The Taipei City Government is stepping up efforts to help men transition from the role of husband to father, including offering group consultations to help identify deep-rooted anxieties that men might experience during this time.
Most men share the view that raising children can be stressful, not only because of the additional demand on family finances, but more importantly, the need to care for and raise a child, the Taipei Men Center said.
Commissioned by the city, the center was set up in 2016 by the Teacher Chang Foundation.
“In short, most men are troubled and stressed out on ‘how to be a father,’” the center said.
Recounting the story of a 40-year-old man surnamed Lin (林), center manager Tu Yao-feng (涂耀丰) said that Lin and his wife had agreed that he would take one year of paternity leave to care for their child, while his wife continued to work.
It was a decision that not all of Lin’s family, friends and colleagues readily understood, Tu said, adding that Lin’s wife also often expressed concern over how he would care for the child.
It was a stressful situation that weighed down on Lin, Tu added.
Lin has returned to work, but is facing another conundrum — how to balance work and family, Tu said.
Hsu (許), a married man in his early 30s, said that men need an organization like the center, but it is a challenge for men to open up and speak out.
Hsu said he loves children, but the moment he learned that his wife was pregnant, he experienced extreme stress, to the point that he had couvade syndrome — when a man experiences symptoms similar to that experienced by his pregnant partner — and even considered asking his wife to have an abortion.
“Now that I look back on it, it was incredible, unbelievable. How could I give up on my child? But at the time, that was how I felt,” Hsu said.
Stereotypical views of how men should comport themselves make it even more difficult for them to share their difficulties in being a father, Tu said.
The Taipei Department of Social Affairs said that it has received many reports of child abuse, quite a number of which turned out to be simply cases of fathers not knowing what to do with their crying children.
To better understand male anxieties, the center is inviting married and unmarried men younger than 45 to join its eight-week course that starts early next month, Tu said.
For next year, the center is planning to hold classes to help soon-to-be fathers adjust to their new role, he said.
The courses aim to prepare men mentally and offer them support to let them know that they are not alone, he said.
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