When my first born arrived I was told to wait in the waiting room. My second born I had to wear a gown and mask. My third born I was allowed into the delivery room and by the time of my fourth born I became the midwife’s assistance. In those 12 years it had gone from being kept at arm’s length to a point that I had skin to skin with my son whilst still attached by the cord. I was treated as an equal (except the wife had done all the hard work), but I still felt it was false. The question, are dads left out?
Professionals are still learning that fathers have a great part in the lives of their children. Parenting should be a joint venture, allowing both mum and dad the experience of nurturing and guiding their offspring together. It is a long struggle to gain recognition for fathers today, we have made great strides and there are some huge advancements in hearing the fathers voice, but alas not enough.
I deal with guys who are going through separation, victims of domestic violence, custody issues, divorce, bereavement of partner or child, depression and miscarriage. These issues are very low on the equality balance and fathers have a very raw deal. Legal issues are very much outside my sphere, but we have managed to get great support from other groups who specifically deal with these issues. Bereavement and miscarriage are those that get swept under the carpet and we are told to carry on. Counselling is an option, but in today’s society there is still a stigma attached to counselling and many do not take this opportunity available through your GP with the NHS. Do guys ask for help, unfortunately it is somewhere in a guys genes that he soldiers on and tries to deal with this himself. Being a male lead of a Children’s Centre I often see guys with issues that refuse to disclose any information or ask for help because it is not the done thing.
We have recently started a pilot programme to address issues that dads have themselves from their own childhoods or where issues have not been dealt with at the time and gnawed away at them. This is group therapy using discussion, a little bit of education on how the brain works and therapeutic activities. These sessions allow them to feel comfortable in a male only environment to discuss issues that affect their general mental state and even the way they raise their children. Normally guys keep their emotions to themselves and unlike women do not talk about issues. In this group discussion and emotions can be shown with no judgement.
This support is only available in the London Borough of Hillingdon at the moment, but what about those guys with similar issues outside our area. The Dads Network Facebook page is a wonderful window into being able to talk over issues, whatever the subject in a controlled men only group, with support from guys all over the country who have or are facing the same issues. It takes the isolation away and helps you to feel more comfortable and supported. You will not be judged and may even find that your problem is encounted by many.
There is so much support out there that is not know about and through discussion on the Dads Network facebook page, guys who have used services can pass onto others, There are many excellent Dads organisations out there fighting the cause for fathers, but this one is for you guys helping other guys, very much like a cyber self help group.
I have four children, three boys and one girl and three granddaughters. I have been married for 38 years and originally trained and became a qualified accountant. In my spare time I volunteered in youth groups which my first two sons attended and through this became a qualified youth leader. I have also trained in counselling skills and anger management. Being made redundant in 2006 I took up the challenge of forming a local community charity and through this secured a contract with the Local Authority to become a Children’s Centre. I have since taken my Masters Degree in Education and obtained two Post Graduate Certificates in Education. Being the only male Children’s Centre Manager in the local authority, I have taken on the role of Fathers Champion and attend many Council, Health, Social Services, Police and Job Centre Plus meetings challenging their views on the roles of fathers.