Peter Milligan - on being a Dad

Posted 28 August 2019 7:50pm

Four-time Paralympian, silver medal-winning dad of Anna and Emma Croker (both Year 10), Garry Croker was our special guest speaker at the recent Year 6 Father Daughter Dinner. In his address, Garry shared his experiences through milestones in Emma and Anna’s school journey – particularly the transition into Year 7.

His comments around learning, as a dad, to move through or cope with the change from ‘telling’ your daughter to ‘guiding’ your daughter through key decisions is not necessarily an easy path to learn for dads. What I really appreciated was the positivity, humour and lack of reference to the ‘inevitability of difficult teenage years.’

A good friend refers to this adolescent developmental stage as the ‘apprentice human beings years’ - the opportunity to mentor, nurture and grow with our children. In her welcome address at the dinner, our Principal, Mrs Owen, reminded us of the importance of the quiet times - sitting alongside each other while driving but not talking – knowing that the support and love is there but you don’t need deep and meaningful chats all the time – the power of listening when needed or saying nothing at other times.

Of course, it is not all smooth sailing and can be challenging, but an ‘inevitable doom’ mentality is wrong in my opinion. In Lisa Damour’s highly acclaimed book, Untangled- Guiding teenagers through the seven transitions into adulthood (Atlantic Books, 2017), the central theme is that there is a predictable pattern to teenage development, that once understood, counters the clichéd ‘wait until you get to the inevitable terrible teens…’. It is through understanding the phases of adolescent development that situations, discussions or incidents may be more appropriately managed. Untangled is a great read if you are seeking insights into when and how to pick the moments when it is your absolute desire to help guide or protect your daughter by offering what you hope is sound advice!

On a more personal note, I have a son, Joe, and daughter, Anna, who are wonderfully warm, loving funny and compassionate people – in their early twenties, both studying at university and both at home. While they will inevitably move out and on to careers of their own, still being able to share their lives and listen to the news of their friends – share their travels and the ups and downs of life is a gift. Don’t wish them out of home too quickly is one piece of advice I would offer. You might even get lucky as I did recently when the three of us shared some time overseas. Anna had been meeting friends she had established while studying at a university in the USA and Joe and I had been to Chicago, down to Memphis to say hello to Elvis, across to Nashville and up to New York where the three of us met up and spent a very special few days together – amazing what you can cram into ten days! The gift was being asked in the first place!! The actual time together was extraordinary – cherish everyday you have with your children.

Best wishes,

Peter Milligan
Head of Senior School

Photo above: Peter with his children Anna and Joe in New York earlier this year.