The Crushing Weight of "Dad Guilt"

The Crushing Weight of "Dad Guilt"

When you inevitably find yourself on your death bed, we will all have some regrets to ponder. However, "I spent too much time with my kids” will not be one of them.

More than likely, the opposite will be true. We never have enough time with our children. That inevitably leads to “dad guilt.”

Dad guilt is a particular kind of brutality. No matter how Herculean the effort, it always seems like there are not enough hours in the day to give 100% to everyone and everything that requires our attention.

We want to be present fathers who are around and engaged in our children’s lives on a daily basis. We want to be loving and devoted husbands to our wives. We want to be leaders in our businesses or workplace and excel professionally.

I’ll be honest: there are some days I feel like I am absolutely failing at all of the above. If this is you, you’re not alone. I don’t think there is a father who doesn’t sometimes have these moments of dad guilt where he doesn’t think he’s doing “enough.”

I want to share with you the framework that I use to make sure I get back on track when I feel my life starting to get out of alignment with my vision. This is your battle plan to defeat dad guilt:

1. Create your “ideal” day

I created the “ideal” schedule for my day to include the most important elements (and people) in my life. It looks like this:

-7:00AM: Wake up, help kids get out the door to school
-7:30AM: Water + coffee + sunshine
-8:00AM: Deep work
-1:00PM: Mental break (work out, sauna, walk, whatever)
-2:00PM: More work
-5:30PM: Dinner with the family
-6:00PM: Play time with my boys
-6:45PM: Bath time/story time with boys
-7:30PM: Put boys to sleep
-8:00PM: Connect with my wife
-9:30PM: Read, meditate, or pray
-10:30PM: Sleep

Yes, this is schedule is precise. Yes, almost every day is exactly the same. But being disciplined about my schedule allows me to make sure everyone is getting what they need from dad.

What does your ideal day look like? WRITE IT DOWN.

2. Identify your “non-negotiables”

There are a few things that I am committed to doing no matter what. Nothing, outside of a real-life emergency, will interfere, including work or my personal life.

One of those non-negotiable things is that weekends are for FAMILY. My sons call the weekend “daddy days” because they know on those two days, my focus is 100% on them and our family.

I spend hours each Friday night getting any and all work done that I would otherwise have to do on the weekend. Working late at night for hours on a Friday night after a long week of work is the last thing I want to do — but it’s non-negotiable.

Another one is family dinner every night. We all sit at the table. We say our grace. That’s a tradition I wanted to establish early.

When you make a promise to yourself, respect yourself enough to keep it.


If you’re anything like me, “talking” doesn’t come naturally. But communication is key and it will help you get a sense for when you are not as connected at home as you want to be.

A spouse is a great accountability partner. Talk to your wife and/or kids about how they are feeling. Ask them if they would like to do something special, just one-on-one.

Just let them talk. When they are excited to tell you something, be excited to listen.

As I was writing this newsletter, I texted my wife to ask if we can have a movie “date” night tomorrow since her time is getting cut short tonight.

4. Eliminate unproductive habits

Show me a man’s habits and I will show you his future.

There was a time in my life that I watched hours upon hours of football every Sunday. I really enjoyed it.

But as soon as it became clear that my choice was either watching football or coaching my son’s little league team on Sunday… well, there wasn’t really a choice to be made.

Make it a point to become aware of the habits and choices that you make on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and see if there is wasted or unproductive time that might be better invested in your family, business, side hustle, or even a beneficial hobby that gets your mind in a good space.

5. Give yourself grace

You will never be perfect. That’s OK. Give yourself grace when you fall short of your own expectations.

I’m really just talking to myself at this point.

Now, I will add the caveat: give yourself grace, but also get back on the horse. The goal is not to become the “perfect” father and leader in your family. However, it should be the goal to improve incrementally every day.

Your standards for yourself as a man, leader, and father should be uncomfortably high.

If you want to be uncommon, you have to do uncommon things.

Let’s go out there and be legendary leaders in our families today.

God bless every single one of you,

Jason Howerton
Founder, High Value Dad