We like to talk about moms a lot, and while there is good reason for that—what about dad? Sometimes it seems like we just expect dad to figure it all out, but he has a lot on his plate too. Society puts pressure on the dad to be the breadwinner, the financial support for the family. But, we also expect dad to be the little league coach, the repairman, teacher, and cheerleader. It can be a difficult balance.
As in any balancing act, the truth is sometimes career will take center stage and other times it will be all about the family. If you are one of those dads who is struggling with maintaining balance, you are not alone. Maybe you are worried you aren’t spending enough time with your kids, or you are concerned they don’t feel a bond with you. You come home at night just in time to see them go to bed. You are feeling the pressure from your boss to get the project done, and also from your wife and your children to be present more. So, what can you do to ease the struggle?
The biggest thing is to be there for your kids. Even if you are not physically there with them as often as you would like. When you are around put the phone down, turn the computer off, have a conversation with them. Try to leave all that stress from work at work, or in the car on the way home. Make sure they understand they can talk to you and you will listen.
Dedicating one day a week to family time is a good way to make sure you are getting that quality time in. It is a day your kids will look forward to doing something fun, and a good day for you to put the yard and housework to the back burner and fully engage yourselves as a family. It doesn’t have to be anything too elaborate, it is amazing what a couple hours of mini golf or board games can do for the soul. It is all about finding a space to laugh, love, and be carefree.
Make sure you are also practicing self-care (I know just another thing to add to the list). Just like moms, dads need time for friends and hobbies. It is a good time to release stress and reset. Whether it be a weekly softball league, video game club, golf outing, or a night to drink some beers with the guys, you need to take care of your inner self so that you can feel less consumed by stress with the family.
There is no doubt there is a huge amount of pressure on parents these days. Take a deep breath, don’t try to be perfect just try to be engaged and present when you are able. Give your kids hugs, tell them you love them and you are proud of them and everything else will fall into place.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.