5 Struggles Dads Experience That Nobody Talks About
As a first time Dad to a now beautiful, 2 year old girl, I cannot honestly say I was that prepared for her arrival even though at the time I thought I was. I thought as long as I supplied a financial safety-net for my family, we were all good. I knew the days of sleeping in and having an abundant amount of time for myself was long gone, but what I didn’t take into consideration was the cultural stigmas that face fathers in our society. Combining that with the emotional toll a father can take on from the very real internal grief called “dad guilt,” it added together for some very challenging times.
Now, before we even get started, I would like to make it very clear that in no way is this article meant to downplay the challenges that moms experience. On the contrary, as a married man that has constant physical and emotional support from his wife, it amazes me the strength and courage that moms have. However, in this article I would like to give some much needed attention and resources for the fathers that are very frequently considered the afterthought.
These five struggles might not be experienced by every father but they are the biggest I’ve personally gone through on my new journey and I wanted to share them publicly so new dads can better equip themselves for the challenges that might lay ahead while, hopefully, bringing some much needed attention to our world so we can begin to change and/or aid fathers in these struggles that they might endure.
We Don’t Babysit Our Own Kids!
One of the biggest cultural stigmas that plague our society is this belief that dads don’t stay home or watch after their children. Largely in part to the silent generation (1925-1945) which carried on into the baby boomer generation (1945-1964) due to the war and great depression in which the typical mother would be the “homemaker” while the fathers fought in the war or worked relentlessly.
When my wife, Adrienne, would go out for some personal time, she would get asked frequently, “where is your daughter” and “oh, Taylor is babysitting Alana?” It honestly was quite alarming how individual’s would applaud me for watching after my own child! Spending time with my own child is NOT babysitting, it’s called PARENTING! We need to begin recognizing that parenting involves a mother and a father, not just the mother.
We Carry a Heavy Burden of Responsibility
Continuing from the ideologies of previous generations, familiar sayings such as, “being the man of the house,” carries with it this expectation that the males have to (or should) provide solutions for almost every problem. Does our family have any financial worries, no problem, we will just work some overtime or get a second job. Did the car break down or are some appliances beginning to show their age, no problem, we will take care of it with whatever free time we have left.
Just to clear something up, I do believe that as the leader of the household, men should lead by example and be the first ones to step up to solve a problem. However, the point of this is to recognize the pressures men experience on a daily basis, sometimes pressures we put on ourselves due to trying to live up to societal “norms.”
We Aren’t Skipping Social Gatherings For the Fun of It!
Growing up within a moderately disconnected family, I considered friends as my family and spent the majority of my free time with them. You combine this with being a natural extrovert, you can imagine how much it hit me when we had our daughter and the social gatherings almost disappeared overnight.
The hard truth is, once you become a dad, your priorities change and you simply don’t have that much time left to spend with friends. You add in the fact that whenever you do get invited to a social gathering you have to schedule/hire a babysitter AND work around certain time perimeters, it becomes easier just to stay home or invite friends to your house that are parents as well.
We Experience Serious Societal Pressures
Women...can you PLEASE stop staring at us when we are out alone with our child(ren)? Just because I am a male walking around with a little girl doesn’t mean I’m a pedophile! Have you ever gone to a park and had a dozen mom’s staring at you, it’s uncomfortable! Due to how much times have changed and the frequency of criminal acts, we have become human-beings on high alert, constantly.
Another societal pressure we face is the mixed messages we get regarding how stern we should be with our child(ren). When we use our “dad voice,” we get confronted by women that tell us to “ease up” or “don’t be so aggressive.” Then a few days later, we will hear that we should be more authoritative and demonstrate for our children how we are the heads of our households. Wait, what?
We Often Feel Isolated
There is no beating around the bush with this one. Moms have a wider variety of resources as well as availability to support groups. Chances are, if you’re a mom reading this, you are probably a member of (at least) one of the million Facebook mom groups. While there are in fact similar resources for dads, they don’t appear near as frequently.
To play devil’s advocate, a lot of this has to do with the fact that men aren’t as outspoken as women. We tend to bottle up our emotions and view reaching out for help as a weakness. I truly hope this continues to change as the years pass. Still, it would be nice to be able to do a quick Google search for helpful tips on fatherhood without having to search the web relentlessly.
When it comes down to it, being a dad, especially a new dad, brings about many challenges. But, many of those challenges help us to become better and if I was a betting man, I would bet that once you become a father, you wouldn’t change it for the world! Remember, each of us have to parent the way we see fit. Take other people’s unsolicited advice as helpful suggestions but at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you, your family, and their well-being.
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"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is the owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.
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