Empowering dads of kids with disabilities to ask for help
There’s no doubt that being a parent of a child with a disability can be stressful and challenging, and while you are busy focusing on your child’s needs, you can often neglect your own.
As dad to a five-year-old autistic boy, Rob Hale realised that he, like many other men, were often too proud or afraid to show vulnerability and ask for support. After experiencing his own mental health challenges, Rob decided to create a podcast – Dad-ability, dedicated to empowering dads of kids with disabilities, by encouraging them to open up and be vulnerable.
We love everything about this awesome podcast here at Carer Solutions and think it needs to be shared far and wide. At its heart, the podcast aims to bring dads of kids with disability together, to share their stories and learn from others. Put simply, dads supporting dads – and what’s not to love about that!?
Rob says his lived experience has shown that there needs to more support for dads of kids with disability. Trying to go it alone increases the risk of depression and anxiety going unrecognised and untreated.
“I have felt very alone and isolated as a dad of a disabled son over the past few years. Even with my son joining a disability school this year, it was the mums who flocked together naturally to form connections and support each other – while the dads were largely silent and not as involved.” Rob says.
With 35 per cent of households living with someone with a disability in Australia, Rob recognised that there must be a way to connect dads better, so they can learn from each other, and not feel that they had to go it alone.
“The podcast felt like a very low touch way for people to listen and feel connected to a like-minded community of dads that get it”.
Rob talks very candidly about his own personal mental health battle in his podcast, urging other dads to seek professional health if they are not coping. He urges men not to “just solider on and hope it will improve.” He says if you start to notice feelings of guilt or resentment, then you would benefit from seeking professional support.
“When you have something wrong with your physical health you see a doctor, so if your mental health is suffering, you should seek help too. It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay.”
Rob shares his own personal self-care tips on how he maintains a healthy body and mind.
“I do a five-minute guided meditation via an app first thing in the morning and last thing before I go to sleep each night. This daily practice gives me some personal space to disconnect from my busy life. I have always felt my best when I go to the gym and do strength training, so I make sure I do this four to five times per week.”
Rob says that if you experience change in mood, irritability, anxiety or perhaps notice a lower resilience to cope with the stress or meltdowns that come with parenting a child with a disability, then put your hand up and ask for help – don’t suffer in silence.
“You are human, you will make mistakes and lose it at times – and that’s okay. Be brave and ask for what you need so that people can help you. Be kind to yourself and don’t keep score or beat yourself up – lean into the discomfort as that is where you will find your biggest lessons and growth as a dad.”
If you are a dad of a child with disabilities, or know someone who is, then be sure to listen and subscribe to the Dad-ability podcast. And of course, if you love it – make sure you spread the word and share, because you know – sharing is caring!
Do you have any other great disability podcast recommendations? Let us know!