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As Father’s Day approaches, it’s a time for us to reflect on our parenting journey and the decisions we’ve made, and regrets we keep. While every father has their own unique story, there are often common themes and regrets that arise when looking back on their children’s upbringing. Don’t we all have a few…?

The Lord knows I have several regrets but the list below is not only mine but a compilation from personal research made out of curiosity. Enjoy…

person looking at an old picture

What are Your Regrets As A Father?

1-Focusing too much on work and not enough on family

By far, one of the top regrets in many societies. Many parents have demanding jobs and responsibilities that can take up a lot of their time and energy. However, it’s important to find a balance between work and family life to prioritize spending time with children. This might involve setting boundaries around work hours, delegating tasks, or finding ways to incorporate children into work activities when appropriate.

As you might know, I’m living in South Korea, the country that never stops working(or studying.) With one of the longest work weeks in the OECD, Korean fathers are often alienated from their families due to overworking and not spending time with their kids. I’ve taught and coached several executives here, and working too much and not seeing their kids is one of their top regrets.

Of course, times are changing and men here are trying to balance work and life more and more, but it’s so very far from what it should be.

2-Not showing enough affection towards their children

Affection can come in many forms, such as hugs, kisses, verbal praise, and quality time together. Parents who struggle with showing affection might benefit from practicing acts of love and kindness towards their children, even if it feels uncomfortable or unnatural at first.

This is an essential part of raising a child. Your parents might not have been the huggy type, but you can become one now! Change your habits. You know what you should be doing so please do it for your kids’ sake. You’ll be thankful in the next few years to come if you do so. Regrets don’t go away unless you work on improvement.

a windchime
This one should come naturally to you!

3-Regrets of Not saying “I love you” enough

Expressing love and appreciation verbally is an important way to strengthen the parent-child bond. Parents who struggle with saying “I love you” might benefit from finding other ways to communicate affection, such as through small gestures or acts of service.

Say it after me… “I…Love…You.” How easy was that? Their brain will FOREVER remember Dad and Mom saying these 3 simple words to them. And, in the future, your kids will pass down the torch to their kids… No regrets on all ends.

4-Being too strict and not allowing their children enough freedom

“Let’em Live” my mom would say in an old French Canadian slang. While parents need to set boundaries and rules for their children, being overly strict can lead to resentment and rebellion. Parents who struggle with finding a balance between structure and freedom might benefit from involving their children in the decision-making process and encouraging open communication.

Let them have fun. They are only young ONCE. I’ve seen young kids here in Korea go to cram schools until 10 pm and later during school nights. Zero fun, and no smiles. No no no…Kids must enjoy their childhoods as the first 7 years of their young lives are the ‘sponge’ years. They download everything on their hard drives(brains). Make sure those years are enjoyable!

5-Not being strict enough and not setting clear boundaries

Well… On the other hand, parents who are too permissive or inconsistent with discipline might struggle with enforcing rules and setting clear expectations for their children. This can lead to confusion and misbehavior. Parents who struggle with setting boundaries might benefit from seeking guidance from a parenting expert or counselor.

There’s a fine line between being a friend and a father…It’s a tricky one at times.

6-Not listening enough to their children

Children need to feel heard and understood by their parents to feel valued and respected. Parents who struggle with listening might benefit from practicing active listening skills, such as repeating back what their child has said or asking open-ended questions.

7-Not being emotionally available for their children

Children also need emotional support from their parents, especially during times of stress or difficulty. Parents who struggle with being emotionally available might benefit from practicing empathy and validating their child’s feelings, even if they don’t agree with them.

This one goes back to how your parents raised YOU. No, don’t take offense…look back and see if you are mirroring your parents. Look! Monkey See Monkey Do! Make changes if you see what needs to be changed. It ain’t rocket science…

8-Not being present for important moments in their children’s lives

Parents who are distracted by work, technology, or other obligations might miss out on important milestones and events in their children’s lives. It’s important to prioritize these moments and be fully present to show support and celebrate achievements.

Get the hell off your phones! Keep your kids off phones too! Again, it ain’t rocket science.

