Category Archive : Dad Brain

Becoming a parent is a life changing experience, and while for many it is an experience that brings a lot of joy and value into their lives, for many it brings on a lot of stress, frustration, worry and concern. And for some still, it can lead to mental health challenges. Postnatal depression is a term we often associate with mothers, who are experiencing symptoms of depression after giving birth. However, increasingly men are also experiencing depression once baby has arrived. While every parent’s experience is unique, there are some key themes that are common across fathers’ who experience postnatal depression, and some key signs and symptoms that we can keep an eye out for.

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Fatherhood is a game changer. For some of us, it’s an amazing experience. I mean sure it has it’s moments (like toddler tantrums, constant cleaning, repeating yourself, arguments), but overall for many dads they wouldn’t change a thing. But for some fathers, they feel like they hate being a dad. They love their kids, but they hate being a parent. Often this frustration towards being a parent initially seems to be linked to the ‘losses’ that we can see when it comes to parenthood, like the loss of freedom or the loss of time, but more frequently if you dig a bit deeper, we can find underlying issues that make parenting that much harder for these dads.

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When you hear the term success, you may be thinking about work and careers, or about how much money a person makes. But success is more than work or what a person owns, we experience success and failure in our day to day lives, and these experiences influence our motivation, and our likelihood to keep doing something, or to just drop it. So in terms of parenting, understanding the psychology of success is important, because the successes we experience being parents, and how we interpret and deal with failure, will shape how we choose to parent ongoing into the future.

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When baby first came into this world, I felt amazed, excited and in complete awe. But I also felt completely useless. Until the first nappy change came along, in which case I was like ‘yeah I learned how to do this, now’s my chance to shine to give mum a break’. And that was probably where it all started, feeling like I was never doing enough and needing to do more. Feeling guilty that I wasn’t helping care for my daughter enough, or feeling guilty that I wasn’t helping my wife enough. I was experiencing what is effectively known as ‘Dads Guilt’.

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When I think of parenting, one of the first things I think of is survival. Trying to survive each day. Trying to keep your sanity. Trying to keep this mini human alive. So it makes sense that one of our core survival instincts, the ‘Fight, Flight, Freeze’ (or Acute Stress Response) would play an important role in parenting, not only in how it helps us, but also in how it can hinder us. While there is plenty of information explaining the ‘Fight, Flight, Freeze’ response on the internet, the below explanation looks at applying this concept to some common parenting experiences (using some of my own experiences as examples). So lets take a look at some Fight, Flight, Freeze examples in parenting.
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