As I was leaving my daughter’s swim lessons, I looked up at a billboard from New York State Parent Portal that said, “Let’s Talk Dads.” The billboard was an ad for an app offering resources to parents. Being a dad blogger for over 10 years, I always get excited when I see conversations about fatherhood reaching mainstream audiences.
When I got home, I downloaded the app and began searching through the app. The app had a lot of great information for parents, but I didn’t see any information specifically aimed at fathers. I typed in “Dads” in the keyword search, and nothing came up. I thought there must be something wrong with the server, so I typed in “moms,” and a list of articles came up. I tried again, but nothing came up for dads. I tried “fathers” and only links to fatherhood.gov showed up. I was quite disappointed. My hopes were up that many fathers would see the billboard and not only want to be included in the conversation but have a safe place to find answers and ask questions.
There are many men who still have trouble asking for help. There are many reasons men don’t seek help. Many men might not ask for help because they when they open up. They might feel like their masculinity is attacked. Or, maybe they might be like me and be an introvert and not want to bother people. Whatever the reason, men still have a hard time opening up and reaching out. This was one reason I was excited that an app would be available for dads. They could anonymously look through an app and find answers, a community, or relief from anxiety. Maybe the app is still in the early stages, but I hope there are changes.
When I became a dad over 17-years ago, nobody was reaching out to offer an informational hand. I didn’t know about any fatherly websites offering advice. There weren’t any social media accounts sharing the success and failures of fatherhood. Dad bloggers weren’t around sharing tips, stories, and funny anecdotes. It was just me, a baby boy, and one or two books on the parenting shelf at Barnes and Noble. I had to learn in the thick of the moment. There were times I felt like a parenting failure. If I shared with my wife how I felt, I was afraid of how it would make me look. I definitely wasn’t going to talk about my feelings at the many Mommy & Me classes I was attending. I would have loved a place I could have gone to seek answers and not feel like a failure.
As the disappointment with the app set in, I realized I probably don’t need an app. Not just because I’m an expert father or anything (I am), but because I have a plethora of dads and information at my fingertips. I’m part of many dad communities that are there for me when I need them and I try to be there for them in their time of need.
I tell many new dads that one of the best things I did as a parent was join the NYC Dad’s Group. NYC Dad’s Group grew to become City Dad’s Group and there are groups all over the United States. If you don’t have one in your city, reach out to City Dad’s Group and learn how to start one. Immediately after joining the group many years ago, I have friends I can count on for advice or be present with me. Since then, I’ve joined other dad communities, such as The National At-Home Dad Network and Dad 2.0.
Whether you are a rookie or a seasoned veteran, there are places to get help. There’s no reason to suffer parenting stress in silence. There’s no reason to feel like a failure. Help is available. I hope someday there will be an easy-to-use all-purpose app, but until then, check out the list I’ve created below. There are many more resources for dads, but I listed some that I’m familiar with. If you know of any websites or apps where dads can get help, please list them in the comments.
National Fatherhood Initiative
National At-Home Dad Network
The Dad Gang
City Dads Group
Dad 2 Summit
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