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Dads share parenting stories ahead of expo

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Michael Granek and his kids. 
SUBMITTED

Michael Granek and his kids. SUBMITTED

“No, I don’t babysit, I don’t run a daycare, I’m with my kids at the park spending time with them,” an exasperated Michael Granek says, imitating the type of playground conversations stay-at-home dads hear.

It wasn’t an explanation the 38-year-old thought he would have to often repeat. Just a few years earlier, the father of three had a daily routine of leaving home before the kids were up and coming back as they were getting tucked into bed.

“It was really tough on me because I wanted to be there for my kids and I felt like I was missing out on their lives. The only way I knew what was going on was through text messages from my wife,” Granek said.

Then he lost his job.

“The layoff was a blessing in disguise ... I was more involved. It wasn’t just, here let’s go spend five minutes with dad. It was more meaningful,” said Granek, who has since founded the website topdaddies.com, where he interviews fellow dads and provides children's product reviews, from dads, in an attempt to fight the stereotype.

Granek, an event consultant, will be MC Sunday at the Healthy Family Expo at Vancouver Convention Centre East.

Fellow dad Craig Farano, father to two autistic boys, was also the primary caregiver during his children’s younger years. The oldest is 20 now and, as they age, Farano has to answer the new question of how to continue supporting his family’s challenges.

He and his son will provide kids’ toys and activities for Family Expo through his Games2U franchise, a business he started specifically so his older son, who is high functioning, could take part.

“He really loves video games. I have a 20-foot videogame trailer that has a built in gaming room with sound and lights and seats, Xbox and PS4 gaming consoles ... he’s the game coach, so he organizes and runs all the videogames while I basically drive the trailer,” Farano, 47, said.

Despite being close to his children, the life of an involved father does have some downsides.

“There wasn’t a lot of help for parents with autistic children ... people just didn’t understand. The thing I gave up the most was a lot of friends,” he said.

As for his advice for dads looking to become more involved?

“Just be there for your kids. Listen to what they say. Try to help them as best you can and think about what they’re trying to tell you,” Farano said.