This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

The Real Dads of Melbourne

Family

SO CHUFFED today to be featuring a beautiful Melbourne family, who we avidly follow on Instagram!

Jarrad and Michael Duggan-Tierney chronicle life with their seven-year-old son Reid on their account The Real Dads of Melbourne, through which they have inadvertently become spokespersons in Australia’s current debates on same-sex parenting.

A big thanks to these guys for sharing their inspiring story today, and for the daily smiles. We highly recommend following them on Instagram. And, of course, we also recommend voting #YES!

20th October, 2017

Michael and Jarrad Duggan-Tierney with their seven-year-old son Reid. Photo – Sarah Collins of Work + Co. for The Design Files.

Reid looking every bit the celebrity (!) he has become through the family’s much-loved Instagram account, The Real Dads of Melbourne. Photo – Sarah Collins of Work + Co. for The Design Files.

The family originally started their account as a way to stay in touch with family and friends abroad. Photo – Sarah Collins of Work + Co. for The Design Files.

‘We’ve always thought along the lines that we’re not raising a child, but an adult,’ tell Michael and Jarrad. Photo – Sarah Collins of Work + Co. for The Design Files.

Michael and Jarrad have become spokespersons and role modes. ‘We don’t always have the answers, but are happy to share our personal experiences,’ they tell. Photo – Sarah Collins of Work + Co. for The Design Files.

Emma Eldridge
Friday 20th October 2017

When asked about having two Dads, Reid responds, ‘it’s the same as everyone else,’ and he’s right.

No matter the result of the Australian Marriage Law Survey, aftershocks will ripple across our country for many years to come – an inevitable consequence of staging a public debate on how people live and love. I can’t begin to fathom the plebiscite’s impact on the mental health of LGBTIQ+ Australians, and as a Mum have found the targeting of families with same-sex parents shocking and offensive.

Today we speak with Jarrad and Michael Duggan-Tierney who, through The Real Dads of Melbourne, document their family life with seven-year-old Reid – take a glimpse at their profile and you’ll see the same ordinary and extraordinary moments of your own.

When asked about having two Dads, Reid responds, ‘it’s the same as everyone else,’ and he’s right. It’s love that makes a family, and the hearts of these three are full.

Looking back to the moment Reid was born, could you have imagined that seven years later you’d be sharing your life as a family with a community of over 60,000 on Instagram and beyond? Can you tell us a bit about how The Real Dads of Melbourne came about, and your stated mission of normalising same-sex parenting?

We had no expectations of the account in the early days; the name was a play on ‘The Real Housewives’ franchise as we’re big fans, and we posted as a way to stay in touch with family and friends abroad.

As time has passed, things have changed. We are inundated with messages of support for our modern family, as well as questions from parents of children who identify as LGBTIQ+ – we don’t always have the answers, but are happy to share our personal experiences.

By far the most rewarding part of our increased following is the ability to help others – not just the LGBTIQ+ community, but also causes close to our hearts (Michael recently abseiled down Melbourne’s St James Building to raise funds for Victorian children living in foster care as part of Anglicare Victoria’s Altitude Shift).

You both wanted to become fathers from a young age – and discussed starting a family on your first date! How does the reality of parenthood compare with what you envisaged?

To be honest, when we first met the idea of starting a family was literally a dream. Our path to parenthood was long and eventful, but becoming fathers to Reid – it has been everything. We know what an honour it is raise a child, and never for a second take it for granted. Every day, we try to help Reid feel happy, healthy, and secure so that one day he might contribute to the world in a positive way.

Michael, you run your own business; Jarrad, you also work part-time. How do you balance work and parenting (and posting to Instagram!), and can you give us a glimpse into how your days start and end with Reid? 

Like all working parents, we’re always juggling and no two days are the same, though we’ve tried to stick to a routine since Reid was born. He normally wakes up between 6am and 7am – Jarrad starts work early and leaves home before 7am, so Reid and I have breakfast, do our daily quiz via the Nine News app, and are ready for school and work by 8.30am.

At the other end of the day, Jarrad does the school pick-up and, when there isn’t an after-school activity or play date, him and Reid get home, have a snack, and head outdoors to our local park before the usual household grind of homework, cooking, dinner as a family, and bed by 7pm. That said, there’s always something going on – some weeks we’re all over it, and others we’re a chaotic shambles!

Families with same-sex parents have been the target of damaging and unfounded commentary from those campaigning against marriage equality. How have you discussed this with Reid, and what advice would you offer to other families dealing with this debate? 

We don’t have the television on at our house while Reid’s awake during the week, and we’ve felt nothing but supported by our local community. Thankfully he hasn’t been subjected to any campaigning against marriage equality, so we haven’t needed to explain this to him.

Our family respects the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and although people may feel the need to publicly voice their opinions, we reserve the right to not accept or understand them.

With just one week left of the Australian Marriage Law Survey, what might you say to someone who has yet to vote and may be considering a no?

