For Overachieving Dads

photo by Karen Sheets de Gracia, flickr creative commons

photo by Karen Sheets de Gracia, flickr creative commons

I’m aware of some new dads who are in quite the bind. On the one hand, they are devoted to their family. They love their family. So much so, that they work very hard to “provide” a good income and stability for their family. But then, at the very same time, they also feel pressure to be home more—more involved, and more available to their kids. So they bust their ass at their job all day, then “work hard” trying to be a good dad at home. They come home, take over, and might be “on” until after bedtime. Then they are “on” on weekends. They feel pressure on both fronts to show up big. On top of these two, they might also want to be a “good” husband and really be there for their partner with the limited time left. Oh yeah, if there’s any space left, he probably wants space for himself by getting some quality personal time, time to check out, or whatever (notice how this is very last). Pretty soon, this dad is pulled in a number of directions.

The “good guy” heroic personality-types try to meet everyone else’s needs before their own. He puts pressure on himself to “be the man” everywhere. Of course, this is impossible. Something’s gotta give. What might arise eventually is a sense of guilt, as though he is not doing enough. The guilt and inner tension can lead to him resenting his job, wife, or kids, or he can simply check out or shut down. It’s as though no amount of effort is ever enough. The way out for this Dad is to learn how to balance his own needs alongside his family’s needs, and really examine (with outside help) his motives. Why does he need to be superman and when did he sign up for this? Where did he get this message and is it even his? His dads? His culture’s? What’s realistic here? How does he find peace with exactly how he is showing up, whatever that looks like?

If he does some good self-inquiry, he might find is that he once again bought into a role and his childhood pattern, rather than doing the inner work of discovering who he really is and what he really needs/wants. When he begins to examine and change his behavior to align with his true Self, he can eventually find a balance that really serves him and his family in a nourishing and sustainable way.

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