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Recognizing Dads' Role in Raising Daughters: Building Bonds and Nurturing Independence With Sarah Maconachie

Dads With Daughters

Release Date: 06/03/2024

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More Episodes

Fatherhood and Active Participation

In this week's Dads with Daughters podcast we got to speak with Sarah Maconachie, a mindset coach and author, the focus was on the importance of active fatherhood in raising empowered daughters. In our conversation, Sarah emphasized the need for dads to be actively involved in their daughters' lives and the significance of being present, supportive, and open in their journey towards raising independent and strong women. Sarah shared her experiences and insights from her own upbringing and her work in advocating for equal parenting roles. Her perspectives shed light on the transformative power of involved fatherhood and the impact it can have on daughters' development.

Challenging Stereotypes and Biases

Sarah Maconachie's experiences and the stories she shared in her book, "Working Dads and Balancing Acts," challenge traditional stereotypes and biases related to parenting roles. Her emphasis on breaking norms that confine fathers to being solely providers and not nurturing caregivers is a powerful message for dads and their involvement in their daughters' lives. It serves as a reminder that stereotypes and gender biases should not dictate the roles that fathers play in their children's lives.

The Impact of an Involved Father

One of the key takeaways from Sarah's insights is the immense impact of an involved father in a child's life. She highlighted the emotional support, presence, and active participation of her own father, emphasizing how it shaped her and her sisters, propelling them toward successful and fulfilling lives. This perspective underscores the pivotal role fathers play in instilling confidence, self-esteem, and strength in their daughters. It also reflects the idea that fatherhood goes beyond providing financial stability and encompasses emotional, mental, and social support crucial for their daughters' growth.

Encouraging Open Communication

Sarah's recollections of her father being a pillar of support during emotional upheavals and difficult phases is a testament to the significance of open communication within the parent-child relationship. Her father's approachability and willingness to engage with his daughters on a personal level created a secure environment for them to express their emotions and seek guidance. This highlights the importance of open dialogues and nurturing an environment where daughters feel comfortable confiding in their fathers. It's an essential aspect of fatherhood that fosters trust and empowers daughters to overcome challenges and become resilient individuals.

Shifting the Paradigm

The insightful conversation between Dr. Christopher Lewis and Sarah Maconachie outlined the need to challenge the existing societal norms and inspire a shift in the paradigm of fatherhood. Sarah's determination to make a change in the space of working parents and advocating for equal parenting roles stands as a beacon for shifting the traditional perceptions of parenting. Her work and dedication are geared towards creating a world where fathers are equally recognized as nurturing caregivers, capable of fostering their daughters' dreams, ambitions, and well-being.

As you absorb Sarah's narrative, it becomes evident that empowering dads to be present, engaged, and supportive in their daughters' lives is a critical factor in building a generation of empowered women. Sarah's encouragement for dads to prioritize spending time with their children reinforces the idea that every moment invested in their daughters' lives profoundly impacts their growth and development.

In this episode I found that Sarah Maconachie's insights brought to light the necessity of active fatherhood in shaping strong, independent women. Her work not only encourages dads to be present, nurturing, and communicative but also challenges societal norms, promoting gender equality in parenting roles. The takeaways from the podcast serve as a compelling call to action for dads to actively engage in their daughters' lives, fostering an environment where girls can thrive and reach their full potential.



Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:05]:
Welcome to dads with daughters. In this show, we spotlight dads, resources, and more to help you be the best dad you can be.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:16]:
Welcome back to the Dads with Daughters podcast, where we bring you guests to be active participants in your daughter's lives, raising them to be strong, independent women. Really excited to have you back again this week. As always, I love being on this journey that you and I are both on to find ways to be able to be the best dads that we can be, to raise our daughters to be those strong, independent women that we want them to be. And I know, you know, it's not always easy. It there's not Oh, there's going to be bumps in the road. There's going to be times where you are going to hit your head up against the wall, and you're gonna say, oh, my gosh. There has to be a better way. And that's why this podcast is here is to give you resources, allow for you to meet other people, learn from other people, and gain some insights into the journey that they are on as parents, but also learn from them in regards to the journey that they're on in raising daughters or in finding other resources that are out there that can help you to do just that.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:20]:
Every week, I love being able to bring you different guests, different people that have different things that they can share with you. Sometimes it's mom, sometimes it's dads. You know, there's people from across lots of different spectrums. And I am so happy that you come back every week and take a listen in to learn to be a little vulnerable and be willing to open yourself up to learning as well. This week, we've got another great guest with us. Sarah McConachie is with us today. And Sarah is a mindset coach for parents. She is an author.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:55]:
She has a brand new book that we're gonna be talking about called Working Dads and Balancing Acts. And don't all of us sometimes feel like we're balancing stuff and trying to work day to day and and trying to balance this thing called fatherhood. And when I saw that she had written this book, I definitely wanted to have her on to be able to talk not only about the book, but about her own journey in being a mother to a daughter as well and to kids to be able to bring that perspective in as well. Sarah, thanks so much for joining us today.

Sarah Maconachie [00:02:27]:
Hi. And thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited to be on here.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:02:31]:
I'm really excited to have you on as well. You know, one of the things that I would love to do before we even jump into the concept of this book that you wrote. So you are a mother of 2 girls and you're a female yourself. I know what it's like to raise daughters myself and what it was like as a father. But for you jumping in to being a mother of daughter, what was going through your head? And I know your oldest is a daughter, so that was your first. Talk to me about that journey for you. And what did you have to do to either prepare yourself to be a mother to a daughter, or what were the surprises that came with it that you didn't expect?

Sarah Maconachie [00:03:06]:
That's a really good question. I was very excited to have a daughter. I'm one of 3 girls and I had a great upbringing and I love my sisters. And so I was excited to have a girl because I was excited to potentially have what I had when I was growing up. And I think as a female as well, I'm a very determined lady, as are my sisters. All 3 of us have really done very well in life. We've got really good careers, and I'm a bit of a feminist from that perspective. I love gender equality, and I was quite excited to raise a strong, powerful girl.

Sarah Maconachie [00:03:44]:
I have to say that really excited me.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:03:47]:
So talk to me a little bit about your own father. And you said you had a great upbringing. And you and your sisters definitely were given some things to help you to spread your wings, to be able to become the people that you are today. What did your father do specifically that you feel helped to pave the way for you to become the person that you are today?

Sarah Maconachie [00:04:09]:
The biggest thing, he was present. He was very present. He absolutely adores us all. He absolutely adores his 3 girls. He's a very blokey bloke. My dad. He's a sportsman. He played rugby, golf, squash.

Sarah Maconachie [00:04:24]:
You name it. He played it. So for him, I think he always wanted boys because the natural, you know, you want the sport, you want this and then the other. And he had 3 girls and it was probably the best thing for him. We all love something that he relates to, so he's got one that loves rugby, and he watches rugby with her. My other sister and I did lots of athletics and did lots of sport ourselves. So he got to do that with us. And the most important thing for him, though, was he was there.

Sarah Maconachie [00:04:52]:
He was a teacher, so he was at home at dinner time. And my memories of growing up were of us altogether. My dad was very, very present and he was just as involved as my mum was. And he supported us a lot when we went through breakups, boyfriends, friends, this, that and the other. It was actually our dad that we went to because he's a very soft person in that respect, and he was really lovely and really approachable from those emotional rollercoasters that we went on. He was really good at dealing with it.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:05:25]:
So talk to me a little bit about you said that when those big emotional times came, you went to your father. And that's not always the case in every in every situation and every family dynamic. So what was it that your dad did to allow for you to feel that he was the person that you could go to when those things came up that opened that door for communication, for dialogue, for you to feel safe to go To him in those moments of need,

Sarah Maconachie [00:05:57]:
just always, he would always bring it up with us. I mean, mom would know what was going on because moms know everything and she would obviously talk to my dad and then he would come to us and say, this is happening. He'd give us a big hug and he would just tell us that everything would be okay. And it's just a phase in our life and that we have to go through these things. And he was just really caring and really supportive. And he would come to us.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:06:24]:
Now from all of this work that your father did in helping you and your sisters to become who you are today, I'm sure that as you grew and flew out of the nest, you and I talked before this, you you've been a world traveler and you have really explored. So talk to me about you leave England, you go to the United States, you end up in Australia. What's the one piece of advice that he gave you that you hold on to today that you look back on and say that was so meaningful?

