Don Dinnematin with his daughter Gia and wife Milly. Pictures: Supplied

Marchelle Abrahams chats to Don Dinnematin who is spearheading an initiative challenging malls in SA to change their parking signage to include dads.

Durban father Don Dinnematin always wanted to write, but his thoughts were clouded. Then he became a father in 2015, and in January 2016 The Don Father was born.

“I found my inspiration, and the rest, as they say, is history,” says the digital marketing specialist.

His inspiration and the light of his life are his daughter Gia, 2, and his wife Milly. He speaks of them with a tenderness that only a father and husband knows.

He says the greatest lesson he wants to teach Gia is never to be afraid of failure: “... I want her to always try - over and over again.”

It is touching sentiments like this that could be the reason why his blog resonates with other dads - it’s something they can relate to.

The blog also gives insight into his innermost thoughts and fears - a refreshing take on a daddy blog.

He isn’t afraid of sharing aspects of his life most of us would rather not reveal.

“I write from experiences and how I see my role as a father,” says Dinnematin.

“I also like to write about what I think other dads need to hear and read.”

He has managed to carve out a niche for himself in the parenting blogosphere, and he knows his target audience very well indeed.

From parenting manuals to magazines, Dinnematin found that most information was tailor-made for moms. He’s hoping to rectify that with his blog and website.

And rightly so. This is the 21st century - fathers are more hands-on and are actively involved in their children’s lives. Dinnematin agrees wholeheartedly, saying: “Dads appreciate reading about another dad’s parenting experiences”.

Little Gia also gets roped in now and again to punt her dad’s work. Picture: @thedonfathersa, Instagram

The same goes for moms because “they get an idea of what their partners experience on this parenting adventure”.

Dinnematin recently started the #IncludeDads campaign, and he has the backing of fellow dads like Parental Instinct owners Paddy Muldoon and Chris Baff, and radio personality Mark Pilgrim.

The campaign was born from his own frustrating experience as a father with a baby in tow.

“In the beginning, every time I pulled up to a parking spot that read ‘Moms & Tots Parking Only’, I would wonder why, and who decided that dads need to be excluded from the text on a sign,” he says.

It’s for this very reason that he wants #IncludeDads to raise awareness about something that may seem trivial to some, but it’s a change that is long overdue.

Nappy incident

“I remember on one particular outing, going to a child-friendly play restaurant and needing to change Gia’s nappy. When I asked where the baby change rooms are, I was told that they were in the women’s toilets.”

Dinnematin wasn’t allowed into the toilet and was told to let his wife go instead, but this left him wondering: “What if my wife wasn’t with me?”

Some might say it’s just a sign, but in a society where mothers are seen as the main caregivers and proprietors of the parenting business, dads also need to feel acknowledged. And no one understands this more than him.

“There is no reason why these signs cannot include dads. Something as simple as ‘Parents & Child Parking’ would be great.

Dinnematin has been tirelessly campaigning for #IncludeDads. Picture: @thedonfathersa, Instagram

“We are all equal parts in this parenting journey, and this needs to be represented, especially in the media.”

The #IncludeDads initiative seems to have struck a chord, and the response thus far has been phenomenal. The first mall to jump on board is Durban’s Hillcrest Corner.

Dinnematin is positive about the change and believes it’s just a matter of time before all malls do so.

“It further validates that modern parents agree that dads need to be represented more,” he says.

But what just started with a thought could spark a movement. Not even a blogger dad from Durban could have predicted the knock-on effect the campaign would have.

“I’ve had moms, dads and grandparents emailing and messaging me on social media to give their support,” he says.

And yet he remains modest: “I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel; all I want is to remove the old stigma attached to these kinds of signs.”

* Visit Don Dinnematin’s blog and join the #IncludeDads campaign: