'It took a really long time to bond with my children' | Modern Masculinity

'It took a really long time to bond with my children' | Modern Masculinity

In this episode of Modern Masculinity, Guardian journalist Iman Amrani speaks to fathers of young children about their experiences during lockdown. She meets Mark Williams, a father’s mental health campaigner to hear about the challenges that new dads face. He discusses how important it is to address the struggles they come across beyond fatherhood and how this can affect the whole family.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. The mental health charity Mind can be reached on 0300 123 3393 or at mind.org.uk. International helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org

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  1. I think things are changing the company I work for offer 6 months Paternity and that really helped me bond with my son, even though he was born during lock down I can honestly say the last 9 months have been some of the best in my life. The NHS could do better with engaging dads but they are trying, I took part in a dads and breast feeding group during my paternity which was great.

  2. What a lovely group of dads! Yeah because pregnancy and all that means the whole having kids experience is tougher on moms, I reckon we neglect dads. I always chat to my brother’s wife about coping but never really to him – I’ll keep it in mind next time I see them 🙂

    Something that the first cup of tea guy mentioned is how women have moved into male spaces but men haven’t been able to crack into female spheres: I always think about male nurses. It’s a well paying job that many men would be very good at but I once heard a story about how male nurses are treated really badly and are expected to do all the (literal) heavy lifting. So like having more male carers (with relevant training) would probably be a great way to help new dads. But the point I’m more trying to get to is that (I think – not a mum yet) because parenthood is such an intensive “identity-consuming” experience, parents – specifically thinking about women here – will defensively guard their territory of expertise. Your confidence as a person maybe depends on feeling superior in some field or skill and it might make you hostile to outsiders entering that realm because like you’ve only got this one thing that’s consuming all of your time and being good at it (and feeling as though other people think you’re good at it) is like a corner stone to your self esteem. Basically I’m saying that it wouldn’t surprise me if mom groups and nurses and maybe small children teachers or <other typically women jobs> were a bit protectively hostile to men. But new dad’s also experience this loss of hobby or skills diversity. Women have historically been (sorry for heavy handed generalisation and tactlessness) kept hidden in the home and expected to be very good at a very small number of things (kids cook clean) and have not had many opportunities to develop hobbies and other skills. So besides explaining some attitudes passes down generationally, I think there are still remnants in the way that women are brought up that make them better equipped to maybe deal with issues like isolation etc. Like modern men want to be providers like their dad’s but also involved dad’s. Modern women are more ok with “I’m experiencing the obstacles that my mom did” but it’s kinda “more ok” to fail at a career while being a good mom than it is for modern dude to underperform in dad duties even if he is the best provider. Like the guilt burden is unfairly skewed for men for not doing well in ‘the area traditionally assigned to the other parent’. Also it’s economically tough times to be a good provider.

    But that’s just my guess – look forward to the follow up vids 🙂

  3. It's fair to say, what do our generation know about being a Dad in today's world, we are very different to our fathers generation, what example do we have to gage, or compare our selves to, it's a very different prospect compared to what our fathers lives were like, and the pressure is there, we don't know if what we are doing is the right way or the wrong way, we have nothing to go on and no one to ask or guide us.

  4. I had that expectation as well…where the media led to expect this feeling of love and adoration once my daughter was born which I did not have…I was afraid and had no idea why. It was not until years later in counselling it was explained to me why tbh and when explained it was obvious.
    She had a traumatic birth that I witnessed…she spent a week in the ICU… and I was scared for her safety and have been ever since which showed exactly how much I loved her because I had never cared for anyone at that level in my life…even for myself !!

  5. Having gone through a lengthy IVF process my experience is totally opposite. Trying to cope with potential childlessness was a terrible wieght on my mind and happiness. Since I had my twins, it's tough, but I feel so centered and whole, and I look forward to the future. But yes, I am always tired, 100% of the time!

  6. Interesting video as someone who had a child during lockdown. Elements of this rang true but I just feel lucky. You should do something on men’s relationships with their fathers. I read that something like a third of British men are estranged from their dads. Which is tragic but also fascinating. Like, why?

  7. This was interesting, but it sounded like none of the dads featured had actually become new dads during lockdown. I'd like to hear more from dads such as myself who have had this dramatic shift in their lives whilst also in the midst of a global pandemic. It's been so, so difficult.

  8. Thank you for this, really interesting episode Iman. I wasn't a huge fan of the ending? I feel like "yeah we're just tired" is sweeping it back under the carpet after it's just been brought out into the open – specifically, the feeling of inadequacy described. Is there a link between the feeling of inadequacy, and the way which the men felt unimportant/unrecognised/ignored during the pregnancy?

    No hate at all – I've loved series 1+2 and I hope this is the start of series 3! I am definitely not your typical guardian reader, so thank you for what you're doing.

  9. I am honestly so happy that this series exists. Main media wouldn't want to talk much about men's problems cause it doesnt garner as much attention but you guys have shown that there are so much things within the realm of men for us to look at and improve upon.

    Thank you so much for what you guys do!

  10. Try being a father of a child with level 3 ASD, ADHD and ODD, and having no secure work, living on minimum wage, a wife that can't work because she has to look after our daughter 24/7, and an extended family (on both sides) that rarely cares. Add to that, doctors and therapists that have no cure for ASD. It makes for a bizarre and cruel life.

  11. Just don't get married, it gives men no benefits and leaves us as slaves to a wife. If a woman decides to divorce, the man loses everything, if she cheats, he loses everything and she likely keeps the children whilst a man still pays. Watch Coach Greg Adams

  12. This is wrong. Society encourages the feminisation (and thus weakening) of men, in this case by connecting with their feelings. It’s one reason why there’s been an increase in mental health problems. People should be encouraged to stay quiet and to live with it, until they really can’t cope. They should be encouraged to stay strong and use it as fuel for self-improvement. That’s how they’ll feel proud of themselves. To be weak is to fail.

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