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Fathers Struggle

Fathers Struggle, too

When we think of parental support, our mind most often goes to caring for new mothers and alleviating mom guilt. Many forget that fathers face their unique challenges in trying to raise children. I interviewed several fathers, and they all shared similar concerns and pressures. Fathers are expected to be providers, and if they cannot they are seen as less of a man. Fathers are expected to be a “guiding light” or a role model for their children, often an example of what a man “should” be. Every father I talked to spoke of wanting to do better for his children than the generation before. Fathers today are expected to be providers, yes, but also caring, gentle, patient, present, and still masculine – often while having never experienced those qualities from their father. Fathers today often want to be more involved than their fathers were, but struggle with the need to work to support their family and don’t get the same parental leave at the birth or adoption of a child as mothers do. What can fathers do to improve their mental health and make the most of the time they do have with their children?
1) Be mindful. It can be hard to be present with your children after a long day of work, and this is where mindfulness comes in. Take a couple of moments before you walk in the door to take a few deep breaths into your belly and notice what is going on around you. If you are a stay-at-home or work-at-home father, mindfulness can be beneficial as well. If you begin to get overwhelmed by your children’s noise or crawling on you, excuse yourself for a brief moment (put the baby in the crib, set the toddler up with a tv show, they will be fine!) and take some deep belly breaths. Use your five senses to ground yourself at the moment – what do you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel? Giving ourselves these small breaks for mindfulness can make it easier to
be present when sticky little hands are pulling at us, or our middle schooler needs to have a chat about friendship drama.
2) Give yourself grace. You will not always be a perfect father any more than any mother can be perfect. Tell yourself, “I am doing my best” and work to believe it. You will have times you lose your patience. You will say the wrong thing. You will spill milk and forget appointments. You are not a bad father; you are human!
3) Try not to get caught up in the idea of what a father “should” be. It is okay for a father to be a provider. Or a stay-at-home dad. It is okay to be a baseball dad. Or a dance dad. Or a dad who is too busy to be at every event. Your children want you, not a “perfect” father.
4) Ask for help. There is nothing wrong with needing support. Asking your partner, parents, or a friend for back-up when you feel overwhelmed is a great idea. You can also seek professional help through a doctor or therapist. There are many stigmas associated with therapy for men but getting help does not in any way diminish your masculinity. Remember, even though you may feel you need to be the perfect example of what a man “should” be to your children, you are exactly the parent your child needs. Loving and showing up for your children is the manliest thing you could do!

If you would like to talk to someone about fatherhood pressures, we at Crossroads Counseling Services, LLC are accepting new clients. Reach out today at 931-805-5780.

Speak Your Mind


151 West Dunbar Cave Road
Clarksville, TN 37040

(931) 908-8808

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