Sometimes Dads just need to talk
Brace yourself, Father’s Day gift lists are coming (I’ve been working on one for months), but I want to briefly touch on mental health, specifically in fathers.
In many cases, Fatherhood is incredibly isolating. The pressure to be a ‘good Dad’ and supportive husband negate any thoughts of taking time for himself.
I’ve found myself dreading the “how was your weekend” small talk on a Monday morning. It was literally the same as all the other ones. Screen-time until I feel guilty that I’m not being a good parent, then either dragging us all out to a park or if it’s too busy, playing frisbee in the field and waiting until lunchtime for an excuse to come back in.
Especially since we’ve all been locked in, many of us working from home and unable to vent to colleagues or grab a few beers with a friend, we’re left in a cycle of scrolling through social media, TV, work, and the occasional grocery run.
As a father, I’ve found myself further removed than ever over the last 5 years. Many of my workmates didn’t have kids when my daughter was born, so aside from the novelty of a cute baby, they’re not too interested. It can be really hard to relate to people who aren’t in your exact situation, so it’s too easy to stop trying. Once again, we return to the loop of self-amusement until it’s time to go to sleep.
“What I think the modern dad is really starting to understand is that we can’t parent our children alone. Just like moms, we need communities who we can go to when we need to unburden our souls and who can offer advice when we can’t overcome issues with our skills alone. Being lone wolves has done so much more harm than good for countless generations of men before us—it’s time that we break the cycle.”Casey Palmer, CaseyPalmer.com
There are many mental health resources available, but sometimes it just feels like it’s not that big of a problem, but more of a general malaise. Sometimes, slipping into depression is such a slow process, it’s easy to ignore the signs.
While there’s never a quick solution for this cloud of underwhelming ‘meh’, making plans is one way to take some mud-laden steps onto dry land.
“Being a man of more words isn’t about dialing up the banter. It’s about carving out space for meaningful chats about the bigger stuff in life. From talking about the kids, the bills, a new job or a setback – the right conversation can make all the difference to a man who might be struggling.”Movember Canada
- When you check in on a Dad, make time for a proper conversation rather than an on-the-go text and reply in a few hours. Go beyond small talk.
- Try not to brush it off with ‘have you tried meditation?’ or “just go for a walk, that always cheers me up”, and who has time for journaling?
- Make proper plans that you will ensure happen, even if you have to go to his place and drag him out.
- Come up with an activity like beers in the park, a walk, playing Words with Friends, kayaking, or letting your kids have an outside playdate (covid-safe, of course).
- Support his hobby, join him on it, or give him the tools or time to enjoy it guilt-free.
- If you’re in the same situation, share that with him. It’s ok to feel stuck. Being stuck together can feel comforting.
If you need to talk to someone right now, Movember Canada has a list of people waiting for your call and other services.