Dr Jamal Rifi winner of The Australian Fathering Award 2015: What it means to be a good father

Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by good women. When I was younger, we frequently celebrated and acknowledged the mothers in our life but no one really focussed on the fathers.

It was when I had my own children that I really started to understand just how important the fathering role is. As a father of five children, I was amazing at how different they all were and how my role as father had to be adapted for each one.

I’ve learnt that the best fathers help children to discover their own potential by responding to that child’s individual needs. It’s natural to draw on our own experiences as parents, but the key is being able to tailor these experiences so they can support children as they grow, without acting as a barrier or limitation.

Being a good father also means being a good partner regardless or your living situation, creating environments where your spouse/partner and children feel emotionally and physically safe, to be vulnerable, supported loved and held lovingly accountable. Where you put into action that their needs are equally important to yours.

Of course, the behaviours that good fathers role model have broader influence than just their own nuclear family. Good fathering skills are helpful in all aspects of life from the workplace to the sporting field. I want all Dads to understand that they are leading by example and that their behaviour can guide other fathers, extended families and the broader community.

I believe we’re living in a time where it is critical to recognise positive male models. We must profile and highlight the skills of good fathering and emphasise the importance of fathers in their children’s lives.

Today, I’m so pleased to see the parents that my own children have become. They’re not doing things the same way as I did and that is a good thing, because they’re being responsive to their own family situation.

In 2021, my local community was hit hard by COVID. As a GP, I felt a strong responsibility to support the community, and my wife and children agreed. At one stage, all of my five children and their partners, took leave from their careers to help me and my staff provide the community care and support needed during that time. It was a very proud father moment for me.

I was incredibly honoured to receive the Father of the Year award in 2015 but as I always say, the award isn’t just for an individual. The Award certainly recognises great fathers, but ultimately it highlights the importance of family and community to all of us.

It’s my wish that a great many people nominate wonderful fathering role models for the 2022 Australian Fathering Awards. Let’s spread the word on why fathers matter and celebrate their important role in all our lives.

Nominate a father today

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