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Ep. 56: Fatherhood Ready with Dan Doty

Dan (00:00):

We had lots of talks, we had lots of information we had, and, and the blind Sidedness was still other worldly. You know, it's just like, it's so intense. And I think that's very true for everyone. But I, but I, I think it might be true that for men, like men just don't talk about this at all, right? Men don't talk about becoming dads. They don't talk about men don't talk.

Tanya (00:33):

Hey everyone, I'm your midwife, Tanya Tringali. Welcome to the Mother Wit Podcast, a show about the issues we healthcare consumers and providers face every day as we interact with the medical system. We'll talk about its blind spots, shortcomings, and share strategies we can use to feel seen and heard, no matter which side of the table we sit on. My guest today is Dan Doty. He's a writer, wilderness guide, men's work leader and somatic meditation teacher. He leads retreats, hosts a podcast called Fatherhood Unlocked, and he's given talks around the world on masculinity, fatherhood, and spirituality. And he has a new program for expectant dads called Fatherhood Ready, and one for those already in it called Father's Fire. Now, 99% of my listeners are women, and I get that. But listeners, I encourage you to share this one with the men in your life, particularly if they're planning to have children in the future, if they're new dads. And honestly, even if they're seasoned, it's never too late to join this discussion. I learned a lot from Dan, and I have no doubt that the best of us Mothers, fathers, and anyone who loves their own kids or someone else's has something to learn from this episode. Well, hey, Dan,

Dan (01:53):

How's it going? Hey,

Tanya (01:55):

It's good. I'm really glad to have you.

Dan (01:58):

I'm, I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to just have some time to Yeah. Get to know you and talk about, uh, I guess what, I assume we're gonna talk, I guess we could talk about anything in the world, huh? But I assume we're gonna be talking about

Tanya (02:11):

Yeah, well we clearly, yes, we could talk about anything, but you have a expertise that is outside of my wheelhouse and that I feel I neglect it has been on my to-do list in terms of building up my practice and my resources. And because it's not my expertise, right. I'm a midwife. I am, I have a lot of expertise in women and women's health and motherhood, but not as much when it comes to fatherhood. Yeah. And while I try to support couples in their relationship and their dynamics, I definitely fall short when it comes to just supporting new fathers or expectant fathers, kind of in that phase one-on-one. And I'm not sure I should be expected to do that. Right. So that's where it kind of gets a little muddy. Oh, yeah. But because fathers do play such a huge role in the work I do with my clients, I think you have so much to offer my clients where I fall short. And that's kind of where I really wanna fill in the blanks into today's conversation. Um, also what I understand is that you come to this from a really particular place that I really value, but also fall short as I think many of us do, which is in terms of your meditation background and all of that. Yeah. So, perhaps before we dive into what you do in the work you do with men Yeah. I really wanna hear your story. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and how you got here. 'cause I'm kind of making an assumption, but so many of us who work in, I guess like the broader wellness space, right? Kind of have a past that got us here, <laugh>.

Dan (03:49):

A hundred percent. Yeah. Do you want the, the nickel version or the dime ver <laugh>, I guess. Do, do you wanna, um, how far back do you want me to,

Tanya (03:58):

I want you to give, I want you to give the version that you think hits home for, for this audience. And I'm not so worried about time, if this is a longer episode, I'm good with that. Yeah. It's whatever.

Dan (04:09):

