What are you most afraid of? It’s snakes, right? I’m afraid of snakes. Specifically, getting eaten by snakes. Then I had my son. Now, I’m afraid my son will be eaten by snakes. Being a “Dude to Dad” means taking on a whole new list of worries and anxieties. Remember spending Sunday nights looking at the ceiling worrying about your life? Now you get to worry for two!
I have the regular “New Dad” fears: My son will get sick, or I’ll drop him, or I’ll drop my sick son into the waiting open jaws of a snake. (Guys. It could happen.) But I have one fear that consistently haunts me most nights as I stare at the baby monitor waiting for him to wake up.
I’m afraid my son will be like me. More specifically, I’m afraid he’ll feel about himself the way I feel about myself.
I’ve battled with some form of depression most of my life. My earliest memories come with a twinge of melancholy. I’m no longer defined by these overwhelming negative feelings, but I had to do hard work to get where I am now. And that work continues every day.
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I don’t want my son to have to carry that load. Sometimes I stare at him, wondering: “What sort of nurturing can I do to offset his potential nature?” Is there a “depression gene?”’ I want to break the cycle.
Questions beget more questions: “How do you help someone when you struggle to help yourself? How do you model good behavior, when you’re just trying to get through the day?” The Sunday night thoughts turn into Monday morning musings and suddenly the week is spiraling away.
So I brought in some outside help. I was lucky enough to sit down with Karamo Brown from Netflix’s Queer Eye. Karamo is not just some guy from a makeover show. He’s a licensed social worker with years of experience and practical advice for people such as myself. His own experience with fatherhood is a truly incredible story.
Fear is a large part of parenting. But shedding light on these issues is the best disinfectant. Openly talking about my “father fears” doesn’t make feel weak. It gives me an opportunity to be strong.
Enjoy this week’s episode of Dude to Dad. And if you’re struggling with some dad-related fears or any mental health issues, don’t be afraid to reach out. Unless you are a snake. Please do not reach out if you are a snake.