Father's Day 2021: Authors from Kingsbury and Kilburn share experiences of being a dad
- Credit: Krystal Falconer
Two dads who grew up with absent fathers have written about raising their own children in a totally different way.
Renaldo 'RP' Falconer who lives in Kingsbury, and Sam Draper, who lives in Kilburn, have both contributed to Update DAD: Untold Stories of Fatherhood, Love, Mental Health and Masculinity.
The compendium is a compilation of 20 powerful and defiant stories from the MusicFootballFatherhood.com team.
Ahead of Father's Day on June 20 both men told us what their children mean to them and how they feel as central figures in their children's lives.
R.P, parent to Acala, 11, and Nia, six, with wife Krystal, said: "To be a father is by far the most important role I have ever had bestowed upon me, a delicate balance between love and labour.
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"Fatherhood is a trail walked by many, yet the multiple dimensions of each child, make it nearly impossible for a someone else’s map to provide an exact guide for your parental trajectory."
The author of several books, RP grew up on the Church Road estate in Harlesden, and it's through his mother that a love of books and writing was born.
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"Like many on my estate, my dad was ninety per cent absent," he said.
RP had to see his father in the summer holidays when he traveled to Bedford where he lived "and was actually very good" to him whilst he was there.
"But as soon as I was brought back to London, he never called, or came by, even when he’d go to family functions in and around my area, and never provided emotional or financial support for me.
"Looking back, him not being there did a lot of damage in my early years. I was angry for much of my childhood, but couldn’t articulate it at the time.
"I learnt a great deal about being a real dad from his absence. He inspired me to never be like him.
"Consequently, I am extremely passionate about being the best father I can be to my children. I tell them I love them every day."
He added: "I wrote my chapter in ‘DAD’ because I wanted other men with similar life experiences to mine to know it’s okay to not be okay, it’s fine to ask for help, to talk about problems and explore solutions to ensure our children will always have better.
"We who grew up on those estates are brainwashed into believing men don’t cry or to express [themselves] in any other way than anger was soft."
Sam, also known as The London Bookman, lives with his wife Amy Leonard and children Eliza, four, and Paddy, two.
His father was in the Navy so would spend many months at sea.
"It's the most important thing I could possibly do," he said. "It's probably some of the same feelings that made me become a teacher, the idea of helping and supporting these younger people and make the world a better place.
"Being a dad is amazing. They're wonderfully joyous, crazy, frustrating creatures but it's been an opportunity that I'm not going to get back. My relationship personally with my daughter and my son will be that bit richer because of it."
His chapter in the book is on shared parenting, of which he does the lion's share having given up his job as a teacher while PR consultant Amy takes on the traditional male breadwinner role.
"I wanted to share my story of shared parental leave to help encourage more families to look at alternative arrangements, to give the best for their kids and themselves.
"Still too few families take advantage of the opportunities given by parental leave, sometimes for financial reasons, but more often than not because they're unwilling to challenge societal expectations that mums will do it all.
"Dads being equally involved in childcare should be the norm not a novelty."
DAD will initially be published in hardback and ebook form with the audiobook and paperback to follow.
It is available to buy in Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and Foyles.