Well, so, alright. I'll just start with like origins and, and be light and sort of pointed on that. And so I, I grew up in the Midwest. Um, well, let me start with now. So I'm Dan Doty. I live on the coast of Maine, uh, with my wife, Elise. We've been married 10 years, almost 10 years now. We have three kids. Uh, my oldest son is seven, my middle son is five, and my daughter just turned two. And, um, I guess maybe just let me give a, a a broad statement of what I care about, and then I'll fill in the, the story of the bi the biography. Right. So I have been, I've sort of stumbled into a life focus and a passion for supporting men in, uh, multiple dimensions of, of life. The, the emotional, the spiritual, the mental health, the, the physical, just like on this, this like whole, whole spectrum of things. So I'll tell you why and how I got there. And um, so I grew up in the Midwest, small farming town in North Dakota. Intact family, uh, loving household with a lot of stuff under the surface that didn't get talked about. And I've said this on lots of interviews, but I grew up in a culture where nobody ever really expressed anything other than the fact that they were fine, which was so not true. <laugh>, it's so obvious to me. I was a very sensitive, uh, young man, a very sensitive boy. And, uh, you know, just grew up in a, I'd say local microculture, but also the larger culture of masculinity within the United States in the eighties and and nineties, right. And, um, I dunno, had a fairly, fairly healthy and, uh, normal-ish childhood. Um, when I went to school in my college years, I really got lucky and kind of burst out of my bubble. One of my, uh, uh, my amazing girlfriend at the time who, she came home from class one day and literally like grabbed me by the ear and said, listen, dude, if you want to be my boyfriend, you gotta come to Europe for a year. I'm like, okay, you know, let's go to Europe, <laugh>. It just kinda luckily sort of got out of my little Midwest bubble. And, um, that's meant traveling. That meant adventure. That meant just sort of like opening out into the world. And that led me directly to my first career, which was a wilderness therapy guide, which I, again, I was unaware of this world, unaware of this industry was on Craigslist, looking for a job, stumbled into this and found myself in the desert of Utah with, uh, leading these like long, deep, in depth, uh, rites of passage experiences for young men, for adolescent young men. And I just stumbled into my calling, you know, I was 21 or 22 and, and I found myself out doing this work. And, uh, it was my calling on, on several different levels, right? Just the wilderness. Uh, I was, I was into the wilderness. I was into nature already. But just having that experience as a young man myself was deeply impactful. But then just this simple sort of big brother mentor role that I got to play with these young men was deeply impactful to me. And, you know, I think it's fairly obvious that I also needed what they were getting right, the therapeutic work they were getting, the self, you know, self-inquiry work they were getting. I also needed myself. Um, but there was also an aspect where I got to do work in that context with boys and their fathers. And that really is the first culmination point to me when I got to be out there in this context of really slowing down, you know, being present with each other. And when a, when a father and a son had some of these moments of connection, which, and if you can imagine there a lot of fathers have some sort of barrier or wall between them, emotional barrier, communication barrier, or whatever it is, when those barriers came down, the, the just like profound nature of what it was like to be around, um, fathers and their children with, with full love flowing, with full honesty flowing. And just that, that experience changed my life. And that set me on the course, you know, to, I guess head to where I am today. And what that meant was, you know, several years of doing this wilderness work, uh, I decided to move to New York City to become a New York City teaching fellow. So I taught in the Bronx for a couple years. That was part of my path. Um, I had a sort of breakdown, like actually importantly, I had a very big breakdown in my late twenties. I was teaching in New York, I was burnt out. Um, and in my breakdown I found men's work. So my first men's circles for myself, I found my first therapist, I started meditating. Um, and I started just, you know, it, it was sort of like a, uh, getting dropped into the deep end of a different way of living, sort of very quickly. Um, and I had some other work stuff I don't need to get into. I I, I was actually in TV and film for a while and I used to direct and produce some, some wilderness based TV shows. But all of this sort of led me up to, uh, 2016 when my first son was born and I became a father. And in that same year, I launched a company called Every Man, which was a, ended up being a sort of a global men's work, uh, organization that specifically taught and brought forth, uh, emotional capacity, embodiment skills. And really just what we did was bring men together to slow down and tune in and, um, begin to be able to navigate life with our actual feelings in play and our actual experience in play. Um, and just one more little chapter. And then, uh, I feel like my run on is going a little bit too long, but that happened for a while. Um, more kids came along and about three years ago I left that organization and now I run, um, programming for dads specifically. I've just kind of really honed in that as my, my real passion and purpose. Um, I also do work with executives and stuff as a day job, but my real passion is, is building education, community programming, um, yeah, for Papas, for Dads, it's just, it's, it's what I, what I do.

Tanya (10:47):

Wow. Uh, well that was really a very interesting story. You had me kind of hook line and sinker in there, and I actually felt kind of emotional as you talked about dads and that barrier, because I don't think it's just dads and their sons, it's dads and their little girls too. So Yeah, it's just, it's just dads and, and not that moms don't have it. Moms have it too. But I do appreciate the unique perspective that dads are coming from. And I think, you know, that's where the little bit of work that I do in validating some of the behavior I see routinely in men comes from, is understanding that the burden is different. And I times are changing dramatically, but I think I'm in my forties kind of assuming you are too. Yeah. In your forties, ballpark. Um, you know, I just, I still feel like our generation is on the edge of having been raised by a generation where those gender stereotypes were really still there. I see a huge difference in the people that are younger than us by a decade. Certainly I have a 23-year-old child, uh, only one. And I see a huge difference in the people that are in their twenties in terms of how they view kind of masculinity and manliness and, you know, all the, there's so many more stay at home dads and all these things that have become more accepted. So these barriers are naturally being broken down a little bit. But I think those of us raised in the eighties really had a tough time with those parental relationships. And then we are obviously continuing that generational cycle. And at at least I think we're seeing people willing to acknowledge that they need help or that we need help. Totally. And I think that's where your work is really impactful in coming in.

Dan (12:35):

Yeah. So you said, you know, I forget the exact phrase you just said, but times are changing or things are changing fast and that's, that's what I've really been, I don't know, spending a lot of time, like looking at and paying attention to is, is you're, you're, I mean, what you're saying is so real, right? The, the, the role my father held in the eighties in terms of what, what was expected or even maybe even possible from him. He's very, very, very different than than mine. And, and I don't expect, you know, every family, every parenting pair, everything out there, everybody has a different reality. But there, there is, I would say broadly, statistically, right, it is a huge change in, in what dads are both expected and able to, to bring to the table and not just to name a few things, right? So like the emotional connection, the, the, the domestic full involvement, the, the understanding of birth, the understanding of, of our partners, the, I mean, it's just so much, so more multidimensional, right? I mean, the old school, which I think is not fair to think that this is just how it was, but it's like, you know, protect and provide, make the money and, you know, like have a safe world. And, and

Tanya (13:57):

It sounds overly simplistic, but it is incredibly true for those of us who lived Yes. As the children of the eighties. I'll say that is how it was. Alright. I, and I think there is still that piece. So when a younger father does this kind of like opening up and then closing down, and then opening up and then closing down that I see all the time. I think they're shifting between, this is what I saw my father do, this is what I'm, is what I know is expected of me. Now I'm trying to be bigger and better. I'm really struggling with that process. And it's this like back and forth and up and down process. It's a horrible rollercoaster <laugh>.

