"The best thing about being a parent is to watch the fruits of our actions and decisions blossom...."
What do your children refer to you as?
My boys call me Dad or their fun name for me is Brunz.
Please provide name(s) and age(s) of your children.
I have three sons - Joseph is 35 years old, Rick is 33 years old and Paul is 30 years old.
How did you support your partner in the early stages of becoming a parent?
Our challenges related to our second child, Rick, being autistic. This meant we had to work so much harder as a team. My wife, Vicki, became the clear leader and was the strength in our parental partnership, I played a supporting role, we investigated the condition deeper, educated ourselves, and joined organisations connected to developmental and special needs. Meanwhile, we were in and out of hospital dealing with health issues. Rick's first three weeks of life was spent in intensive care and his subsequent 12 years of life was being hospitalised 19 times. Vicki and I would tag team sleeping in hospitals, organising specialists, and facing the daunting prospect of a child who would spend his life as a prisoner to his disability. Our extended family supported where they could, my role was to keep the normality with our other two boys. We continued their sports, music and social activities with their friends so they would not miss out on their passions, social connections and ensure their balance.
How were YOU supported and did you feel adequately supported in the early stages of becoming a parent?
I was incredibly supported by Vicki, I started a business when our children were toddlers. I was given the space to focus on building the business with long hours invested to grow it despite the feeling of chaos and uncertainty with Rick. I took business partners to ensure I could give the necessary time needed even though that time was initially limited. We were very young parents, we had to emotionally mature quickly. Vicki was always the emotional strength behind our journey and led from the front, this is where I took confidence in knowing everything will be ok.
What is the best thing about being a parent?
The best thing about being a parent is to watch the fruits of our actions and decisions blossom and the satisfaction of knowing our boys are well-balanced, mature, respectful, strong young men. Rick has developed into such a beautiful, engaging individual who has far exceeded the predictions of the specialists who diagnosed him as a toddler. His autism meant he was not going to speak, express emotion and, if born 20 years earlier, would have been institutionalised. None of which thankfully came to fruition. His brothers, Joseph and Paul, have become his best friends and giving him his normality. As a father, I can ask for nothing more than the unity of a family, unconditional love, supporting and guiding them through their journey. This is my gift.
What is the hardest thing about being a parent?
The hard things I find about being a parent live in my ability to let go and not want to constantly protect them. I find I have to stop myself from imposing my fears and expectation on them, something my parents did with me. It can impact the way you listen, interpret and advise them when they engage. We as parents worry and want to protect them rather than giving them the space to grow and be there only to guide, listen and advise. The other big challenge is giving quality time out of my busy busy weeks to ensure I am there and accessible to my family.
Share your top hacks for being a parent.
My three hacks for being parents: Firstly, the importance of time, we have our 'not negotiable' Sunday nights where we come together for dinner. It is our time to be there with each other. We cook, have a drink and chat, we connect. The second hack is to listen to them rather than hear their voice and not be distracted by the conversation killer, the mobile phone. I am challenged by this and find myself having to stop using my phone when spending time with them. Thirdly, invest in their passions, do what it takes to keep your kids busy and occupied. Many have strayed because they are guided by external influences rather than building their foundations from within their passion and interests.
See our Instagram post here.