Fathers of FIVE daughters give their honest but loving confessions
So, Daddy, did you want a son? That’s the question these fathers of FIVE daughters always get asked. Here they give their honest but loving confessions about being well and truly outnumbered
- Some couple will find themselves with multiple children all of one gender
- Three fathers who each have five daughters tell Helen Carroll what it’s like
- Scott Bees, 32, a postman from Cardiff, said he started playing rugby again
With his wife and two daughters on his arms, all dressed in matching florals, Jay Rutland, husband of heiress Tamara Ecclestone, shared a family snap captioned: ‘Outnumbered but loving it.’
Father to Sophia, six, and four-month-old Serena, Jay clearly doesn’t mind being the only man of the house. However, being outnumbered by a mere three females would be child’s play for some dads.
For while the odds of having a girl or boy are 50/50, some couples find themselves with multiple children all of one gender.
Though chiefly due to luck of the draw, Corry Gellatly, a research scientist at Newcastle University, says that whether a man produces more X (for girls) or Y (for boys) chromosome-containing sperm, or an equal number of both, could be dictated by his genes.
Here, three fathers who each have five daughters tell Helen Carroll what it’s like to be a truly outnumbered dad…
I started playing rugby again. I craved male camaraderie
Scott Bees, 32, a postman, and wife Hannah, 30, who is studying to be a youth worker, live in Cardiff with their daughters Elise, 13, Izabella, ten, Scarlett, eight, Lucy, five, and Ivy, four. Scott says:
What a buzz: Scott Bees, 32, and wife Hannah, 30, with their daughters Elise, 13, Izabella, ten, Scarlett, eight, Lucy, five, and Ivy, four
I’ll never forget being in a supermarket, surrounded by my lovely daughters, when another shopper rudely enquired: ‘Still trying for a boy?’ I shook my head and didn’t even bother to respond, while the girls all gave him dirty looks.
We’re used to it. Everybody assumes we had so many children because we wanted a boy, when what we really wanted was a big family.
Still, we’re not planning any more and I can’t deny I would have liked a son. I’m quite a manly man and a keen rugby player. However, as a postman, I’m pretty well known in the area and revel in the notoriety of being ‘the guy with five daughters’.
At 18st, I may have the build of a traditional prop forward but my shovel hands are adept at plaiting long hair and playing tea parties.
Our carpets are usually littered with Barbie dolls, offset by fairy wallpaper on the little ones’ bedroom walls. If it wasn’t for the wedding pictures in the living room, you’d never guess a man also lives here.
The reason I started playing rugby again was because I craved a bit of male camaraderie, spending my days immersed in such a feminine world.
But having daughters has changed the way I look at life. I used to be quite snappy and black and white in my thinking, but my daughters have brought out a more nurturing side in me — all that make-believe play can be quite therapeutic.
So, there are days when I feel blessed to be a dad to five daughters and other times, when they are running around the house screeching at each other, when I think: ‘I must have done something really terrible in a past life to deserve this.’
With the first two we didn’t know what we were having. But during Hannah’s third pregnancy we decided to find out the gender in advance and I was speechless at the prospect of being a dad to three girls. But fast forward and I have five of them.
One of my best friends is constantly saying: ‘You think you’ve got it bad now, wait until they’re all teenagers!’ Our 13-year-old is hormonal and the thought of all five of them at that door-slamming, music-blaring stage is quite terrifying.
However, what I struggle with most is the prospect of them dating.
With sons I fear I may have fallen into the trap of encouraging them to ‘man up’, but I’ve always wrapped my daughters in cotton wool.
So the first thing I’ll say to any boyfriend is: ‘Do you have a passport? Because if you ever hurt my daughter you’re going to need one.’
Why do girl just want to go shopping?
Jonathan Phillp, 59, who runs a vehicle import and restoration business, and wife Imogen, 58, a midwife, live in Wadhurst, East Sussex. They have daughters Olivia, 26, Sophie, 24, Poppy, 21, Jemima, 19, and Lottie, 16. Jonathan says:
The Phillp family: Jonathan Phillp, 59, and wife Imogen, 58, with their daughters Olivia, 26, Poppy, 21, Jemima, 19, and Lottie, 16. The couple also have a fifth daughter Sophie, 24
I love my daughters dearly but, I have to be honest, I would have liked to have a son.
When the girls were younger we camped in fields, cooking beans on stoves, however they lost interest in the great outdoors at a much earlier age than I think a boy would have done.
They’ve never been keen on watching rugby or tinkering with cars, with me either. It would have been nice to have a son to work alongside in my business, which the girls aren’t interested in, and maybe he might have eventually taken it over.
We’ve brought our daughters up to be independent, free-thinking women, which makes things quite challenging on occasions because, of course, they all have strong opinions so it can be hard to get a word in edgeways.
