Colin George is a father of five. He ran away from fathering his first two children.
“I was scared and didn’t know how to be the father I never had”, he said.
He was just seven years old when his own father died. It was a defining moment in his life as a boy growing up in Brighton, England.
Now, Colin describes the three children he lives with in Northern NSW, as giving him indescribable joy. “I’ve finally taken on the responsibility of being a father.”
He has also reconciled with his first two children.
Three years ago he attended a Pathways to Manhood camp with his twelve year old son, Daniel and spent a week living rough with men and boys. He was inspired by the contribution Pathways made in guiding boys on their journey to manhood and one day, fatherhood.
“I was particularly moved by the generosity of the men towards the boys that were not of their blood. Some were stepfathers, some family friends, others brother-in-laws and uncles. I realised that as a man I have a responsibility towards all our boys and as a father towards all the sons and daughters in our community.”
He wanted to contribute in some way and he knew it would be through his music. He wrote a song called Rage that described his “locked up” feelings about the death of his father. He was inspired to bring together some of Australia’s finest musicians including John Butler, Paul Kelly and Tex Perkins for an album on fatherhood.
The songs on the album reinforce the role of the father explained Colin.
“Many men have perceived themselves as inadequate fathers and the social and economic pressure to prioritise work has meant the father role hasn’t been valued.”
The diversity of this role is reflected in the father stories from John Butler’s poignant Spring, a song about a miscarriage, to Mick Thomas’ Father’s Day about being a separated dad.
Steve Biddulph, author of Raising Boys and Manhood said of the Fatherhood album,
‘These songs tap into a vein of male creativity that has long been hidden. This is the purpose music was made for.”
Colin has always dreamt of creating music that makes a difference. That is why the beneficiaries of the Fatherhood album are Uncle and Pathways, community organisations that mentor boys in positive ways.
Being a dad didn’t come easily to Colin. Giving birth to this compilation album has reinforced his own father power and spurred national interest in fatherhood issues.
Over the past year there have been Fatherhood Concerts in Melbourne, Woodford in Queensland and at the Blues Festival in Byron Bay with Kasey and Bill Chambers, John Butler and Harry Manx. The emotion and strength of feeling that emerged out of these concerts from both the audience and the artists inspired the founding of The Fatherhood Project.
As a not for profit organisation, The Fatherhood Project is dedicated to building a positive community through enriching the lives of fathers and their families.
It aims to be an imaginative catalyst for change in the way we think and perceive fathers in today’s world.
“It is about fathers finding out what is really important to them and being able to express that in their daily life,” says Colin George, director of The Fatherhood Project. “It is about the healing of relationships for men, women and especially children.”
This was the theme for the first Fatherhood Festival in Bangalow, Northern NSW last Fathers Day. It was hosted by Andrew Denton and fatherhood issues were explored through play, workshops, art and music.
The Fatherhood Festival has emerged as a major focus for The Fatherhood Project as a social and cultural initiative that celebrates and challenges fatherhood.
The project seems to have tapped into a deep layer of emotion long buried. Colin explains why. “It is often said that men have remained a mystery because we do not express our feelings. Fatherhood can be charged with feelings of pride, passion and insecurity, yet our desire is to know our fathers, come to a completion with them and be positive, authentic fathers ourselves.”
“Our vision is that these festivals will be taken up by countries around the world, especially those in conflict. For fathers to come together and understand that they have an influence in bringing their sons home, talking about their children’s future and looking after their children and families.”
“At the end of our lives, what do we want our children to say about us?’ asks Colin. “Is it, he worked hard to give us everything. Or, he was busy at work but our mother told us how proud he was of us? Or perhaps, he was passionate about his beliefs and honest about his imperfections and we knew that he loved us because he told us often? Which would you choose?”
What fathers do – and don’t do- matters to all of us.
For more information about The Fatherhood Project and the Fatherhood Festival check out http://www.fatherhood.com.au/.