How Dads Can Get The Support They Need

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How Dads Can Get The Support They Need

Building a circle of support

By June Yong | 30 June 2021

“Unlike mums who quite naturally gather and find their own communities of support, fathers may not do that so naturally.” – father of a young child

The statement shared above by a young father Joel Ong, 33, seems to accurately reflect the situation that many dads face.

As men may struggle more with being vulnerable to others, they may have the tendency to keep their troubles to themselves rather than actively reaching out to connect or find help.

This goes especially for introverted fathers, like Joel himself. He explained, “I am a rather introverted person by nature – so when parenthood came around, I didn’t know who to turn to, and who could relate to my everyday struggles.”

A recent survey conducted by Focus on the Family Singapore of 350 fathers found that dads are getting more involved in child-rearing at home. During the recent Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), more than half of the fathers said that they had grown closer to their children. More than two in five dads have also increased their involvement at home.

These are all positive signs that we should acknowledge, but the struggles a new dad faces are real. When the going gets tough, who do fathers turn to? And how can they get more practical or emotional support?

“I don’t believe that parents were meant to go through this journey alone.”

Here are 5 strategies that will help you P.R.E.S.S on:

  • P. Partner with your spouse
    Gaius Ng, 40, is dad to Noah, 5, and Zoe, 3. When the parenting journey got bumpy for him – in the early years of parenting Noah who had feeding and speech difficulties – he turned to his wife and his Christian faith for support.

    “We sought the advice of many health specialists, some of whom really left a mark in that particular season and provided us with a lot of assurance and perspectives. However, at the end of the day, it still fell back on my wife and I to process the information with God and surrender our concerns to Him.”

    On rough days, he also found it helpful when his wife helped to put the day’s happenings into perspective, making his fathering experience less discouraging for him.
  • R. Recognise that you don't need to do it alone
    Perhaps the first step toward finding a circle of support is actually just deciding that parenthood is not a lone ranger’s journey. As Joel articulated, “Parenthood can be a lonely road, but both dads and mums need to actively seek their communities of support – I don’t believe that parents were meant to go through this journey alone.”

    When Joel’s daughter grew older, he managed to connect to a few other dads. And he found it so liberating to hear that his struggles were not unique.

    “It helps me have a wider perspective of being a dad. Hence I do it intentionally, and I try to open up so I can learn and thrive.”

  • E. Expect to learn from others
    In the early days of parenting, it can feel like an uphill climb, and it’s common for parents to have more questions than answers.

    Gaius shared that having support means that he can learn from the experiences of others. “Although dads are naturally not chatty or find it difficult to pour out frustrations easily, I personally see a benefit in having support. It helps me have a wider perspective of being a dad. Hence I do it intentionally, whether among friends or family, and try to open up so I can learn and thrive.”
  • S. Seek out dads in a similar life stage
    While it may be intuitive to seek the advice of old-timer dads who are further along in their fathering journey, so you can learn from their past experiences, Joel thinks that it is even more crucial (and practical) to connect with parents who are at the same life-stage as you - because they would be able to commiserate with your experiences.

    As Joel elaborated, “I have a couple of friends who are dads of very young children, so I text them from time to time. Also my wife and I try to meet up with other parents of young children – and we always find that such sessions are so precious and life-giving to our parenting journey.”
  • S. Start connecting even before baby arrives
    In fact, you may want to kickstart the process of connecting with other fathers before the baby even arrives. “Parenthood is such a drastic life change, and I felt that it was such a whirlwind of changes that I struggled to cope with,” explained Joel.

    So it is never too early to think about who will be in your circle of support, whether it’s family or friends.

Dads, we hope these tips empower you to PRESS ON. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or exhausted after welcoming a new child into the world. While you may want to be a hands-on and involved father, conflicting pressures may sometimes arise from work or other areas of life.

If you find yourself in this position, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone just to chat or get some practical help. You never know but one day you might be a source of support to a fellow father who’s feeling lonely or overwhelmed too.

© 2021 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

 

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