My parents, gender equality, and growing up

My Dad has had such an amazing career. He is one of our nation’s leading architects and designers and has won more awards and honors than I can recite in one short article.

His professional achievements are less well known than those of my Mother. I am no less proud of my father’s achievements.

If my childhood home was a household of ideas, and it was, ideas about gender equality about share parenting about education, it was equally a household where the talk became action. With five children there was never any shortage of action.

My Dad involved himself in mum’s passion for women’s rights and volunteered in dozens of community roles from schools to improving child safety disability reform all the while contributing to Australian design and culture and mentoring young architects and designers.

Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s I remember him questioning old fashioned attitudes to working women sometimes in social situations. And I grew up inspired by how proud he was of our mother.

He often says to the boys often the best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother.

He modeled modern marriage and parenting for us and was determined the boys would iron their own school uniforms from early in their teens

My dad was the first husband to do the grocery shopping in our neighborhood. Eventually his friends joined him and they inevitably had a gaggle of kids in ballet tights and footy shorts along with them in Woolworths.

He was involved in our sports and music and never missed an eisteddfod or my lifesaving competitions – with five kids this often started with rowing or swimming at dawn and onto netball or little athletics, judo, then groceries and cooking one of his signature dishes- spaghetti bolognaise or steak and chips to feed the five of us.

His school lunches were design masterpieces and sometimes we had three layered sandwiches.

We would often be at his practice after school and on holidays and we did a lot of drawing at the drawing board and making instant coffee or going out to a building site. He had a small design practice, that became an international practice with women and men designers for more than thirty years.

Most of all I recall lots of laughter and jokes and kindness and gentle teasing at our kitchen table for dinners and always Saturday lunches, sometimes cooked by Dad.

I ring and text him almost every day for advice or just a chat. One of my pleasures is seeing him with any one of his 11 grandchildren and the bond that’s there whether he’s reading with the little ones or helping my oldest one prepare for an exam. He still insists the boys iron their own shirts.


Submit a comment