9-Not prioritizing their children’s needs over their own

While it’s important for parents to take care of their own needs, it’s also important to prioritize their children’s needs and well-being. Parents who struggle with prioritizing might benefit from reflecting on their values and priorities and making adjustments as needed.

It’s not easy, this parenting stuff and regrets. Kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Here are my 2 cents on things

10-Not being consistent with discipline

Inconsistency with discipline can lead to confusion and resentment in children. Parents who struggle with being consistent might benefit from setting clear consequences for misbehavior and following through consistently.

11-Being too harsh or critical with their children

Harsh criticism and punishment can damage the parent-child relationship and lead to low self-esteem and negative behavior in children. Parents who struggle with being too critical might benefit from practicing positive reinforcement and some gentle parenting tips could help out!

12-Not being able to apologize when they were wrong

Apologizing and taking responsibility for mistakes is an important way to model accountability and respect for others. Parents must understand that showing this ‘trait’ to their child will only make their child imitate your way of doing things in the future.

I don't know everything
Image by Freepik

13-Not being able to admit when they didn’t know something

Parents are not perfect and they may not always have the answers to their children’s questions. Parents need to be honest with their children and acknowledge when they do not know something, as it sets a good example of humility and encourages children to seek knowledge.

My son is almost 6 years old now, and he asks me a barrage of questions daily. I would not change it for the world but it also shows me how little I know about the things he asks about. Why does a Koala baby eat the mom’s poop? What is an infinite number? How many Pokemon characters in total? Do you know all Hello Carbot cars’ names? etc… If I don’t know…I don’t know. That’s all. No regrets.

14-Not encouraging their children’s interests and passions

Every child has unique interests and passions that should be nurtured by their parents. Parents should show interest in their children’s hobbies and encourage them to pursue their passions, as it can help build their self-esteem and sense of purpose.

It’s Taekwondo for me on this one! Being in Korea, it’s hard to not be involved in this martial art. It’s kind of like a French Canadian being involved in Hockey. You get my drift, Eh? At almost 6 years old, my son is now a red belt. Yes, you read that right.

15-Not celebrating their children’s achievements enough

Recognizing and celebrating a child’s achievements, no matter how small, can boost their confidence and motivation. Parents should acknowledge and praise their children for their accomplishments, as it helps build a positive relationship and reinforces good behavior.

16-Not supporting their children’s aspirations

Parents should support their children’s dreams and aspirations, even if they do not align with their own goals or expectations. Encouraging their children’s dreams can help them find fulfillment and purpose in life.

17-Being too focused on their own goals and not enough on their children’s

Parents should prioritize their children’s needs and well-being over their own goals and desires. It is important to strike a balance between personal goals and parenting responsibilities.

man with small boy cleaning mirror in bathroom
Photo by Gustavo Fring on

18-Not teaching their children important life skills

Parents play a vital role in teaching their children essential life skills such as cooking, cleaning, and managing finances. Not assigning them basic house chores to help out around. These skills are critical for a child’s long-term success and independence.

19-Not being a good role model for their children

Children often model their behavior after their parents, so it is important for parents to set a good example. Parents should demonstrate positive behavior and values that they want their children to emulate.

20-Not being patient enough with their children

Parenting can be frustrating and stressful at times, but parents need to exercise patience with their children. Children need time to learn and grow, and patience can help create a supportive and nurturing environment. Change your habits and become a better dad now!

21-Not taking enough interest in their children’s friends

Children’s friends can have a significant influence on their behavior and development. Parents should take an interest in their children’s friends and ensure that they are positive influences. This one is tricky for me because of the language barrier. But, as much as I can I’m there to see what’s going on. Not quite the helicopter dad, but hovering just a little!

22-Not being involved enough in their children’s education

Parents should take an active role in their children’s education by staying informed about their progress and participating in school activities. This involvement shows children that education is important and can help improve their academic performance.

23-Not setting a good example with their own behavior

Parents should be mindful of their behavior and the impact it can have on their children. Modeling positive behavior can help children develop good habits and values. Monkey see monkey do, as mentioned above!

