Working Dad Guilt? It’s Real

It’s more than common to hear the expression “working mom guilt,” which is often accompanied by a related topic:  the emotion and sadness of moms inevitably leaving a newborn and returning to work.

You don’t hear a discussion of these topics as often among dads. The one you’re more likely to hear is “work-life balance.”

But despite the fact that you never hear much about it, there really is such a thing as working dad guilt, and dads also aren’t too crazy about leaving their new bundle of joy to go back to the grind. 

{ MORE: Mom Guilt: Darned If We Do, Darned If We Don't }

working dad guilt

For starters, working dads have a lot of guilt about whether they're doing enough with their kids. Most dads would rather have fun and be with their children. Dads are wired for fun. But they’re often seen as the provider, so duty calls.

But today’s dad is a lot different than those of yesteryear. Dads nowadays like to be just as involved with raising the family as anyone, but they also need to provide monetarily for their families. Moms today are experiencing those same aspirations:  working and caring for a family.

And there’s definitely a new work balance trend like never before among dads. Young millennial fathers try to minimize work hours more than any past age group, so the topic seems to be coming more to light. They’re the newest generation of dads, and more than any prior generation, they’re actively engaged in planning family schedules and activities.

But even if your profession doesn’t allow limiting your hours, or you haven’t found the proper replacement job until you can do that, it’s important to let go of the guilt.

Just because you’re not with your kids all day, or not as much as you’d like, doesn’t mean you’re not a good dad. You’re providing for them, and even if they’re too young to understand, they will someday. You’re a nurturer no matter what your work-life balance offers you, whether you’re totally present or not. Promise yourself not to feel guilty, and don’t compare yourself to other dads who seem to have it better. Everyone has problems, too, just in different ways.

When new children are born, it’s easy to feel the extra tug of sadness since you may only have had a few days with your newborn. Heading back to work is never easy whether you’re mom or dad. 

{ MORE: Daddy-Daughter Relationships Are Important }

Whenever professional athletes win championships, I love hearing them often exclaim, “No one can ever take this away from me. I’m a champion.”

Well, the same can be said for becoming a parent. It changes you, gives you new perspective on life, and even helps advance new skills in your working career.

When our first was born, I was torn between my role as the breadwinner and my role as a dad. I also felt like I was missing out on a lot of firsts. I don’t think those feelings ever go away, no matter if you have one child or ten.

But at least when you’re back on the job and doing your thing, you’ll know you’re doing what’s right.

And you’re also a dad. And no one can ever take that away from you.

What do you think?

Working Dad Guilt? It’s Real

Tom Konecny is a dad of four children and husband to wife, Erika. Tom currently serves as a private consultant in writing, communications and marketing. In 2013, Tom founded Dad Marketing, a site dedicated to exploring the world of marketing to dads. He previously worked in sports marketing, served as an associate editor and writer for several publications, and directed an award-winning corporate marketing department. His first book, "DADLY Dollar$" will be published this summer, and he is c ... More

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