A guide to dealing with fatherhood stress

Fatherhood can get overwhelming. Try these steps to cope

Welcoming a new bundle of joy into this world is an exciting moment for both mom and dad. Though, with the birth of a child, come major life adjustments that will have to be made immediately.

These big adjustments are a learning curve. While you may sail through some of them, there will also be times whereby you can feel overwhelmed.

There are many different ways to cope with these adjustments and the coping mechanisms may be different between moms and dads. A universal belief is that men express their emotions differently from women and it is often viewed that women are more emotional individuals as compared to men. According to Psychology Today, men do feel emotional too but they tend to keep it within them.

Hence, at times, men, including fathers, cope with difficult feelings silently including when they feel overwhelmed with the demands of fatherhood.

This June, in conjunction with Father’s Day, we’re here to acknowledge that fathers are unsung heroes. So, to help out with managing the stresses of fatherhood, here is a guide just for fathers.

#1 Talk to others

We’re sure this is not the first time that you’re hearing this but here’s a reminder for all dads – you’re not alone. Fatherhood can feel like a very lonely journey if you’re not in touch with others outside of your household. Especially when you’re caught in a situation that makes you feel like there is no end, it is important to know that you’re not the first to experience this. Speak to other dads within your circle of family and friends. They too will most likely be able to relate and perhaps share some handy tips on how to cope.

#2 Accept that not everything is in your control

When you have children, anything can happen. Having a child makes days unpredictable and at times, it can turn your day 360 degrees. Feeling the need to control your life and having it turn the opposite direction can get extremely stressful. Instead, it’s best to let go of the need to control and enjoy life one day at a time.

#3 Have some ‘me time’

It is easy to get absorbed into the demands of fatherhood and there is no doubt that having a baby will impact the amount of leisure time you have for yourself. This can drain you physically and emotionally as you dedicate the majority of your day to your family but in the end, you might experience burnout. Where possible, try your very best to find some ‘me time’ daily. Focusing on yourself helps you to realign your thoughts, relieve stress and give your all to your family.

#4 Time together

From days that used to consist of popcorn movie nights and snuggling in bed, the amount of quality time you spend with your partner has most likely dwindled to close to none after having a child, especially during the first year. As your partner and you dedicate your days to care for your new baby, it is equally important to try and allocate some quality time for the both of you to relax and unwind, just like old times. Take it easy and make it simple such as by having a conversation or watching a movie when baby is asleep. They may sound simple but these are quality moments that will be much appreciated by you and your spouse.

Fatherhood is not an easy journey but certainly rewarding!

It’s the best thing!

Malaysian fathers share their thoughts and feelings about being a dad.

I have 3 kids, the oldest is my 22 years old daughter, with 2 boys aged 20 and 17. The older two are in university and youngest in A levels.

After my daughter was born, I enjoyed recording her progress every other day or so. It fascinated me how an infant developed, even though I had learnt about it in medical school, but in her case, it was personal.

When my 2 boys came along, I was busier professionally and had less time to record the minutiae of their development, but the boys’ development was no less wonderful to behold. After that it was primary school, high school and now university. Their minor sporting and relatively successful academic achievements at every milestone were very gratifying. My wife and I were involved by enabling, cajoling, encouraging or threatening punishment to increase effort and to strive for higher.

Yet, I also gave solace and words of comfort when they had tried their utmost but fell short of their expectations. Naturally, sharing in the joy of achievement was a delight, but guiding them off their low points was just as satisfying. Perhaps there is also an element of my kids living out my own unrealised dreams.

Of course, there are many more milestones in the years to come, but I thank God, thus far, for permitting me to see my kids grow up to be happy with themselves. However, I think there is another reward to being a father. What I have described above I see as the fruits of my labour, but there is something else more personally fulfilling. This must be the emotion that we all have of wanting to feel needed, to nurture and to be appreciated for the effort. This drives me to get up in the morning to go to work to earn a decent income to treat my kids to good meals, memorable holidays etc. Then to see happy expressions and to hear, “Thank you Pa for all you have done” is priceless and music to my ears. It gives meaning and validation to my own life.

The best part of being a father is to see my kids happy and successful but the clincher is to be appreciated. In short, to love and to be loved in return.

– Dr. Lim Wye Keat, Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeon, Father of three

The best thing about being a father is to be able to make yourself a complete person to pour all the love and feelings towards the child until the end of your life. It’s the beginning of you taking orders and not giving. It is a greater stage of life where you will feel proud of yourself as well as carrying more responsibilities on your shoulder and strive no matter the circumstances, just to give them all that they want. The word ‘Appa’ means the world to you.

– Sathiya Ram, IT Manager, Father of one

  1. They’re your legacy – It’s like the continuation of your life.
  2. Being a father is like having an extension of yourself and life, you have the opportunity to dream big with your children.
  3. You feel young again because when your children are young, it is like a ticket for you to enjoy your childhood again, think like a child, play like a child, behave like a child without worrying about being judged.
  4. There is priceless satisfaction when you see them smile after giving them something, no matter how small or cheap the item is.
  5. When I’m with my children, it’s like I enter a whole new stress-free world. You will always be a hero in the eyes of your child. To them, you’re the strongest, most intelligent and powerful individual.

After my divorce, I lost everything in my life and I only had a couple of Ringgits. I spent it on my sons and it brought them genuine joy and seeing this would make me forget that I lost everything else in life. They were the ones who brought me back on my feet, the ones who made me stand even taller and today, the person I am is a reflection of no one else but my sons.

– Hanif, Working Dad, Single father of two

Being a father is a privilege of creating a continuity of our generation, and it gives an opportunity to carefully plan how we wish the next generation would evolve. Your kids are always the better part of you that you were not able to be.

– Joe P, Country Manager of Wellesta Truelife, Father of two

The best thing about being a father is to see his children growing up as proper human beings and seeing them contributing positively to the family, society and mankind in their entire life.

– Amrahi Buang, President of the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society, Father of four

The best thing about being a father is when you bring back your child from the hospital. My babies will squeeze my little finger and at that time you will really feel the love and that your tiny baby really needs you.

– Mohd Farik Bin Abdul Rahman, Pharmacist, Father of four

The best thing about being a father:

Watching my children grow up being well mannered and responsible adults. The journey is filled with great experience, with me learning from them whilst guiding them along the way.

– Gopinath Padmanabhan, Pharmacist, Father of three

The best thing about being a father is to have someone to teach silly things, you learn that your heart’s capacity expands as you have an additional someone to love and a child encourages a better bond with my wife.

– Scott Ng, Operations Executive, Father of one