Sarah Maconachie [00:06:59]:
The biggest thing was for me, and it's not actually that long ago, moving to Australia. Obviously my mom very upset because I was actually really close. Well, I still am. I've always been very, very close to my mum. I was always the mommy's girl and I'm the one that flew the nest. So she's always struggled with it, understandably. And they came to Australia when I had first met my husband, I think. And I think they could finally see that I was settled, and I've met a lovely man.

Sarah Maconachie [00:07:30]:
And I think that was a big factor for them. And my dad just loved it here. He absolutely loved it. And I just remember having a chat with him over a few drinks where all the good conversations happen, and he said, I'm just so happy that you're happy. And as long as you're happy, it doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing. I just can see the happiness in you. And for me, that's all I need. And that's always stuck with me because it's true and that's what I would want for my children.

Sarah Maconachie [00:07:58]:
You just want them to be happy. And although it sacrifices my parents' happiness with me being this far away to a degree, I think that, you know, my dad's able to really remove himself to a degree and be like, I just want you to be happy. And that's all that matters.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:08:14]:
Now earlier today, you talked about that you see yourself as a feminist. You're raising daughters now. Talk to me about what did your dad do to support that feminism that you have within yourself? But also, what are you doing to now encourage your own kids? And they're young, and maybe you're not doing that much yet. But what do you hope to do as they get older to inspire that same sense of feminism in them as they get older?

Sarah Maconachie [00:08:42]:
Look, as I sort of outlined, both of my parents were always very supportive of whatever we wanted to do. I mean, I'm a big dreamer and my mum and dad will often roll their eyes at me and be like, here we go again. But I always achieve what I've say, what I've said I'm going to go out and do. So now the eye rolling has gone down a little bit. But with all 3 of us, they were just supportive of our hopes and dreams. They, you know, encouraged us to go to university. They encouraged us to do what we wanted to do. That was gonna whatever was gonna make us happy.

Sarah Maconachie [00:09:13]:
They encouraged us to do it, And they gave us good boundaries to make sure we stayed on the straight and narrow. And they both just really raised us to follow our dreams and to do what it was that we wanted to do to make us happy. I think that's the same for me. It's about being able to really express those personality traits that are hard in children, but actually are going to be magical when they're adults. And I notice this with my own daughter, My eldest in particular is very defiant. She really likes to think she rules the roost in this house. And to be honest, she probably does, But she also goes through the city and says, mom, when I grow up, I want to work at the on the top floor of the biggest building. And I'm like, you know what, girl, you go for it.

Sarah Maconachie [00:10:00]:
And she's very determined. She's going to win her kindy carnival. She is only getting A's. She asked me recently, what happens when you get an f? I don't even know where she's got this from. And I was like, well, you know, it doesn't matter. And she was like, it won't matter anyway, mom, because I'll only get As. She's 4. The determination of this child is just outrageous.

Sarah Maconachie [00:10:21]:
But, you know, instead of trying to squash that, I try and manage her expectations. But I also am like, you know what? If you've got the determination to go out and get it, then go and get it. I'm not gonna squash that because it's a really great trait to have.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:10:36]:
Now I mentioned the fact that you have a new book that's out called Working Dads and Balancing Acts, and you have another book that called Working Mothers Inspiring Others, but specifically about this book about fathers. And I guess first and foremost, I I love to get the origin stories. As an author myself, I know how much time and effort and passion have to go into the creation of these books. And it takes a lot of time and effort and planning and passion to be able to get to that finish line so that you can get that out into the world. What was it about this topic that really inspired you to want to write this and get this out into the world?

