I kind of wonder right now if I’m a crappy dad. At least some of the time.
I mean, I think I’m a really good dad. Most of the time.
I have constant quality time with my kid. I teach him. I love him. I devote my life to giving him the best life possible. I’m dedicated to setting him up for the best chance at a successful life in every part of his life. I support him. I encourage him. I play with him. I wrestle with him. I laugh with him. I take him on trips near and far. We snuggle together. We sit together, filling my bed with popcorn crumbs, and watch movies way past bedtime just because we love it so much. We read together. We dance together. We plot our next sneaky pranks we’re going to play on the Farmer’s Daughter together.
And, sometimes, I cannot wait for him to go back to his mom’s house.
That’s how I was feeling last week as I typed this.
Which makes me feel like I’m a bit of a crappy dad. Sometimes.
I mean, Noah is a good kid. And sure, he tests his boundaries, and he pushes his limits when he wants something, and he has the occasional melt-down, and he can take two hours to eat a couple of chicken fingers. But he’s a good kid.
So good, in fact, that I can honestly say he is one of the best kids I’ve met. He is kind, and good-hearted, and obedient, and helpful, and respectful. Most of the time. Being with my kid is a real pleasure. So much so that by the time his time at Mom’s house is coming to a close, I cannot wait to see him again.
I get to missing him so much that I’ll go sit in his bedroom and just tinker with some of his things while he’s gone. I’ll put together some of his LEGOs. I’ll even flop onto his bed from time to time and think about my kid and how much I wish he was there.
And still. Sometimes when he is here, I cannot wait for him to go back to his mom’s house.
It’s not all the time or every time. It’s just sometimes. And as I write this, it is about as bad as it ever gets.
Which really makes me feel like a crappy dad.
Last week I sent him to bed. He gave me a huge hug. He ran and jumped straight into his bed when I told him to, without a single contrary word. He yelled “I love you!” as he did it.
And all I could think right then was… Ahhhh. Some time to myself. Finally.
He went back to his Mom’s house on Friday. And all I can think is… Ahhhh. Some time to recharge and get some work done and spend a little quality time with Sarah. Finally.
And that makes me feel like a crappy dad.
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I am a mom of 8 (only 4 bio kids) One is grown up and married. The 7 at home are ages 4,5,6,7,12,14,18. I haven't had a day away from the kids in more years than I can count. I hit the end of most days praying for bed time so I can have a little quiet. Quiet never happens. Cleaning happens instead. Someday I will get my break I am sure. Here is my take on it. You take care of your child. That in itself makes you NOT a crappy dad. I have kids in my home who have not seen their bio parents in 1/2 a year because they find it easier to not deal with them. They pick them up a couple times a year to do something fun with them and then ditch them. That is a crappy parent. I am not perfect. I don't always get it right. I am here though through the good days and the bad days. I have days where the thought crosses my mind that several of these kids are not my responsibility and I can RETURN them and not have to deal with this crap anymore.....but I don't. I could feel bad about feeling that way from time to time but we all have days where we rethink our choices. I use those bad days to gain new perspective, get creative and make the best of what we have....each other!
Oh honey. That doesn't make you a crappy dad... That makes you human. I'll remind you of what you already know: its normal. Especially when you expend all of your energy just loving this little person, you sometimes just run out of enthusiasm. Its not crappy, its practically expected. You're a great dad. Don't ever doubt it!
This is the first time I have read your work. I have read several of your posts and I get a good "vibe" from you. I am a single mom of 3, have been for about 10 years, although their father was not really an "active participant" much even when we were together. I mean, seriously, what father refers to caring for his children as "babysitting"?!?! Anywho, as a single mom who has my kids with me 24/7 - minus MAYBE 2 weekends a month, I get tired.... Sometimes you need time to just be you and not always mom or dad. Maybe that makes us feel like we are being "crappy" or selfish, but the reality is that even our phones need to be recharged. Does that make the phone crappy? I think not, so take the recharge time you need and be the good dad when you come back to your son..... It is NOT crappy to send your kids to bed when you both need the rest.
