Over the past decade we have become more comfortable than ever sharing details of our lives. Sometimes our sharing culture has led to over-sharing, but for the most part I believe the cultural shift from secrecy and shame to openness and acceptance has been a very good adjustment. One area that has seem immense growth in vulnerability is mental health.
For far too long depression has been held in secret. The secrecy of depression fosters feelings of shame, guilt, and self-doubt. I am always happy to see depression, especially postpartum depression, openly discussed in the media. Recently the New York Times published an article that gave voice to the fact that dads can experience PPD, too. For years I've ended my childbirth class with a PSA about postpartum mood disorders. Admittedly, closing the course with the heavy topic of how and when to get help if you're not loving parenthood may not be the best move for a childbirth class, but it's as good of a time as ever, I guess. In my PSA I always remind couples that it's a real thing if dads experience PPD after the birth of a child. The news usually comes as a surprise, but interestingly it also often causes the men in the room to breathe a sigh of relief - I let them off the hook for believing that they have to transition into parenthood perfectly, with no less than grateful and ecstatic emotions connected to parenthood. Feelings of postpartum depression don't indicate a lack of love or gratitude for your child; they are symptoms of a life transition.
Once moms and dads are allowed to let go of the expectation that they should feel perfectly happy in parenthood the dialogue opens about how everyone is actually feeling. Admitting that parenthood doesn't feel like you expected, or maybe isn't going how you wanted, or has adjusted your life in ways that you aren't happy about doesn't may you a bad parents, it makes you an honest parent. There are some men and women who gleefully transition into parenthood, but for everyone else, there is power in being open and vulnerable.