For the Dad Who Feels like a Failure

I know how you feel.

Everywhere you look these days, you see two types of dads.

First, there’s Clueless Dad. You know the dad I’m talking about. His wife leaves town, and his Facebook posts are all about how his kids are eating cereal for every meal and peeing in the backyard, and the fact that he got his kids to school on time is a minor miracle.

Is this really what society thinks of dads? That we are so incapable of parenting that just keeping our kids alive should earn us a participation trophy?

Then, there are the Jack Pearsons. If you don’t know who Jack Pearson is, stop what you’re doing, head to Hulu, and binge-watch every episode of “This is Us.”

The Jack Pearson dad always reacts the right way. He doesn’t lose his cool, he makes grand romantic gestures to his wife, and his children will never have anything bad to say about him.

Ever.

But what about the rest of us, who don’t fit in with either of these camps? I’m here to tell you something, no matter where you fall on the dad continuum.

You. Are. An. Amazing. Dad.

No qualifiers. No buts.

Do you do your absolute best to ensure that your kids know that you love them and would do anything for them? Maybe you’re a stay-at-home dad. Maybe you work all day, or maybe you only see your kids every other weekend.

But are you trying your best? Then guess what — you’re an incredible dad.

The Internet is good for a lot of things, but the comparison game that gets played out online is one of the worst things to ever happen to parenting.

It can feel like all the other dads have a nicer house, drive a nicer car, go on more vacations, or buy their kids more cool stuff. As fathers, we tend to walk around all day keeping a running tally in our head of all the things that other dads are doing better than we are. Some days, this makes me want to throw my phone into a lake and go install a corded landline in my house.

The reality is that as dads, our job is actually pretty easy.

We help provide for our kids, we make sure that our kids know how much we love them, and we teach them to be good, kind people.

That’s pretty much the whole job description. Everything else is just a bonus.

So please dads, hear me. This coming week, when you pick up your phone and scroll through Instagram, or you’re over at the house of your friend who makes WAY more money than you do, check yourself before you start comparing.

Because at the end of the day, life isn’t a TV show, and your kids aren’t going to remember the car you drove or the stuff you bought them.

They’re going to remember that you loved them, and that did your best to show them that they meant more to you than anything else in the world.

So stop trying to be a great dad, because you already are.

Stephen Carter is a writer, husband, father, & friend. He lives in Portland with his wife Rachel, and 3 beautiful girls, Avery, Rylee, & Hattie. When he’s not reading or writing, he enjoys a local micro-brew, or a strong cup of coffee. He is passionate about literature, theology, justice, Daniel Day-Lewis movies, U2 records (but with strong reservations about No Line on the Horizon), and believes that the right words can change the world. He can be found on: Twitter: @stephenedwardc

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