Tom's Blog: Guilty, or guilt-free?

Is it me or do we sometimes give ourselves too much of a hard time as Dads? During a talk at school, my six year old son's teacher explained that not everyone's family circumstances are the same and that some children "hardly ever see their Daddies". My son looked at me doubtfully when he recounted this to me and he said "I don't think she meant you Daddy". The fact that he was in any doubt at all really hit a nerve but as I thought more about it I wondered whether I was too quick to look for reasons to feel guilty. After all, I have breakfast with the kids every day and, thanks to my flexible working arrangement, I work at home once a week so I can walk my son to school and sit down with the family for dinner. So compared to most kids with Dads who commute to a job in the City, I think we do all right.

Sometimes it seems like we go out of our way to look for reasons to feel guilty. But how many of us look back at our own childhoods and dwell on all the things our Dads got wrong? My Dad never once set foot inside the school for a parents' evening or school play, but what I remember is him cooking my breakfast every morning and taking us on camping adventures in the summer.

So what's the answer? It's definitely not to ignore the impact our careers have on our children. Now more than ever, Dads need to confront these issues and, let's face it, there are times when we deserve to feel guilty. In part, the answer must be to focus on the things we get right and try to do more of the same. And how do we know when we do get it right? Fortunately no one's told my six year old about 360 degree appraisals yet, but whenever I'm at home for bedtime the last thing I ask my kids before they close their eyes is what the best thing was that happened to them that day. When the answer is that I cooked them pancakes for breakfast, I’ll know I've got something right!

Tom is a senior associate in a magic circle law firm. He is married with three young children, and works full time with one day per week spent working at home.

Category: A Cityfather's Diary

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