Facing Father’s Day

Too often, men’s thoughts and feelings about not being a father on this emotive day are overlooked.

Father’s Day can be one of the most difficult days of the year when you are not a father – by circumstance not choice. It is hard to avoid the wall-to-wall celebration and commercialisation of fatherhood: the adverts on TV, the cards in shops, the posts on social media. If you are not a father but are yearning to be, it is impossible not to feel left out in the cold.

Too often, men’s thoughts and feelings about not being a father on this emotive day are overlooked. Men are half of the fertility equation; they are as likely to suffer with fertility problems as women, and they struggle equally with the maelstrom of emotions fertility issues throw up; but they often do not have the same support systems in place as women do.

If you are one of the men suffering in silence, why not try to make today the day when you acknowledge – to yourself and others – how your experience of infertility is affecting you. Talk to your partner, a close friend or family member if possible, or perhaps make contact with online male-only fertility support networks such as https://www.facebook.com/groups/mensfertilitysupport/

Taking action about how you feel can help. Fertility network UK needs men to express themselves about fertility issues in a survey we are conducting with Leeds Beckett University. The aim is to improve support services for men. if you have a few free minutes this week or weekend, please fill in the online survey at http://surveys.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/snapwebhost/s.asp?k=149036964806 and help all men facing fertility issues this Father’s Day.

Simply hiding away from it all is also a perfectly reasonable response. I have done this when I knew I simply did not have the strength to face any reminders from the outside world that I was not a parent. Staying in bed all day, or on the sofa – with or without your partner – is allowed. Today, if you cannot have what you desperately want, at least make it a day of being good to yourself.

If home is too claustrophobic, then it is less painful to avoid places that will be full of families, such as restaurants, parks, the cinema and sporting venues. The problem can be where to go? A countryside walk could work, or somewhere you know to be a safe and supportive place.

Father yourself today: indulge in those things you usually don’t – perhaps because you and your partner have been having fertility treatment. Treat yourself and your partner and give yourself the space to grieve as well. Father’s Day cannot help but remind you of what you don’t have, or may have lost and it is important to grieve and remember.

Why not see how others feel and cope. Our #HiddenFaces video stories (and others) highlight the male view from a number of perspectives.

Another positive way to spend the time is to celebrate your own father. So, if you can, make it a day where you go to visit your dad, and celebrate him. But whatever you do, be kind to yourself.