The New Family Norm: Fathers Feel the Pressure
From childbirth classes to housework to high-powered careers, today’s dads and stepdads do it all. That means they share the joy of parenting with moms—but also its burdens.
In fact, a recent survey found family men have caught up to women in the stress department. About half of fathers with outside jobs say they find it somewhat or very difficult to balance work and family roles. That’s compared with 56 percent of working moms.
Pressure Piles on Dads
What’s producing this pressure? Experts point to a few trends:
- Changing social norms. Now, most men aim to be loving, supportive partners and parents instead of merely distant breadwinners. This modern version of fatherhood may be more fair and fulfilling. But, it’s also more challenging.
- Career challenges. The most recent recession left more men than women out of jobs. The resulting role changes and money problems add to family tensions.
- Gender differences. Men tend to express stress and depression differently from women. They may feel more emotions like anger instead of sadness, or withdraw from those they love the most.
Getting the Help Men Need
To cope with life’s challenges, busy fathers (and mothers) can:
- Use emergency stress stoppers. Keep a list of quick fixes to defuse moments of anger or frustration. For instance, count to 10, go for a walk or take a few deep breaths.
- Work it out. Physical activity relaxes tense muscles and eases anxious minds. Aim for about two-and-a-half hours of exercise weekly.
Dads: Are YOU Ready for Baby?
Boot Camp for New Dads is an award-winning program for first-time expectant fathers that teaches them about bonding with and caring for a newborn, what to expect once the baby comes home and how to form a parenting team with baby’s mom. It’s a one-time, three-hour workshop taught in part by veteran dads with their babies.
“I always thought dads were secondary in importance — but now I realize that’s only the case if they want it to be,” said a new father, after participating in Boot Camp for New Dads. Another dad said the program impacted his fatherhood experience because, “I wasn’t afraid of the baby. I just jumped in.”
To learn more or to register, visit lutheranjournal.org/classes or call Answerline at 303-689-4595.