Can OnlyDads please ask for your help?
When we ran our Christmas Tree project last year the response from mums, dads, and more importantly children, blew us away!
On our tree, children were invited to “leave a message for their Dad”. We had messages from children who didn’t see their Dad very much; in some cases not at all. We had two messages posted up by children whose Dad had died. What came over loud and clear was that children loved the opportunity to get involved!
OnlyDads would like to expand upon this one-off project. We would like to see “Dad Trees” across the UK. We can see them as permanent or semi permanent features at festivals, parks, woodlands, schools …in fact anywhere where children gather.
It is interesting that we got a bit of flack when our first tree was proposed. Some mums (and it was mums) suggested that it would be too hard and unfair on their children because the relationship with Dad was too fractured. But, we found that it was those very children who really took to this exercise. Some of the comments left were absolutely tear-jerking and these children had no such reservations.
I bumped into a Dad yesterday who only sees his daughter on the odd occasion. He went to see our tree in December and told me that he went back with his daughter and how much she (8) delighted in being able to write down that “she loved him with all her heart” knowing that other children and grown-ups would be able to read what she had written.
This is powerful stuff!
We have the Family Justice Review going on at the moment. They keep writing to OnlyDads saying that they want to hear the views of children. What strikes me is that after having written about Family Law the other day, we end up with grown ups (me included) huffing and puffing and not really getting anywhere.
Here is a bold statement: If we can facilitate the opportunity, via our tree idea, for thousands, maybe tens of thousands of children to have their say on what their Dad means to them, then things WILL change. Maybe not straight away, but they will change! There is in the UK this terrible statistic that 1 in 4 children of separated/divorced parents have NO contact with their Dad.
This post owes much to @metajugglamum. MJM will not want me to say too much about this – but perhaps she won’t mind me recalling a ‘phone call a couple of months ago where she (rather bluntly) told me to get this idea up and running, and my excuses of being “too busy with way too much other stuff” did not stand up! MJM – thank you for the push :-)
Since writing this post, it has been proposed that OnlyDads create a “virtual tree” A place where children can still leave a message for their dad, perhaps take a screenshot of the message on the tree and save it for themselves or perhaps email it directly to Dad.
There is much to be said for this idea. We have taken initial costings, and are looking at a total price of £550 to get this up and running. So, if anyone knows of a company looking for an imaginative sponsorship opportunity, please do put them in touch. Many thanks.
There are two things we need help with: Firstly, can you tell us (honestly) if you think this is a good idea? Secondly, (assuming you think this initiative does have legs) how do we get this up and running given that I have (genuinely) little spare time. Who can we ask to partner with us? is there a possible sponsorship deal to facilitate some additional resource?…all these are questions that need answers.
p.s. Can I take the opportunity to say “thank you” to those who read this blog. I think (and it has been confirmed by many others) that the quality of the responses on this blog are second to none! All of them are really appreciated and turn something ordinary into something a bit special.