Did you know according to research on BabyCenter.ca, 88 per cent of millennial dads feel it’s at least somewhat important to be the “perfect dad” – a higher percentage than millennial moms. But where do these dads go for advice?
Walk into any bookstore and check online; the resources for mothers-to-be are plentiful. Parenting references still focus on the mothers with fathers often in supporting roles, but that is changing.
Drew Soleyn, director of Dad Central Ontario (which promotes father involvement as part of the Canada-wide Dad Central network), points out that’s why Dad Central exists. For over 20 years, it has built a network of resources for dads and organizations that connect, inspire and train dads and communities to build healthy children and families.
“It started with the recognition that fathers play an important role in healthy child development,” says Soleyn. “In 2007, there was a research study published in Canada that we affectionately call the convincers. It was essentially a summary of all the research that validated that when fathers are actively involved in raising children, it helps in their development and adds tremendous value to their lives. Dad Central has focused on building the research credibility in communicating the key findings to help people understand and view fathers as vital to parenting and also educating those organizations that serve families about the importance of fathers.”
Dad Central has helped change the conversation by advocating for fathering programs that serve dads’ needs – which are different from mothers.
Men may not be sharing the physical changes, but they deal with the emotional and psychological adjustments while making that transition into fatherhood.
Although becoming a father can be a rewarding experience, it is also stressful, according to the 2019 Movember study. Seven in 10 (70 per cent) fathers say that their stress levels increased in the 12 months after becoming a father for the first time. “It’s a challenging time for men,” says Soleyn. “They experience a loss of friendships, connection, changing expectations, extra demands, balancing the pressure of work and family and the expectations of being a more involved father. And depending on the dad-to-be, it ranges from excitement to terrified and everything in between.”
To help, Dad Central created NewDadManual.ca, written by and for new dads. It includes a free downloadable manual called 24-HR Cribside Assistance, written in a car manual style with sections called Low Fuel Warning, Under the Hood, etc., with information supported by Peel Public Health and Public Health Canada. “It’s your new human manual filled with tips, links to videos with experts and dads sharing insights.”
DadCentral.ca is also an excellent place for fathers at any point in fatherhood to connect with other dads. You don’t have to face this journey alone. You can help write the manual for other dads by sharing and being a part of this “village” of men becoming fathers – for better or for worse.