Can any man ever be good enough for a daddy's girl?
After singer Robbie Williams opened up about fears for his daughter, Arlene Harris spoke to three Dublin dads to find out how they feel about their little girls and what the future may hold
Every father wants the best for his daughter, and even international rock stars have been known to drop their celebrity swagger when it comes to talking about the little girl in their life.
Last week, Robbie Williams admitted that not only was he a doting Dad to one-year-old Theodora, but he is already worrying about the sort of man she will marry when she grows up.
His new single, entitled Go Gentle, was written for his only child (nicknamed Teddy) with the intention that it may help her to make the right choices when she grows up. "The track is about being worried she might meet someone like me – and what she should do if she does," he revealed in an interview.
We spoke to three Dublin Dads to find out how they feel about their daughters and what the future may hold for them.
Colm Farrelly (below) is married to Deirdre and has a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter called Abby. Living in Raheny, the 40-year-old runs his own property repair business (www.handymansolutions.ie) – but while this has traditionally been seen as a man's job, he enjoys having his little girl 'help out' in the workshop because he gets to spend extra time with her.
"HAVING married in September, 2010, Deirdre and I were excited at the prospect of having children. So when our gorgeous daughter arrived, I was thrilled. I barely made her birth because it all happened very fast but I was in total amazement of this beautiful thing looking back at me.
"I found myself staring intently at her, completely unaware of anything going on around us; we were in our own little bubble. My wife and I were convinced it was going to be a boy and even had schools picked. But when they told us it was a girl, we were thrilled. It made no difference as long as she was healthy.
"I have a great relationship with Abby. Naturally, she goes to Mama for most things, but when Mammy goes away for a day or so, I really get a chance to bond and always look forward to those special times together. She also loves hanging out with me and 'helping' with my jobs in the workshop.
"I'm not much like Robbie Williams, but of course as a dad I do worry about what kind of man my daughters will end up with so I do understand what he meant. I had a great childhood and sometimes had to be reined in – I'm sure Abby will do the same, but that's all part of growing up.
"Having become a parent you want the absolute best for your children and I imagine that anyone she may go out with will never be good enough for me – but I am going to put that down to being a parent and the natural need to protect her.
"My hopes and dreams for Abby are that she gets to live a full and good life. I hope she gets to travel the world like her parents, to have a good education and follow her own dreams with our support.
"And I hope her future partner is loyal and honest and romantic at the same time, as this is also important. But most of all, I hope that she will be happy."
Phil Casey (above) is married to Dee and has two children – Aisling (4) and Ryan (2). He lives in the city and runs Aquababies Ireland – a swimming school for children with classes across Leinster. His decision to set up the company came after his daughter was born, and not only is she now a great swimmer but being his own boss, means he gets to spend a lot of time with her.
"WHEN Aisling was born in 2009, I was emotional and nervous as I had never held a baby before and was very protective of her. I will never forget taking her out of hospital, she was wrapped up like an Eskimo and I drove about 10mph home.
"At that time, I was with a big multinational company and working every hour under the sun, so only got to spend a couple of hours with her a day and I hated it. But I was made redundant in 2011 and set up Aquababies.
"Swimming was the one thing we did every weekend from when she was four months old and it was a little father-and-daughter-time that we both loved. So, with this in mind, I set off to get all my teaching qualifications.
"Because of my job, I'm extremely lucky that I get to spend a lot of time with Abby. I am able to drop her to school in the morning, pick her up after and drop her to afterschool every day, and on Fridays she comes to the Aquababies office and she does her homework while I get a bit of work done. We love spending time together and I hope it never changes.
"At the moment, Aisling wants to be a firewoman and an Aquababies teacher when she is older and I just want her to be whatever she wants. As she gets older, she will start to develop her own likes and interests and we will support her every step of the way. Both Dee and myself are very grounded people and I hope Aisling takes this trait from us and works hard for what she wants in life.
"With regard to a future partner, I think you always hope for the best for your children and want them to meet someone who will love and respect them for who they are. But, ultimately, I hope she meets her best friend."
Solicitor Peter Tunney (above) is married to Isabelle and together they have two children, Zahra Amelie (5) and Peter Oskar (15-months). Obviously, the Balinteer man loves both his children equally, but feels there is an instinctive need for fathers to want to protect their daughters.
"THE overpowering emotion I can recall at Zahra's birth was an immense love for this little person. This was followed swiftly by a huge need to protect her and these feelings have not diminished at all over the last five years. My priorities in life were turned on their head when she came along.
"My focus changed from being very self- centred to considering her needs and that of our family at all times.
"With our son Peter Oskar, again there was the same feeling of immense love for him, however, rather than a need to protect him from the world like I had experienced with Zahra, this time there was an enormous sense of pride.
"My goals for him are (and I am not embarrassed to say it) almost voyeuristic in that they seem more focused on his future sporting prowess whereas with Zahra, I imagine her strengths to be more academic.
"I have a fantastic relationship with Zahra. There is a mutual sense of fun between us. Admittedly, I find it difficult, at times, to be her disciplinarian as there is a real need in me to never let her down. I had heard before of the supposed bonds between a father and daughter and after five years of being in this relationship with her, it is absolutely unique.
"At the same time, I totally understand Robbie William's comment. Every father has a protective nature and this translates to them wanting to protect their daughters. Therefore, being personally aware of one's own shortcomings and failings, your aspirations for your daughter will always be that she meets someone better. But to be honest, given that she is only five, the very concept of her moving out of the family fold is hard to fathom.
"In the future, I would like Zahra to be happy and healthy. But then I would also like her to be a kind and caring individual who is not afraid to follow her dreams and that she is ambitious without missing out on life. In short, I would like her to grow into a strong independent woman.
"Having grown up with strong women in my life, who have moulded me into the person I am, I would expect that any long-term partner would have a strong sense of respect for my daughter as their equal who would not only care for, provide for and support her, but also be willing to reciprocate the same care, provision and support. And that this mutual respect would lead to a strong family group which would be there for them, their children and their extended family throughout their lifetime."