It can be easy to question your parenting. To feel like you’re not doing good enough, that you’re not nearly enough. You see what other parents are doing, or hear what other fathers say they are doing, and it can seem like you’re the worst parent ever: The food you give them isn’t healthy enough, their education isn’t good enough, you’re not patient enough, you’re not dedicated enough.
But it’s important, when you start to feel this way, that you step back. Don’t just compare yourself to the dads you see around you—that can be dubious and unreliable—compare yourself to your own father and his father before him. When Jerry Seinfeld was on Jimmy Fallon a few years ago, he quipped, “You know what my bedtime story was when I was a kid? Darkness!”
Compared to not too long ago, you’re the greatest dad ever—you’re spoiling your kids rotten and protecting them in a bulletproof, bubble wrapped hug. John D. Rockefeller could not give his kids half of what you do—even with his wealth, the collected wisdom and modern technology you have access to was way beyond his grasp. Just think of what fathers used to let their kids do, think of the basic things fathers used to not do. You would never tolerate that.
Because you care and are committed in a way that is generationally and historically completely unprecedented. You are present and home to a degree that fathers never have been before. Even as lopsided as household chores remain between genders, the small amounts of progress that have been made are providing a dramatically better example for your kids than ever before. The sensitivity that you feel towards their feelings, the openness you have about your feelings—even if you are a pretty closed off guy—is still better than any generation before.
You are doing better than you think. It’s just hard to see that because you’re surrounded by so many other dads doing the same, who for the first time ever are expected to do the same. So give yourself some credit.