This Fathers Day marks 45 years since my own father passed away. To honor his memory I want to acknowledge the changing role that has evolved for men as fathers in our culture. Our relationship was traditional for the times. He was the family breadwinner as a business owner with one day off each week. We spent little quality time together. My two brothers were significantly more involved in their role as fathers. I consciously looked for a husband who would be more like them. When we became parents, men were allowed into the delivery room. That was a significant cultural shift for our generation.
When my friends and I started Postpartum Education for Parents we were intensely feminist. We wanted to ensure that men were acknowledged as equals in the challenges of parenthood. Our son and two sons-in-law are even more involved with their role as fathers. When I became educated about mental illness related to childbirth the mantra was “this isn’t just a woman’s issue” and yet in general men are left out of the conversation. They can feel isolated, challenged and confused before and after the arrival of their baby. Many become clinically depressed. Recently, Dr. David Levine was interviewed on television about The Parenting Brain. As a pediatrician in a large practice he suffered in silence after the birth of his son. He had no idea that support was available even after scoring himself as depressed on a screening tool. How very sad!
How much more can we accomplish if we consciously include the fathers? Men and women must be engaged as active equals in the fight against the stigmas and myths of parenthood.
Happy Fathers Day!