A last send-off before the new year

As 2018 - the first of hopefully many years of operation for Fathers & Friends - comes to a close, we decided it was worth one more post. No, this isn’t a “year in review” or “best posts of 2018”. You’ll hear enough of that on the radio and on every social network you’re a part of. This post is just one last update of all the news and links around the Dadverse that we have heard about and thought was worth sharing.

First, we can’t help but give a boost to TalkSpace. TalkSpace is a software-as-a-service platform that was founded in 2012 and that allows people in need of a therapist to connect remotely with one for a small weekly fee. It’s a generalist platform, meaning that you can connect with therapists from across the profession. This is key, since many people have specialized needs. The closest therapist who specializes in that area might be hundreds of kilometres away - a huge barrier before the internet. With TalkSpace’s messaging system, you can connect with your therapist outside of office hours, whenever the need for an open ear is needed.

You might note that the service delivery model is the opposite of Fathers & Friends, which is free, very specialized in our target audience, and very much about face-to-face contact. That’s okay, because when it comes to mental health it’s not about competition. The more resources, the better. If you think TalkSpace is the route to care you want to take, more power to you. At Fathers & Friends we celebrate you talking through your problems, however you choose to do so.

Second, we turn to the UK, with a video on Sands United FC, a football team composed of dads who have lost a child. These are guys who have experienced one of humanity’s most brutal gut punches, but through teamwork have been able to build themselves back up. They just recently, in fact, one their first ever league game! Clearly a lot of inspiration to be found in these leaders.

Third and finally, we end with an article on the changing attitudes to fatherhood taking place in Japan. “Ikumen” is a Japanese portmanteau for “childcare” and “hunk”, which in classic Japanese style, was coined as part of a government drive to encourage more dads to spend more time with their kids.

Initiatives like this are quite common. But what’s refreshing about this initiative is that it - perish the thought - recognized that the way you make men enact this kind of a change is to make it rewarding for them. Most men understand that if they shoulder most of the professional work, the corollary to that is that most of the domestic work will fall on the shoulders of their wife. We (as a crude statistical average) will react defensively when the attempt to re-balance this equation is to guilt us into making a change. That approach assumes we’re “neglecting our childcare responsibilities” out of choice as opposed to falling in line in order to provide for our families in the rate race of modern life, which is really another kind of childcare responsibilities. Each individual man (again as a crude average) probably grates at the expectations that men are the ones who go right back to work after the momentous occasion of the birth of their child, but they, like women, are caught up in the fast-flowing current that is society. The whole is different than the sum of its parts, and this holds true in Japan as it does in Canada.

The Ikumen initiative recognized that a lot of Japanese men were spending so much time in the office and taking so little paternity leave not out of choice, but out of fear of recriminations at work. It recognized that selling up fatherhood as opposed to selling down working could help a new generation of dads find the fulfillment that comes out of being more involved. At Fathers & Friends, we try and take a similar approach. We don’t need to tell you again that men don’t talk through their emotions enough. We’ve been making men that way since, well, forever. Badgering you to seek help because you’re dragging down others makes things worse. If we think of you as someone who deserves to be heard simply because you are a human being too, you’ll speak up. Expecting men to try and seek resources that aren’t fit for them isn’t going to work. But if we find a way that does accommodate the way men talk about their issues, they’ll talk about their issues.

<sarcasm> What a radical idea. </sarcasm>

With any luck, this radical idea will continue well into 2019 and for many years beyond that.

From Fathers & Friends, we hope 2019 has good things in store for you and yours.

Colin McCann