Us dads get a bit of a raw deal when it comes to emotions. Not just dads, men in general. And i don't think this 'pressure' comes from our partners because an expression of feelings is so lovely to see and share together. Maybe it's self-applied pressure? From school? The media? Or is it an inherent, learned behaviour we've somehow come to live with from caveman days? I don't know. Men are supposed to be the 'strong ones' and 'support their family' but does that also mean you can't be emotional and express your feelings?
Growing up my parents never told me 'Don't cry' or 'Be brave, don't get upset'. But still, as a man i always held onto my tears and refrained from being as open as i'd like to my partner, my friends, my family. I sometimes think there is a stereotype attached to gay men to be more sensitive, more emotional (if this is the case, maybe we are just more at ease with being vulnerable and open?). But that being said, being in a relationship with another man, I would still rarely let out my emotions. It's not healthy.
However since becoming a dad? Well... how the times have changed.
It's like something was unlocked. I guess it was just the sheer force of the emotions I experienced. There was no 9 months of preparation for us. We got the final go ahead at the adoption panel and two weeks later we met our boy. And the tears they cometh...
- I was watching the new Bridget Jones movie the other day. Balled like a baby when she gave birth (I didn't even give birth to my child!)
- My husband and i often talk about the future. We got to discussing the day our son tells us he's having a child. I cried at the thought.
- In the car, alone, the other day I was thinking about his wedding day. I got teary.
- Birthdays and our first Christmas together last year, of course I cried at them all. Just having a card (written by my husband) from my son, literally tipped me over the edge. This year there were no tears, I am getting better!
I'm going to have to reign it in the coming years... my boy doesn't need a blubbering mess of a dad at his school plays. Or maybe that is exactly what the boys of the future generation need? To teach them they can be emotional if they want to be.
If you did a google search of 'Female empowerment' you'd be inundated with resources, websites, tips, classes and more. I don't think the same applies for male empowerment. In the UK in 2014 the highest suicide rate was amongst men aged between 45 - 49 at 29% (per 100,000 suicides). Second to that was men aged between 30 - 44, the core 'dad age' i guess. What is happening? Men need to know they can be open, that they can talk. We've come such a long way since our parents days and even more since their parents days! Guys are a lot more in tune with how they feel and their knowledge on the matter of sharing. But we could still get better. We don't want our boys growing up in a world where they feel they have to hide their emotions only for those emotions to fester into something greater and cause longer term trauma. Let it out!!
Next time a friend, colleague or family member shows a hint of needing to talk... Listen! You might just be the ear they need at that exact moment.
Facts & stats came from The Samaritans. You can search your social channels with #itsokaytotalk and #WorldMentalHealthDay for inspiring organisations and advice.