Sarah Maconachie [00:11:23]:
I need to try not to ramble on for too long when I answer this because it comes from a big piece. So the way that I was raised, as I said, I was raised in a very equal house. And I think that even for my generation, that's quite rare. I remember having a conversation with my sister. I started blogging and writing a lot around working parents, but I wrote a lot about dads as well as moms because I just think that there's so much out there for mothers, but there's just not enough for dads. And there's there's not really a voice for dads, I felt, that really depicted the change in society and the way that things are changing. So I was having this conversation with my sister and I was like, oh, it's really funny that all 3 of hers are in very equal relationships. Our husbands are very involved with our children.

Sarah Maconachie [00:12:11]:
It's very fiftyfifty in the way that we parent. And in studying mindset, it really does go back to that belief system and how you're raised and that programs, how you then raise your own children and the way that you sort of deliver your own life is very much to do with the environment that you are raising yourself. So all 3 of us have really replicated the way that we were raised, which is amazing. And so we were kind of talking about it and I was like, but it just seems so easy that we are so equal in our household, in our relationship. But I also feel like that's because we're such strong females. We communicate what it is that we need our husbands to do as husbands and as fathers. And that communication piece and that learning piece really has enabled us to foster those relationships and that equality for our own children as well. So it kind of evolved from that, and that way of thinking that I was thinking more and more about dad, particularly in the workplace.

Sarah Maconachie [00:13:18]:
I'm very passionate about working as a mum and being able to create that balance. And I went through a process that I think a lot of mums do go through where I took a job that was really junior and about a quarter of what I'd previously been earning so that I could have flexibility to be able to look after my children as well as have a career. And as I went through a mindset journey myself and I really regained my own purpose, my own worth, and what it is that I needed for me, I realized how much that actually occurs, especially in women. But to solve the problem with that, there needs to be also work for dad. It needs to be a double edged sword. You can't just say, here you go, women are mothers in the workplace. Here's all the things for you, flexible working, whatever it is that you need. What are you also doing for dads for them to be able to take that load, which many dads actually want to do anyway, and to be able to really create that balance so that women can be doing that working and parenting, but so can dads.

Sarah Maconachie [00:14:28]:
So it really stemmed from that view, and I just decided to write these books. It just came out of nowhere to be honest, and I was like, I just want stories from mums and dads of their journeys that will help to support and provide advice and guidance for other moms and dads out there that want to work and have that balance of being a parent as well.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:14:53]:
Now I know in the book you talk to fathers and you talk to a number of different fathers. Talk to me about some of the biggest takeaways as you were talking to them that you incorporated into the book that you hope that people are going to be taking out of reading the book itself?

Sarah Maconachie [00:15:12]:
Well, the chapters are directly from the dads themselves. So they have shared completely their own stories, which is amazing because it's different voices and it's completely their journeys, which I love. So there's a few things in there that are real takeaways for me. There's one who came who didn't have a father who came from a really difficult upbringing and his journey of trying to navigate fatherhood when he had no role model himself, is really incredible and really moving, but also he shares so much emotion around what he didn't share in terms of his own journey and how scared he was to become a dad because he just didn't know what that looked like and what that was as a role. So that was one real key aspects that I loved. Another one is a partner of a big law firm, and he shares a story which really, I had this conversation with him and it really sparked me wanting to write the dad's book. So he was telling me how his 2 boys he's a partner in a big law firm, so he would leave before the boys were up and was home after they went to bed in the week because he worked such long hours. And he was home for 2 consecutive days once and he was putting his boys, one of his younger boys, to bed, who was about 7 I believe at the at the time, and the boy was like what are you doing? Like why are you here? And he was like what do you mean? I'm your dad, I live here.

