Homebuilders – Addressing family expectations

Being part of a cohesive, loving family is something many people would like. Many want that sense of responsibility that comes with raising and protecting their own children, while having a partner to share it all. When we consider these wants and responsibilities, it doesn’t take long to recognise how achieving and maintaining them can contribute to significant stress levels which, if not managed, can soon become overwhelming, and manifest as anxiety and depression. People experiencing great pressure are at a greater risk of committing suicide. In New Zealand, men are three or four times more likely than women to take their own lives. With that in mind, encouraging and supporting fathers and partners to communicate their issues is very important but unfortunately, it’s not something they are often very good at.

Being the best version of yourself and attaining consistency as a good father and partner is tested daily due to multiple factors ranging from parenting, financial pressures, work stresses, maintaining friend groups, reduced physical health, and parents getting old. The list goes on. It is important to acknowledge that while generations of fathers have faced the same challenges, there are some that are unique to this generation due to drastic shifts in social norms over the last 25 years. For instance, attempting to effectively parent challenging behaviour can often make fathers feel helpless, especially if they have not experienced positive parenting themselves. What was thought to be acceptable and appropriate ‘discipline’ a generation ago, in hindsight, is not acceptable now. To further complicate the dynamic, the prevalence in society among our children of neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD and autism can often compound the situation leading to painful trial and error parenting.

Challenging behaviour can often present itself around the use of devices, especially when trying to prise your child away from them. Managing screen time and the content they are exposed to are significant worries. But if it keeps them busy for an hour while you need a breather after work, is it so bad? It’s a vicious cycle that often leads to frustration and anger.

While many of these challenges are part and parcel of being a father and partner, it doesn’t mean that everyone has the tools to deal with them all the time. Coping strategies among men vary but often, bottling it up and not sharing how they feel is the most common reaction, and the least healthy. Positive coping strategies for men’s mental health can include building social groups, engaging in a hobby, and getting regular exercise. Another strategy is engaging in talking things through. At Homebuilders, we can provide that support if you wish to address such issues. Additionally, we provide a variety of courses including the Bag of Tricks parenting course, Teen Behaviour and the Influence of Devices Upon Them, and a Mindfulness course, which can all contribute to a more positive parenting experience.

For more information, go to www.homebuildersfs.org or call 425 7048.

Family Support Worker