FOR the past 12 years, Joseph Wakim has laughed, cried and learnt a lot from his daughters in what he says has been an eye-opening experience.
The Baulkham Hills author recently published an autobiography, What My Daughters Taught Me, based on the "massive task" of raising three daughters who were 4, 9 and 11 when his wife Nadia died of cancer in 2003.
"It was very easy to feel overwhelmed about being a single parent," he said.
"I was increasingly aware that the answer was in spending more time with them.
"Perhaps not enough men have been able to tell their stories and with the book I feel like I raised the sledgehammer and smashed the rusty shackles"
"But it was a massive learning curve; I didn't know how to cook, look after their hair or do other domestic things."
Mr Wakim, 52, a logistics manager, learnt the most important thing was to keep a sense of humour and laugh at moments like the washing gone wrong or taking their pet rabbit out for a walk on a dog leash.
The idea for the book stemmed from an article written for The Hoopla website.
"I wrote about what it's like for a man to buy sanitary pads for his daughter and it went viral," he said. "Perhaps not enough men have been able to tell their stories and with the book I feel like I raised the sledgehammer and smashed the rusty shackles.
"There's a lot of talk about what it means to be a man but we need to have an open mind about it."
"There's a lot of talk about what it means to be a man but we need to have an open mind about it"
He admits his perception of what it means to be a strong father has changed.
"Now I know that being strong really means to be able to say sorry when you make a mistake or to be adaptable.
"When we get together, we have an honest laugh and humour's a very big part of the book."
Where to catch Mr Wakim talking about What My Daughters Taught Me:
■ Glenhaven Clinic: Book signing at the Father's Day Forum on September 1, 6pm (corner of Glenhaven Road and Jerrawa Place). Details: Christine Hanna, 0433 655 555.
■ Dymocks Castle Towers: Book signing on Father’s Day eve, September 5.
■ Castle Hill Library: November 27.
■ Remembering that parents are the first teachers — therefore we have a massive head-start in terms of molding and shaping our children. No point blaming school or technology later on.
■ Have an agreement that you’re always approachable. I think the opposite of love is fear. You don’t want the kids to be scared of making mistakes.
■ Sense of humour. Especially during puberty and adolescence. If you’re going to correct your children at everything they do, you’ll exhaust yourself. The only way to calm the seas is with the humour hormones. Smile, let it go and move on.
■ The Hills-based non-profit social group called Single with Children offers an opportunity for single parents to meet and support each other.