Are new fathers less likely to seek help than mothers when things aren’t quite going right and they are unsure about their parenting skills? New research from Kiddicare suggests this may be the case, although I’m left wondering if it tells the full story.
The research from the specialist baby retailer has been doing the rounds so you may have seen it. Having quizzed 1,000 parents the research found that:
- 90% of all new parents, not just the dads, exaggerate how well they are coping, preferring to put on a ‘brave face’
- 92% of new parents say they feel pressure to appear the ‘perfect parent’ – successfully juggling family life and work whilst looking effortlessly chic
- 79% admitted to finding the first three months harder than expected.
I find the first couple of stats very worrying. No parent should put on a brave face or feel pressure to be the perfect parent. This sounds like a sure-fire way to induce depression as you’d be destined to fail.
When re-jigged to show things from the dad’s perspective, however, the results show that:
- Men are 10% less likely to ask family and friends with children for help
- Men are three time less likely to look for help on social media
- Fewer men, 50% to be precise, are willing to seek help online (i.e. blogs).
At first glance this implies men are just refusing to seek help. I think there are different and less gloomy ways to look at these stats. I’ve done no research whatsoever to back up what I’m about to say, but here’s my interpretation of the results.
Men are less likely to ask family or friends for help. First of all, the majority of men, unlike me, are the main income earners, so spend less time with their kids. As a result they are less likely to find themselves in a situation where they need assistance. Second of all, maybe men are more likely to bypass friends and family and go straight to the professionals. I can think of situations where I’ve approached midwives and medical specialists instead of consulting friends or family.
Men are three time less likely to look for help on social media. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Look at how many social media groups there are for mums compared to dads. Why would the majority of men bother when the sign on the door effectively says “men not welcome”?
That said, I have used social media numerous times and found it very useful. Out of necessity I have used outlets designed for mums and often found the mums are more than happy to engage with dads.
Fewer men, 50%, are willing to seek help online/blogs. I think this goes back to the very first point. Why refer to a blog when you could go to a professional? Of course I am a blogger so I will use blogs and the like when seeking help and advice. You do, however, have to be careful as most blogs are heavy on opinion so you have to search for something that reflects your personal beliefs.There are considerably more mums blogging so perhaps me just don’t consider this a viable option?
Those are just a few of my thoughts. I could go on, but this blog post would become unacceptably long!
But what was the point of this research? Having seen the results, Kiddicare has launched a new free website called ‘What I Wish I’d Known’ (WIWIK) www.kiddicare.com/wiwik. The aim is to gather real experiences and handy hints from recent parents. Mums and Dads (note; mums and dads) are being invited to share their stories at or via social media using the hashtag #wiwik. If you take a look, you might even see a couple of hints and tips from your truly already on there.
I shall finish with a small piece of advice for any new parent. Never, ever be afraid to ask for help or seek assistance. You do not and cannot know everything and whatever you do, do not try and be the perfect parent. No one is and anyone who thinks they are is a fool.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Kiddicare ‘blogging family’ and provide a regular article for its blog. I have not, however, received any form of recompense for writing this blog. I simply thought the data about dads seeking help was interesting so decided to write about it!
Photo credit: bloodJD, reproduced under Creative Commons license.