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On Optimizing the Father-Son Time, With Tony Stacey
Dadditude Newsletter #15
Dadditude interviews dads from different backgrounds, professional fields and ethnicities to get their insights on what it means to be a dad in the current moment.
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On Optimizing the Father-Son Time, With Tony Stacey
Tony is a single father and advocate of men’s mental health. We’re really enjoying following the short videos posted on his site of the activities he organizes with his son, and his messages about mental wellbeing shared on his Instagram.
We spoke with him recently about how he got started in men’s mental health advocacy, how he optimizes his time with his son in shared custody, and the impact of consistency on his father-son relationship.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Tony and I am forty-three. I was born in Essex and have one older brother; both my parents were from the east end of London. We are a very close family, like many families from the East End. I played high standard football as a young boy which included having a contract with Tottenham Hotspur, although I’m a West Ham Fan.
I work as a Personal Trainer and a broker. Additionally, I’m also writing a memoir which I hope to have published at the end of 2021. I spend a lot of time working and training when I’m without Albert so when he is with me, he has me and my undivided attention throughout.
Tell us about your kid.
I have a gorgeous little boy called Albert who is nearly six. He is inquisitive, active, and very kind. He loves animals and we have chickens here. Albert loves Dinosaurs and plays a range of different sports including Golf, Tennis, Football, and Rugby.
What drove you to become a men’s mental health advocate? Can you please rewind the tape a bit for us?
Working as a trainer, I am surrounded by successful people who have done extremely well. I noticed a pattern of many being ‘unhappy’ and on anti-depressants as the norm. There is still a silence pertaining to men’s mental health and even when I was playing for Tottenham, I noticed that even Gazza’s issues were not addressed. This was probably because people didn’t know what to do or how to help, it was also because he was a superstar and as long as he was performing, it was best to not rock the boat.
But I believe we all need to rock the boat.
How do you manage to mix work and family?
Albert is everything. I work around Albert, not the other way around. I’ve always been self-employed for this very reason. The whole idea of having to ask for time off to spend with my family when the time comes was something that was never going to work for me. Albert is the reason I push the boundaries every day, why I want to achieve the things I do, and doing it all whilst always being available and present for him. We are what we do, so my example will become his reality.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
Consistency. In the early days when Albert was little, he didn’t want to leave his Mum, and the access around our time together was made unnecessarily difficult. However, over weeks and months, he always knew I would be there, I was always on time and there was never a day or contact missed. There was nowhere else I would rather be than with him.
Now that he is six, we both benefit from the consistent effort and time. We are incredibly close, do everything together and we have a bond that cannot be broken.
What stresses you out the most these days as a parent?
Being without him. The time we have together is full-on, I love it and it is planned days before his arrival (and I don’t work during this period). The downside is that when he is gone, I feel the void of his departure so much more. I have learned to accept it and focus on work, writing my book, and planning the next adventures for when he returns, but it’s never easy.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
I couldn’t have done any more. The issue I have is maintaining the same high level of time and energy going forward.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kid recently?
Every day is a dream and every day something happens which is incredibly special. The latest one is we currently have a baby gosling living with us as the other four were sadly killed by either a fox or ravens. We are nurturing her together and Albert loves her being in the front room, cuddles her, and I can hear him speaking to her as I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner. I love that these experiences will form the memories of his childhood.
Thank you Tony!
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