When Daniel Stray's first child was born, he was keen to connect with other new d and chat about what he was going through. I thought, 'how do I engage in something similar? But the restaurateur found "there wasn't a lot about for new d who are quite proactive about doing things with their kids".
His solution? Team up with fellow dad Matt Grant, who he met in a local cafe, to form D Pram Club, an informal meetup in their local area that gives d a chance to swap notes and share advice.
They usually do so over a beer, which is "an easy icebreaker to get d talking", Daniel says. Access to crucial perinatal support services for new mums is improving, and experts say it's also important that new d are aware of existing practical and emotional support to deal with the challenges of becoming a parent — from sleep problems to changing relationship roles, to navigating work-life balance. But they say d are less likely to seek help for those issues than mums, and many men aren't even aware that challenges such as perinatal depression can affect them. ABC Everyday asked three Aussie fathers where they found the support they needed, and what advice they'd give other first-time d and d-to-be.
Musician and part-time stay-at-home dad Brett Lee lives in Melbourne. His extended family is based in New South Wales, so when Brett became a father 17 months ago, dad chat wasn't sure who to turn to for advice or help with childcare.
It was through the parents' group run by the community maternal child health nurse that he met other d, who have now become a support network. While such council-run meet-ups are often thought of as "mother's groups", he recommends new d go along and see if they connect with fellow parents. Brett now meets the other d to take their daughters to swimming lessons on Sundays and to the football.
New d can find it hard to access support. this is where other fathers meet mates to talk to
They can talk through anything from teething and advice on new kid-friendly parks, to some of the deeper stuff. When challenges arise, "sometimes it can feel, as a dad, like, what am I doing wrong? But when you talk to the other d it's nice to hear they're going through the same thing," he says. And because we're so close, it's kind of not as confronting as a man to talk about your emotions when you know someone well. If your parents' group hasn't yielded many dad friendships, there are plenty of other places you can find a new support network.
For Joel Olsen, who moved with his wife and young daughter to NSW's Northern Rivers region last year, making new parent friends in the area has dad chat as simple as striking up conversations with families he sees out and about.
You can of course also meet fellow fathers at community groups or any religious groups you might be involved in, through birth classes, or simply by striking up conversations with workmates or neighbours who have recently had a baby and who you may recognise from dead-of-night walks with a pram.
Dad chat with greg & matt
The not-for-profit organisation D Group also has a great searchable database of local dad meetups. D Group has more than 3, members in groups across the country; that includes chapters in major cities as well as in regional areas including Mildura, Albury Wodonga, and Mt Coolum. Brett is a member of a stay-at-home d' group on Facebook, which is also where D Pram Club arranges its meetups. Meanwhile, the Reddit forum Daddit is jam-packed with d wanting to share their experiences with other fathers — from asking questions about how to support a son who has come out as gay, to men sharing tips on how to cut down on work hours or bond with their new baby.
Social media forums for parents are convenient ways to find inspiration, advice or a sympathetic ear on dad chat things parenting-related, Brett says. Some d are also drawn to social media's more anonymous forums to discuss sensitive issues such as divorce and child custody conflicts, research shows. It's pretty normal for new parents to feel overwhelmed and exhausted after welcoming a new child into the world.
After all, "it's a big time of change, a big time of transition," says Grant Blashki, lead clinical adviser at Beyond Blue. While many parents find new parenthood gets easier with time "depending how settled the baby is, it's going to get about 50 per cent easier every six weeks, Dr Blashki saysit's also possible for new d or d-to-be to develop perinatal depression or anxiety.
If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program, it's a good idea to arrange free and confidential counselling through that service, she adds.
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You might also find it helpful to take Beyond Blue's stress test for d or PANDA's checklist for expecting and new d to help work out how you're coping. Get our newsletter for the best of ABC Everyday each week. Some d struggle to acknowledge or talk about mental health challenges they're experiencing "because they often feel pressure to be the 'rock'," says Ms Smith. But opening up to your support networks and the professionals is an important part of recovery, as Joel found.
A few months after his daughter's birth, when she was experiencing a period of constant ear infections, he dad chat himself feeling exhausted, snappy and teary. Ultimately, being able to name his experience as depression allowed him to reach out for help from a friend who is a psychologist and hypnotherapist. He also found regular meditation helpful in his recovery, and once his daughter started sleeping more regularly, he made time to start surfing — a passion that helps him feel refreshed and grounded, but that he had stopped after her birth.
These days, Joel openly talks about the challenges of being a dad, and wants other fathers to know it's OK to talk about those struggles. ABC Everyday helps you navigate life's challenges and choices so you can stay on top of the things that matter to you. We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work. ABC Everyday. Print content Print with images and other media.
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Print text only. Print Cancel. address. How do we feel about stay-at-home d in ? Not great, it turns out. From 'you can't have kids' to 'you're pregnant with triplets'.
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