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Why dads need support groups, too

It’s no secret that mommy groups exist and can be a great way to make new mom friends. We know they can help you feel supported in those early weeks and can help get you out of the house when you feel like it’s the last task you can succeed at.

But what about the dads? Where do they get to go to discuss the new world of fatherhood, to talk with other guys who feel just as unprepared as they do, and to spend time with if they are the primary caregivers at home during the day?

Enter the Daddy Group. These groups are for dads only and provide a space for male caregivers to connect with other guys who have at least one mutual thing in common: their babies.

If this concept sounds strange, it’s important to acknowledge that throughout the journey of pregnancy, giving birth, and new parenthood, moms tend to be the primary focus. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we so often forget that male partners may feel pushed to the side in the process. How they feel about this new human in their house and how their life was just turned upside down might get ignored for fear of taking away any focus from mom and baby, and that’s really not fair.

Dads need to adjust, too. We know that complications like sleep deprivation and postpartum depression affect dads as well as moms. They may feel a brand new pressure to bring more money home (if they are the primary breadwinners in the house) to support their new family. And nothing makes you realize your carefree bachelor days are over like a 2 a.m. diaper blowout change.

Adding another layer of complexity is that more dads are staying home to care for their children while the mom goes off to work in the morning. We never bat an eye at a stay-at-home mom at the coffee shop with her kids, but when a dad tells someone he stays home with his baby, he is often the subject of many negative responses: surprise, disbelief, and mocking (“Does a real man do that?”).

And let’s be real: a guy at the park at 10 a.m. might draw some stares from other moms who are not used to this male presence. They may not be as willing to invite him into a conversation about growth spurts or breastfeeding. This can lead to isolation for a stay-at-home dad who is already feeling lonely since he has left his job and maybe lost contact with some acquaintances or friends in the process.

All of these issues can at least be partially addressed by the camaraderie that a Daddy Group can bring. Talk to other dads or scope out most social media websites. Some meet regularly during the day for stay-at-home dads to connect, while others might be for dads only in the evening hours and might combine other activities like home brewing beer or watching the game. Talk to other Bundoo Dads in the Man Cave.

Whatever one you choose, the same rules apply for making sure it’s a good fit for you, and you can always stop going at any time. But you might be surprised how nice it is to make some new guy friends who won’t judge you for knowing how to expertly swaddle your baby or how to navigate school drop-off perfectly.

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

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