We took a couple of them to Edinburgh for the weekend last year and, while I was looking forward to a tour of the Scottish Parliament, all they wanted to do was go to Primark. Girls’ love of shopping is something I’ll never understand.
We didn’t set out to have five children; in fact I was booked in for a vasectomy when Lottie was conceived — and had it soon afterwards — but we wouldn’t have life any other way now.
We have four of them living at home with us — Sophie moved in with her boyfriend last February —which is lovely, if stressful at times.
They are really good at wrapping me around their little fingers. They know that men, especially dads, want to fix things and so, even though they’re earning good money now, I end up taking their cars to the garage and paying the repair bills.
In the past, there always seemed to be a car, or a heart, broken.
I can fix the cars but I’m not very good with the heartbreak, so I leave that to my wife.
Getting five girls through the teenage years has inevitably brought challenges. I’ve been called to pick them up from parties where they’ve become inebriated, because no dad wants his daughter to be in a vulnerable situation.
Olivia travelled through India alone when she was 19 and my heart was in my mouth the whole time she was away.
But all I really care about is my daughters being happy, though they have been known to lose their tempers with me if I ask if it’s their ‘time of the month’ when they’re in a bad mood.
Not long ago, Olivia’s boyfriend, Chris told me he was planning on asking her to marry him.
I was fully expecting to have to pay for five weddings, however he said: ‘No, that’s old fashioned, we’re going to pay for it.’
So luckily it shouldn’t break the bank, but it’ll be the first of many ‘father of the bride’ speeches I have to prepare.
Although the girls naturally gravitate towards their mother when they’re going through a difficult time, I have a really great relationship with all of them.
For that reason, I think a son would have been good for my wife, too ,because, like a father-daughter relationship, a mother-son relationship can be pretty special.
I’m now really looking forward to having grandchildren, and it would be lovely to have a grandson.
However, it will come as no surprise to me if I only get granddaughters.
We’ve only got one bathroom, which is tricky
James Brown-Tunnell, 35, a baker, and wife Gemma, 37, a full-time mum, live in Plymouth, Devon, with daughters Bella, 13, Ruby, 12, Millie, nine, Pippa, six, and Ayda-Rai, three months. James says:
James’s gang: James Brown-Tunnell, 35, and wife Gemma, 37, with their daughters Bella, 13, Ruby, 12, Millie, nine, Pippa, six, and Ayda-Rai, three months
When we announced we were expecting our youngest girl, some of the comments were shocking. ‘Ooh, so you’ll have to have another to get that boy.’
We couldn’t believe they just made the assumption we wanted a son, instead of saying: ‘Congratulations!’
Some even make those sorts of remarks in front of our daughters, which is incredibly insensitive. It’s like saying they were only born because we were trying for a boy.
I always knew I wanted a family and, although Gemma was initially adamant that she only wanted one child — having three siblings herself and feeling none of them got enough attention — we loved being parents so much that we just kept going.
We found out the sex each time and, with the second, I was hoping for a son — boys are what I knew and you sort of assume there’s a 50-50 chance of each gender, though not in our case.
I love football and the outdoors and think a boy would have shared my passions, but the reason we’ve had so many children is because we love them. In fact, by the time Gemma was pregnant with Ayda the thought of a boy was a bit scary.
We know what we’re doing with girls and, although they all have different personalities, we know what to expect: dollies and prams, make-believe games and lots and lots of chatter.
I manage a girls’ football team, which Bella plays in, and people make the mistake of thinking that it’s something I do because I’d have preferred sons.
In fact, I only got involved with managing the kids’ team after Bella started playing. You don’t always need boys to share the same interests. Another thing people say is: ‘Ooh you’re going to need a shed when they get older — all those hormones in the house!’
I guess girls can be more fiery in their teens than boys. We only have one bathroom, which isn’t an issue at the moment, but I guess we’ll be queuing all the way down the stairs in a few years’ time.
I’m not the sort of dad who would intimidate potential boyfriends. I’m quite a sensitive soul, in fact.
When we sit down to watch Britain’s Got Talent, it’s always me who ends up crying at the sob stories, much to the amusement of Gemma and our girls who bring me tissues and hugs.
I’m now pretty skilled at doing girls’ hair but when choosing outfits for the younger ones is left to me, I always seem to get it wrong.
Gemma will say: ‘Why on earth did you put that top with that skirt?’ and I’ll reply: ‘They’re dressed aren’t they? Surely, that’s all that matters.’ She also tells me off for getting the girls too hyped up with rough play before dinner or bedtime, but I think that’s a father’s prerogative, whatever the gender of their children.
Although Ayda is only three months old, people are already asking if we’re going to have another. If we had five boys I’m sure Gemma would want to keep going until she got a girl.
However, I’m very happy to stick with the girls we’ve got.
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