Every day of the year should be Father’s Day

The photo-essay is part of UNICEF Bulgaria’s Parenting Month dedicated to parents of children with disabilities

Author: Ivaylo Spasov, Photos: Lilia Yotova
Паула, на 4 г. и баща й позират за снимка - Паола е усмихната, а баща й я е прегърнал
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

17 June 2019

How do you imagine a military serviceman? Very strict, disciplined, conservative… Probably yes! What about caring, emotional, devoted to his children? Probably not! But often enough, people are much more than the social stereotypes about them.

That is exactly the case of Pavel Nikov, 42, father of Paola – 4 and half years old.

I have just quit a well-paid military job for a less-paid one in the same field, that would at least give me more time with my child

– says Pavel on the eve of Father’s Day.

In his view, it is not fair for parent to have to make a hard choice between their career and the need to take care and spend more time with their children. These, according to him, are two equally important roles – but parents need to be supported in order to better balance between them. 

Бащата на Паола, на 4 г., я е вдигнал над земята и двамата се семеят.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova
Паола и баща й се забавляват, докато той я люлее на люлка в парка.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova
Паула и баща й се смеят, седнали в парка - двамата са много щастливи заедно.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

„The greatest joy for every parent is to see how his or her child is growing up and is developing their potential – but if a parent is deprived of the opportunity to be a part of that process, he or she feels incomplete”, says Pavel.


$-годишната паула е в прегръдките на майка си и баща си в парка - всички са щастливи.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

„If we had met earlier on, when we were still in denial – a phase which every parent of child with special needs goes through – we would not have been so positive”, says Paola’s mother.

Paola is a child with Autism spectrum disorder and this was a big challenge for her parents at the beginning.

“I hope that soon there will be specialized courses or workshops for parents in Bulgaria, as there are in so many other places in the world. So far the main source of information and support comes from the internet where we educate ourselves on how to become specialists in taking care for our special children”, concludes the concerned mother.

Паула и баща й се забавляват, докато четат заедно в парка и паула играе на площадката. Двамата са много щастливи заедно.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

Parents in Bulgaria definitely need more family-friendly policies”, points out Pavel.

“Unfortunately, the majority of the Bulgarian society and the employers perceive Paternal leave, for example, as some kind of joke” – says the father. According to Pavel, a father’s role in every child’s life is enormous – from nutrition, through nurturing care, to quality communication and role modeling in the family and in the social life of the child.

Павел, бащата на Паула, е с дъщеря си, докато тя се пързаля на детската площадка.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova
Павел, бащата на 4-годишата Паула, я е прегърнал на пейка в парка.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

Pavel is one of those fathers who is not afraid or ashamed to show tenderness towards his daughter in public – he knows that the more sensitive you are to the needs of your child, the bigger man this makes you – not the opposite.

Малката Паула целува баща си, който играе с нея на площадката.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

His childhood years Pavel spent in the military. “My father was also a serviceman and I spent a lot of time with him, on his duty station – and this definitely crafted my character“, Pavel remembers. “My parents also struggled with balancing their work duties and parental duties – between building a career and spending time and providing care for us, their children – so some things have not changed significantly…”

Паула и баща й прекарват свободното си време заедно в парка - двамата са много щастливи заедно.
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

Pavel’s dream for Paola is to start attending school and to discover the wonderful world of knowledge. He also hopes that she will overcome some of the main challenges that come along with Autism.

Паола чете книжка в парка
UNICEF Bulgaria/2019/Yotova

„All I want is for my child to be happy” – says on Father’s Day a father who stands exactly where he belongs: in the life of his child and in the world of a very united and determined family.