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Father’s Day: Is It Easier For Men To Deal With ‘Parenting Holidays’?


Recently, I asked a friend who is struggling with infertility if her husband might be interested in writing a guest post here regarding Father’s Day and infertility. I floated this idea out a few weeks in advance because I knew that it would probably require some thought on his part (as to whether or not to write such a post). After all, it’s an emotional topic.

My friend later got back to me and let me know that her husband had given it some thought and had decided not to write such a post at this time. Apparently, though, my having posed the question about the guest blog post triggered some conversation for this couple.

I try not to make generalizations about one gender or another but over the years I have heard many cases of men who talk less about their infertility struggles than women while still being profoundly affected by the struggles. I myself believe that the way our society socializes boys and girls to grow into men and women has a lot to do with how readily men discuss their feelings about the infertility struggle… or not. Many men I know of (who are struggling with infertility) spend less time talking about it than their partners. However, that does not necessarily mean that they spend less time thinking about it or feeling the many emotions associated with infertility struggles.

I was reading the article Father’s Day and the Fertility Challenged. I think there are some men who seem less fazed by the hoopla surrounding Father’s Day than, say, their wives might regarding Mother’s Day. I understand the author’s point that the marketing for Father’s Day is typically more subtle than for Mother’s Day. At the same time, I wonder how many men are out there hurting, grieving, and suffering in silence. I wonder how many men don’t feel comfortable fully sharing their feelings of grief and loss.

Perhaps they have difficulty articulating these feelings? Perhaps they are watching their wives deal with the grief and loss and they wish to spare them additional pain? Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos touched on this topic (how her husband coped) in her award-winning book Silent Sorority.

I think one of the most important things to remember is that men are affected profoundly by infertility struggles. They may or may not have easy access to the resources that can assist them in coping with their situation. Again, I don’t wish to over-generalize but based on my observations it seems that women struggling with infertility tend to have a better support system than men for dealing with it.

In the course of writing this post, I came across numerous articles regarding the topic “Father’s Day can be tough for men with male factor infertility”. While I have no doubt that this is true, I certainly don’t think that the challenges associated with infertility struggles (for men) are limited to those with male factor infertility. Whether infertility is determined to be male factor, female factor, or a combination of both… the challenges of infertility affect people in all of the above groups.

So, going back to the title of the post… Is it easier for men to deal with parenting holidays? I would argue ‘no’. Women struggling with infertility who undergo infertility treatment have to deal with hormones, injections, and various invasive procedures. This certainly adds layers of additional stress. At the same time, the men who love them and are by their sides throughout the treatment process are on the same complicated journey. They are there supporting and worrying about their wives.

It’s important not to overlook the feelings of men who struggle with infertility. If you know someone struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss, be aware that holiday weekends like this can be especially painful times. For couples who have struggled with miscarriages, holidays like this can be especially tough. Your support for your friends, co-workers, and loved ones who struggle with infertility may well make a frustrating, challenging, heartbreaking time just a little easier.

Finally, here is a link from RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association that some may find helpful:




This post was written by Jeanne at http://chronichealing.com. Copyright © Jeanne — chronichealing.com. All rights reserved.


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8 comments

1 JeannetteNo Gravatar { 06.17.11 at 2:21 pm }

I would think that men suffer regarding infertility on Father’s day as well. As you said in the post, they generally don’t have the same supports that women do. I can hardly imagine a group of men chatting about it and having them listen to each other and hug etc. the same way that women do. I doubt they would even discuss it very much unless it was as part of an organized support group. Men that want children and can not must suffer but most don’t seem to speak up about it.

Unfortunately, my Aunt and her husband could not have children even though they both really wanted to. It lead to the breakdown of their marriage because he simply did not want to talk about it. He carried the guilt and felt responsible for not giving his wife a child. Personally I feel bad for anyone that deals with infertility, men or women. It is something most of us take for granted, but knowing the joy that children bring, my heart goes out to anyone with this problem. It must be really difficult, all the time but even more magnified on Father’s and/or Mother’s day.

2 KellyNo Gravatar { 06.17.11 at 2:28 pm }

Jeanne, I truly appreciate your post and your thoughtfulness of men as well. I agree with you that men suffer more silently and may not feel the freedom to share. My man is a quiet guy, a thinker. He’s not a very emotional man and has a hard time connecting with his true feelings. However, I do wonder sometimes if he does not share how he feels about our inability (b/c of chronic illness) not to have children. Thanks for your post!

3 DianeNo Gravatar { 06.17.11 at 2:35 pm }

Jeanne, thank you for this excellent and important post. I feel like the men impacted by infertility are too often ignored in the conversations surrounding the issue.

4 JeanneNo Gravatar { 06.19.11 at 12:35 am }

Jeannette:

Unfortunately this is one of the toughest times of the year for those struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss. I’m sorry to hear that your aunt and her husband went through so many difficulties. Infertility can be extremely hard on marriages. Many women from my local endometriosis support group (some of whom struggled with endometriosis-induced infertility) went through divorces. Infertility is a very stressful thing to go through. Thank you for your kind words in support of those who face such struggles.

One of the saddest things I have ever seen is people who are struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss and simultaneously dealing with insensitive people all around them – who make thoughtless remarks, cast judgments, and give out unsolicited (and often maddening) advice. I only wish that those struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss had more support and understanding from society as a whole. Too many people do, as you said, take fertility for granted. Too few people have a clue how heartbreaking, stressful, disappointing, and frustrating infertility can be… or what a toll it can take on people.

Kelly:

Thank you. So much of what I’ve seen written about these matters tends to focus on women. While it’s obviously crucial for women to get the support they need, I have heard so many cases of men who did not get the type (or level) of support they needed for one reason or another. I’m sorry that you and your husband are not able to have children.

P.S. Just as me asking my friend whether her husband was interesting in writing a guest blog post for this weekend and her asking him about it sparked a conversation with him, perhaps sharing this post with your husband might make it easier for him to talk about his feelings (if he wishes to do so)? Sometimes, it’s hard for someone to get started on a topic like this but once the topic is introduced in a “safe” way, it becomes easier to discuss it. It might make him feel better to talk about it and it might not… but sometimes just putting a topic out there and allowing the other person to decide whether they do or don’t wish to talk about it can potentially free them up to discuss it.

Diane:

Thank you. I agree that men are too often ignored in conversations surrounding this issue. I think that it’s important for the men to have their feelings validated too!

~~~

Jeanne

5 AnnieNo Gravatar { 06.19.11 at 4:32 pm }

I agree that men certainly don’t have anything like the support system women have when dealing with infertility. Infertility has been VERY hard on both my husband and I, though he doesn’t tend to get hung up about certain dates (Father’s Day, would-be-due dates, etc). I’m glad my husband writes on my blog sometimes to share his perspective.

6 JeanneNo Gravatar { 06.21.11 at 1:03 am }

Annie:

I’m sorry that infertility has been so hard on you and your husband. I agree that it’s great that he shares his perspective on your blog.

Jeanne

7 JennNo Gravatar { 06.28.11 at 3:03 pm }

I didn’t realize it until I read your post, but I have never encountered an article on this topic. Thanks for raising awareness about it. It’s a very important topic.

8 JeanneNo Gravatar { 06.29.11 at 5:58 pm }

Jenn:

Thank you. It is an important topic. Hopefully increasing people’s awareness of it will be helpful.

Jeanne

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