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Dear Sports-Watching, Weekend-Golfing Dad: Do You Feel Parent Guilt?

How do you deal with parent guilt?I’m selfish, and I suffer from guilt.

It’s an odd combination because I want to do things for me, but feel angst about doing it, so I don’t do it, and then I am jealous of those who do. It’s a vicious circle.

I would love to go golfing every weekend like I did before I had kids, but I can’t because I feel guilt about not taking that weekend time to spend with my children.

So instead of hitting 18 last weekend, I took my kids to the fair (left). This weekend, I’m taking my oldest camping and I will spend part of the 4 hour drive to the campsite wondering how other dads do it. How do you sit on the couch every weekend and watch 3 football games, 5 hours of golf, NASCAR, and a baseball double header? Where are your kids?

How do you golf on the weekends? If you get anything other than a pre-7 AM tee time, you’re looking at 8+ hours away from the house when you factor commute, round of golf, and time on the 19th green.

How do you do after work drinks? If you have an office job, chances are you’re leaving the house before 7 to get to your desk by 8. When you punch the clock at 5, you’re probably not home til 6. Spend anytime “socializing with clients” after your work is done and you’re not home until the kids are in bed.

I have friends who have this happen on a weekly basis, and I wonder if parent guilt ever factors in to the equation. This freewheeling dad that I know is part of a family where the mom stays at home, while the dad works. And then the dad needs to entertain clients, unwind, have some “me time,” etc. So that means business trips, golf outings, and cocktails after work.

My wife and I both work, so when it comes to out-of-office time, I’m trying to spend time with my kids because during the day they’re at school or with a nanny, not with family.  So I’m curious to know if the trend of a “modern, engaged dad” is a product of two income families. We need to split the kid duties because both parents are frazzled with work and trying to find “me time” on top of it.

My theory (which could be out to lunch) is the stay at home spouse does such a good job “running their business” that the working spouse doesn’t want to interfere and screw things up, so they tend to not be as involved. They can then focus on things they want to do, as opposed to home responsibilities safe in the knowledge the kids are spending time with family.

Am I jealous? Do I wish I could golf every Sunday, play poker on Tuesday, and watch golf all day Sunday? Yup. But things change when you have kids, sacrifices are made, and my personal itinerary has had to be adjusts.

So, sports-watching, weekend-golfing, after-work-drinking dad, how do you do it?

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