Friends of Far Afield: The New Fatherhood
The New Fatherhood is a weekly newsletter on modern fatherhood, providing an open and honest conversation between community of dads who are trying to be a little bit better. We sat down with founder, and long-time friend of Far Afield, Kevin Maguire, to discuss fatherhood, therapy, and our upcoming collaborative project Good Dads Club.
Tell us about why you started The New Fatherhood.
I officially started The New Fatherhood in January 2021, I think. I had been working on it a bit behind the scenes before that. A lot of the initial thrust and gestation of this project was wanting to wite about my experience with paternal postnatal depression. Talking about what helped me, talking about going to therapy and the impact that had on me and my relationships. I wanted to write about this thing in a way that almost acts as a, I don’t know, a rope that’s been thrown down a hole, a rope that dads can find to help them get out. I wanted to normalise talking about the mental health issues we have, and breaking away from the very archaic definitions of what it means to be a man - this perception that if you’re having a problem, then you’re not a real man. I’m not trying to redefine masculinity, but I wanted to shine a light on this stuff, to remove any shame that we might have about our problems. I think having kids will bring you face-to-face with a lot of your own demons, a lot of your own battles, things that you might have been carrying around with you for a long old time. Things you stuffed down, hid in that drawer in the kitchen. When you have a kid, they come along and open the drawer up.
How do you reflect on the last two years, have things developed as you’d expected?
At the time, I thought maybe it would be a book. You know, parenting books, fatherhood books in particular, suck. There are maybe one or two half-decent ones that are rapidly becoming more and more out of date. There’s this tendency for dads to make it all very jokey or laddy. There was this book that someone gave me before my daughter was born, and it was just dreadful. I couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere, I hadn’t seen my experience of fatherhood reflected anywhere, so I thought maybe I’d just write it myself. That’s how The New Fatherhood kicked off. I thought I’d give this a go; I’ll do this for a year and see where it takes me. You never know how things are going to go when you work on them, right? I’ll give it a year, and if nobody reads it, I’m still going to finish the year. It started resonating with people straight away. It got to 2-3000 readers by the end of that year. And it has just continued to accelerate since, we’ve crossed over 10,000 recently. If you told me 2 years ago that there would be 10,000 people who read the newsletter, that are really into it, I don’t think I would have believed you. It feels like there’s a massive need for something like this, the number of e-mails I get that are like “thank fuck! I had no idea how much I needed this!” so I just want this thing to carry on growing.
Kevin wears the Pocket Sweatshirt - Diamond Logo Mahogany Pink, at home with dog Branston.
Can you tell us about your own experience of fatherhood, and how this has informed your writing?
My eldest, she’s 8, and my youngest is 4. When my son was born, I realised fairly quickly that something wasn’t right. I was getting angry all the time, and I’m not an angry man at all. I was just going out and crying on benches, it was obvious that something wasn’t right. After digging around for a while I found a few articles written by men who had trouble connecting with their kids, and this idea of paternal post-natal depression presented itself. It was brand new to me at the time. Most men know about post-natal depression because there’s so much education about mums and the struggles that they go through after the birth, how it can be quite detrimental to their mental health. But there’s zero, really very little, about the dad’s point of view. Even in the UK, when you get a check-up after the birth, there’s this questionnaire for mums – the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale or EPDS – and if you score over a certain threshold then you’re screened by your GP. But there’s nothing like that for dad’s, not even like a little leaflet. I love my son to bits now, but it took me a long time to get to that point, I feel like I truly earned it, you know?
Do you think this is exacerbated by men’s historic reluctance to be open with their feelings, and do you see signs of that changing going forward?
Branston (left), Kevin out and about in the Busey Shirt - Poster Print (right).
Can you tell us about the New Fatherhood Therapy Fund?
The New Fatherhood became a place to talk about things, but also a place to try and think about ways to take more direct action. I set the therapy fund last year, which initially raised about $3500, enough for 11 dads to get 5 sessions of therapy. The therapy fund is intended as a way of raising awareness about paternal postnatal depression, and the role that therapy can play in helping people navigate the illness. The funds themselves reduce the barriers, making therapy more accessible for more people. I’ve heard from people who’ve read things that I‘ve written, who’ve said that it has made them realise that going to therapy was something that they needed to do, for themselves and for their family – but, you know, there’s at least a 1-year waiting list on the NHS and in the US you might not be covered on your healthcare plan, if you have a healthcare plan. There are all these barriers in the way. Holding your hand up and saying, “I need therapeutic help,” is hard enough but saying “I need financial help because I can’t pay for this,” in a society in which we’re trained never to ask for help, is another thing all together. One thing I hope to be able to do with the Good Dads Club collaboration is find more dads who need this help, really get the word out.
How did the idea for Good Dads Club come about?
Me and Mark (Scholes, Far Afield Creative Director) go way-way back, 20 years or so at this point. Longer than that, fucking hell. I’ve known Mark for longer than I haven’t known him, really. We keep in touch quite a bit, which is nice. At some point last year, we started talking about clothing, and over the course of a couple of months something started to form. We decided to do something together, not under the banner of Far Afield, or of New Fatherhood, but something of its own, a different entity. Very early on we discussed how we’d go about making an impact, because it’s all well and good making stuff and selling stuff, but we wanted to something more. So, we thought we’d create a collection by dads, for dads, to help dads, and donate all of the profits. I’ve got to say Mark, and everybody at Far Afield, have been amazing. Early on Mark highlighted Dan Wilson, and the designs were killer. I really like the Dad Energy Swirl piece, but I’m dead excited for all of it really. As with all the Far Afield stuff, the quality is really decent, it’s solid – which is great. If everything sells out, we’ll be able to help another 25 dads, I think, which would be amazing. Me and Mark have properly put our heart into this, so I hope that people enjoy the collection as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together.
The Good Dads Club collection is now available for purchase, 100% of the profit from this collection will go to The New Fatherhood Therapy Fund, an initiative to help dads struggling with their mental health to get access to therapy.
You don't have any articles yet! Once you've written one, it will show up here.