(Pictured above: The feet I walk the walk for)
Mums often find strength for their huge task of motherhood in connecting with other mums. Alas, if you are a dad you probably haven’t had the same encouragement to connect to other dads.
I’m a fatherhood clinician, and I have been designing and running dads’ programmes for a while now. What dads keep telling me time and time again is how good it is to get connected with other dads, be it to share stories, jokes or tips on how to survive and thrive at such an important time in life.
You’ve got such big shoes to fill as a dad, and it can feel like a long walk through sleepless nights, long days making ends meet, rough patches in your relationship, and perishingly few opportunities for the sort of fun you were probably used to having pre-parenthood.
It can be a lonely walk too, at times. I’ve known hundreds of dads who have found themselves isolated at work and from their existing friendship and sporting and recreational networks as their priorities have shifted towards home, where they can again feel isolated from their partners through the sheer workload and 24/7 shiftwork of parenthood.
But here’s the thing: In your neighbourhood – locally and also online – right now, there’s a bunch of other blokes, with babies and kids whose mums are probably already hooking up and supporting each other, walking the long walk of motherhood together. A big goal of mine in starting Town Hall Dads is to equip you dads to walk your walk together as best you all can.
Why do you need dad-specific information and connection?
Well, wherever you live, there is a general Dad Walk and a general Mum Walk.
They have similarities but they are not the same, and the differences matter.
Dads matter! I’ve listened to people from all walks of life, young and old, talking from the heart about their lives, and I’m convinced that whatever era you were born in, dads matter just as much as mums. Little kids’ hearts belong to their mums and dads in equal measure.
Half your kid’s heart can be filled by you! So what are you going to fill it with? How are you going to keep walking the walk, so you can walk in the door, ready each day to keep on filling? What if you don’t keep filling? Will your half of your child’s heart fill up with your absence?
That seems to have happened for lots of kids, and the adults they become. In my psychiatry practice kids and adults tell me all the time – it happened. Hearts were half-filled with Dad’s absence. How do you prevent that for your child?
These are tough questions, which is why I have set out to distil the information about fatherhood I find most useful, filtering out the junk as much as I can, to bring you the purest wisdom I can find for dads across all stages of fatherhood.
Thing is, I know that however good anything I say or link to is, it’s not the same as hearing from someone who lives in your world, who’s going through these things at the same time as you.
So here’s your chance.
Get connected, guys. Odds are the mother of your child has hooked up with other mums already, and they can pass on email addresses or mobile numbers of the fathers of their kids. If you’re a bit shy to meet up straight away, start a group email, or a Facebook page.
Follow Town Hall Dads – and its hashtag #heartoffatherhood across social media -and you’ll all have got to know me as I post useful info on the most important topics around new fatherhood. This will give you plenty to think about and discuss among yourselves; I’ll also give you particular pointers to mull over as you grow your parenthood, step by step, walking the walk.
I’ll stop writing now, because this is me talking the talk, and it’s time to pull my head out of screen-land and be with my family – walking that walk.
But I’ll finish with this: I too have found other dads along my path into fatherhood, away from this work I do, so I can stop being a worker and just be myself with other guys going through similar stuff.
I have the same hope for you.