Fatherhood Has Changed Who I Am

By Novak Djokovic

June 7, 2017

Every time you ‘like’ and share this post, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per social action), up to $500,000, via the Global Moms Relay to help improve the health and well-being of families worldwide in support of Shot@LifeUNFPAGirl UpUNICEF USA and Nothing But Nets.

Fatherhood has changed who I am, my relationship with Stefan has made me want to help all children realise their dreams.

Parenting is the most beautiful, and yet one of the hardest jobs we will ever have. Becoming a father for the first time to Stefan, also made me realise it is the most important job I will ever have. When Jelena and I found out we were expecting, I made a promise to myself and my unborn baby that I would love him unconditionally, provide him with safety and security and give him the best experiences and memories I could provide. I wanted Stefan to have a start in life, full of enriching moments and love, to help lay a strong foundation for his future.

#PerfectSunday afternoon with my family 🔆❤️🐴

A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on

Fatherhood has changed who I am, my relationship with Stefan has made me want to help all children realise their dreams. This is something I have always been passionate about and it is because of this, I launched the Novak Djokovic Foundation back in 2007. The Foundation aims to allow children from disadvantaged communities to grow up, play and develop in stimulating, creative and safe settings, whilst learning to respect others and care for their environment.

Research and advancements in neuroscience have taught us that the earliest years of life present a critical, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape children’s brain development. Parents are the ones who hold the largest stake in this process. Children’s health, happiness, wellbeing, ability to learn and even earning capacity as adults are influenced and even determined by their external environments and experiences in early childhood. The benefits of good parenting include better cognitive, social and emotional development. Research also suggests that when children positively interact with fathers in particular, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.

The evidence started to make sense when I saw the direct effect that my actions, the environment I provide, the food I give, and all the quality moments I spend with Stefan have on his growth and development. Playing games, singing, reading, providing varied and nutritious meals, loving and nurturing Stefan means in the short-term he learns to laugh, feels joy, learns faster, imitates, and becomes more creative and imaginative. Knowing that the rewards of these relatively simple actions are going to be life-changing for him, makes every moment I spend with him even more important.

Despite all this concrete evidence, there is still a significant lack of support, especially for fathers. Parents across the world should feel empowered to take a stand against the barriers – such as societal or cultural stereotypes – preventing them spending precious moments with their children. The responsibility lies with all of us, businesses and governments included, to support parents and caregivers in their communities with the time, resources and information they need. By breaking down these barriers, all fathers, and mothers will have the opportunity to give their children a better chance of reaching their optimal health, happiness and learning ability.

This Father’s Day, let’s get behind UNICEF’s #EarlyMomentsMatter campaign to celebrate fatherhood and all the super dads out there striving to make a difference. And let’s make a promise to help encourage and support fathers to help them shape their children’s lives for the better. We need action from scientists, doctors, nurses and community health workers to expand the services they offer to families, and broaden the lens beyond health to include all of the different factors that together help shape and define young brains. We need action from those who hold the greatest stake in children’s development – parents and caregivers – to build an enriching an environment free from shouting and free from violence. An environment where caregivers use every opportunity they can to pay loving attention to their babies, or to read or sing whenever the moment arises. Because these early moments matter more than any others.


You share, they give: Each time you ‘like’ or share this post via the social media icons on this post, or comment below, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per social action), up to $500,000 divided equally between Shot@LifeUNFPAGirl UpUNICEF USA and Nothing But Nets. The Global Moms Relay was created by the United Nations Foundation and Johnson & Johnson with support from BabyCenter, Fatherly, Global Citizen and Charity Miles to help improve the lives of families around the globe. Share this post with the hashtags #GlobalMoms and #JNJ, and visit GlobalMomsRelay.org to learn more.

You can also use the Donate A Photo* app and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 up to $40,000 per cause when you upload a photo for Shot@Life, UNFPA, Girl Up, UNICEF USA or Nothing But Nets, to a maximum total of $200,000. You can help make a difference in seconds with the click of your mouse or snap of your smart phone.

* via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.

 

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