Dads, you're not alone.
That's the message from scores of blogs, Web sites, support groups and other resources aimed at helping fathers cope with the stresses of balancing parenting and careers. Fathers often feel lonely, isolated and lacking in resources to help them sort through the many issues they face when trying to juggle a son's plea to hear Goodnight Moon read seven times in one evening with a client's demands to see an updated presentation at tomorrow's breakfast meeting.
But a growing number of resources now offer fathers advice, encouragement and camaraderie. If you want support, even if it's just in the form of a couple of guys hanging out once a month, then you can find it -- or make it happen on your own.
"Groups like ours provide a way for dads, working or not, to make some friends with similar interests, feel like they're not alone in these issues and share some ideas about them," says Mike Biewenga, who runs ChicagoDads.com. "In turn, they'll hopefully have a little more happiness and a little less stress."
But as Biewenga and other dads emphasize, the resources for dads haven't caught up with the active roles men now play in parenting. Women have an easier time connecting, they say, whether through playgroups or networking organizations like Mothers & More. Meanwhile, discussions about balancing work and family often focus on moms, as in the "mommy wars" debate. "To some degree, it's harder for dads to find resources to help them deal with these challenges than it is for moms," Biewenga says.
Others agree. "It's double or triple the effort to find resources," says Greg Allen, publisher of the daddytypes.com blog.
As Biewenga sees it, the parenting infrastructure is more focused on mothers than fathers. "There's an established system out there that isn't particularly compatible with the new expectations placed on dads or the new expectations that dads have for themselves," he says.
But dads are changing that, one blog or support group at a time. Here are resources to help dads find support in balancing careers and family.
Visit popular daddy blogs like daddytypes.com and you will find -- through their blogrolls -- an entire world devoted to dads. These blogs not only address issues dads face, but also form an ongoing conversation among dads. If you want to take part, just start reading -- or, better yet, comment on a post, share your ideas with your favorite daddy blogger or start your own blog.
Face-to-face groups for dads often focus on those who stay at home -- just peruse the lists at athomedad -- but they're often open to working dads, too. Groups vary in format, but many hold organized meetings and outings for dads, providing a supportive atmosphere to share ideas and concerns.
John Havens, founder of "Pop" Culture, an organization for dads in New Jersey, says the group provides a much-needed community for dads, many of whom work full-time. The group's meetings at a local diner focus on issues that members raise; at least half the time, he says, one of the major issues revolves around balancing work and parenting.
Local libraries, daddy blogs and mothers' groups will likely know about groups for dads in your area. And if you can't find one? Start one, says Havens. Just invite some friends or acquaintances to a meeting at a guy-friendly locale, like a diner or bar. Don't be discouraged if just four or five show up on a regular basis. "If those core guys keep coming back, it serves a purpose," he says. "I'm amazed at how intimate our conversations will get."
Tips Via Email
The All Pro Dad Web site offers a free daily email called Play of the Day, which currently provides 25,000 dads with information, advice and inspiration to make them better husbands and fathers. Best of all, it's free.
Organizations for Dads
Other organizations researching fatherhood are uncovering a growing desire among dads to find ways to spend more time with their children. The Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit researching the changing workforce, has The Fatherhood Project, an effort to develop ways to support men in parenting. The National Center for Fathering also focuses on helping dads; the group's Web site includes hundreds of articles with tips for dads, divided into topics such as dads who travel, work/family issues and active listening.
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