Dan (14:34):

I mean, it's, it's really enlightening to hear you describe that because I'm seeing it too. But I think you have like a such a front row seat for this. And so it's interesting because there's different paradigms and there's different skill sets needed for these paradigms, right? So, so men that come into my programs now, you know, some of the skills that they are, they haven't had the, they haven't had teaching and modeling. I mean, it, it is like basic emotionality, right? Or, or like basic responsibility of, you know, how to, how to learn, um, you know, nurturing touch or nurturing care either for, for mama or for whatever. Like there's these things that, yeah, they're super foreign, but, but the thing is also the old school necessities are often still there as well, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> so, so it, right? But so men, a lot of dads are being asked to sort of open up, broaden, soften, hold a lot more, and, you know, go to the job and do the thing. And so it's this, it's, it's, the way I'm framing it, which is very optimistic, but also true is just that it is an awesome opportunity. It's an awesome moment to be a dad because it is a potential sort of funnel to push us into a, a broader expression of who we are, right? Because I, because it's true for me. I still need to go earn the money and I need to come home and like drop in and be present and just, but I also am careful the language I use there because I think it is such a wild gift to dads. I think it's such an incredible gift to us to, to go through this.

Tanya (16:18):

Did you know that less than 15% of people meet guidelines for recommended amounts of physical activity during pregnancy? As healthcare providers, it is our duty to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. And the perinatal period is all too often overlooked. Our clients look to us for guidance on this, and we do the best we can with the knowledge we have, but that's often based on a combination of life experiences, common sense, and myths. My new course, Exercise in the Perinatal Period for Healthcare Providers is designed for providers who are motivated to improve their ability to support their clients in getting or staying active throughout the perinatal period, including their postpartum return to fitness. Click the link in the show notes to learn more. You're making me think about a parallel or kind of an opposition depending on how you look at it. That I also see, and I wonder if you're aware of this from the, the, the men's work side, just as men are experiencing this, we've got the women experiencing their own version of this, which, here's how I unpack this with everyone. Uh, for the most part, people while they're pregnant do not know whether they're going to be the person who wants to rush back to work because they feel like they lost a piece of themself, or they're going to be surprised that they suddenly wanna be stay at home moms and don't know what to do with all of that. Yeah. And so people, what I should say is people always think they know, and I pause and say, you don't know yet, because I've seen this too many times. And it doesn't mean you're, you don't know, but there's a 50% chance that you're right and there's a 50% chance that you're wrong based on where I sit and what I've seen. And I think men are just starting to acknowledge that they have some choices in this too, that it isn't just I take my one week off of work and then I go back to work and all I do is like pound the pavement and do the work thing. Um, and so they're trying to figure out how to be more present. And some women are rightfully so trying to figure out how to maintain careers. Totally. And we need to create space for both people to be on that journey together. And that's the work that I do in, in the conversations I have usually pri most of the time privately with just the new mom. Yeah, this is very common. Sometimes the dads are around for it, but kind of just talking them through the expectations of that relational shift that's occurring for so many reasons. Because being blindsided by it is half of the problem. The not talking about it is half of the problem. That that's not part of your healthcare experience. That therapy isn't built into this experience and becoming a parent is a wild flip and ride <laugh>.

Dan (19:13):

We're, yeah, we're very aligned. Uh, we're, we're very aligned <laugh>. So I think that I want to sort of take that a little bit further that, you know, blindsided is a perfect term for it. Um, and I just wanna say too, that, you know, we've had three, three children all with, um, three separate midwives, one in Montana, one in California, one here in Maine. And, um, I've been so grateful for those relationships and, and it's, it's this interesting, so from all my work in men's groups and sort of that, that version of interacting with other men, there's something very familiar and, and warm and welcoming about just the, just, I don't know, just the ways of being of, uh, of the midwives we've worked with. And the reason I say that is just that my wife and I, we, we, we had lots of talks, we had lots of information we had, and the blind sidedness was still other worldly. You know, it's just like, it's so intense. And I think that's very true for everyone. But I, but I, I think it might be true that for men, like men just don't talk about this at all, right? Men don't talk about becoming deaths. They don't talk about, men don't talk, right. Generally speaking. And when they do, it doesn't go. It's just, it's kind of a blank spot on a map. And so I think like the blindsided feeling or experience is, um, it's just a bummer, right? And so that's, it's, so, you know, we'll talk more about it, but the one, one of my offerings is an eight week deep dive, um, preparatory initiatory experience for, for expecting a new dads. And, and the, the, my main why here, I mean, there's a handful, but one is just that, it's like, is it not our duty as fellow human beings to try in some way, in whatever way we can to sort of like, like, listen, you drive down the highway and there's a and there's a, uh, an accident behind you, you know, and somebody's coming up, you flick your headlights, right? It's like, hey, you just trying to get like some mm-hmm. <affirmative> communication that something is, is, is going on here. And I don't know, I just feel, I don't feel, I don't know, there was a lot of things going through parenthood when I became a dad that was like, man, I wish, I wish, I wish I would've had an idea about that. I mean, there's some basic things for me. My mine are interesting. So like, I stumbled into parenthood without really being able to, to manage my money and have a budget. And, and it always just worked out before that. And then all of a sudden kids came, I'm like, gosh. Like, geez, that's a skill. Like, I literally, I very much needed to have in place before I'm not sleeping and I'm all, you know, all this stuff is happening. That's just one very little example. But, um, I'm, I don't know that we can get away from being blindsided totally by parenthood, right? It just, it changes everything. But I feel like we should try

Tanya (22:22):

Oh, totally. You, no, you can't know everything. You can't anticipate your feelings. Kinda like how I said, yeah, you can't know whether you're gonna wanna go back to work in a rush or you're gonna suddenly wanna be a stay at home mom despite how much you loved your career. You just can't know until you look at that baby and sometimes until you've looked at it for a long time, right? That's that whole idea that we may not fall instantly in love with our babies. That's another thing, you know, just in terms of like preparation. Um, but I do want to pause because you used two very clear words that I think people listening to this conversation are probably in this moment starting to go, all right, you sold me, but give me something tangible here. Right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So you talked, you said something about skill sets and you said something about paradigms. And I would love it if you would elaborate a little bit on what that, what you mean by skillset, what's included in that, and perhaps a little guidance for people on what they should be thinking about from your perspective, or what is is that they need to build that skillset. And likewise, tell me more about what you meant when you say paradigms. Like what are those different shifting paradigms?

