Michael Ray, 54, from Ringwood, Vic, shares his story about being a single parent to his daughter Charlie.
H￼olding my newborn, my eyes brimmed with tears. I’ll always look after you, I promised her.
Five years on, Charlie is still my world.
I became a single dad three years ago and was determined to be the very best parent I could.
Charlie and I love to play tennis, and I can’t wait to take her surfing.
‘It’s just you and me bub,’ I say.
But hairstyles and dresses were a steep learning curve. Now though, I’m a pro.
Charlie wanted her hair done like Elsa from Frozen, so we found a video on YouTube.
When people admired her hair, Charlie beamed.
‘My dad did it!’ she said.
‘I want to do my nails, Dad!’ Charlie said one day.
So I helped her paint her fingers and toes, and even let her do mine.
I’m a power lifter, and a few days later at a contest I realised I had colourful toes.
I got a few funny looks, but a dad’s got to do what a dad’s got to do!
Sometimes, people make comments that could upset my girl.
‘Where’s your mum?’ a shop assistant asked.
‘Oh, you’re babysitting today!’ another said.
No, I thought, annoyed. I’m parenting!
I want Charlie to know that boys can do anything girls can, and vice versa.
So, when I read a letter from Charlie’s ballet school saying only mums were allowed to help the girls, I was upset because men weren't allowed backstage.
Charlie has to have a parent with her, I thought. It just wasn't fair for her to be the only one getting ready by herself.
After the other mums supported me, the rules were relaxed.
‘You’ll be great!’ I told Charlie before the show. It meant the world that I could calm her nerves.
Our story reached the newspapers, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and how many dads, and mums, agreed with me.
Charlie is my lively little ray of sunshine and we make a perfect team.