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How many fathers (or parents in general) are perfect? If ANYONE said yes to that question, then I would have to call them Pinocchio because your nose just grew. I’m asking this question because many fathers have this unspoken rule that they must adhere to in their lives. This rule is something that all men know about and understand. It is a type of invisible pressure that we all subscribe to in some capacity. The unwritten rule is this: WE MUST BE PERFECT AS FATHERS AND MEN.
The purpose of this particular topic is to address the issue with this rule. IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE PERFECT. I will repeat this for the people in the back. IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE PERFECT. The reason I said this twice is due to the fact that men put pressure on themselves to be “the man.” There are standards that are associated with being “the man.” To be this person, we must be the breadwinners of our families. Men must have all the answers to questions when a problem arises in our households. We have to be the guy that must protect our family from any kind of danger which can be physical, financial, or emotional. We have to be strong and not show any emotion in the face of that danger. If we do, then we are weak and can no longer call ourselves “the man.”
Unfortunately, we cannot live up to these standards 100 percent of the time. It’s simply unrealistic to do such a task. There are three affirmations that I want to point out.1) It’s okay to make mistakes. 2) It’s okay to not have all of the answers. 3) It’s okay to be vulnerable. I want to point this out for a few reasons. If we are not making mistakes, it means we are not growing. We must embrace the unknown so that we can move up and not settle. Lastly, being vulnerable allows us to receive feedback or receive answers to any of our questions. This is all easier said than done but it is extremely important to subscribe to these affirmations. If not, all of my fellow men out there could possibly succumb to the type of stress that we may place on ourselves which could lead to our downfall.
Speaking of downfalls, this might seem extreme and a taboo topic but there is a reason why men die by suicide at a higher rate than women. To highlight this, I want to quote some statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The statistics show that men are 3.56x more likely to die by suicide than women. White males in particular are even more vulnerable This demographic accounted for 69.67% of suicide deaths in the year 2018. According to age demographics, adults ages 45-54 and 55-64 had the highest rates of suicide. Even drug abuse is higher among men. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , men are twice as likely to battle substance abuse or dependency than women.
I am not suggesting that men who are stressed out due to not always living up to these standards will attempt suicide or abuse drugs. I wanted to highlight a couple unhealthy ways that men have coped with their situations. There are many other unhealthy coping skills men may use when they don’t feel like they are living up to being “the man.” Most often, many of us will bottle up our feelings of inadequacy and keep it to ourselves. I am pleading that every man that reads this will find one healthy outlet or person to utilize when feeling stressed. Self-care is very important for our own well-beings. I strongly encourage EVERYONE to start participating in their own self-care routine. Check out this blog that explains the importance of it.
If you really want to dive DEEP into creating your own self-care plan, check out the Supportive Father’s self-care course and 30-Day challenge. These offerings will provide comprehensive self-care tips, enable you to reflect, journal, and apply what you learn to your life.
As I mentioned before, I think it is very important to remember that we do not need to be perfect. There are beliefs in our society that man have to be tough, know all the answers, not show any emotion, and be the person who is the provider of the family. While many may subscribe to these beliefs, I am telling you that it is okay to be vulnerable, to show emotion, and not be perfect. If we can admit these things, it can lead us to be more content in our lives. Us fathers can model healthy ways to cope with stress to our children. We can grow as a person and show our children that it is possible to overcome adversity when we make mistakes. We are resilient and I am here to remind you of that fact.
Cameron is the creator of Supportive Fathers. He created Supportive Fathers as a way to help explore topics other dads encounter in everyday life. Cameron is very passionate about being a father to 2 year old daughter as well as being the husband possible to his wife. To read more of his story, please click here.