One of the loudest criticisms of Fathers, has been the lack of time they spend with their children. I’ve read countless articles and opinion pieces on the Dad that is never there. Over the past seven years as a Geek Dad, I’ve made it a point to NOT be that type of Dad. I get to go home on lunch and see my kids, take them to school sometimes, have one-on-0ne time, out of the blue. I relish every moment I have with my kids.
I’ve been blessed with a workplace that is kid friendly, a wife that provides every opportunity for me to spend time with my kids.
Over the past few months, I have had to put a lot of extra time in at work. One pay period, I put in 40 hours of overtime. I have commitments at my kids school, my church, a second job, and more. As each hour has been spent “away” from home, I have been feeling guilty. I spent almost a week in a hotel, unplanned, and all I could do every night was worry about my family. I felt so guilty. My daughter would tell me on the phone how much she missed me, how much she wanted to give me a hug and wished I was home.
Last weekend, my wife and I took a much needed vacation, it was just 3 days away. My in-laws were gracious enough to come and watch our kids so we could be together without children. I felt terrible inside; I didn’t tell my wife that. I felt so guilty.
There is a lot of pressure put on a Dad these days from all sides, and some of it is conflicting!
- Be Present
- Work hard
- Always be there
- Don’t be a slacker
- Listen to your kids
- Play with your kids
- Provide for your family
- Support your wife
- Don’t support you wife (You chauvinist)
- Support your daughter’s girlish tendencies
- Let your daughter play football and army man
- Give your kids everything
- Don’t spoil your kids
- Don’t make them play sports
- Make them play sports for discipline
The list can go on and on. The more I read the lists, the more I feel like a failure. The more guilt that builds up and builds up.
Balance. It’s a wonderful word.
If we look at everything as a whole, it’s easy to make judgments. It’s easy to say yes I work too hard, or not enough. I need to break things down and look at it for what it truly is.
Do I work a lot? Yes. But I don’t neglect my children. My work gets them a house, food, private school, and more. Can I work too much? Yes. But I’m not. I need to be able to say that, and to believe it. I can’t let others completely determine how I judge my own parenting. When my wife tells me I’m not over-working? I need to believe her! When I look at my kids and see that they are adjusting, learning, enjoying life? I can accept that I AM doing a good job.
Sometimes, you have to work extra. Not just as a Dad, but as a parent. Sometimes, the overtime is needed. Sometimes, the time on the road, IS necessary.
So in conclusion, I’m right back to a word that I need to make more use of; balance.
The mark of a man with strong character, is to not let the opinion of others affect the opinion of himself. I need to check my own work, my own steps, and judge me my own way. It’s necessary to come to your choice of what is good for your family! So Dads, don’t work too much, but understand that sometimes you have to; that’s ok.