Dan (23:28):

Yeah, so one of the exercises I do with all of my guys or my groups is to take some time. These are especially for, um, for dads who have kids already, is literally list out like, what are all of the roles and responsibilities and duties that are asked of you in this role, right? From, from putting a bandaid on a booboo to a hug after a hard day of school to being a taxi driver, really just listing it all out. And, um, and then I take those lists and like offer them to the expecting dads. Be like, listen guys, here's your, here's your job description. But, but one of the sort of ways that I separated out is, is two, two, like capacities of being and doing, right? So looking at the, at a father from, from skills and capacities of being. So that's things like being present, being able to give and receive love, being able to nurture, uh, being able to have patience, just self-regulation, sort of these like very, um, slightly more seemingly more invisible skill sets, but very impactful. And then there's the doing side of life, which is, you know, is your house clean? Is it managed? Is your career on track? Are you making enough money? Or, you know, just so, so really, uh, that that's a, that's a, the, the initial splitting point I go back and forth on whether, whether I separate out a third category, which is just relating, right? So one, one of the, the ways that I've experienced fatherhood and sort of held, held up a frame for other dads is that, you know, the, like, what actually seems to happen when kid comes online? And again, this doesn't happen for everybody, but the first is, is a very noticeable shift in, in a man's capacity to, I mean, let's just be honest, to love, to feel, to, to be like, like the, that deep purpose of life level care and love and connection, uh, is at least possible, right? Let's say it doesn't have to happen or it doesn't always happen, but that's fundamentally altering to a man's life for, for most men, like, no matter what their past is and what they've had experience like. And I think it, it's, it resets, uh, it can reset a man's orientation to, to, um, his very understanding of who he is and how he fits in the world and what his role is, right? And so there's a lot of skills that I break out in there is like, can you slow down and be so, so presence training and being present is, is is a very helpful and important part of this. And that's, you know, there's, I have 15 years, I didn't talk about my meditation background, but I've been a, a practitioner for 15, 16 years and a very somatic oriented to Tibetan lineage and practice. So, so we do a lot of work on can we just slow down and be here, right? Can we be with our thoughts? Can we, um, so that's one another capacity is the capacity for emotion, for being with emotion, both one's own and also others emotion, right? Because I think this is a huge area for men that a lot of men are deeply repressed and don't have big bandwidth when it comes to emotions, right? And if you break out emotions on primary levels of, you know, anger or sadness and grief, guilt and shame, fear, joy, just some of these, there's some of these tools from the men's work world where we literally practice <laugh>, right? We literally practice and, and it's, it's really basic and it's really slow, but it's also very impactful, right? So being able to not only recognize and name our emotions, but literally to be able to have them without closing off, without repressing, without distracting ourself. And that kind of training goes a very long way, you know, to support, to support our little ones with all the things that they go through to support our partners with all the things that they go through. Um, and a, a couple other dimensions on the being side that, that tend to be, um, and this maybe sort of starts to bleed into the doing, but just to know oneself, right? To stay in connection with, with what, what a dad needs himself. I mean, I did a, a series of talks this last year with a, um, a great practitioner and thought leader named Rachelle Garcia Seliga, and it was moms and dads that came together to basically ask the question, like, how are we gonna do this, you know, in this, in this day and age, in this moment? Like, how, how, how are we gonna, how are we gonna be okay? Um, how are we gonna do this together? And the biggest sort of request from from the mamas was, please, please, you have to take care of yourself. You have to be okay. You have to resource yourself. You have to figure that out. And so, and that's a big part of the work I do with dads too. It's just like, not only the self care and the self resourcing, but you know, in the midst of how full life is like, you know, where are we headed, <laugh>, you know, where are we going? What are we working toward? Um, so that's, that's some of that dimension. And on the, on the other dimension, you know, basic coaching and leadership practice and, and just, you know, like accountability goes a long way for a dad, right. You know, uh, being able to commit to something and follow through with it and being in integrity and, and then there's a lot just this, and I'm not even talking about like the, what I would maybe consider hard skills, right? But like, learning about child development, learning about pregnancy and postpartum, learning about our own hormones, learning about, um, like I said, balancing a budget, learning <laugh>, you know, there's just, there is a lot of hard skill life stuff too. So it's broad. It's very broad.

Tanya (29:31):

Yeah. Well, and I can see that the reality is everyone comes in with some aspect of this skillset in place, and it's really about some degree of self-identification of where the work needs to go for each individual, which is gonna be really different. Um, you know, the one thing that you said that I, I also see, and that I think is interesting and important and that I don't often know how to help, is when men show how much they care or love other people by taking care of them in whatever way they think is most important. Exactly. Rather than the way the person needs to be taken care of. Exactly. But that's to the exclusion of caring for themself as well. So there's kind of two problems there, and that can be really hard to, uh, infiltrate <laugh>.

