TheDadTrain.com was founded by Melbourne based dad Scott Davison. After becoming a father, he discovered that most of the parenting websites were targetted at mums. So he decided to start something that would provide information and support for modern dads. The Dad Train uses a research-based approach to offer information, ideas and strategies on self-improvement, relationships and parenting. He also shares insights and experiences from his own parenting journey.
Question: Can you tell us about TheDadTrain.com?
Scott Davison: When I first became a Dad I went looking for information and support online. Whilst I found lots of parenting sites, most of them were written by Mums for Mums. There was nothing that spoke to me as a modern Dad, so I decided to start my own.
TheDadTrain.com is a blog where I share ideas on self-improvement, relationships and parenting.
Whilst the role of a Dad is broad and varied, I think these are the three key pillars: how to be a good role model, how to be a good partner and how to be a good parent.
Question: As parenting is such a huge topic, on TheDadTrain.com, can you share with us why teaching children self-control is becoming increasingly more important?
Scott Davison: I believe self-control has always been an important skill to teach children.
You've probably heard of the Marshmallow Experiment from the 1960s, where psychologists discovered that children who displayed self-control, grew up to be more successful later in life.
And if you think about it, it makes sense. So much of our long term success requires self-control and delayed gratification.
Exercising, avoiding junk food, studying and investing our money are all examples of this. We make short term sacrifices because we know it will bring greater results in the future.
But today's society is one of instant gratification. The Internet, mobile phones and social media mean that everything we could want is available at the push of a button. There's very little that we are required to wait for these days.
This is why I believe it's increasingly important for parents to proactively create opportunities for delayed gratification and to try to teach our kids self-control.
We don't need to torture them with marshmallows of course. But there are plenty of other ways to teach self-control.
Question: How can parents teach their children self-control?
Scott Davison: The best way to teach kids anything is to model the behaviour ourselves. So I think this is a good place to start. We can look for ways to practice delayed gratification and improve our own self-control.
For instance, many of us are addicted to our mobile phones. We can't resist the urge to be constantly checking them. But this is a terrible example for our kids.
So this is one thing that I am working on at the moment. I'm trying to develop more self-control with my mobile phone. I leave it in another room or switch it to 'do not disturb' when I'm playing with my son. I avoid using it at the dinner table. I'm forcing myself to wait an hour in the morning before checking it. And I've even started leaving the house sometimes without my mobile phone in my pocket. I know - pretty scary right?
I also like to set myself other little personal challenges, such as taking cold showers, delaying dessert until after the dishes are done or simply pausing to take 10 deep breaths before eating. These are small victories in self-control, but they all add up.
In terms of teaching self-control to kids, it depends on their age I guess, but it's about finding ways to encourage delayed gratification.
One thing we do at home is to grow vegetables and that's a great example. You plant the seeds, you wait, you water the plants each day and in a few months, you finally get your reward.
Question: What surprised you most about becoming a parent?
Scott Davison: I think what surprised me most was how it affected me as a man. Obviously, it has completely changed my priorities and given me a new purpose in life. But more than that, in my case, I think it has made me more emotional, or at least I'm noticing my emotions more.
If emotions are like colours, then it's as if a spotlight has been shone on them. Everything is much more powerful. The highs are higher and the lows are lower.
I'm experiencing love, joy, pride and satisfaction like never before. But I'm also feeling stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed at times, not to mention the tiredness.
I guess it's the sense of responsibility for another human. But as all dads will tell you, I would not change it for the world.
Question: What important habits are you currently trying to instill in your children to set them up, for real-life?
Scott Davison: Healthy eating habits (e.g. no sugary drinks)
Good learning habits (e.g. reading lots of books)
Good money habits (e.g. spending less than you earn)
Question: What has surprised you most about your audience on TheDadTrain.com?
Scott Davison: Almost a third of the people who subscribe to The Dad Train are women. Most of them are mothers, some are even grandmothers. This has been a big surprise. They seem to enjoy seeing a dad writing about these sorts of topics such as emotional intelligence, relationships and parenting ideas.
Question: How can women strategically direct their partners to sites like TheDadTrain.com without offending their parenting?
Scott Davison: Men have sensitive egos. So we generally respond better if you ask for our help, rather than directly telling us to do something.
So that could be a good approach. Pick an article or a topic you are interested in and ask your partner to read it and give you his opinion. Stroke his ego a little and make him feel important.
By involving him in the discussion, he's more likely to get engaged in the topic and go off to do more of his own research. You might be surprised how engaged he actually becomes once he feels he's got a job to do.
Question: What advice would you give a dad-to-be?
Scott Davison: The best advice I would give to a new Dad is to dive in the deep end and give it 100%; you learn as you go, but you need to show up.
Question: What's next for you and TheDadTrain.com?
Scott Davison: I'm planning to launch a Podcast later this year, so keep an eye out for that. And I'd also like to start some local meetups to get groups of dads together to discuss these sorts of topics.
Interview by Brooke Hunter