Everyone talks about giving moms a break, giving mom all the praise and all the credit. But what about dads? Dads are unsung heroes of the family and that should change. Men’s mental health already has an unspoken stigma attached to it. Think about it. Isn’t the image of men associated with emotionless strength and leadership? These characteristics are usually associated with fatherhood but the list should also include tenderness, compassion, and love. While it is very possible that the father is the bread winner, the strong one, the one that doesn’t get emotional, the fact remains: they need to be cared for too. Fathers need to be appreciated and pampered just as moms are.
We never hesitate to say that we are proud of our mothers, that we love them unconditionally, or that moms deserve to be indulged. While this is very true, we need to include fathers in that conversation. According to an article in the American Journal of Men’s Health, postpartum depression (PPD) “occurs in 4% to 25% of new fathers during the first postpartum year” [and] “because PPD is poorly recognized in men, prevalence may be under-reported”. Maternal mental health is not the only factor directly responsible for the well being of a child; we need to promote healthy practices to boost paternal mental health. There are several factors associated with paternal PPD which include financial instability, older age, low education levels, depression in the mother, and relationship issues with spouse and children (American Journal of Men’s Health, 2017). While the characteristics seem complex, the steps to take toward helping fathers everywhere are simple. Recognizing the efforts of a good father, providing a healthy outlet of stress, giving the dad a break, encouraging the sharing of emotions, and verbalizing appreciation. All are ways that can promote a healthy state of mind for fathers.
Even though the world has changed considerably, men sharing their emotions, thoughts, and feelings outright still has a societal shame. There are two sides: one where men do not have the freedom to be overly affectionate, passionate, tender, compassionate, or emotional, and one where women are criticized for the same behavior. We need to find some middle ground. Women can be all those things and not irrational. Men can be all those things and not lose their masculinity.