“Talk to someone”: The ‘Dadvice’ Campaign
In August of 2016, a few months before The Dad Website site went live, our trio of co-founders attended a stand-up comedy event at Collingwood’s Easey Street Concert Hall. The show launched beyondblue’s ‘Dadvice’, an Australian-first campaign (also funded by the Movember Foundation) with a massive missive: to support the mental health of new dads.
Hosted by Ben Lomas and featuring comedians (and dads) Dave O’Neil, Lawrence Mooney and Sammy J, the poignant, laugh-a-minute show – which formed the basis of this four-part web series – encapsulated the sky-highs and stresses of modern-day dads.
As a father of three myself, I could relate to many of the subject matters: the strain on relationships; having next-to-no downtime; sleep disturbances; worries over job security. And while first-time fatherhood didn’t change my life as dramatically as it clearly does for some, the freight train hit me, big time, as my second and third daughters arrived (all within four whirlwind years).
These days it’s understood that new dads should be switched on at all hours – whether at work or at home. While they might not be able to produce the magic nipple at 3 o’clock in the morning, they have much to absorb. While the ‘provider’ role – holding down a job, putting a roof over your family’s head and food on the table, and staying on top of bills – replicates that of our forefathers, for many blokes that’s where the comparisons stop. Modern dads – rightly – take their share of parenting duties… and housework. Then there’s your baby’s health and your wife or partner’s emotional state – particularly if a bad sleeper is part of the mix – to consider. We don’t always get it right, but the cliché of the Bumbling Dad is so outdated and misguided it’s laughable.
Becoming a dad is the one of the greatest gifts a man can receive. Having a child enriches, enlivens and elevates. But that doesn’t mean that new dads, just like new mums, don’t find the going tough. In fact, it’s taken a beyondblue-commissioned survey of more than 1500 new and experienced fathers across Australia to show how stark the situation is. The results can be found in more detail in this Australian Men’s Health article, but it’s clear this generation of dads find themselves in the eye of the hurricane of change. While most of those surveyed felt the need to be the ‘unemotional’ rock, around half admitted that this builds stress and anxiety. Despite this, more than half did not seek information or support.
…the cliché of the Bumbling Dad is so outdated and misguided it’s laughable.
Dads – and males in general – need to understand that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but in fact a sign of strength. Because, as TDW contributor Dave Woollcott so eloquently described in his article When the Wheels Come Off, it can take you down without warning.
So, confide in a health professional, a friend, a family member or seek out a dad group if you’re doing it tough. It’s good to talk.