Thanks so much for all the wonderful help with the End of Financial Year ‘Help the Children’ Appeal. Your giving will help Dads4Kids to keep going.
The good news is, we are just over halfway to our target. I am sure we will get there in the end, but it just might take a bit more time.
If you would still like to support the Dads4Kids Help Children Appeal, please DONATE HERE!
Just a few days ago, I received this very moving call for help from a father at his wits’ end. I asked Stephen (not his real name) if I could share his story with our readership. He graciously said yes.
I am one of the loser, deadbeat Dads that got it wrong. After spending 15 years working as hard as possible to support my family, I suffered occupational burnout. Another career setback 12 months later resulted in severe depression lasting 2.5 years and counting. (Although I would self-report at mild depression.) My work-related trauma means I am far from going back to work any time soon.
Any day now I expect my divorce papers to arrive in the mail. It is more complicated than this. You see, my wife and I separated when she could see I was not getting better, and the children (and her) were suffering.
The separation set my slightly improving severe depression back, probably another 6 months or more.
It has been the better part of 3 years since I have been much of a parent, and 6 of the 12 months before that I suffered severe depression, and 6 of the 12 months before that I was working 70-hour weeks and binge-watching Netflix to recover for another week. And 6 of the 12 months before that I also spent in severe depression after being made redundant.
In short, I am the world’s biggest loser who all but killed myself (figuratively and literally) many, many times trying to provide for my family.
Having read about your fatherhood courses (flicked through), it is pretty clear I am not your target audience. I am a poster boy of what not to do, what not to be, what a man isn’t and what a father isn’t.
Not only being jobless for 4 of the past 5 years, but broken, battered, rejected by life, by employers, by my family, by myself, and at times it felt like I was rejected by God Himself.
My whole life I have wanted to be a good father; at times I probably scraped a C. I guess I am never going to be a great dad, or even an actual ‘man’.
I still do not see myself ever working again, let alone using my engineering degree. I am probably only alive because of my faith in Christ and the terrible legacy it would leave my children if I were to commit suicide. Not that I can see my battle with depression is any more beneficial to them than my passing would be.
I do not know how, but I am alive.
Where there is life, there is hope. Saying that, I guess part of that hope died when I see how incapable I am to qualify (separated/divorced), attend (Covid-19, finances, travel etc) or pass your courses.
I do not even know what I am trying to say. Clearly it is “possible” for me to be to become a slightly less deadbeat Dad?
In a world that wants to tear down white middle-aged men, for all my so-called privilege, advantage, racist, sexist, violent, misogynistic stereotype, I have failed more than anyone I have ever met. Where can I turn for help? What is my first step?
I know you talk about the data on good biological fathering, but what does the data say about me? Are my children better off if I was dead?
Are my children better off if I walked away and never saw them again? Are they better off if I learn to be a good person? A man, a good father?
My heart has wept and continues to weep for their loss, for my failure to them, for my lack.
I hear the words, “It is never too late.” Is that true? What does yes/no/maybe actually mean?
I guess my simple question is, where can I get help?
In Loving Kindness,
I shared Stephen’s deeply moving story with Paul Lassig, Dads4Kids Development Manager. This is what he told me:
“Warwick, so much of this guy’s story is exactly my journey. So many points are the same or similar. He is not disqualified! He is the target audience. And all is not lost.”
Paul is 100% correct. Stephen as a father is a key reason Dads4Kids exists. Personally, I experienced some of this pain, depression, burnout and self-doubt as a father when I lost everything in a business failure in 1984.
Sadly, there are probably another 10,000 men minimum in a similar position right now across Australia. The COVID lockdowns are adding to the weight of the problem. Sadly, suicide becomes an option for such men at such difficult times. It was for me.
As Thoreau said,
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
The good news is that I had a good chat with Stephen, and he is greatly encouraged. Better still, he is booked in to come to the newly announced Online Men’s Leadership Summit on Saturday 17 July 2021. Stephen has fallen amongst friends.
All of us are broken in some way. We all struggle as fathers. None of us is perfect and every time we fall over, we just get back up again and keep on going. This is the only way to overcome the challenge of failure.
Such a powerful story for those who give to keep Dads4Kids going.
Dads4Kids is saving men’s lives on a daily basis. This is not hearsay — this is reality! Thank you again for your kind support.
Make sure you tell your children about some of your imperfections when they are old enough to bear it. It is good for them to know their dad is a work in progress. Tim Hansel was right to say,
“It takes time to be a good father. It takes effort — trying, failing, and trying again.”
Yours for Dads Who Keep on Trying,
PS: Sadly, we have had to cancel our three-day Men’s Leadership Summit. The good news is the Summit is now online on Saturday 17 July 2021 for one day only, between 9AM – 6PM AEST. Watch the NEW video promo here. Check out the NEW brochure here. More info in NEWS & info. Book HERE NOW!
[Photo by Andrea Piacquadio