Dr Daddy Kay: The joys and cha

Dr Daddy Kay: The joys and challenges of being a South African dad in the UK

Dr Daddy Kay, a South African dad in the UK, shares his thoughts on fatherhood and raising kids in the UK.

Dr Daddy Kay: The joys and cha

Fresh out of Stellenbosch University at age 23, Darron Kokott moved to the UK to experience life outside of South Africa (and for a bit of an adventure). He planned to stay for around four years, but today, 13 years later, he is living in the English countryside teaching psychology full time and raising his little girl.

Darron was one of those – perhaps – rare men who had always dreamed of having a child. In fact, Darron took to fatherhood so much that he began blogging about it.

His blog, Dr Daddy Kay, tackles psychology and fatherhood – his two first loves.

We sat down with Dr Daddy Kay to pick his brains…

So you’ve been in the UK for quite some time now, what has kept you here?

The weather! Well, we all know that’s not the truth. As the years have gone by, I found myself feeling more and more settled here, especially when I became a father in 2010. Financial security, safety and the beautiful open countryside are all important to me as a parent.

It is strange how we let the weather dictate what we do, but admittedly, there is so much to see and do in and around the UK. Samuel Johnson was definitely onto something when he said “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”, although I wouldn’t isolate that feeling to London, I think the whole of the UK has much adventure to be explored.

Do you incorporate your South African upbringing into the way you raise your daughter?

Ag shame, the poor little thing! Yes, very much so. I think from a discipline point of view, I have stuck to the very strict, plenty of boundaries style of authoritative parenting.

I try to get her out-and-about as much as possible (a National Trust membership is wonderful for that) so that her lifestyle is not dictated to by the weather; many of us look back with fond memories on the outdoor lifestyle we so enjoyed as children growing up in South Africa.

She eats biltong, loves droerwors and has her teachers guessing at school with regards to what on earth takkies and koki’s are! … and the word BBQ is banned in the house.

What are your most cherished moments with your daughter that make fatherhood so worthwhile?

This is such a difficult question to answer.  Without being too much of a cliché, becoming a dad was the greatest thing to ever happen to me.  Ever since, I just fall more and more in love with my little girl and so every day carries with it something special where I am left feeling so grateful and proud to be moulding and shaping such an amazing human being.

What are some of the challenges you face raising your daughter in the UK?

Being away from extended family. I had such an amazing relationship with my grandparents, maternal and paternal, but mostly my maternal grandfather. Unfortunately my little girl has less contact with her grandparents.

My dad died the month before she was conceived, but her grandfather on her mother’s side is such a wonderful man – he is exactly how I hoped my dad would have been. I make sure that I talk about her grandparents a lot and she has photos of them up in her room.

To be honest with Skype and Facetime, etc, the world is a much smaller place and therefore the distance doesn’t seem as far as it is in reality.

What else is a challenge? Childcare! Man, that’s expensive!!

Where would you recommend South Africans raise their children in the UK and why?

This is a tough one. Not everyone has the same opportunities or luxuries, and I haven’t been everywhere in the UK to have an objective opinion. For me it is Surrey. I love being surrounded by the quintessential English Countryside, the walks available and the country-style pubs. I started out in rural Northampton, and that too was very open and green.

London is often the area dictated to by job opportunities for many of us here in the UK, but given the demographic of South Africans, and antipodeans in general, Wimbledon, Southfields and Richmond all seem to be where we generally gravitate towards – it seems we are attracted to places where there are open spaces and parks.

What future do you see for yourself, and your daughter? 

I try to live by these very words: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the future. For almost a decade I flirted with the idea of moving back home. Moving back works for some, but not for everyone. I look at how happy my little girl is in her school and how comfortable she is in her own environment, and that makes me reevaluate. I am lucky enough to have my girl in a fantastic school and she has made some solid friendships already.

I know that children are extremely resilient, but that’s not really a factor for me. Given my current position of being newly single, I tend to live day-to-day these days. As clichéd as that sounds, it’s the truth.

My blog is starting to take off and I’d like to focus more on that maybe expanding into a podcast, and eventually doing live talks. There is so much opportunity here in the UK and I think moving back home with regards to the avenue I wish to explore, I could possibly end up restricting myself.

There is a danger in becoming complacent and apathetic, but living here keeps me on my toes. This is not to say that I am one of those people chasing the next big thing, whatever that may be, but my blog is about reaching out to parents, and in particular fathers. I feel that the UK, for now, holds the best opportunities for me.

Any advice for South African parents in the UK? 

Wow, that’s an open question if there ever was one. Hold your child’s hand when crossing the road…is that good advice? Don’t talk to strangers perhaps? Or how about don’t eat yellow snow? Again, this is subjective as I view things from my own experiences. For me it’s about feeling settled. If you are settled and happy, then your children will feel that way too.

The advice I would give to South African parents is no different from the advice I’d give to any parent. I have written a few blog posts on this, but my number one tip would be to be present. Be here. In the moment. It’s so easy to be distracted by texts, emails, notification, etc. Leave your phone at home when you take your little one to the park. Sit down to dinner together. Talk. Engage. And have fun with your little ones.

My daughter and I are like best friends and we love one another’s company; but don’t get me wrong, I’m a father and a parent first, ultimately that is what allows me to be her friend too. I have just finished reading How to be here by Rob Bell (the Rock Star of Christianity in my view) and he explores this very notion of being present, being here. Children need that sense of feeling as if they matter, as if they are being listened to.

You’ve mentioned quite a bit about your blog. What is it all about and what prompted you to start writing about fatherhood?

A dear friend of mine who resides in Cape Town, stared a blog which explored all things “Cape Townian”, from fashion to food to entertainment in and around the city – she was my initial inspiration.  Having been an avid writer from my school days, I decided to start a blog of my own. Initially, because of my love for music, I thought I would do a blog dedicated to music reviews, but then I decided to stick with what I knew best (and my 1st loves), fatherhood and psychology.

Having trained in the field of psychology, I have been openly aware of the subject’s application to real world experiences for some time now. Becoming a father in 2010 was the greatest day of my life, yet like any challenge in life, I faced a few unknown adversities. As I’ve alluded to already, I’m madly in love with my daughter, who brings me so much happiness every single day; the field of psychology has helped me improve myself as a father and has aided me in developing a quality relationship with my little girl.

Social Media is the cog in any venture these days – where can our readers find you?

Well, firstly, I’ll be here, writing for the readers on TheSouthAfrican website. If you wish to follow me, I can be found on all the usual places

Twitter: @DrDaddyKay
Facebook: facebook.com/drdaddykay
Instagram: DR_DADDY_KAY
Website: www.drdaddykay.blogspot.com