Dan (30:24):

Yeah. Well, I know that one personally, you know, you know Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. That, that was, that's been real in my marriage and relationship too. And I think we've made it a lot. I, we think we've come a long way, but you're, you're a hundred percent right, right. And, and that's not good for anyone involved, right? Because people aren't being taken care of as they need. And, and I'll just put myself talk about myself. I remember just being like, I am working harder than I ever have, and I have nothing left to give, and I'm not okay, and I'm doing my best and I'm just getting, you know, like told the truth that it's not okay and it's not working right. And it's, it's, it is, it's, it's with, if that is how we've been our, our habits, our practice, that's what life has always been. And now, now it really counts right now. There really are huge needs in a way we've never experienced before as a human being. And it's, yeah, it can induce some real panic. Um,

Tanya (31:27):

So I, I think the next logical question being that the listeners of my show are primarily women and mothers, although I hope that they will then share this episode with their husbands and we'll see where that goes. But what would you say from where you sit here, I am kind of like spitting out the things I see peripherally about the male partner who is not my primary client in general. Um, but what do you see that the wife or the mother or the other people in the family or close circle could do to better support the man who's on this journey? Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>.

Dan (32:05):

So a couple ideas, and this is not as, I wish I had a really, like a, a silver bullet answer. 'cause I don't, this, this, this is, this is tricky. Um, yeah, I do think, uh, if there's any way, if there's any existing way that helps get to the deeper truth of things, whether that's a therapy, you know, therapy in your background or you've done couples therapy or I don't know, a long walk in the woods or whatever it is, where, where you can set the tone to really go, you know, down deeper into the truth. You know, just basic, basic sort of hearing him out and affirming, right? So just basic, you know, good affirmation. But, but then there's this, this moment of like, how do you grab his attention? How, how do you, um, I think a question I get a lot is how do you give a man feedback, or how do you get a dad feedback? Or how do you, how do you like, get him oriented towards something? I think that what I've found for a lot of guys is that the messenger to is really important for any message, right? Which is, I think, um, I do think sharing Instagram stuff actually does work for, for guys, right? I, I think like the amount of wives or, or partners who share stuff with their, with, I think that does go somewhere, you know, maybe it takes a lot of time. Um,

Tanya (33:35):

Well, it's a conversation starter, hopefully. Yeah. I think that's the goal of those kinds of interactions.

Dan (33:41):

And every man's different, but I think that clear direct communication is helpful, right? Just like, listen, I know you think X but here's what I need from you. Right? And, and maybe that goes nowhere, but, but I, but I think mm-Hmm. Here's, here's what I know is the, the men that, at least the men who show up to do stuff that, that I'm doing, they wanna do well so badly. They, they have so much love, they, they, it, but there is this sort of like, um, I forget who is the author that did the, the Venus and Mars books in the eighties, right? Like, there just is, there just is, there are oftentimes differences in what it takes to, to get a man's attention. But I guess back to something I alluded to earlier was I do think that the, this period of becoming a dad particularly is, is a very sort of ripe time for, for new communication and new things. I, I think that, um, I don't know. I got some messages through my thick skull during some postpartum times that probably never got any in any other time. And I wish I had a better answer, but, um, sure. Yeah.

Tanya (34:48):

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Tanya (35:27):

I prefer the honest answers. Yeah. So that, that works, <laugh>. Yeah. And, and what I hear is this is hard and it's individual and all the things, right? That's, that's definitely the case for why I work with couples in the prolonged way I do through postpartum because it is so individual and people deserve this time and attention to start to identify. I don't even, I'm not the person who's gonna solve most of these problems, but I bring it to the surface and I make it okay that these problems exist and normalize these problems because it's true. Yeah. I've never seen a couple that doesn't go through a tough time postpartum. Right? Yeah. The first couple days postpartum, everyone is on their absolute best behavior, trying to be the very, very best person they can be. And it's not sustainable. And then the way it breaks down is very individual, but then it comes back around to a place where I can make another generalization. And that is some number of weeks to months would be the range, the resentment kicks in. Usually the, the side I'm aware of is the resentment that's coming from the mother, the woman. Yeah. And I'm sure there's another side of the story that I don't get to hear that is resentment on the male, on the male partner side. And I wonder if you have heard that story enough times to share what that often looks like or feels like

Dan (36:53):

Them? Yeah. It feels like a hopelessness oftentimes. Mm. It's a hopelessness of, of like, I am doing my absolute best, at least what I'm aware of as my best in this moment. And mm-Hmm, <affirmative> what, what I'm getting back is I'm missing the mark wildly and I'm hopeless. I like, I, I

Tanya (37:14):

Just don't know. Right. And I don't even know where

Dan (37:15):

To get, I don't even know where to, I don't know where to turn. I don't know what, I don't know what you, I don't Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. It doesn't. Yeah. And well, and there's another element too that comes in where, and this, this is, this has happened over and over and over again, and where it's like, it feels like all of a sudden I'm representing every man that ever misspoke or harmed or, and all of a sudden I'm, I'm representing patriarchal culture and, and all of this. And I'm just, it, it, it is a, it is a like, panicked, hopeless state. Um, I don't hear a lot of, you know, resentment. Like, you know, she's messed up or something's wrong there, but it's more just like, what the hell? What the? You know,

Tanya (38:01):

That. And probably some fear. Huge fear. 'cause huge fear. Fear. You're fearful that your relationship has just changed in an irreparable way. Yes. Your, your intimacy has gone to. Yes. Your, like, all these different pieces are falling apart all at the same time. And we lose sight that we're in transition. Yes. And we just guard ourselves out of sheer fear,

Dan (38:27):

<laugh>, hence the framing of this, this program I do as an initiation or a rite of passage, which sets up the narrative of one's growth and transformation with a clear understanding that there's gonna be a period of chaos and no ground underneath your feet. Right.