You are not alone. I often find myself wondering how I came to be responsible for three other human beings. Wasn't I just enjoying the newfound freedom that came along with getting my drivers license?? It's like I took a nap and woke up a divorcee' with three daughters and a crapload of responsibility, not to mention the near constant fear that I'm going to screw them up somehow. All these decisions, the pressure to do the "right" thing, and judgy mom friends don't make it any easier, but you are a great dad and I'm a great mom and as long as we give them our unconditional love, I think we'll all be okay.
If it makes you feel any better, check out my latest post on how I totally screwed up in the parenting arena.
I feel ya! I am a single mom of four children and there are days I'm not sure I will make it through another day without being commited to the psych ward. But other days I think my kids must have been sent from Angels. There are those times when the weekend away from them seemed too short and times I can't wait to have them back. I swear they've grown over the span of two days! It's all in the definition of parenting. I just remember that a long as I have unconsitional love for them they will turn out alright. Hang tough and know that you are not alone.
You're right that you are a great dad. You're right that as a mental health professional, with much experience with kids and parents, it's normal to hit the wall. What some people don't say and don't like when I say it is this: embrace those crappy day feelings. They're real. They suck. AND they pass. In some ways, when I feel like a crappy mom or a crappy therapist or a crappy friend, etc, it helps me reflect on what I do that is NOT crappy, what I do that kind of is or could use improvement, and then...here's the tag line.... I'm GENTLE WITH MYSELF. Be gentle with yourself, Dan. You're human. You ARE Super Dad. Even super man has his weaknesses. You are Noah's Super Dad. Even when you are crappy (Which is very likely not as crappy as you think you are).
Hi, my name is Daniel. I'm a single dad myself, even a beardy large Caucasian fellow, and I'm lucky enough to be the father of a really intelligent, kind, well-behaved, mature 2-year-old named Andrew. I stumbled across your blog, as it's the primary single-dad search result, and was immediately drawn to this title; not only can I relate to your situation, I can relate to the feeling. The primary difference in your situation and mine is that you still maintain contact and visitation with your little man's mother. Trust me, the downtime you get when he is away is something we don't all enjoy, and it's something to treasure!
The way I think about it, the Crappy Dad Guilt is a natural byproduct of our desire to compensate. We don't have the picture-perfect family anymore, nor are we the edgy alternative family. We have less-than-ideal family situations, and we hold ourselves accountable. We are just guys trying to make our kids' lives as amazing, fun, full, and exciting as possible, and when we don't take that to 110%, we feel like we're falling even shorter of our own expectations.
The best you can do is more than he needs, man, but it'll never feel to you like you're doing enough. It needs to be that way; we owe our little guys every ounce of energy and love in our being. I just wanted to let you know, from a perspective that you know all too well, that I'm sure you're doing fine, and I feel like a Crappy Dad a lot of the time too. If we didn't have that guilt, it'd mean we didn't care.
With the utmost sincerity and solidarity,
Oh Dan, don't be so hard on yourself. As others have said we are all human and we do need time for ourselves. Your honesty is honorable. You are an awesome dad. I think if we didn't feel that way sometimes once in a while it wouldn't be normal.
I think this is a good opportunity to tell the guy you wrote an entire article about- "not breaking your children"- that you are sorry. You now get that just like him you are a human. Maybe that guy is a bad father but maybe he was just having a human moment. Before you get too mad at someone and put them on blast next time you may remember that you can only take so much. Maybe that guy never gets a break from his child like you do. It is a lot easier to be a good influence all of the time when you can just put on a show if you're tired. Not every father gets that opportunity so remember that the next time you get mad at someone out in public who is not reacting as you think they should.
You know what I love about this post (besides the honesty?) I love all the good things you said about your son! Most parents couldn't sit down and come up with that many good things about their kids in a moment of frustration. Yes, we all have those moments...yes, we all have awesome moments as well. You just happen to write about both. Hang in there and keep writing!
Everyone needs a break sometimes, and even good kids can be pills sometimes. Admitting to yourself that you don't like that side of your son is normal.
