Are we listening to our fathers enough?
The biggest supporters, the loudest cheerleaders, the ones who will stand by you through every problem – fathers are usually the strongest support system of our lives. We look up to them, we learn from their mistakes and triumphs and we love them unconditionally. We consider them our superheroes but we often forget that superheroes can go through difficult times, too. While we rely on them to solve our problems, we forget that they might be battling with their own problems too.
Everyone deals with mental problems. However, there are many reasons as to why mental problems in men might be more difficult to recognize. Our patriarchal society puts a large amount of burden on men as they are expected to be ‘strong’ and ‘masculine’ – which means that they are not supposed to ask for help or cry or share their feelings. There’s no surprise that our fathers are also spawned with the same sphere of thought.
Not being able to express their feelings whilst also being expected to be strong can put them in a quandary of negative emotions without an out to it. Not talking about it and pushing your emotions under the rug is so normalized for men that it doesn’t seem like something unusual.
How many of you have seen your dad cry? How many of you have realized that sometimes they can seem quite distant and disconnected?
It is normal for them to be that way. But it is also not really normal.
But hey, we can do something about it!
Here are five things you can do to ensure better mental health of your father:
Table of Contents: Are we listening to our fathers enough?
Show your gratitude towards him
‘Thank you’ is a word that is never overused. And being thankful needs to be equally perpetual. Show him that you are thankful for all he has done for you and you recognize his efforts. Your gratitude can mean a lot to someone who has dedicated a large portion of his life to better your life. Don’t just say thank you but be thankful and show it with your actions. Whether it is cooking dinner for him or taking him out to the movies or just being there for him – gratitude comes in all forms, shapes and sizes.
Suppressing emotions can be a real problem for many fathers. But you can be a changemaker. Encourage him to share and express his emotions. Ask him how he feels when something bad happens. Ask him how often he cries or what he does to deal with negative emotions. Ask him to express when he is happy. Create an environment when he is not judged for having emotions.
Related Article: ARE WE THINKING ABOUT OUR MOTHERS ENOUGH?
Ask questions about his life
There’s so much of his life that you don’t know about. Ask questions about his childhood, his relationship with his parents, how he felt when you were born, his aspirations in his youth, if he bunked his classes, if he ever did something rebellious. These conversations can not only excite him and help him be more expressive but only improve your relationship with him.
Motivate him to go to therapy if he needs to
If he is going through any form of emotional or mental problem, motivate him to go to therapy. Normalize the concept of going to therapy and tell him that it’s not a big deal. If you can afford to, pay for the session. What’s a greater deed than making sure our parents are healthy mentally?
Spend time with him and develop hobbies.
Spend as much time as you can with your dad. Take him to the movies, go on lunch dates with him, plan a trip with him. You can also develop hobbies together – join a yoga class with your parents, start painting, go on walks, dance lessons! There are so many things you can do with your dad and create extraordinary memories with him.
We love and respect our dads. But are we listening to him enough? Are we paying attention? Let’s reflect on it and make sure we correct, improve and better our relationship with our fathers.