Becoming a father to a child is a very rewarding experience, however it also comes with an immense amount of responsibility and stress. The lifestyle adjustments you experience when you become a parent are very real. You find yourself having to look after your new child, and juggle this with work responsibilities. So where does this leave your friends, extended family and your social life?
You may find yourself –
- Withdrawing from spending regular time with friends – losing social connections
- Missing your ‘old’ life and the activities you engaged in prior to being a father
- Not having any ‘me’ time
- Declining invitations to grab a beer or watch a game
- Feelings of loneliness are building towards frustration and distress
- Feeling like you have to work these things out by yourself
- Putting your child and family’s needs before your own
- Feeling “stuck” and not know how to re-connect with people around you
As a new father it is imminent that you will experience a range of emotions. Isolation from your family and friends during this time can significantly increase the risk of Postpartum Depression (YES men can get this too!!). Symptoms of this may include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability and difficulty bonding with your baby.
Parents who experience social isolation from friends and family are 2.5 times more likely to report significant symptoms of distress, as well as show signs of depression (Department of Education and Training VIC). Once social links are lost, it can be difficult to rebuild these links to become connected again. But there are ways to feel connected again, and regain some of your pre-baby self.
Tips for new fathers to feel less isolated –
- Speak with you partner about having some time me time. Whether it be just an hour of a night, to watch your favourite show, or play video games.
- Don’t procrastinate about calling your friends. Sending them a quick text message to say hi can be enough to keep a connection going. Don’t worry about what they may think now that you have less time to hang out with them, just explain your new lifestyle.
- Acknowledge that you may have moments of feeling lonely, and it’s okay to feel this way and talk about it. Suppressing these feelings will make things worse.
- Visit family you haven’t seen in a while and bring the baby along!
- Connect on social media with new and old friends.
- Try something new: enrol in a class and learn a new skill as well as meeting some new people.
- Check out local group activities that may be happening in the area
- Make sure your plans are openly discussed with your partner to ensure consistent care for your child!
If you are struggling, and your feelings of isolation are persistent despite your efforts to make a change, some additional support is something you should consider. Creating Change’s resident male Psychologist, and father Gary Wong, can assist you in working together on techniques and strategies to reconnect socially. With the right support, Gary can help you effectively overcome social isolation, communicate with your partner and empower you to feel more confident and connected. Contact Gary today.
Written By Gary Wong – Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au