I often wish my son and I could get a break from his dad for a while. It seems like his father needs a break from us, too. But we all live together and can't really get away from each other. Be glad that you have that downtime when you need it instead of beating yourself up over needing it.
I'm technically not a mom . . . Recently my friends have started jokingly calling me a "half-mom", the reason being, I watch my nephews five days a week. I think I get to spend more time with these three boys than my sister does. (She works as a restaurant manager who has been on closes for four or five years now) So often the boys forget and call me "Mama". I also help with my disabled mother . . . I understand the need to get away. I live in an apartment over the garage and as I type this I am being decidedly being anti-social on my one day off from everyone. As much as a person wants to be that perfect being that can keep up with the kids and be that wonderful person the whole time, there is nothing wrong with needing that break. I know I would not be able to keep up with the 'phews without the break.
I am a sahm to an awesome four year old boy and newborn baby girl. Their dad travels a lot for work and is often gone for a week at a time. I do not get breaks. I feel shitty for ignoring the oldest because the youngest is cranky. I feel shitty for asking him to wash his own hands and put his own dishes away. Or when I get mad at him for spreading crumbs on the floor and I have to sweep for the 10th time that day.
We all go thru it. It doesn't make you a crappy parent. It makes you a tired parent. And that's okay. It happens to the best of us.
Say blah, stick out your tongue when you say it and you'll feel better. My kids do it to me and I do it to them. Works here. :)
It's okay to be tired. A crappy dad is when you only see your kids twice a week and don't spend the entire time with them, or another one of my personal faves is ditching your kids for a football game on tv... Not the super bowl... Or, not paying child support. Those are just a few things that make a crappy dad.
I am a single mom to a 6 year old girl and 9 year old boy. Their dad takes them every other weekend....most of the time. I love them to death, but I look forward to them giving me just a day or two to recharge every couple weeks! I think every parent feels like this, single or not!
I bought your book "The Real Dad Rules" and thought as a single mom ...Im going to hate this... but bought into it feeling well let me see...and im halfway through thinking....ok even though he's a man....we've got a live one here....it has definiletly shown on the major areas my ex lacked I cooked cleaned and made the best home i could with NO CREDIT, while working full time always. Thats how he was raised women in the kitchen ...men on the couch watching ESPN...horrible and pathetic so I left when my son was 6 months old. Not easy but necessary.
Your not a CRAPPY DAD your a normal person ...Unfortunately as a single working, a full time job mom, i go through this same heart sinking feeling pretty much every day ... I get home after a full work day and hit the floor running at top speed as best I can muster but im always half exhugsted, half there....but im trying. I hope the trying counts. I live in NY...where its a dog eats dog days...I cant move to far from his father but feel like living a little further away would offer us some breathing room, more time to enjoy the trees and look at the clouds but Im tied down ...so I plow ahead into work and trying to muster the energy to be full time everything...
Oh, Dan... I'm reading this post and thinking of some parents I know. Feeling like a crummy dad is what makes you a GOOD DAD. A crummy dad would have yelled at his son that it was bed time, and not thought twice about it. A good dad made sure his child felt loved and valued. A crummy dad can't wait to have time to himself. A good dad cherishes the tie with his child, then values his personal time when the child isn't around.
When your son is around, you do everything a good dad should do. Then you take the time to yourself when he goes to bed or his mom's. He has a GOOD DAD, and I look forward to hearing about your next silly adventure!
Its funny how we feel what we feel sometimes. As for FEELING like a bad dad, ah I think its a reminder that you need to take good care of yourself before you can take good care of someone else. As for BEING a good or bad dad, I think you are a good dad. you are involved attentive, and conscientious in your actions.
Its like having a cold, you don't know how much you take being well for granted until your sick. Children have the ability to bring out the very best in us and the worst.
I have two children who grew to be fine adults, whom I'm very proud of. I miss them, they are out living their own lives, and check in occasionally. Take a deep breath, and remember your only human.
Yes, you are a a crappy dad. Get over it. Learn to make a mistake and say "Oh well, he's not a tea cup, I didn't break him, he'll survive." That way your kid knows he's all right even when you happen to be a narcissistic ass. That's love, buddy.
