Problem: This dad won’t contribute!
* Listen to Gena Kirby and me talk about this very topic on Empowered Papa Radio.
The whole reason I started Empowered Papa was because there weren’t enough people and ideas supporting the role I took as birth partner. It felt risky, uncharted, and lonely. I felt scared, intimidated, and overwhelmed. My need for understanding, community, and certainty were not getting met. I wanted to help other dads because it was a way for me to heal myself and fill the hole in the market at the same time. Win Win.
Much of the work we all do supporting parents in the birthing time comes out of our desire to help and contribute, which, as you have probably discovered by now, is a need. We, as humans, actually need to contribute. It’s part of how we define ourselves, and, it could be argued, is the way humans have survived through the years of natural selection, evolution, or whichever way you want to describe…survival. Is this making sense?
But the problems we encounter as supporters of gentle birth…whether they are the birth of humans or of ideas…is that our ideas sometimes fall flat on our intended audience. Why? Our ideas fall flat because we haven’t fully considered the experience of our listener.
I hear about many dads who “just aren’t helping out.” The stories caused me to feel angry that the moms weren’t getting the support that they needed. How could these dads be so inconsiderate! It’s easy to think that these dads are evil. The truth is that the dads, whether they are completely missing the boat or not, are likely acting on the call of their own needs. The result? Nothing left over for the mammas.
Here’s the big THEREFORE: the answer is NOT telling the dads how to support the mommas. The answer is in helping the dads recognize their own needs and support them in getting them met.
No one can offer what they do not have.
Here are 5 Reasons Why a Dad Might Be Missing the Boat
1. The dad feels overwhelmed at the thought of his growing responsibility. Instead of dwelling on the reality of his family environment, he puts his mind towards other seemingly unimportant tasks.
2. The dad feels angry because his need for belonging and acknowledgment isn’t getting met. The world seems occupied on the baby and momma. Who cares for the dad?
3. Dynamics from a dad’s past plague the vision he has of himself. If a dad’s relationship with his own father became fragile and painful, then it’s possible confusion will cloud better judgement.
4. Impairment: a dad may suffer from chronic personality issues that manifest and/or escalate during stressful life transitions.
5. The dad feels confused about his role and wonders how he is going to fit into a new family dynamic. He seeks greater understanding, but doesn’t know where to start or who to seek for help.
No matter what reason the dad is missing the boat, he is waiting for someone to break through the fog.
Learning how to break through the fog and really help someone recognize their needs and work to get them met is all part of going the distance in relationship. It’s more than this blog post can answer, and it’s part of what I do in the class, Dad Certified™. The idea is making that connection and nurturing the environment where we are getting what we need.
Thanks for reading today. I hope your week has been fabulous. Continue the discussion with this question: How have you been able to help a dad connect to his internal motivation to support and protect?