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Challenge: Finding Your Voice as a Parent

Why Some Dads Carry the Weight of a Diagnosis Differently

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I shared a post from Finding Coopers Voice about how it must be different for the Dads. That we must carry the weight of a diagnosis differently, but that the weight is still there. This might not be true for all Dads, but a lot of it was true for me.

When we received our first autism diagnosis we were already expecting it. We knew before going into the meeting, but hearing it out loud and seeing it on paper still brings out the emotions. Sadness, anger, confusion, etc. Not for us, but for our little boy. We never want to see our kids struggle, and we are basically hearing that our child will struggle his whole life. I think this would make any parent feel this list of emotions.

As Dads, men, we aren’t supposed to show emotions. We aren’t supposed to share feelings. We’re supposed hide and burry our feelings and emotions. If we share those emotions or feelings we are considered weak. Why?

I can change a tire, change my oil, replace a car battery, replace an alternator, change brakes, drive a stick shift, hang a TV, fix a faucet, replace a toilet, fix sprinklers, and fix a few other small things. I can do these things, because I was shown from Dad and Father in Law (Thanks!). But, if I share emotions or feelings I’m not manly. If I hug my kids and tell them that I love them in public; If I tell people I co-sleep with my oldest son, and don’t sleep in the same bed with my better half; I’m not manly. I’m considered weird. Or, there are “problems” in my household.

I carried the weight of an autism diagnosis differently, because I felt like I had to. I had to hide my emotions. I had to hide my feelings. I had to hide my fears. I didn’t want to be considered “weak” in the eyes of my fellow men. I could talk to my wife about my emotions and feelings, and I did. I still hid things deep down. Why? Because, I felt like I had to. Now, I’m changing that.

I don’t think Dads should have to hide their feelings about anything. Especially the way they feel about their children. I started sharing my feelings of happiness, proudness, and love. I reply to other’s posts, “I love this so much!”, “This is amazing!”, “So happy for you!”, and can relate to many. I want to show my support for these parents. To let them know they are doing a great job at raising their children. That they are seen, and that there are other parents going through similar experiences. I don’t care if I come across weird for sharing my feelings.

I carried the weight of my sons diagnosis differently, because I felt that I had to. Sometimes I still have to carry it differently. I need to hide my emotions to remain strong for my wife. I don’t feel that it’s right to share my emotions at the same time she is sharing hers. I need to be strong for her while she is sharing her feelings. That’s when it’s about her, about our kids, and about our family. I need to be in the present for her, and try not to let my emotions get the best of me while she’s sharing hers.

If you think Dads don’t have emotions or feelings towards what you may be feeling, you may be wrong. A lot of the Dads carry the weight of emotions/feelings differently, because they feel they have to.

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