You're not a crappy dad. Yes, everyone needs a chance to recharge, even adults need to get away from other adults I believe. The fact that you feel bad about wanting time to yourself tells me that you are a great dad. I know parents who wouldn't think twice about not being with their kids. I think you're a great dad and, like the rest of us, you are human. :)
I normally agree with your posts but this one...no. The reason is, you KNOW you will get time to yourself since you have shared custody, so Id eat up every minute I have with my child KNOWING in a few days whether I like it or not, he will be leaving me for a set period of time. I do not have shared custody, my kids are mine everyday, and do I sometimes look forward to bedtime so I can sit down for two seconds, of course. Do I enjoy the rare event that me and my husband may get to go on an adult only date, sure. But I never ever wish my kids werent with me and I would be heartbroken if I had to share custody with someone. You wanted a parents opinion......
I am a mother of 3 boys (2 now adults). Honestly, if you never felt this way it would mean you weren't human. Being a good parent also means you have to be good to yourself because that translates to how you treat others, especially your children. Every parent whether they will admit it or not has these moments of not wanting to be around their child/children. This does not make you a bad parent. The fact that you feel bad about thinking this just shows precisely what a good parent you are, in my opinion.
I've been running on fumes lately after 7 years of being a totally solo single parent, no ex, no family nearby, so I totally hear you! --Louise
After reading your post, I see that you do recognize that your need for space is completely normal and legitimate. But I totally get it that it makes you feel crappy, because so much of your identity is wrapped up in being a "good" dad (which, by the way, I applaud). Feeling like you need a break makes you question whether all you good parenting is just
You're not a bad dad. Even in those moments where it takes every bit of strength to smile and acknowledge your son, all he will remember is that you did. And that it was great. He has no idea your internal struggle. No kid does until they become parents themselves and they ask their parents how they made it look so easy?!?! Kids view us so differently than we realize and have no idea what our worlds are like or the thoughts we have. Rest assured that as long as we are good parents that love our kids and don't abuse them in anyway, they will think we're amazing. :)
Oh, been there. Done that. As horrible as it sounds, when I was a SAHM I remember one incident where the baby was screaming and the toddler was tearing up the living room with the 2 year old child I babysat, and I couldn't take one more minute of it. I put the baby in the crib, made sure the 2 year olds had some safe toys, and I went out to lay down in the backseat of the car to get 5 minutes of quiet. No question about it, I needed those five minutes of quiet even if it was while shut inside a hot car!
Someone once told me: Good parents have guilt, we want to do better for our kids than we think we are doing. It's just not good to live in that headspace. Accept it as what it is... An indicator that you're doing just fine. It's the parents that don't have guilt that I worry about.
I have been a single parent for 13 years now. I felt guilty about divorce, about working and going to school, about the dinners I cooked, the rickety car I drove, the school I sent them to and the amount of time I chose to be away from them when I didn't have them all the time, and especially guilty for the same reasons you do. I took trips with out them (when they were with their dad), I went out on girls nights, I dated, and sometimes I just wanted to hide from them. In the long run, your boy will know that you loved him & that you did the best you knew how. (I wish my boys dad had spent time with them the way you do with Noah, I am positive that they would have a better relationship with them if he dad). Noah will realize that the reason that you were able to be such a good dad is because you took care of yourself too. Having alone time, time out with the guys, and time with your girl are all part of taking care of you and maintaining your mental health, so that you can do all the fun crazy things that you do with him.
The guilt, oh that damn guilt! I have my daughter week on week off - during the week she is with me, it's all about her and I, always has been - up until a year ago when I joined households w/my SO, who is also a father. Admitting, not just to myself, but to my partner, that I need "mommy" time was really tough. I talked to my daughter about needing an hour each night to myself, after she goes to bed has made it a little easier - she knows that sometimes I'll go into the garage and sit in my car just because I need a time out. Children understand, mine does at least. I miss her so stinking much when she's at her dads that I too go and sit in her room, or will get a piece of clothing that she's worn and inhale her scent just to be comforted. if I could give a suggestion to all parents, aunties, uncles, gma's/gpa's - etc - realize we are human, we have limits - take a few moments periodically to "escape". I turn on the shower but never get in sometimes....I just sit on the edge of the tub w/a good book.
