by David Edwards
Before becoming a new dad, I wish someone had approached me and told me that not coping was ok and asking for help was not only helpful, but would help me develop into the father I wanted to be.
I also wish I knew that feeling overwhelmed, lonely and hopeless was not a sign of weakness and would eventually help me find a new part of myself that I never imagined possible. A part of me that was able to accept inadequacy, vulnerability and uncertainty as a necessary part of the parenting journey, helping me develop into a better father and husband.
What I’ve come to realise is that us dads are capable of becoming competent parents in our own right regardless of how much parenting load our partner bears. Simply being acknowledged as a parenting helper is not enough. We offer so much to the ongoing health of our families. I wish I had received this message in the early days of becoming a father. The time we invest in bonding with our children from day one will influence our attitude towards them for each day that follows. I want to encourage new dads that no matter how tired, lonely and overwhelmed they are feeling, they are not alone. Both our children had infant reflux and screamed day and night for a long time. I wish I knew in the early days of being a parent that there were other dads going through what I was going through, just not reaching out. At least I know that now and hope these words serve as an encouragement to other dads to ask for help. Fellas, it’s time to ask for help! Only good can come from doing so.
About the Author
David Edwards is an Australian perinatal mental health advocate. Having a personal lived experience of deteriorating mental health during the perinatal period, David is passionate about casting a light over the negative impacts of traditional gender roles on the family unit. David believes that traditional gender roles need to continue to be challenged in Australia to ensure new parents are given the best opportunity to transition into parenting and parenthood in healthy ways for the benefit of the whole family. David is a proud Community Champion with Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA). David also provides online support to new dads in a peer support capacity through a group run by the Reflux Infant Support Association, known as Dads of Reflux Kids (DoRKs). In his professional working life, David has over 10 years experience supporting employees recover from mental health issues and returning to work.
David has provided this piece to advocate for fathers’ mental health during International Fathers’ Mental Health Day.
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