“My Dad is the greatest guy in the world”, said the 14-year old boy. ”During weekends, my dad would take my mom and me to the mall to watch a movie and we would eat out together. Even when he was tired from work, he had no problem preparing the meal and washing the dishes while cracking jokes. He would help me with my homework from time to time and even play video games afterwards sometimes. However, he isn’t the same lately, I am concerned.”
“He started coming home late these past few weeks. He has been skipping meals lately and spends minimal time with us these days. All of a sudden now he has a zillion meetings to attend even on weekends. The sad thing is – He can never lie which even he knows but still there are these “Meetings” that he has to attend”. I don’t know what is going on?
Such stories are becoming quite common in today’s society. These tales usually follow a common trend – a sensible and responsible father, who suddenly becomes an entirely different person and ultimately detaches away from their families either for solitude or for a new life. During this transformation, some men pick up an unhealthy fixation over worldly pleasures or interests while others end up finding themselves in an extramarital affair. Psychologists use the term “midlife crisis” in order to explain such sudden transformation in a middle-aged man’s life. While it is not applicable to each and every man However it is quite common to hear such stories and occurences of “Midlife Crisis” in men.
According to some psychologists, a male midlife crisis usually starts to develop during a man’s first child rearing. Many believe that the difficult transition from being a free, spirited person to a responsible father an exemplary husband creeps its way slowly to a man’s subconscious overwhelming him with doubts and regrets. Although these innate thoughts don’t come to grip during the early years of parenthood, the physical and emotional changes that occur with age materializes these negative emotions after several years of self-reflection which ultimately takes control of the man during his midlife.
How do I know if my dad is having a midlife crisis?
There are several symptoms evident if someone is experiencing a midlife crisis. Below are some common manifestations of this dilemma.
Obvious effort to regain youthfulness.
Most middle-aged men would soon come to the realization that they have now spent half of their lives. This concept of losing youthfulness and the thought of impending death gives men a sense of both panic and denial. Sadly, in an effort to prove themselves, many fathers would respond by making sudden, and somewhat odd efforts to revert back to their younger selves.
This is usually expressed by following the fashion trends of younger men, changing hairstyle to something totally out-of-character, growing trendy beards or facial hair, sudden impulse to hit the gym to regain fitness and so on. Often, there is a change in music preferences and even speech patterns. To fit in too the younger crowd the activities and behaviour are more suited to a younger generation. There is a change in hobbies and interests and more time gets devoted to hanging out with people at bars, pubs and restaurants.
No amount of denial or unbelief can ever change the truth.
A display of selfishness and unhealthy obsessions.
Due to an intense craving to fulfil their so-called ‘personal needs’, a midlife crisis could make dads more selfish and distant. Typically, many men would start coming home late and begin to drink and smoke more frequently. They begin to explicitly show their desire to prioritize their happiness and satisfaction above anything else. Often it would be difficult to start a real conversation as they are irritable and quick to become angry or simply would throw in a “Nothing” and “I don’t know” response.
Moreover, in search of exhilaration and a new adventure, some would start to show some surprising and unhealthy obsessions with various hobbies or skills.
There are stories and testimonies from a lot of women who complained about their husband’s obsession of learning how to play the drums or in starting a rock band with friends. Some would develop an intense craze for adventure seeking activities such as the rush of riding a motorcycle after all these years of driving a family car or even getting interested in sports cars.
In most cases, most men would not even notice these changes that are happening to them. They would simply brush them off as a normal, completely natural newly acquired hobby or an interest. Surely enough, these changes are what’s driving their families away from them, one change at a time.
Living a secretive and unfaithful life.
Just as they start to detach themselves from their families, a father’s midlife crisis may also make them look for a different source of comfort and pleasure outside their family. Many men have fallen victim to addiction in pornography while others live a life of undisclosed infidelity.
This secret life is usually exposed by their excessive texting or calling, frequent out-of-town meetings or conventions, late-night arrivals, refusal to join family trips or vacations, and inexplicable, sudden disappearances at home. Fortunately, not every father joins this path of betrayal. Many dads have claimed to have resisted such urges to avoid living a life of remorse and to look after their own kids’ future.
Building a relationship with lies is like building a sandcastle, It crumbles eventually.
What should I do if my father is having a midlife crisis?
Remember that this is not about you.
Your dad’s struggles are not a result of your own failure or shortcomings as his child. A male midlife crisis springs from a man’s own confusion on what he wants to do and accomplish with his remaining time during his lifetime in the world. He may become distant with you and everyone else, but not because he lost his love for you and your family, but because he needs some space to work out the misplaced puzzle pieces in his life.
Read more articles about the midlife crisis in men.
Facing the unknown can be very scary and painful. Thus, it is best to acquaint yourself with knowledge regarding midlife crisis by reading more articles, books or blogs from other people. It is easy to feel alone and isolated when we are at the receiving end of the crisis, but knowing that someone out there also knows exactly how you feel can be a big relief. There are also many who have written their own experiences on how they got through the problem, which can be a good source for guidance and encouragement.
Continually love him and be patient.
Your father’s midlife crisis is without a doubt challenging. However, the fact remains that this is not only difficult for you, but for your father as well. If he had shown you love when you were at your weakest, then reciprocate that love because this is when your dad would need it at the most.
It is also good to remember that this episode is only temporary, and not a lasting testament to your father’s character or behaviour. Patience and understanding are what will be required to understand such behaviour and selfish attitude ( if any ).
A dad’s midlife crisis can be very tough for the family. When left unguided, it can cause some irreversible damage to the family and its future. This is where the core values of the Family shine up, The family is there to lift each other up and carry each other’s burdens because no one has to face it alone.