It’s Father’s Day today. But for many Dads, it might be hard to celebrate because the times are difficult. Providing for the needs of the family becomes extra challenging for those who are bread winners especially in this pandemic.
And some fathers succumb to the pressure. At least from where I sit in my clinic, I met fathers who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, as well as depression and infidelity because they feel alone and overwhelmed.
Fatherhood is as difficult and challenging as motherhood. The moment a man becomes a father, he knows intuitively that his life is never the same again. He knows he is growing into something new, scary, exhilarating, confusing, but powerful.
Yet, compared to moms, there are not much education about how to be a father and the sea of change that happens during this time.
During the first years of marriage, especially when the baby comes, most fathers get a reality check of the significant hormonal, emotional and psychological changes that occur. Their coping during these times determines much how the family will navigate these waves and tides of change.
But from experience, and as data reveals, most fathers at this time get lost. They wonder where all the exclusivity with the wife has gone, or the usual time with friends. The ever-increasing responsibility of providing more for the family’s need becomes central to his life.
These shifts can increase his chances to experience anxiety and depression, much like with that of women. If not addressed, this can bring more conflict between husband and wife, and other problems which make the family bond unstable.
What can be done? Simply involve the fathers and support them.
Many studies have shown that an involved and supported father becomes good fathers. The attention of the spouse, and support from the larger family especially for the young father will go a long way for the Dad to cope with his own anxieties and doubts.
When a father is healthy mentally, it is beneficial for the whole family. He becomes doting, nurturing, emotionally stable, and firm.
An engaged father benefits the cognitive skills of his children. Studies have found that their children are performing well in academics, have good problem-solving skills, and other areas of intellectual functioning.
An emotionally responsive father also fosters the emotional regulation, social skills, and emotional intelligence of their children. In our times when more and more young people are committing suicide, the role of fathers in creating emotionally healthy children needs double emphasis.
An emotionally stable father also begets a mentally healthy wife. From pregnancy to postpartum, and beyond, a spouse who is responsive to his partner significantly lessens her stress, anxiety, and depression.
But all of these become possible if we also take care of our fathers and dads. As they say, what goes around comes around.
Take care, nurture, honor, and love your fathers, and he will be a stronghold and a source of joy and pride for you.
I am a father of four. Three wild boys and a wilder princess. Together, they are both a challenge and a delight to me. And the longer I interact with them, the clearer I see that no one could ever replace my role.
Yet, what heals me and keeps me going is their joy when I get home from work, expressed in their tight embrace, making me feel I mean the world to them.
Happy Father’s Day!