Child care

Daddy issues

Father’s Day in Australia celebrates the achievements and challenges of life as a dad.

For some however, the holiday can be a daunting reminder of the unusual pressures being a parent brings, especially for single fathers.

With growing evidence on the mental strain of facing parenthood alone, such as social isolation and even premature death, a lens on life for young or single fathers can be important.  

Heavy diesel mechanics apprentice Jordan Wilkins says being a parent is a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience.

Mr Wilkins says he felt like he was being judged as a 15-year-old single father.

“I didn’t have my licence yet so I had to catch buses and trains to get places.

“I always felt myself getting judged on public transport. I think people saw me as a kid with a kid,” he says.

Jordan Wilkins speaks on his experience of fatherhood. Video: Duncan Bailey and Paige Lundie.

As 13.3 per cent of men in Australia experience depression or anxiety, it’s no surprise that taking on fatherhood alone can be an isolating experience.

Relationships Australia WA education coordinator Mark Burrage says a lot of men don’t have a big cohort of friends, and when they separate from their family it can come as a big shock.

Information on single fathers. Photo: Duncan Bailey.

“Initially when dads separate or divorce from their families, they become quite isolated and this can lead to dangerous habits,” he says.

“A lot of them don’t know how to get help so the danger is that they may turn to things like drinking or drug abuse.”

Mr Burrage runs the 4Dads program, which holds workshops and barbeques to try and create a community amongst dads, whether single or not.

“We host these workshops so fathers can meet in a safe environment, with the hope they’ll become mates,” Mr Burrage says.

“While they might not have a whole lot in common, they’re still a dad with children.”