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Simon Gregory of GPS Return reckons working dads have been hurt by the pandemic, we need to look after ourselves and we need to make our voices heard.
Over recent months we have, quite rightly, seen a lot of press talking about how Covid has impacted women’s careers, women’s mental health and the ability of women to both earn a living and provide homeschooling. It has been an incredibly difficult 18 months. Of course, it has had an impact on women. But what about us dads?
It seems like we’ve been pushed to one side by the press, by assumptions based on old-fashioned views and by people who have made a name for themselves shouting loudly about the needs of women.
When Rishi Sunak made a point of thanking mums for balancing work and homeschooling in January, social media went nuts. They called him sexist and accused Rishi of living in the dark ages, all because he had assumed it was women trying to find the balance between work and home. Of all the LinkedIn posts and angry people on Twitter I saw, about five per cent actually pointed out that his comments were also offensive to the thousands of dads who had made sacrifices to balance work and home during the pandemic. What is particularly disappointing is that this has been typical of the dads experience over the last year.
I should at this point make it clear that I don’t disagree with the fact that women have had it difficult, and I am well aware that there are many groups out there who have had a very tough time and not just over the last 18 months, but that doesn’t mean it is OK to marginalise others.
As Dads, we often have the pressure of being the breadwinner, being the strong one, being able to fix everything.
As Dads, we often feel caught in the middle as our work pulls in one direction and home pulls us in the other.
As Dads, we are bullied in the workplace but it is dressed up as banter and we shouldn’t be ‘so sensitive’.
As Dads, we are accused of being under the thumb if we prioritise home above work.
As Dads, we are expected to just get on with it.
As Dads, we have the highest rate of suicide with men accounting for almost 75% of all suicides in the U.K.
But it’s ok because we’re Dads and we’ll figure it out.
Let’s be clear about this though. It’s ok to feel lost, to feel like you’re not in control, to feel trapped and to cry. What is really important is how you deal with these feelings – don’t push them down or ignore them, talk about them, to your friends, your family, to the Samaritans, to anyone who will listen, just talk. Please. Give yourself space, give yourself time and prioritise you.
As for being pushed to the side and forgotten, perhaps we need to make our voices heard, to make people realise that if we, as a society, are to achieve genuine equality then the dads need to brought on the same journey and included. Perhaps we need to remind people that we’re parents too, including the Rt Hon. Rishi Sunak and his cronies.
Simon Gregory is managing partner at GPS Return.