Every dad reaches the point where he’s mentally, physically, or emotionally overwhelmed. Stress and responsibilities weigh him down like an anchor and he just needs a break. Life doesn’t slow down to provide a break, so some dads just check out.
What that looks like varies based on the man. Some sit mindlessly in front of the TV, others jump to YouTube, others work on their car or some other hobby.
Regardless of how this plays out in your home, when it does it’s frustrating and crippling.
Once we understand some of the common triggers that push dads to the point of hopelessness, we can create some solutions.
Dads Need Rest
Dads get tired. Sometimes it’s our own fault (like when we spend three hours watching goats faint on YouTube), other times its beyond out immediate control (long hours at work or a crying baby). No matter the cause, fatigue is an enemy that zaps our creativity and leaves us a muddled mound of mental mud. So let’s destroy it!
Ruthless, Regular Bedtime
Start with a ruthless bedtime. Decide on a time to be in bed, and be in bed by that time. You’re a man. Stop making excuses and start making progress.
I know you’re thinking bedtime is for babies. No, its for humans. Especially tired, worn out humans who don’t know when to call it a day. Put wisdom to practice and get on a scheduled sleep time.
In my house that’s 9:00. That’s time to turn off the computer, TV, phone, etc. The day is over, so I go to bed. There will always be more that needs to be done, regardless of how late I stay up to do it. If I get some sleep I’ll be all the more productive tomorrow.
Dads Need Exercise
Exercise, while being the last thing you want to do when you’re physically worn out, is one of the best things to do.
Aside from the cocktail of chemicals it releases in your brain to help you sleep and feel good, heavily worked muscles in the day will produce deep, restful sleep at night.
Try hard manual labor for one Saturday and see how good you feel a day or two later.
Dads Don’t Know How
Sometimes dads check out because they don’t know how to be dads. They didn’t have an example growing up. It’s not their fault they never learned how to be a dad. It is their fault if they choose never to learn.
You’ll have to do some digging on your own here. Everyone has a different parenting philosophy, and since mine won’t match up with yours, I’m not going to give a list of useful parenting websites. Instead, I’ll encourage you to ask an online friend or two for their recommendations and create your own list of useful websites.
Step 1: Find a man who looks like he’s got it together. He’s got a good job, a happy wife and kids, and his life generally looks the way you’d like yours to look.
Step 2: Stalk him until he gives up all his secrets. Maybe not stalk him, but get to know him. Invite him over. Join organizations he’s a part of. Hang out where he hangs out. More is caught than taught, so even if you don’t connect with that guy, you’ll absorb from the guys he hangs around. And be sure not to use the word “stalk” in your conversations.
Another option is life coaching. No, I’m not shamelessly adding this one to sell my own life coaching services, but because it works. Depending on the coach, this can be like mentorship on steroids. Definitely something to look into.
There are a lot of books written on the topic of fatherhood. Not all are good (in fact, I think most are more useful for lighting fires than guiding dads). Again, I’m withholding my own recommended list, but I’m sure the rest of the folks here can chime in on the comments and recommend some stellar material.
Afraid to Fail
Another reason men tune out is they’re afraid to fail. This is a deep fear for most people, men in particular. Respect is a critical need for men, and anything that causes us to lose face among those we care about can be enough to paralyze our actions.
Ladies, there’s good news. This is an area in which you hold more influence than he does. Sure, it’s his issue he needs to work through, but the way you see him has a greater impact on him than anyone (including himself).
Even if your guy is a failure, if you praise his effort you’ll see startling changes in him. It provides a safety net for him, so even if he tries and fails not only will he not be catching grief from you (which is the fastest way to kill a man’s spirit), he’ll actually receive the praise he needs.
If he tries and succeeds, he can celebrate the success. If he tries and fails, he can rest in your encouragement. Suddenly, any tuning back in becomes a win.
What resource have you found helpful for overwhelmed or discouraged dads who are about ready to throw in the towel?