D&Ms about Dads

 Dave Wild is Dad to Willow, Asher and Thomas. He’s also the CEO of SASY School, (Specialised Assisted School for Youth), a school that embraces kids who are struggling with the standard school system and aims to re-engage them with their education. He is also a finalist this year in South Australia’s 40 under 40 awards.

As a parent and a leader of young people - some of whom have challenging family lives - Dave’s got a rich perspective on what it takes to be a Dad, and this Father’s Day we thought we’d share his thoughts to inspire you, just as he inspires us.

This interview was fun. Dave brought his daughter Willow along for some photos and their relaxed, funny, easy going chats were so beautiful to capture.

Dave, how long have you been a Dad?

I’ve been a Dad for 11 years.

What do you think is important about being a Dad?

I think the most important thing by far is to be present. To hang out with your kids, be involved, spend time with them and, yeah, not get too busy. Just chill out and be involved.

How did your life change when you became a Dad?

Tiredness kicked in! Newborn babies are pretty hectic! It changes everything, it changes the way you frame the world, your energy levels change, it changes the way you spend your time. But ultimately the biggest change is your priorities - family ends up coming first, which is a real joy.

Did you learn how to be a Dad from your Dad?

Absolutely. My Dad was really creative, really inspiring and really present. It was a real joy to hang out with him. He’s still really creative and really present and my kids now know him as a Granddad. He’s an out there guy, Dennis Wild!

In your role as CEO of SASY school, you work with kids who might not have a Dad, or have a very good one. Talk to us a bit about that.

I think it’s really important to acknowledge what that experience is for young people and what they have missed out on, or what they perceive they have missed out on, and the challenges they have around lacking role models. Every young person needs a special someone. That could be a teacher, a social worker, a friend or a cousin or an Uncle, but everyone needs a special someone and if they don’t have that coming from their Dad or their Mum I think it’s really important to reach out to young people to fill this need.

The concept of what a Dad is has changed over the years. What are your views on that?

I think past stereotypes have changed, and the vast majority of our community would accept that there’s an emerging identity around masculinity. It’s not all masculinity and tough guy. It’s not loud voices and anger. What it is, is connection and quality time. I think that’s really powerful. Young people need a special someone, they don’t necessarily need a “strong” someone.

If you haven’t had a good Dad, can you become one?

Absolutely. 100%. Anyone can become a great Dad. It comes down to values – what’s in your heart, what you’re there for and how you look after and engage with your kids.