It’s often taken for granted that every parent feels blissful about their role as a father or mother. But, regrets can crop up for a number of reasons including feeling a loss of freedom. If you’re regretting fatherhood, you’re not alone.
It helps to understand why you may be having these regrets during what should be one of your most exciting life-changing experiences. These might be pangs of regret like for me every once in a while or they might be a more lasting feeling. Working through the challenges of being a father can help you to manage your regrets better too.
1. Lack of Sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the biggest challenges most new parents face when their newborn comes home. Most babies simply don’t sleep through the night, leaving you to find ways to soothe them at odd hours of the night!
Sleep deprivation means you end up feeling cranky and exhausted throughout the following day. The side effects of sleep deprivation also include:
- Not being able to concentrate and focus properly
- Mood changes such as irritability and anger
- Uncontrollable yawning
- Health issues such as high blood pressure and weight gain
For many fathers, not getting enough sleep is a deal-breaker when it comes to regretting fatherhood!
2. The Expense is High
With fatherhood comes a whole lot of responsibilities. One of them is financial responsibility and it’s no secret that having a family is expensive! Your income needs to stretch to be able to cover the budget for baby stuff such as diapers, cribs, monitors, clothes, and more. You also have to factor in medical expenses, day care costs if both you and your wife are working, and eventually schooling.
Where you once had enough money to take holidays and buy that mountain bike you’ve always wanted, your savings account is now being used to take care of your child. Gone are the days of spending money on yourself as your little one’s needs become priority.
Some fathers come to regret the high expenses of having a family especially when it wasn’t part of the bigger life plan!
3. Children Can Misbehave at Times
Your child may be a miniature version of a human being but they can be irrational at times! Dealing with misbehaving children can drive most parents around the bend.
If you’re a father who battles with any of the following, regrets of fatherhood may start to surface:
- Believing that toddler temper tantrums are illogical
- Finding older children’s seemingly disregard for discipline outright frustrating
- Viewing moody teenagers as a deliberate way of getting back at you
Trying to understand your child’s behavior, no matter how old they are, takes a lot of patience and awareness of what’s driving their so-called misbehavior. It requires deciding what parenting style as a father should you adopt and how you want to raise your children.
If you struggle with parenting misbehaving children, regrets may start to surface.
4. You Have No Social Life
Once a baby enters your home, your social life flies out of the window! If you’ve always been a party goer or love joining your buddies at the pub every evening, all of this will change as soon as you become a dad.
Socializing disappears for a number of reasons. You no longer have the spare cash to socialize, or you’re too tired and grumpy after yet another sleepless night with a colicky baby. And, if you take your role as being a dad seriously, your focus turns more to raising your kids than playing a weekly game of darts with your friends.
I solve this issue by agreeing with my partner that we take turns taking care of our daughter in the evenings. However, this could happen only once she turned around two years old, when she had less baby health issues. Here’s a photo of me out in a pub on one such evening. 🙂
5. Constant Crying and Fighting
If your baby is colicky, your first few months of raising a kid is fraught with constant crying. There may also be other health issues driving your baby or young child’s persistent crying. Or, your little one is feeling insecure and uses crying as a way of getting attention. Whatever the reason, this kind of behavior can leave you feeling exhausted.
Another problem that can lead to stress as a parent are children who are constantly bickering with each other. Or, fighting with you! Fighting in the home, be it with your partner or with your child, elevates your stress hormones, leaving you feeling worn out and anxious most of the time.
The more anxious you get about your role as a father, the more depressed you become. Eventually, you start regretting ever considering being a dad.
6. No Time to Yourself
Raising kids is time-consuming even when you and your partner make every effort to share the duties. The list is endless. Diaper changes, bottle feeding, getting kids to school, doing homework with them, attending parents’ evening with teachers, and so on. When exactly do you get to have any time to yourself?
This is a common complaint amongst both mothers and fathers as they navigate the role of parenting. Finding time for yourself seems impossible and you begin to wonder if you’ll ever get to do any of your favorite activities or hobbies again!
Me time and self-care are crucial for general well-being but it’s not always possible when you’re a dad. Putting yourself back on the priority list takes effort and constant negotiations with your partner. If you’re struggling to prioritize your “Me time”, you may end up regretting ever becoming a father.
I go jogging regularly. Again, similarly to the case of hanging out with friends, I agree with my partner who should do sports when.
7. Parenting is Difficult
Let’s get one thing straight from the start – parenting is difficult. Even if having children was a conscious decision taken by both you and your partner, nothing prepares you properly for parenthood. Raising kids can lead to both mental and physical exhaustion, especially if your child has health issues or a difficult temperament.
Being a parent can cause a number of emotions to surface such as fear and worry. Caring for a small, defenseless baby can cause you to feel vulnerable and at times, even useless. What happens to your brain when a new baby comes into the fold also determines how easy or hard you find fatherhood to be.
Parenting also becomes hard for the following reasons:
- Autonomy: Your child wants to do it! When your child wants to stamp their independence from a young age, it could lead to some frustrations on your behalf.
- Timeline differences: Children will operate on a different timeline to you, often making it difficult to get anywhere or anything done on time. If you’re a time-stickler, this behavior may drive you to distraction!
- Developmental misunderstanding: If you expect your child to do something when they’re developmentally not ready to achieve it, you may end up feeling your kid is useless.
If you feel you’ve failed at being a parent, you’ll end up with many regrets as a father.
8. You and Your Partner Fight
Sometimes, your baby will only let mom calm him or her down, Or, your wife has to sort out other household or work duties, so you’re left handling an unhappy baby. A baby who’s constantly crying puts huge strain on everyone in the home and this often results in fighting between the parents.
Questions are raised such as whose responsibility is it to settle a crying baby. It’s at times like this when the role of the mother vs father is debated and argued over, with many believing it’s the mom’s responsibility to raise a baby.
But, it’s not only a crying baby that’ll make you and your partner fight. You may disagree on how to discipline your child or what your kid should be eating. You may want to toughen up your son while your partner still wants to treat him like a baby. If you and your partner don’t agree on how to parent your child, disagreements will surface.
Watching your relationship with your partner disintegrate because of parenting issues may be the very reason you start regretting being a dad.
9. Lack of Personal Space
If having personal space is essential to your own sense of wellbeing, you could battle with a baby or child who doesn’t understand these boundaries. Understanding personal space and boundaries don’t come instinctively to children who don’t grasp social cues easily. This is often the case with children who battle with ADHD or are on the Autism spectrum.
It becomes your responsibility as a parent to teach them about personal space and it takes patience to show them the way. Children who need to cling to you or stand too close to you could end up irritating you. You may also struggle when a child insists on playing in your home office or den even though you’ve told them it’s out of bounds.
Watch this video about honoring other people’s personal space.
Dealing with children who have no concept of personal space or privacy requires constant guidance.If not managed properly, you’ll end up feeling regretful about becoming a parent.
Being a father is hard work, life-changing, and means giving up a lot of your freedom and time. Defining your role as a father or dad also influences how easy or hard you find it being a parent. These and other reasons may lead to regrets as you question whether being a father or not is worthwhile.
Have I covered all the reasons or do you have some other ones I might have missed? Leave a comment or reach out to me as I’m curious.