I think its fair to say that my father and I have come the full circle. From the adoration felt when I was a mere nipper, running round in nappies without a care in the world about who could see me naked, to the growing resentment in my teenage years, where piercings, underage drinking, and the opposite sex seemed to be the constant source of irritation, and now to the respect and admiration I feel for him as both my dad and a human being, where we can sit together in the pub and put the wrongs of the world to right, while drinking a pint and arguing about whether Manchester City will finish inside the top 10 this season


Bringing up kids in this day and age isnt easy, but I think my dad got it bang on.

The best way to sum it up how he did it is balance. Giving your child what they want but not spoiling them, loving them but not smothering them, and supporting them but knowing when its time to let them stand on their own two feet.


My dad has always been the life and soul of the party, the loud one, the first to the pub and the last to leave, the eternal lad, who actual lads aspire to be like when they grow up. I remember a time at my 21st, when I looked around for my dad and saw him at the bar, proposing a whiskey drinking race with all the lads. Needless to say, he beat them hands down and left the party with 45 new friends.

Neither of my parents was ever of the belief that children should be seen and not heard, yet at the same time were quick to tell my sister and I off when we became the annoying kids who didn't know how to pipe down.


There are several gifts I think my dad taught me when I was growing up, and they are gifts I hope I can pass on to my children one day:


1. Taking the p*ss. Ever since I was old enough to understand, dad has teased both my sister and me mercilessly. Whether it was the makeup we trowelled on, the clothes we wore or the dreadful taste in music we acquired, dad was on hand to rip it out of us. While this may not sound like the best parenting tip, it was the best thing he could have done for us. Learning to let inane criticism roll off you like water off a ducks back is a tool you use for the rest of your life. Dad taught us to laugh it off and more importantly, how to give it back. When you leave the family nest and enter the real world, its an important skill to have mastered.


2. Respecting your elders. Dad was taught this by his parents and he passed it on to us. Respecting those who are older and wiser than you helps you move up the ladder in the career world a darn sight faster.


3. Going for goals. If a child has a dream, encourage it, and if it doesnt work out, at least theyll grow up with the knowledge theyve tried. If your son wants to be like David Beckham, let him join a football club, kick the ball around in the park on a Sunday afternoon, and go to every game. He might not make it but its better to try and fail than to never try at all.


4. Knowing when enough is enough. If you give an inch, kids will take a mile. And while you want to give your child everything possible, if you give them too much, they will never learn to appreciate the value of anything. Saying no to something at the start will make them appreciate it much more when you finally say yes.


5. Saying I love you. It sounds corny and your kids may feel embarrassed by it but dont ever underestimate letting your children know how much you care. Life is too often taken for granted. Dont live to regret not saying these three words.


6. Letting go. There comes a time when you have to let your children make mistakes, because quite simply, its the only way to learn. You can offer advice but if they dont take it and mess up, try not to say I told you so. Surely you can remember how irritating that was when your parents did it?


Now Im not saying my dad is perfect. He makes mistakes just as much as the next man. But he has done everything in his power to give my sister and me the best possible start in life. He has given us confidence, security and backed us every step of the way.


I wrote this because a friends father passed away recently and it suddenly made me realize that parents are not invincible. They do not live forever.

So do yourself a favour. Give your old man a call, and take him to the pub for a pint.