Tanya (38:45):

So let's, let's talk about your programs for a minute, because I feel like we've hinted around them, but I really would like to give you a chance to, um, talk about how they work for expectant fathers and then the transition into early father fatherhood. Yeah. And whatever else around the edges there is for people who may want to engage in this or look into it. Yeah.

Dan (39:06):

Excited too. Can I, can I do one quick aside, which keeps coming up in my head, but I haven't found the right opening to share? Ha, have you? A hundred percent. Have you ever read The Will to Change by Bell Hooks? Have you heard of this book? Nope.

Tanya (39:18):

But I'll write it down right

Dan (39:19):

Now. I feel like it is, I feel like it is a deeply important, um, sort of lens on this. And the, the thesis is, I'll, I'll badly sort of summarize the thesis. It's just that, you know, the, the world is starving for, uh, for love from men, brothers, grandfathers, fathers, partners, everybody. And there's just this barrier, right? And, and it's so, it's a, it's a really incredibly beautiful and elegant way to describe that wall that I described seeing between father and son. And, and she, you know, she, you know, she names the, um, the core of it as what patriarchal culture does to our boys and men. And it's, and it's a deep, deep sort of soul level, um, split. It's, it's just, it's this, it's this deep thing. And I feel like when kid comes around, postpartum comes around, things get intense. There is a, yeah. It's a very, very terrifying realization of, I, it feels like this human thing is needed for me and I don't have it. Where is it? I, I don't know. I don't know how to do the, like, it's something, it's like something's supposed to be here and it's not here. So I just, I just, I mean, yeah, I dunno how important that is to name, but I do wanna just name that book as I feel, I feel like it's a really important piece of the puzzle. Um, and because I think we're, there's so many levels on which we're talking here, right? One is just, you know, Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, do I know how to make the nourishing food for my wife? And, and, you know, am I, am I, I have it through my thick head to get up first at night? You know, there's just like, so many like, behavioral things, but I, but I think that there's such a deep, deep root to this that I just want to name it. Um,

Tanya (41:19):

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

Dan (41:21):

So yeah. P pivoting. Is that an awkward pivot, <laugh>? Should I just talk about the program?

Tanya (41:26):

No, no, not at all. Not at all. I, I'm, I'm glad you got that out because I think a really good book recommendation that allows people to process everything that you're saying and then say, acknowledge that they need more and they wanna learn more, and giving them a tool to do so as cool, so appropriate. Um, but with that said, some people are gonna read a book and they're gonna learn a lot, and they're gonna be introspective, and that's gonna be sufficient. Yeah. And other people certainly like myself, just learn a lot better in a group setting when I can talk and talk things through. And I think that's what you have built here.

Dan (42:02):

Yeah, exactly. And so for me to jump to my programming, the, the last thing to say is just that I, so Fatherhood Ready is my program for expecting a new dads. This is, this is the eight week digital sort of deep dive half men's work in deep self inquiry, and half really good education practitioners like yourself come in and teach on the most important topics. We can't cover everything. And, but we kind of take them in on a journey of, uh, you know, we dive deep into how they were fathered, just to have some self-awareness of of, of some of that stuff. We, we dive deep into what it takes to be present in our ability to feel. We teach, you know, some emotional skills, all this stuff, but it's all leading on this sort of arc. Um, and listen, I, I mean, I, I just think I should just say like, I don't have the illusion that eight weeks of Zoom calls is gonna, you know, do do the thing that needs to be done for, for guys. But, but the intention is to sort of open up enough doors and create a sense of community that the community sticks with these guys, and they have somewhere to go through this, through this process. But the, the deeper intention with this program, you know, on the level of, like what I mentioned with Bell Hooks in that book, is I really do, and I don't know, maybe one day I'll change my mind about this, but I think that becoming a dad is an opportunity for, for men to rehumanize and find and to sort of re heal some of that split or some, some of those deeper, deeper things. So it's not necessarily a, a, a program to heal these men, but it at least frames it in a way where that's inclusive. It's inclusive, inclusive of that. Um, so yeah, it's, it's both expecting dads who sort of have a, you know, have a due date in mind. Um, it's for, for dads that are generally in the postpartum or first year period, that, that seems to be a appropriate and works really well for that. And then I've also had dads who are, or future dads who are either attempting to conceive or whose partners pressing them to have a child, and they don't know if they're ready. You know, they just have this sort of like, fear wall up. Um, so it's been a really helpful program for them to lean in and, and just sort of like, get into it and feel, feel it out. Um, yeah. And it's, it's a really, um, I dunno, it's just a really personally fulfilling and me meaningful program. And we've run a couple co cohorts of it to date. And, uh, the, the second main men's program I have is called Father's Fire. And so it is just a, a digital men's group for dads. We meet every Thursday night. And so when, when guys go through the first program, the Fatherhood Ready program, they get a couple months free to just join the larger, you know, pool or, or community of dads, which is something that I'm like especially proud of or excited about. Like that transition for, for a new dad to all of a sudden open up a door and have like a community of, I mean, right now it's about 50, but hopefully a much larger community of dads just to, just to sort of be there for him. I think that's, uh, mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I guess I would just mention that, you know, with all of the things that I think could, could move the lever for, for families and our kids and for everybody involved here, I think that, you know, having, having community, I'll, I'll just speak for myself, right? We live here in rural Maine. We moved in the pandemic, I got friends all over the place, but, you know, one of the calls I'm hearing from all the parents that I'm working with is just, we're lonely, right? We don't have our people, we're, we're sort of out here and an island. And, um, again, I don't think, you know, digital mens groups does the whole job of, of, you know, having intact community, but it's, uh, it moves in that direction at least.

