I was down in the rabbit hole of Instagram the other day when an article caught my eye, it was a repost by Channel Mum. The photo read “Why isn’t Dad Guilt a Thing?“, I don’t usually get too sensitive by some posts but maybe its due to how I’ve been feeling myself recently and this instantly got my back up. I quickly realised that the photo was more of a clickbait as the article didn’t quite match up with the image but it still talked about Mum’s sweating over the small stuff and that Dad’s don’t suffer from the same guilt.
This included things such as whether the house was tidy and whether nutritious meals were made. It also mentioned the classic debate between bottle fed or breastfed as well as stay at home versus working mum being other “small stuff” which “Mums” suffer from as part of Mummy guilt.
To be fair to the writer, as much as the photo seemed to knock Dads on the head for being emotionless, the writer did agree that Dads indeed felt guilt (phew) just the “important stuff”. The writer didn’t go into what this important stuff was however I was still left feeling a little frustrated at the post in general for several reasons.
There is no such thing as MUM or DAD guilt, its parenting guilt! What determines whether one idea of guilt as important or not? As parents we all suffer our share of guilt in different ways.
For example, for me, if we go back to when the children were born it was the lack of time I got to spend with them due to only being able to take two weeks paternity leave and missing so many of the key milestones particularly in the first 12 months; its the fact that as the main household earner, I tend to work long hours in order to ensure we are able to have a roof over our heads, bills paid and enjoy a good lifestyle but that I miss out on valuable time in the week with them as by the time I get home it may be bedtime. Its the fact that in being out all the time, I’m leaving the baulk of parenting and household chores to my wife which although I know she is more the able and happy to do, it doesn’t sit well as I want to play my part. It’s the face of my son who greets me on the landing at 6am as I’m trying to sneak out the house without waking the family as I’m about to stay away for a few nights and him crying as he knows I’m going away.
What I’m saying is I have an endless list of things I often beat myself up for, whether that’s on my commute to and from work, in hotel rooms at night, lying awake next to my wife in bed in the middle of the night. I’m equally confident Mrs F does exactly the same as well, whether or not thats around the same things or even completely different things, its irrelevant, nothing is ‘silly’ or more important than the other, we both feel parenting guilt, its what contributes to us being the good parents we are, we care, we worry, we love our children, its not a competition.
To say that Dads don’t sweat about the small stuff not only calls into question a Dads emotions, but its continues to conform to old fashioned theories that Dad’s don’t feel, Mum’s only worry about “silly things” and continues to do little to breakdown the divide between the male and female sexes in the fight for equality for all.
I’m not looking to shame or downbeat anyone for the post although can’t help thinking that Channel Mum should have maybe been a little more sympathetic to the Dads when reposting, especially as I know they are a fantastic resource to many but the next time you want to tell others, remember, that is just your point of view and not just “Dads” or “Mums” as a whole… maybe the photo should have been captioned “Why doesn’t my partner feel the same parenting guilt as me?” but maybe that might not have got as much engagement as the original post… just saying.
Until next time