Masculinity keeps dads in distress

IT IS difficult for men to access support services in the wake of family breakdowns because of the stigma attached to masculinity, a Lismore family support worker believes.

Julie Leete, Interrelate Family Centres family relationship services Lismore area manager, has had many men walk through her door seeking help because of a broken relationship or crumbling family situation.

She said the stigma that men should be “strong and unemotional” often gets in the way of them dealing with their problems.

“Sometimes, when there is a family break-up, one parent has left the relationship before the other and the man is at a loss to understand why,” she said.

“We get men who are quite distressed about their sepa- ration and the custody of their children. They feel like ‘whenever am I going to see my child again?' Especially if there was an incident that led to the separation.”

Ms Leete's comments come in response to the murder-suicide of a father and his daughter in a car west of Casino on Monday night.

She agreed men who were distressed and not thinking straight sometimes engaged in harmful actions.

“A lot of men are so emotionally overwhelmed they feel like there is no way out,” she said

“Both men and women, when there is a family breakdown, are perhaps going to react in ways that are harmful. But there are a lot of services available for distressed dads.

“If a man gets the help they need early on that can reduce the bad things that happen.”

Ms Leete said Interrelate often referred fathers to building stronger family programs, legal advice services and child contact services.

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