Dad Guilt is Real - Here's How I Try to Cope With It

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

Recently, my wife mentioned an article about why mothers shouldn’t be guilty when they leave their baby for work. This made me think and realize that fathers, like me, also feel guilty when we leave our baby at home. In fact, now that our baby is seven months old, it’s getting harder and harder to go to work every morning as our baby is showing so much more emotion than before. While he isn’t able to really speak up, we know in our guts that the grunts and shouts he makes when we are about to leave are indications of him telling us he wants to be with us.

Unfortunately, reality always trumps idealistic dreams. How I wish we could work-from-home full-time or we could have been well-off not to work at all. Quality time is becoming more and more apparent as our baby is growing up.

But if there’s one thing that gives me a lot of comfort is from my own experience with my parents. Both of them worked to support our family. While my very young mind back then never understood the circumstances on why they needed to do it that way, I never once felt that they left us out. I always felt so much love and affection from my mom and dad  - even with the limited time they had to take care of us siblings on a daily basis.  While we do not have the typical family dinner, we have the weekends to always look forward to.

While I may seem to be “stuck” in my own guilt, here’s how I try to cope with all the madness at the moment:

1. Quantity ain’t quality
Quantity can never ever trump quality. I’ll make sure that I’ll try to spend quality time with him whenever he is awake in the evenings. And while I won’t be able to give him my weekdays in full, the weekends are exclusively for him and my family as much as possible. While I may feel guilty for missing out, I think it’s going to be worse if I am unable to provide for his needs now and in the future. I’d sacrifice my play time with our baby just to make sure we have everything we need. We may not be comfortable but at least we can provide all of the basic necessities to keep our baby healthy and strong.  

2. Banish all insecurities
I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of always comparing myself in social media. But is that really healthy or helpful? Here’s one thing that I’m doing right away -  stop comparing myself to other dads out there that may seem more successful on the outset. No one’s perfect even if things look idyllic on the outside. Each of us has our own struggles in our own little bubbles and we all cope in our own ways. In most cases, we just notice the awesome stuff but the day-to-day grind is often filtered out.

3. Me time is important too
While I would love to provide all the time I have left for my baby, that’s not going to be realistic. I also make sure I have time for myself. May it be a quick gaming session after he sleeps, blogging, or simple exercise, me time is important too to balance everything out. While I may survive the first few months doing the grind of work and baby time with no play, I’m pretty sure I’ll be more miserable in the long run.