Jatau_Dad Connections_Large

Connecting with New Dads

Author: Z. Andrew Jatau
Published Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2018

By: Z. Andrew Jatau MS, LPC

When I had my first child, I joked with a colleague that I was going to write a book called “Nobody Cares about New Dads.” Although I was only teasing, the idea was brought on by the real feelings I experienced throughout our whole pregnancy and my daughter’s first months of life. Looking back at my journey into fatherhood, I realize that I had many feelings that I didn’t share with anyone, mostly because I believed that no one cared to hear my concerns.

Most of the attention is deservedly on the new mother. For the first few months after the baby arrives, people tend to check on mom’s emotional and physical well-being as she adjusts to motherhood. This can leave new dads wondering if anyone cares to hear and attend to their feelings or needs — which was how I felt when I became a first-time father. I didn’t have a lot of male friends who were fathers, so I didn’t think there were people in my life who could relate to my experience. I also didn’t express many of these feelings to my wife because I didn’t want to add any extra burden to an already stressful life event. So, I did what most men tend to do with those feelings — I kept them to myself and just powered on.

There’s a perception that men are not allowed to have those feelings, or if we do, we definitely shouldn’t talk about them. Having a child is a life-altering event that impacts your work-life balance, mental and physical health, and your relationships – among other things. Despite all of this, fathers often don’t seek a space to process and explore these changes. I’ve noticed that there aren’t a lot of local places or events for fathers to build community or connections with one another. Even if there were, I’m not sure how many men would take advantage of the opportunity.

Even in our personal interactions with friends, there’s a tendency for us to present like we’ve got everything figured out and often times we don’t talk about the challenges that we face in fatherhood. We don’t share our doubts, fears, or concerns with each other. Instead we focus on discussion that is unrelated to our struggles or share vague responses that disinvite further delving into our emotional state. We might find our own individual ways of coping with stressors, but sometimes the best way to handle these feelings is to share them with other fathers.

As we approach Father’s Day, my challenge to dads is to communicate, connect, and build community with each other. This includes having honest conversations with friends and loved ones about the challenges and feelings you’re experiencing through fatherhood. There are a lot of soon-to-be fathers or new dads out there who would appreciate that conversation and support!

Happy Father’s Day!



Like this post?

Get parenting inspiration and encouragement delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for our once monthly email.

About Z. Andrew Jatau

I currently work as a mental health counselor at my private practice in Virginia Beach. In 2015, I founded a business called Mylemarks that focuses on creating tools for healthy social and emotional development in children. I have also authored three workbooks for the company. When I’m not working, I enjoy hanging with the family, playing or watching sports, and listening to music.