Tanya (45:55):

Yeah. And, and it's giving people the tools to build community locally, I would imagine. Yeah. And that may not happen immediately. That may not happen when you have an eight week old and life is still crazy. But what you gain from this experience hopefully takes you in the direction of building that community that we talked to the early part of this conversation Yeah. That men don't do. Yeah. That to make a wild generalization here, men generally don't tend to their friend network the way women do. Yes. And that's, that's a critical piece, if I'm not mistaken. That's one of the reasons we think that women live longer than men.

Dan (46:33):

A hundred percent.

Tanya (46:34):

So, I mean, I, yes, we're beating a dead horse to some extent, but I mean, I think these are really, really critical pieces. And also you're preaching to the choir because I'm somebody who works with people largely in a 12 week block around postpartum. And I know also it's not a silver bullet, but man, it's a good start. And my clients will attest to that. Right? So it, it's, that's where it's at. It's giving people a solid start and coming in with a vantage point that's kind of unique or special, and knowing that that's what you and I and some others bring to this kind of work.

Dan (47:12):

Yeah. Yeah.

Tanya (47:13):

Where there's a lack of focus in the mainstream. Right. Hugely.

Dan (47:17):

And I mean, that's, I'm so excited to have this conversation with you. And you know, earlier you asked, so like, how do we, how might we get the dad's attention and direct them towards something new? And I talked about the messenger, my, my hunch on the, probably the best way to support dads, and then in doing so, their families. Um, my hunch is that it, it comes from practitioners like you and it comes from professionals. I, I, my guess is that, you know, when mama, you know, says, honey, will you please check this out? Or do like, I don't know, there's dynamics there, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> when, when your partner asks you to do something to change, that's loaded with a lot of things usually. But, but my, um, you know, what I'm, what I'm working toward is just to, just to Yeah. Build this professional network. Because I think, I think, I think dads will listen. I I do think dads will listen too.

Tanya (48:10):

Yeah. No. And they, and they do. Yeah. And even sometimes what, what the pattern that tends to happen for me is many dads are present during, so I, I often start working with people one to two months before their due date. Yeah. Because there's a lot of preparation for postpartum that goes on. And I focus a lot more on dads in that early part. Yeah. And then it kind of a, after the early postpartum days, that's when it drops off partly 'cause they've gone back to work. Partly 'cause we're working on some stuff that's particularly physical or breastfeeding or whatever. And they can only place so much of a role in that. So the, the, the focus shifts. But anyway, it starts from a place of engaging them as early as the intake. Yeah. Right. So my, my, my mom will fill out a many page intake, but once they have given me permission to reach out to their partner, 'cause some people do just wanna do this program solo, and that's a choice. I've literally had people say, um, this is a gift I'm buying for myself, forget him. And I'm like, all right, cool. That's how you wanna roll. We're good. But that's not common. Um, they usually give me permission to reach out and then the, the expectant parent fills out an intake where I can ask them, what are your biggest fears? What are you most nervous about? What do you feel good about? Where do you think your relationship's at when it comes to like, moving into parenthood? And I, I at least get a base and form a relationship with them and they have my phone number and they know I'm there for them too. Yeah. Yeah. And then, you know, we see, so there, there's usually they're there for, for prenatal. We start using, I use little tricks like planning for how sleep works in the early postpartum as a place to look at negotiation not as a tit for tat or as a 50 50 thing. Right. Yeah. We get too hung up on things being 50 50, like really focusing early on, like what goes around comes around. You're gonna win some, you're gonna lose some, we're, we're gonna pick up the pieces for each other and we're not counting. Right. Like, so simple things. But you, I can only go so far. Yeah.

Dan (50:02):


Tanya (50:03):

I can only go so far. Can I ask and then there

Dan (50:05):

Yeah. Could I ask you like, what comes to mind for you? Like if there's a few main bullet points that, that you would want to see for dads to learn or grow in or change or, or transform or like, is there from your, from your perspective.

Tanya (50:24):

Ooh, woo. You just turned the mic on me. Um, gosh, yes. I mean, the answer is yes. Can I articulate this concisely? Is really where it gets difficult. Um,

Dan (50:35):

Well, please. I mean, that's an honest question. Yeah. Not so much that at all needs to be answered now, but yeah. I don't want to be building this stuff in my head, you know? Right. Um,

Tanya (50:46):

I kind of just wanted to pass the baton to be honest, but now I see like this huge overlap and I think people need to hear things from different sources. So you're hearing it from the healthcare professional whose goal is X, y, Z, right? Yeah. Getting through the postpartum period, healthy, you're hearing it from the men's perspective for the whole host of reasons that you've just illustrated. But, you know, I think what happens, there's a point in the work I do where I start helping my new moms plan for conversations with their partner, and I can feel that I'm using myself, uh, as a little bit of a scapegoat for them. Understood. In that I will say, show them these notes if they didn't make it to the session so that it, it's a, the conversation opener, so to speak. Yes. And sometimes when we start going down that road, sometimes they'll say, um, Hey, I think, can we have another session where I bring, bring him back? 'cause I think he needs to hear it from you. Exactly. And I'm okay with all of that, but I can't say that I understand the positive and negative outcomes that come from that, that decision. Yeah.

