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Dads and Emotion

New Dad Times welcomes guest blogger and dad Mark Stelzner.

Dads and Emotion

I was thinking today about the burden that Dad’s have in our society today. Dad’s are expected to be more involved with the care taking of their child after so many years of being the bread winner. This change doesn’t happen over night. There are generations of momentum to work against. It takes time for the transition.

Men are then sent mixed messages about being in touch with their emotions. Men are supposed to be more emotional in this day and age but then often if they are, they are seen as too feminine.

When Dad’s do get in touch with their emotions, sometimes it’s the first time, and that can be incredibly challenging, especially in the context of taking care of a baby. The expectation is that Moms need support during this time but there isn’t enough emphasis on the Dad.

If you become more involved with your child but aren’t supposed to be emotional it can be very challenging, like swimming against a strong current. Often no one will know about this because it isn’t supposed to be expressed. If men do get in touch with their feelings and have intense emotional experiences¬† during this time, where is the support?

I remember being with my wife during her labor and delivery and balling my eyes out because I couldn’t bear her pain. I also remember balling my eyes out in admiration of this incredible warrior, this woman completely in touch with her body. The grace of it. I can’t imagine not expressing that pain and that beauty.

I remember talking to a therapist about how my time had all gone away, and how I always felt exhausted, and overwhelmed the first three months of my son’s life. I remember feeling like I was never going to have a moment to myself again. I also remember feeling fear and anxiety about being a good enough father. “Sometimes I hold him and he cries. Is there something wrong with me?” “Sometimes I can’t stop him from crying. I feel so powerless.” “I don’t know what he wants right now. I’m a horrible dad. Oh my god. I’m going to be a horrible Dad.” There were late nights when I would raise my fist to the air and have a silent primal scream at God. You and me god. We’re having words. Enough. I’ve reached my capacity. There were times when neither my wife or I could soothe each other, and nights holding Sam in the rocking chair at 2am, seeing the moon through the window, and the sound of crickets and crying because it was so perfect. Through all of this I showed my emotions, asked for support, and got it. It’s horrifying to think about not having this.

Emotions are our ticket to the here and now and being a good parent is about being in the here and now. It’s important to understand what this transition means to many Men. We need to support our Dads. It’s how we’re going to support our children.

Mark’s blog post points out how we need support as dads. The Fathers’ Forum has been
dedicated to the mission of helping expectant and new dads be a source of support and resources for each other. Mark’s post let’s us know we do need to share our journey with some
“fellow travelers!.”

If you would like to contribute a post on your journey of being a dad please contact me at FathersForum.com

You can read more of Mark’s blog posts at Dads in the Here and Now.