I recently heard someone ask the question, “Do dads have the same guilt as moms?”
This was posed in response to a mother bemoaning the guilt she felt when her son said he knew she couldn’t make his special school events because she had to work.
It’s a reasonable question.
Mostly stay-at-home and working mothers, not fathers, step forward for class field trips, volunteer as class parents, handle lunch programs and after-school enrichment scheduling. This is certainly the case in our town, and tends to be the case nationwide.
It goes without saying that when a mother cannot be there every moment for her kids, she feels a tremendous amount of guilt.
I am not a mother, but I am married to one, and I was raised by one, and I know a lot of them, and I read and hear about mom guilt all the time, so I don’t feel I’m going out on a limb by making such a statement.
But, can we say with the same level of certainty that a father feels similar guilt about not being there for his kids?
I am a father and since my father became ill when I was about 10-years old, I don’t really remember what it feels like to have a strong fatherly presence in my life.
I do know a lot of dads. But since we are all cavemen, our conversations skew more toward what’s in the cooler, the latest football scores, and work–not how we are feeling.
So why did the question stick so far in my craw?
My gut reaction was to shout from the tallest mountain, “OF COURSE! THERE ARE, IN FACT, SENSITIVE, CARING, NURTURING, AND GUILT-RIDDEN DADS OUT THERE STEPPING UP TO THE PARTICIPATORY PARENTING PLATE. AND THEY DERIVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF PLEASURE, PRIDE, AND SATISFACTION AS DO MOMS FROM WATCHING THEIR KIDS GROW AND ACHIEVE. WHEN THEY HAVE TO FINISH PROJECTS ON DEADLINE INSTEAD OF THROWING THE FOOTBALL OUTSIDE, WHEN THEY CANNOT MAKE THEIR MUSIC CONCERTS BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO BE AT CLIENT MEETINGS, REST ASSURED, DAD GUILT IS EVERY BIT AS ACUTE AND PAINFUL AS MOM GUILT!”
Am I a freak for reacting this way? For feeling this way? For writing about feeling this way? For publicly sharing that I have feelings?
Based on my personal perspective and unique circumstances, I can answer the guilt question without even thinking. I cannot speak for the other 99%.
So, here now, the first ever workydaddy polling of the masses.
I’m legitimately curious, as was the person who originally posed the question, about this notion of dads feeling the same guilt as moms.
So, if you have a moment, chime in and let me know what you think. I’ll take to keyboard with the results in a future post.