~ thank you for your truth, Dan.
You sound pretty normal to me. I think parents carry a lot of guilt around on their shoulders. I am always replaying my day with my kids in my head wondering if I should have done this or that with them. We do the best we can everyday and that is all we can do. Some days are wonderful and others not so much. Don't beat yourself up about it, happens to all of us. Maybe you do need a little bit of a breather more than you did last time he went to visit his mom. So take a few hours and just enjoy some you time. And in no time like you said you will be ready to wrestle and play with him again.
I have a 14 yo son and have homeschooled him since 3rd grade. We are together 24/7. His dad works all the time and we live out of state from all family. Even when we were in state, it was rare to see anyone. I KNOW about wanting and needing time/space. Trust me, I get it. I don't think that makes us crappy. It means we are human and we know our limits. Oh, and as I write this, my limit is just about reached....
Keep up the great work! You rock as a parent!
....moreover, if we are perfect parents ALL of the time....we are pretending to upholda standard of perfection our children will suffer through trying to meet as they become adults. Just tell him when you are tired, explain it so he does not take it personal and can learn that it is OK to take care of ourselves TOO. :)))))
@Ellen Jaggers your not a nice person. I'm thinking small children and small animals run from your very presence.
@sara I disagree. Every parent needs a break. Feeling wistful for that break doesn't make them a bad parent.
@Katinka It doesn't sounds sarcastic to me. Sounds mean.
@NAWSbrat never said it made him a bad parent. Never uddered those words. He wanted an opinion about how us as parents feel about our kids and if we agree with his stance on the subject. I disagreed. Which Im allowed to do, but again never said nor implied he is a bad parent. He most certainly is not, just the opposite in fact. I just happen to have a different opinion about the subject.
@sara @NAWSbrat I, for some reason, have a hard time believing you never wish your children weren't with you...if it is in fact true, count your blessings that you have children that don't get on every single one of your nerves. Or that you have an endless supply of patience and calm. Not all parents are like that. Nor are most children not exhausting.
Its good that you reminded him of how precious his time his, we all need reminders and different perspectives. I just disagree with how you said it. You don't know how his day is or what his life is like, to tell him YOU wouldn't ever wish your kids weren't with you is kind of insensitive. He's already wearing his heart on his sleeve by admitting his feelings to the world, to stick your nose in the air and say you would never ever feel that way is kind of tossing salt onto a wound.
Your point was valid, enjoy your time with your son, but you don't need to make it about you and insinuate that there is something wrong with him because he doesn't feel the way you do. Just like there is nothing wrong with you for not feeling the way he does.
Not looking to have an argument, just expressing my feelings about your post. Sheesh. I'm glad you are such a perfect parent that you "enjoy all the time I have." I raised three daughters by myself (they are now adults and out of the house), I (like Dan) did *not* enjoy every minute. I often longed for a break and time to myself.
@NAWSbrat please read my post. i believe you are not actually reading it and in fact at just looking to have an arguement. I am stating MY FEELINGS. That in knowing I have a break coming that I would enjoy the time I have. Never once said anything to invalidate his feelings. ALL OF MY STATEMENTS are speaking in first person never am I invalidating HIS FEELINGS. I can disagree with him and that has nothing to do with my feelings about him and his parenting it is simply the way I feel. Just because I am married now, you have no idea if I was or was not a single parent before I met my current husband so please done make assuptions about me.
@sara Nobody enjoys every minute with their kids. His post says he gets tired of being a dad sometimes. We all get to that point where we "need a break from being Dad" or mom. You disagreed with him on that point, so you were affirming that he was a bad parent. And you are *not* a single parent. Trust me, it's different when you become a single parent.
@NAWSbrat Also, nothing wrong about wanting a break. My statement said that he knows he has a break coming, it is inevitable so knowing he has a break on the horizon, if it were me, Id enjoy the time I had.