We hope everyone who votes is aware of the impact their say will have, not just on families like ours, but on the youth of Australia – the message you send to them will resonate long after November 15th.

As for us, we were a family before the vote, and regardless of the result of this ‘poll,’ we will continue to be one.

Moving across time, what kind of adult might you like Reid to grow into? And how would you like him to remember you to his own family?

We’ve always thought along the lines that we’re not raising a child, but an adult. We hope he grows into a confident, happy, and secure gentleman. We would like to think he will look back on his childhood and the opportunities he’s had and remember laughing a lot.

Family Favourites

Children’s clothing brand

We’re huge fans of the wonderful, Australian-owned kids label, Beau Hudson.

Bedroom item

All three of us love our Shhh Silk pillow cases so much we take them on holidays!

Activity or outing

We absolutely love travel, so mini-breaks and holidays are always something we look forward to. We’re off to Gippsland this weekend – Reid is very excited for a visit to the Gippsland Jersey.

Lunch or dinner destination

Morris Jones in Windsor for dinner. Head Chef Matthew Butcher has worked alongside the world’s best and his menu is exquisite, but the atmosphere is relaxed. It’s very New York – we love it.

Book, film or show

The best show we’ve ever seen as a family was Kinky Boots!

Similar Stories

Family

Shirin Pulitano, Oscar and Matilda

The Founder and Managing Director of creative event production agency Dot Dot Dash shares some uplifting, candid insights into city living w...
Emma Eldridge

Family

Kate Lee and Frances

Kate Lee's experience of moving house and to freelance as a new mum is awe-inspiring. Read on to discover how she's approached going solo w...
Emma Eldridge

Family

Cindy Chen and Ollie

The mum, stylist and social media influencer talks family.
Emma Eldridge

This Week

Homes

A Vintage Farmhouse On Sydney’s Upper North Shore

It looks like an authentic country farmhouse, but Alexandra Nea Graham’s family home is an almost entirely new-build!
Lucy Feagins
  23 hours ago

News

Terrazzo Queen Tantri Mustika's Closing Down Sale!

Pop down to Collingwood Yards Saturday 11 February, 12pm – 3pm, to support Tantri Mustika’s closing down sale.
Bea Taylor
  17 hours ago

Gardens

A Boundless Garden Immersed In Native Bushland

A new coastal home on the Mornington Peninsula buried deep within a native grassy woodland, with stunning gardens by Plume Studio.

Homes

A Quirky Redfern Terrace With A Hidden Green Roof

The unconventional family home of designer Sacha Coles, split over 4 levels!

Gardens

A Coastal Garden That Revives The Native Landscape

House Revisited brings the natural landscape of Macmasters Beach on the NSW Central Coast, into a stunning residential property.

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras

Climate

Everything You Need To Know About GreenPower (+ Why You Should Make The Switch)

The easiest way to invest in in Australia's renewable future - and it's simpler (and cheaper) than you think!

Art

A Look Inside Abbey Rich's Mesmerising New Exhibition

See the Melbourne artist's beautifully bold abstract pieces at MARS Gallery, filled with playful patterns and hidden meanings.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Sydney Sculptor Creating Striking Pieces From Centuries-Old Sandstone

Sculptor Tom Butterworth creates striking tables, stools and vessels from recycled Australian sandstone, with beautiful results.
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Crunchy Crumbed Fish With Cos Salad + Yoghurt Tartare

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's delicious take on a classic summer fish dinner – on high rotation for the rest of the season!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

An Unconventional Beach House Elevated On Steel

Steel beams elevate AB House by Office MI—JI to form an unconventional beach house in Barwon Heads.

Studio Visit

Local Artist Hannah Maskell Creates Mesmerising Grids Of Colour

The Melbourne-based artist's geometric drawings and wooden sculptures are a cross between 'colour theory and colour therapy'.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Lush Secret Garden, Inside A Converted Melbourne Church!

This surprising garden in East Melbourne has its own lagoon pool, a natural fish pond and 10m-tall walls covered in ivy.
Christina Karras

On The Market

An Idyllic Homestead With Country Views For Sale In Gippsland!

This 1890s homestead is the ultimate treechange opportunity, with a rambling garden, sprawling views, and it's already been renovated!
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Local Icons + TikTok Stars, Ginger And Carman

Get to know the fashionable, dynamic duo, whose fun-filled adventures (and inspiring approach to life) have made them Internet famous!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Family

Shirin Pulitano, Oscar and Matilda

The Founder and Managing Director of creative event production agency Dot Dot Dash shares candid insights into city living with littlies, an...
Emma Eldridge

Family

Kate Lee and Frances

The mum and interiors stylist talks managing expectations, mother's guilt, and keeping up-to-date with her industry.
Emma Eldridge

Family

Cindy Chen and Ollie

The mum, stylist and social media influencer talks family.
Emma Eldridge

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net