IN GOOD HANDS: Ripley plumber Clint Scott, with son Leo, will celebrate his first Father's Day tomorrow.
IN GOOD HANDS: Ripley plumber Clint Scott, with son Leo, will celebrate his first Father's Day tomorrow. Cordell Richardson

Why new fathers need to stick together to become better dads

NEW dads struggling to deal with the transition into one of the most important roles they can ever take on need to lean on one another to get through the tough times that might arise.

Ripley plumber Clint Scott, 41, will celebrate his first Father's Day tomorrow with son Leo turning one on September 25.

He said most of his mates already had kids before Leo was born, which gave him a bit of a head start on what was to come.

"I probably started a bit later than them," he said.

"I feel I was mentally ready for what to expect."

Mr Scott said he altered his work schedule in order to spend more time with his young son and split duties with fiancé Amy so neither got overwhelmed.

"I'm pretty good with no sleep so that hasn't really effected me," he laughed.

"I'm at work every day. He's started to settle recently so he's been sleeping a lot better. My partner obviously had a lot to do with getting him into a routine. I help of a night time when he's waking up. We split that."

 

Clint Scott with son Leo, who turns 1 in September.
Clint and Leo Scott. Cordell Richardson

Although he loved watching Leo doing the little things and learning something new every day, there were difficult moments that came with being new parents.

"Probably as a couple you don't have as much personal time together, it definitely changes your lifestyle from the way it was," he said.

"Obviously it's a learning curve, there's so many different techniques and advice people try and give you and you've got to try what suits you as a family.

"He's got a cheeky smile on him. He's a wriggler. A lot of other kids I've seen just sit there but he doesn't sit still too often. Mum said I was the same, so it's probably pay back."

Clinical psychologist and University of Southern Queensland lecturer James Brown said traversing that territory for the first time wasn't easy.

According to Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia, up to one in 10 new dads struggle with anxiety or depression in the year following the birth of their bub.

"What we're finding is that men also experience post natal depression as what we more traditionally understood to be an experience of just mothers," he said.

"We're now finding in the last 10 or more years it's actually also the experience that fathers can sometimes experience depression and anxiety in those early few years following the birth of a child.

"It doesn't always have to be the first child either, it could be a subsequent child that they might have that experience.

"There's groups that have started out, one in particular called Dads Group Inc, and it's a group of guys that have formally organised themselves into play groups specifically for dads with young babies.

"Dads, if they're struggling, will feel a lot better about their roles as a father when they meet with other dads and feel more normal about their experiences and their struggles and feel that they can get through it. (The groups) can be a really good source of advice and good strategies. Men appreciate hearing those ideas coming from other men who have been through what they've been through."

 

Clinical psychologist James Brown.
Clinical psychologist James Brown. Contributed

Mr Brown said fathers shouldn't shy away from seeking help from a professional or even another dad if they find themselves experiencing the 'baby blues'.

"The main difficulty is the impact that they then experience in their relationship and sometimes it's a period of upheaval in their relationship and they can really hit hard times," he said.

"Dads can end up sleeping on the couch or at their mate's place. A lot of the work I have done with guys is trying to help them to work through the changes that it brings to their relationship and how to navigate that well so they can come out of the experience stronger.

"At the end of the day the most important thing for their children is to have a happy home with mum and dad that are working well together."

Mr Brown said some find it hard to celebrate Father's Day.

"There can be bad memories and the question as to whether we should make a big deal out of it," he said.

"I say to people we really should make a big day out of it and celebrate fathers. What we are actually trying to do is not so much say thanks to the dads that you've had, but also trying to help dads of the future to see the potential of the role they can play in a young person's life... even if perhaps they didn't come from a family where there was a present father in their own lives."