Where to start
This can be a tough one. You might have noticed a change in behaviour in your old man and have all these concerns and questions but don’t know which one to say first. There’s a couple of ways you can approach this conversation starter:
- “I’ve noticed you’ve been sad/angry/not yourself lately, do you want to tell me about it?”
- “How have you been going?”
- “I heard/saw you say/do something that made me worried about you, can we talk about it?”
- “I’ve been feeling concerned about you.”
- “I know that this is what I do when I’m feeling down, and I’ve seen you doing it too. Is there something wrong?”
- “Are you okay?”
All of these could be good conversation starters to get you going.
Generally, when you ask a bloke something along the lines of ‘Are you all right?’ you’ll most likely be told that everything good. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case though. Most guys don’t want to be a bother, so it’s always a good idea just to ask twice. More times than not, if there is something on their mind they’ll open up after the second time you ask.
Have a read between the lines
Sometimes Dads (and males in general) won’t always come straight out and tell you what’s on their mind. They might need a couple of cracks at coming out and saying it. They might ask you how you’re going and hope that you ask them back to get the conversation started. So, keep your ears open just in case Dad is sounding like he wants to have a chat.
Go do stuff
If your old man is one of those old men that isn’t exactly the talking about his feelings type, then it’s going to be easier for him to open up if the opening up happens while another activity is taking place. Go for a drive, play golf or help him do… whatever hobby it is that he likes to do. Men find it easier to talk when ‘the talk’ isn’t the main activity.
During times of stress
There’s going to be times in your Dad’s life where he’s going to need to deal with stressful situations. He may have lost a friend, been made redundant or living with an illness. A common thought is that when people are living through stressful times, it’s best to leave them alone. But being in a positive relationship means that you’re there for the hard times as well as the good. So, reach out and just let them know you’re there. The most important thing at the end of the day is letting Dad know that no matter what, he’s supported.
Now, there may be a time when your dad needs more help that you can provide. If that’s the situation he’s in, then support him to seek help from a GP, a health professional or encourage him to call us and have a chat with one or our counsellors. MensLine provides a free, 24-hour counselling service that doesn’t require your dad to need a referral.
So, this Father’s Day instead of giving him another pair of socks, take the time to check in on his mental health.
P.S. Get some socks as well. Everyone needs socks!
MensLine Australia is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.