Author: Sherrian Price
In our last blog talking about including dads, we touched on the latest knowledge from research on dads. It was said that research could help you work out how and when to take time of work, specifically with your partner and keeping in mind child development. We also touched on dads and PND and how this may impact the family. This blog is about work/life balance and parental leave, pressure of work and how you can get involved with dads groups and research if you want.
Talking to Dads ABOUT THE FANTASY versus THE REALITY OF PARENTING
Like mothers, fathers find the fantasy of parenting versus the reality of parenting are two very different things. The fantasy of parenting means that you think the baby will just fit into your life. The reality of parenting means that already very busy lives have to fit a baby in, and therefore “something has got to give”? What will this be? Who is willing and able to adapt? What will this look like?
The reality is that looking after a baby is a big job for both partners.
Talking to Dads ABOUT WORK/LIFE BALANCE AND THE PRESSURE OF WORK
WORK/LIFE BALANCE is difficult to achieve – you feel pressure to earn more and ensure you make your boss happy especially with your wife or partner on maternity leave.
Try and talk to your employer about expectations, boundaries and flexibility early before the baby comes if possible. I know it is really difficult to do this as it can look like you are not committed to your job. but someone has to start the ball rolling. Think about flexibility as currency you can be paid in instead of money.
In my 2011 study, most fathers are starting to achieve a balance about 3-6 months following the birth, so don’t expect this to fall into place straight away.
My father participants expressed optimism though, that fatherhood was “rewarding” even though it could be “challenging” and “distressing” and at times “a balancing act”
Talking to Dads about PARENTAL LEAVE
Emma Walsh from ‘Parents at Work’ wants us to think about “normalizing the conversation about men taking parental leave”. She explained this would benefit dads, mums, babies and the employer.
Paternity Leave – By the way did you know that only 5 % of fathers are taking their two weeks paternity leave that every new dad is granted? Why is this and how can we encourage dads and mums to understand the importance of fathers taking this leave and starting to lobby for more leave, as we in Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium (AFRC) are doing?
DADS NEED TIME ON THEIR OWN WITH THE BABY
Dads need time on their own with their baby in order to build confidence and mums need to have a break from the baby, so it works! (www.dadsinc.org.au)
This was also advice that came from my First Time Father’s Research in 2011 – all dad’s advice to other new dads was to make sure you have time on your own with your baby. As an example, At a home visit recently to mum and dad and a 5 month old baby, one of the strategies for both parents was for mum to get out for a few hours and to have a break. The other part was to leave the baby with dad, to develop confidence with how to settle the baby with tips from me. Mum admitted that she was always over dads shoulder telling him what he was doing wrong and correcting him…. She had anxiety and just couldn’t stop herself and so was pleased to go out and leave him to it without watching!
Does this ring any bells for you?
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED IN SUPPORT FOR DADS AND RESEARCH?
Look up Exploring Parenthood: A Parenting Research collective – WAND study.
Sign up for SMS4dads, which is an online web, and face book page that Dr Richard Fletcher at Newcastle University commenced, giving information bites to dads in pregnancy and the first year after having a baby. They are waiting for more funding but please send Richard Fletcher your email address when you look up SMS4dads. This might help them get more funding. The National Fatherhood Research Consortium, of which I am an investigator, is about to start to do some focus groups with new dads about their sleep in the last half of this year. Watch out for that! I promise to put anything new on my website or Facebook page (Sherrian Price Newcastle Baby Settling Consultant on Facebook).
I am calling all mums who would like to review the list of questions we have devised for the dads research focus group and comment on these to email me or contact me via my face book page or website as I am responsible for this part of the research. (Dads in Western Australia have already commented on the list of questions, so now we are asking mums to help make sure we have the questions right).
Join DADS Inc, as they are involved in lots of research and support of dads. In fact there will be a dad’s pram walk in all major cities on Fathers Day this year! I am thinking about starting one in Newcastle if I can gain support for this?
Join DILF.com.au – ‘Dads I would like to friend’ groups in Maitland, Warners Bay, and Central Coast.
SOME SUPPORTS AND INFORMATION AVAILABLE FOR DADS if you need it.
Mensline 24 hour counseling service Australia wide – www.mensline.org.au
Beyond Blue online – www.beyondblue.org.au
Gidget Foundation Sydney – counseling for mums and dads with PND www.gidgetfoundation.org.au
PANDA Association – online resources www.panda.org.au
Price, S. (2011). A Study of the Lived Experience of First-Time Fathers in the First Six Months following the Birth of their Baby. Master of Nursing Thesis. The University of Newcastle. (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org)