have Max, so we go out," LeDrew says.

"We went to a birthday party there on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago, and everyone was really freaked out because a dad showed up. Not a mom. A dad actually took it upon himself to bring the boy to a birthday party - people were in shock because of that."

Raevyn is now old enough to spend a fair bit of time playing with friends, but she still turns to her dad as a playmate. And Bishop doesn't shy away from playing with dolls or with board games.

"Playing Trouble is awesome. And we play the Hannah Montana game, that's pretty awesome too," he laughs. "I have to dance, it's good."

New rules

The "rules" of fatherhood may have changed, but the role still presents its challenges.

For LeDrew the main challenge is in trying to set a good example for his son. "They're watching everything you do, everything you say, and to me the hardest part is trying to be a good role model, a good example. Because all they know is you, especially now, where Max is three. I mean, he watches us and that's it. And at school of course, for however long his day is."

Bishop finds it hard to make time for everything as a dad. "It seems like there's not enough time in the day to do the things you want to do. Trying to find time with her schedule, and Hilary's schedule and my schedule it's just ... there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day, that's the most challenging thing I think."

However, those challenges can be balanced for the most part by the rewards of parenting. Both Bishop and LeDrew enjoy it when their kids demonstrate something they have learned.

"It's rewarding when you're sitting down and seeing that they're doing homework and able to read," Bishop says. "It's pretty rewarding to see them developing into functional people.

"Raevyn will go and she will clean her room and she'll make a little chart for herself and give herself check marks when she does it, it's awesome. Those kinds of things, that's pretty cool."

"I find when I'm able to teach him something and he can do it, when he listens to me and stuff and I see him learning and stuff like that," LeDrew says. "The most rewarding thing is to watch him achieve things, even small victories at this age."

And Bishop enjoys being there to greet his daughter in the afternoons.

"When she comes home from school and I'm there, it's the best thing in the world. She says 'Hey Daddy' and gives me a big hug. That's awesome."

Role models

He hopes that their close relationship will influence Raevyn as she grows up.

"I hope that she sees me as a role model of some kind," he says. "I'd like her to have some of the traits that I have, to have compassion for people. I hope that she continues to have that, because she's showing it now. "

Being a role model is important for LeDrew, as well. "I hope that he sees me as a well-rounded individual, someone who was able to follow his dream of playing music for a living but also had the discipline to go to school.

"I hope he looks at my master's degree as an inspiration to him. Not that I care if he gets his master's degree, I don't care if he goes to university at all. But the fact that makes me most proud is knowing that he's going to know I had it, which means he can think about his own father as someone who didn't give up on stuff. That might help him to go 'I'm not going to give up. My father didn't give up.'"

Organizations: Ultramar, Mount Pearl and father, Shoppers Drug Mart

Geographic location: Mount Pearl

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  • LISA
    December 31, 2012 - 19:18

    RAEVYN'S MY BEST FRIEND