Sarah Maconachie [00:16:41]:
And he was like yeah but you don't. Like I know that you come and sleep with mum some in the week, but, like, you don't live here. I thought you just came at weekends. And he was like he cried. He was like, he's dagger to his heart and it made him realize the effects that this was having on his children. And he literally changed that day and made sure he didn't leave until the boys had gone to school in the morning. He made a change that the very next day and he's never stepped back. So there's that and there's, and then there's the stories of those, of dads that wanting to stay at home and have let their wives really thrive in their careers.

Sarah Maconachie [00:17:23]:
Like, there's such an eclectic mix of stories in there. It's it's just so inspiring to hear the different journeys and the challenges that different people face, but how they overcome it. And it's really, it's a reminder of how important it is to be present as a dad. There's a lot of older ish generation that didn't have paternity leave, that didn't take any paternity leave, and that look back and really regret that. So I think it's a really nice reminder that it's so important to be present because you do not get those years back. And that's really, for me, the crux of the of the book and the stories that are delivered is it's just so essential to be part of your children's lives and work and everything else comes second. So, you know, if you've got that choice, make it a good one.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:18:15]:
So talk to me about, as you walked into the writing of this book, you talked to a lot of these fathers. Did you walk in with any preconceived notions that were shattered by what you heard and what was shared with you?

Sarah Maconachie [00:18:29]:
Not really. I think the journeys and the chapters and stories that have been shared were really as I ice age of, oh, well, you know, my wife does everything and, you know, that's fine, each their own. But it's really still apparent today and there's still a lot of work to be done, I think, in order to shift those stereotypes and biases of what dads and what fatherhood looks like. So for me, the book lived up to everything that I wanted from it. It's really created the stories, the journeys, and the challenges that I really wanted to highlight because it also has the flip side of regret or whatever that falls with those aspects of not prioritizing your family. So it delivers the right message, but it really fulfilled exactly what I wanted from it.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:19:28]:
And as you end the writing of this specific book, are there other questions? Are there other things that came out at the end where you said, I need to delve into this more?

Sarah Maconachie [00:19:40]:
Oh, yeah. Well, look, it's really spurred my passion even more. So I was working in the mindset space for the last few years, but it's made me so determined to make a change in the space of working parents. So I'm now focusing I've created a program for working parents across workplaces. So it's for dads and moms, and it's really enabling them to create a mindset that allows them to have more balance, have purpose, to create all those aspects that we do lose a little bit when we become a parent because we naturally prioritize our children. But prioritizing our children is a given, but we have to look after ourselves because we are the role models of our children. So the better versions that we are of ourselves, the better versions that our children are. So the book has really spurred me to make a difference, to be honest.

Sarah Maconachie [00:20:39]:
So I am determined to get into every corporate organization that I can find for them to be implementing support for parents that are working, because I just think it's essential for the growth of our children and the next generation. We are raising the future of employees, so we need to be the best version of us so that we're raising what we want as the next generation. So it's made me very determined to make a change.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:21:09]:
I know every country is a little bit different when it comes to looking at things like paternity leave and and allowing for equal access to that special time, especially when your children are first born. How are you having those conversations with businesses? And what do you say to fathers that are working in companies right now that are not supportive of that, of how they can advocate or try to start those conversations within their own companies.

Sarah Maconachie [00:21:39]:
Well, actually one of the chapters in my book is from the CEO of Clough, which is a big mining organization. And his name is Peter Bennett. And so I worked for Clough after I had my first daughter and I left because it was like a clock watch. They it was like you had to be at your desk till 4:30 and I had this horrendous guilt and I just needed to leave because I wanted to pick her up and blah blah blah. So I ended up leaving. And I've had this conversation with Peter because he's actually since this was, I mean, 3 years ago or whatever, but since then, he's actually been one of the leaders for gender equity and for implementing all these changes for paternity leave in Clough. So within the last 2 years, not one man had taken paternity leave in that organization ever, which I just think is crazy. So now he's up there and now 50% of men have taken paternity leave within the last 2 years and are taking longer extended leave to spend time with their families and things like this.