Dan (51:59):


Tanya (52:00):

Right. So I definitely need more, um, involvement that comes from the dads so that I know that we're all on the same page and that we're not like conniving or, uh, being manipulative in any way, if that makes sense, sense.

Dan (52:15):

No, that doesn't,

Tanya (52:16):

Because that's not the intention. Yeah. But it can feel like a little undertone of is this the right approach? Sure. Right.

Dan (52:23):

<laugh>. No, that makes sense. The, the reason I mean this, I'm glad that we brought this up because the, the part of our conversation where we named that, you know, uh, well, when I was doing everything I could to take care of my wife, but it was missing the mark, it's, it's that whatever the mark is, is is what I do, I feel really invested in finding and hearing. Right. Because I, and this is totally aside, and, and maybe we don't need to open this up, but, you know, after leading and guiding men's retreats at men's groups for, for so long, what I, what I grew weary of is that they're like these wonderful, hard opening, transformative things, but they sort of live on some imaginary island a little bit. So I, I guess, what am I trying to say? I, I want whatever we're doing in these groups to actually work, you know, and I mean in real functional, you know, particular ways, right? So, so that, that one thing of like, how could I help dads slow down enough, pay attention enough, like listen well enough to actually hear what our partners need, like actually like, and then just actually make good on that, right? Like, I think that would be, like, that would be a, that'd be huge. That'd be a huge win. Right? And obviously that's one of a many multi spectrum things that are going on, but, um, that's why I ask. And, and that's why I'm excited just to, you know, build more relationships and learn and hear and, you know, both from practitioners like yourself, but also moms, you know, like, I think, anyway.

Tanya (54:03):

Well, I, I almost as I'm sitting here listening to you talk, there's a piece of me that just like you found your way to working with dads and their sons, I'm like, Ooh, maybe one day you'll work with husbands and wives or, you know, gosh, even, even down the road further, you know, men, aging men are so interesting to me from an emotional perspective, right? Like, I watched my own father like become someone, he's not alive anymore, but I watched him become someone who like could cry at the drop of a dime just 'cause he started telling me like a little story. And that wasn't the man that had a massive temper who I was afraid of as a child. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So the growth of men is so interesting, whereas the older women seem to harden a bit, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, and I can justify this hormonally and all kinds of ways, but the reality is so interesting, and we're all just on this journey and we're trying to do it together. Yeah. But I feel like men find themselves more often than not in a position where they're damned if they do and they're damned if they don't. And I do see that.

Dan (55:06):


Tanya (55:07):

And I find that that's, that's tough. And that can make you just shut down and say, I can't get this right no matter what I do

Dan (55:13):

That Yeah. That's there. And there's a way through it. Yeah. You know, so I just to reference part of, so part of this father's community in Right, in a couple minutes as we drop off here, I'm doing an hour, half hour and a half interview with a dad who raised two kids to Fullness, right. 19 and 21. And did it in a way that they are so deeply connected and so deeply a part of each other's lives. And it's just this like, aspirational thing that I see, like one of my friends and I, and so we're gonna have this and, you know, inviting anybody from my community to come in and we're gonna make a podcast out of it. But, you know, just really like, I mean, it, it just touches my, like there are men who are willing to take their time and invest in, in really like this. I should have said this way up front. You ask any, any dad I've ever asked, you know, what's the most important thing in your life? Like, easy, clear, true answer is my kids and my family, but they don't. But there's very, there's few avenues for them to do anything about it or to actually invest in it or to grow in it, or to have intention around it. So I guess that's just one Yeah. Way of saying what I'm hoping to do.

Tanya (56:26):

Well, I love the work you're doing and I am really excited to continue to watch it, and I'm so happy that I'm getting the chance to get to know you. Um, and I want all my people to get to know you too. So will you share your, you know, digits and all that stuff?

Dan (56:43):

Yeah, yeah. Um, the website's, dan soon. It'll be fatherhood on, but D-A-N-D-O-T-Y. Um, I'm on Instagram and have newsletters and stuff, but, uh, yeah. Um, I'm, I'm grateful, grateful.

Tanya (56:56):

Awesome. And I, and, and also I'm linking, uh, I'm, I've already linked Dan's info to the resources page for consumers on my website, so you can just go there if that's easiest. I'll make sure to put all this stuff in the show notes. People can find it easily. Um, I can't thank you enough for this, uh, opening conversation, which I recognize we have not solved the problem, nor have we answered a particular question, but I think we have like opened the box Yeah. To a conversation that I have been remiss for way too long on having. So thank you so much.

Tanya (57:40):

Thank you for listening to the Mother Whip podcast. If any of the issues we discuss today resonate with you or your experience, I'd love to hear from you. Leave me a voicemail at 9 1 7 3 1 0 0 5 7 3, or better yet, email me a voice memo at I really wanna hear what worked for you, what didn't work, what support you'd wished you had, how you got through the tough times, how you advocated for yourself, or especially any tips you wanna share with our listeners. I wanna hear all of it. And if you'd really like to work together, you can get a discount on your first consultation with using the code first consult 10% off. That's one 0% symbol, all one word. Okay, that's all. It's wonderful being in community with you all. Thanks again for listening and see you next time.

Carolina (58:41):

And remember, listeners, nothing we discuss on this show should ever be considered medical advice. Please speak to your local provider about anything that comes up in this show that resonates with you and your needs and your healthcare.

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