What Our Fathers Never Told Us
The Unspoken Struggles of Parenthood
Fatherhood is a joyous and fulfilling experience, but beneath the surface lies a complex reality that many men hesitate to discuss openly. This is an honest conversation about the struggles of parenthood.
Having a child puts restrictions on certain areas of your life – like time and communication. It adds stress and anxiety. They will test your patience and your pride. By shedding light on these subjects, we aim to encourage honest conversations, break down societal stigmas, and pave the way for healthier and more supportive environments for fathers.
We know that you love your children but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.
Society often places unrealistic expectations on fathers to be strong, silent, and pressured to provide. Mothers and other guardians are often left feeling burdened with domestic labor and the pressure to protect. There is a balancing act between financial security, a happy home and a healthy child. There is no guide book because those 3 things can mean very different things to different families.
An Outdated Culture of Silence
The fear of judgment prevents parents from openly discussing their challenges, creating a culture of silence and isolation. The suppression of emotions and the pressure to appear perfect can have detrimental effects on our mental well-being. And this leads to issues such as anxiety, depression, and feelings of inadequacy. When we’re confronted with uncomfortable thoughts our first reaction is to push them back down. To fill our time with work, social media, exercise, gaming or drugs and alcohol. It might feel like it’s been working – but it’s not.
We often can’t sympathize with our parents until we become adults. We can’t fully empathize with the challenges of a parent until we become parents ourselves. The cultural and societal shifts that have taken place make it easier for us to understand and empathize with the challenges faced by our fathers in a different era. You are not being asked to forgive your parents, should they need it. Yet, encouraged to process your own childhood so that you may break generational cycles that do not serve your family. You can understand your parent’s struggles now and still not agree with their actions. Two things that feel conflicting can be true at the same time.
“My father did the best he could, but it still wasn’t good enough.”
“I love my child but sometimes I regret becoming a parent.”
Breaking Cycles and Fostering Support
According to a 2019 study, 51% of men say that they could not or would not talk to their friends about their problems – And they’re cool with that. It’s time to shatter the silence and acknowledge that fatherhood is rewarding and also overwhelming. The National Institutes of Health found that new parents feel more confident and less stressed when they have community support. However, new fathers lack support mostly from male work colleagues and peers. A community of support could instead be extended family, close friends, or parent groups. More than just an encouraging word, these are people who offer relief in the form of like-mindedness, domestic contribution (baby sitting) and proactive engagement.
Many young families in urban cities, like Austin, do not have extended family close by. So you’re encouraged to lean more on close friends, parental groups and therapeutic support. Breaking the cycle means addressing a lot of the same issues our parents faced. Now, we have the advantage of more flexible and modern solutions like working from home, relocating to be with family or to find more affordable areas. Lighten domestic labor by occasionally hiring housekeeping, dry cleaning or meal prepping. There are things in your life that need to get done. You don’t get bonus points for doing them the hard way. So, you might as well reassess your necessary tasks to optimize and make them easier. Rethink your strategy and consult with parents you trust and respect.
The Evolution of Fatherhood
As we navigate this complex journey, remember that you are not alone. The weight of societal expectations and the fear of judgment should no longer dictate our experiences. Create spaces for honest conversations, where we can acknowledge the hardships of parenting without shame or regret. Breaking the cycle requires introspection and a willingness to challenge the norms inherited from our own upbringing. It is through understanding and empathy that we can redefine fatherhood and create a nurturing environment for our families. Break the silence, reach out for support, and empower yourself to become the father you aspire to be.
You’re killing it and we’re proud of you.