Sarah Maconachie [00:22:47]:
So there's actually an incredible uptake for this in WA in particular, and it's been really well driven. There's a organization, CEOs for Gender Equity, and they are driving all this change. And especially with regards to paternity leave and maternity leave and it just being leave. It doesn't matter whether you're the mum or the dad, all, benefits for employees are equalized and you take it as, as you please. So there's a lot of that going on in WA in particular, which is amazing, but there is still a long way to go with a lot of organisations as well. So my advice, if you were in that situation where you're in an organization that is not supporting it, I would go with evidence. I would go with the research that proves and shows how important it is for dads to be present within their children's lives, for them to bond with their children in those early days for the support that's needed for moms. Like, it's just crazy to me how some organizations don't offer that.

Sarah Maconachie [00:23:54]:
I had a c section and twins. If my husband hadn't had 6 weeks off, I do not know what I would have done. I needed him home. It wasn't an option. I had to have him there. So it's really about being able to be realistic about this and just have those open and honest conversations. And you know what? There's lots of organizations that are doing it. So if your company won't do it, look for jobs elsewhere because they don't deserve to have you as an employee, in my opinion, if they are not supporting you from a parenting perspective.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:24:28]:
Now you just mentioned the fact that people should look for the research that shows the importance of fathers and the engagement of fathers. If a dad that's listening is saying, I don't know where to start, where should they start? Where should they start to find that information to be able to get that information to use to start having those conversations?

Sarah Maconachie [00:24:49]:
A lot of the fathering groups. So Fathering Together, the Fathering Project, which is across Australia, just Google it, and you'd be able to find a lot of research on their podcasts. There's so many resources out there for dads now. It's just about digging a little deep to make sure you get it. But fathering groups, for me, that's where I get a lot of my information from because they're just brilliant from that space and understanding what is happening in the market. It tends to be pretty well summarized, I always find. So fathering groups on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:25:24]:
Sarai Patel Well, Sarah, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the work that you're doing to be able to push fathers to think about things in a little bit different way. And if you've got one piece of advice that you wanna give to all dads, what would that advice be?

Sarah Maconachie [00:25:37]:
Spend time with your children. You don't get that time back, and it's precious time for you and for your children. I think that sometimes we believe that our children are more resilient than what they are at times and the love of their parents is literally all they need. So make sure you spend time with your kids.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:26:00]:
Now if people wanna find out more about your books and other things that you're doing, where's the best place for them to go?

Sarah Maconachie [00:26:06]:
And you can find me on my website. It's usually a very good spot or on LinkedIn. So Sarah McConachie on LinkedIn or www.workhardparenthard.com.au is my website and all my programs and my books and all my blogs are on there as well.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:26:24]:
Well, Sarah, it's been a pleasure having you here today for having you share your own journey as a mother, but also your journey in writing this book and getting this out into the world. And I wish you all the best.

Sarah Maconachie [00:26:34]:
Thank you so much. Thanks so much for having me.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:26:36]:
The fatherhood insider is the essential resource for any dad that wants to be the best dad that he can be. We know that no child comes with an instruction manual, and most dads are figuring it out as they go along, and the fatherhood insider is full of resources and information that will up your game on fatherhood. Through our extensive course library, interactive forum, step by step roadmaps, and more, you will engage and learn with experts, but more importantly, dads like you. So check it out at fathering together.org. If you are a father of a daughter and have not yet joined the dads with daughters Facebook community, there's a link in the notes today. Dads with daughters is a program of fathering together. We look forward to having you back for another great guest next week, all geared to helping you raise strong empowered daughters and be the best dad that you can be.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:27:28]:
We're all in the same boat, and it's full of tiny screaming passengers. We spend the time. We give the lessons. We make the meals. We buy them presents and bring your a game. Because those kids are growing fast, the time goes by just like a dynamite blast, calling astronauts and firemen, carpenters, and musclemen. Get out and beat the world to them. Be the best dad you can be.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:28:21]:
You're the best dad you can be.