Sometimes the internet can be a genuinely kind, warm place to be. A dad took to Reddit to speak candidly about his difficult feelings on being a parent and the community came together to offer suggestions, support, general wisdom — and a surprising amount of grace.
“I don’t know if I want my kids anymore,” he began. “I’m a 26 y/o divorced dad with an almost 2 y/o son who I have about 30% of the time. I also watch my ex-wife’s 6 y/o during this time.” The Reddit user explained that he’s suffered from severe anxiety and depression since he was a teen and also struggled with self-harm. He’s never really liked kids all that much but convinced himself that once he became a father that would all change. It hasn’t. On the outside, he explained, he’s a fun-loving dad who gets compliments for his gentle parenting. On the inside, it’s a much different story.
“I feel such a disconnect between them both that I would almost go as far as to say I question if I truly do love them unconditionally or if I’m convincing myself otherwise,” he wrote. “Since the divorce I have struggled immensely with trying to maintain that connection with them. They’re good kids at heart but I feel like I just can’t provide the proper love and care they deserve from a parent anymore.” He’s been to therapy, gone on medication and continues to struggle mentally.
He dreads the times that he has his kids and counts down the hours until it is over. “I don’t want to feel this way,” he explained. “I don’t want to feel like I can’t be there for them. I don’t want to be the parent that gives up seeing their kids more because I’m not good enough for them. I just want to feel like a normal parent.” The Reddit user concluded by asking if there was any advice or guidance the community might be able to offer. And they sure did.
Some gave reassurance. “You know as a parent, quite often it’s enough to be simply present and your child is happy,” one person wrote. “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself and let your kids be kids, they just want you around with no expectations.” Another person added: “You have a lot of crap you’re carrying and it’s next to impossible to give your energy to others when your tank is dry…Let me remind you that there are two human beings who see through the purest eyes, who believe wholeheartedly that the sun rises and sets on you. Their hearts spill over with love for you. That’s the kind of love you need to have for yourself because clearly you are worthy.”
Others shared that they have felt so similarly and reminded the OP that he isn’t alone. “I can honestly say almost EVERY MOTHER HAS BEEN WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW!! We doubt our abilities, whether we are doing the right thing, whether or not we are doing right by our kids,” one mom wrote. “Every day is a new day, a new beginning, and every day is different. Your kids know you love them just by you showing up. Everytime you have them doesn’t have to be rainbows and unicorns. Just do the best you can whenever they’re with you. “
Then, there was lots of incredibly encouraging advice that every parent could stand to hear from time-to-time. “Good parenting isn’t never feeling anger or frustration or regret or whatever else,” one user explained. “It’s being good to your children and caring for them anyway. You brought them into this world, so yes, you are responsible to care and provide for them; but you’re not failing in your mission if you go through seasons of really not wanting to do it. Keep doing it. This is the good fight.”
The overwhelming amount of kindness and thoughtfulness of all these strangers completely moved the OP. He returned to his original post and offered a heartfelt thanks. “I’ve heard viewpoints I’ve never even remotely considered, realized things about myself that even therapy never uncovered and gained a new perspective on not only myself, but for my kids as well,” he said. “Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support.”
Three very, very big cheers to Reddit for this one.