This Father’s Day I’d like to put extra focus on Dads and all they truly do for their families.
Fatherhood is joyful, rewarding, and all around amazing! Fatherhood is also tough, exhausting, and overlooked. Yes, I said overlooked! Perhaps even diminished, ignored, lost, or considered irrelevant. Let’s change that this Father’s Day and give honest, true credit to those amazing men we call Dad.
When our second child, A, was an infant, I booked my husband into a six week class he would attend with our daughter, called The DAD Projects. I wanted him to bond with our daughter and meet other dads. He initially thought I was implying he needed help in the parenting department, but I just wanted him to have a fun interactive experience with other fathers. What I didn’t quite expect was to the level of rejuvenation he achieved from each weekly meeting. He gleaned so much insight on how parenting effects men, and learned he was not alone in all he felt.
My husband learned that men, like women, can develop postpartum depression. It’s called Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND), and about 1 in 4 new dads develop this, with over half of these men’s partners also suffering from depression*. See ladies, our men ARE in tune with our feelings!
My husband began to recognize that people often reach out to me to ask how I am doing with parenting and the ever changing demands. People acknowledge me, as the mama, and make reassuring statements such as, I don’t know how you do it all. To have the support is wonderful, and makes me feel as though all the hard work I do as a mom is seen by others. Not many people ask my husband how he’s doing though. Others don’t recognize his parenting efforts at the same level as they recognize mine. Turns out this is a common occurrence. This can be disheartening for many dads, as it makes them feel like they are in the background watching the mamas take on the bulk of parenting.
Parenting is still widely portrayed as a job that is not equally balanced between a mom and dad. Our society still pictures the mom at home, raising kids and keeping the household together, while dads go to work to financially support the family then come home and rest. However, in today’s world, many two parent households equally share the responsibility of caring for and raising children. Not to mention the equality of household chores, and managing finances.
Dads are there, splitting wake up calls by baby in the middle of the night, changing diapers, cleaning up the house, giving kids baths, entertaining the kids, making dinner, staying up late to help with homework, waking up early to get the family ready for the day, going to doctors appointments and basketball practice and dancing recitals. There are Soccer Dads, and PTA Dads. Dads that get up and go to work to come home and be an active participant in family life. There are dads who become stay-at-home dads. Dads who are all sharing the weight of parenting with the moms.
And more so, this is nothing new! This is not the first generation to take on a coparenting approach. My father was amazing! My relationship with my father is a gift that I will always cherish. I learned so much from him that I carried into my adulthood, guiding how I parent and who I am as an individual. My husband’s father was the same, offering wisdom and teaching him things that make my husband who he is today.
So this Father’s Day, remember all those amazing dads, biological, adopted, or chosen (shout out to awesome step-parents). Reach out and ask them how they are doing, if they need anything, and to tell them you love them!
And to the dads reading this, know that all your hard work is truly appreciated. Also know that everything you feel as a dad is real, and should not be diminished. Make sure to give yourself the gift of self care. Know there are other dads out there who may be struggling, or have struggled like you. It’s completely normal, and acceptable. If you’d like to know more, I’ve included some resources below. (Partners, you can also direct Dads to these wonderful resources!)
Happy Father’s Day!
Resources for Dads:
http://postpartummen.com/ (Information about PPND including a questionnaire to help guide diagnosis, support groups, and resources for new dads)
https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/ppnd (Information about PPND)
https://www.peps.org/ParentResources/by-topic/just-for-dads (PEPS is Program for Early Parent Support – This link offers resources for just dads!)
https://www.athomedad.org/ (At Home Dad Network for dads who are stay at home, and offers different resources by state in the U.S. and province in Canada)
https://www.thedadprojects.com/ (The DAD Projects – a group my husband attended, as noted in the article, offers support and resources)
* Courtenay, W. (2019). Postpartum Men. Retrieved from http://postpartummen.com/postpartum-depression/