24-Not being consistent with their values and beliefs

Parents should be consistent with their values and beliefs, as it helps build trust and stability in the parent-child relationship.

25-Not taking their children’s feelings seriously enough

Children’s emotions should be taken seriously, even if they seem minor or trivial. Parents should create a safe and supportive environment where their children feel comfortable expressing their feelings.

26-Not showing enough empathy towards their children

Empathy is an important skill that parents should demonstrate towards their children. Parents should strive to understand their children’s perspectives and feelings and respond with compassion and support.

27-Not being open-minded and accepting of their children’s choices

Children may make choices that differ from their parents’ expectations or beliefs. Parents need to remain open-minded and accepting of their children’s choices, as it can help foster mutual respect and understanding. If you heard Gary Vanerchuk talk about parents being open to new choices, you would open your eyes.

28-Not allowing their children to make mistakes and learn from them

Making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Let you children to make mistakes! And always provide support and guidance for them when needed so that they can grow from those experiences.

29-Being too overprotective

When you are too overprotective, you can prevent your kids from learning vital life skills and becoming more independent. Doing this could leave your little ones unprepared for challenges in our world and this might make them too reliant on you for guidance and support. What parenting styles do you have? Check these out and choose from the list!

30-You are not letting them grow up!

It’s tricky and difficult to accept that your kids are growing up and becoming more independent. I surely have trouble with this one… But, you and I need to recognize when it’s time to let go and allow our precious boys or girls to take on more responsibility and make their own decisions.

31-Can’t deal with their children’s challenges and problems

YOU need to be there to support YOUR children when they have to deal challenges or problems. If you are not able to handle and deal with your child’s issues, it can leave the him or her feeling unsupported and alone. And the outcome could have negative impacts on their emotional well-being in the long run. You don’t want that do you?

32-Not giving emotional support

This is a NO brainer…Emotional support from mom and/or dad is crucial for your kid’s emotional development and well-being. If you are not able to provide this support, it can result in children feeling neglected and unimportant. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

parents arguing in front of a child
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

33-Not being able to handle conflict properly

I’m a Libra..I can’t stand conflict and I stay away from it as much as I can… But conflict is a natural part of any relationship, including the parent-child relationship.

Parents who are not able to handle conflict healthily can create a negative and stressful environment for their children. Parents need to show healthy conflict-resolution skills and teach their kids how to handle conflicts positively. The struggle is real!

34-Crappy at communicating!

Effective communication is key to building strong and healthy relationships with children. If youare not able to communicate with your kids, it can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and a breakdown in the relationship.

35-taking their stress out on Their kids

We all have stress and pressure are a part of daily life. It’s super important for parents to manage their stress in healthy ways and not take it out on their children. If parents are not able to handle stress and pressure properly, it can lead to negative interactions with their children and even a breakdown in the relationship.

36-Not forgiving past mistakes

Holding onto past mistakes can create a toxic and negative environment for children. Parents who are not able to forgive and move on from past mistakes can create a sense of tension and stress in the home, which can lead to negative emotional impacts on their children. It’s all about communicating and loving…

37-Not being adaptable

Life is fast! It changes every other way all the time… Parents who are not able to adapt to changing circumstances and situations can create a sense of uncertainty and instability for their children, which can lead to negative emotional impacts.

Covid! That’s a great example… Many dads lost jobs, or businesses or simply had to adapt to another way of doing things.

38-Not asking for help when they needed it

Parents are not superheroes and sometimes they need help. It’s important for parents to recognize when they need help and to reach out for support. Parents who are not able to ask for help when they need it can create a sense of isolation and stress in the home, which can lead to negative emotional impacts on their children.

Dads might feel like they are doing something wrong when all is actually good: The bad dad syndrome...

39-Not spending enough time with their children

This can lead to children feeling neglected and can impact their emotional development. Parents who are constantly working or have other obligations may need to find ways to make quality time with their children a priority.

If your time away from your children is eating away at you and them, you need to reevaluate your job asap. Precious time with your kids is priceless.

40-Not being able to provide enough financial support to their children

Financial struggles can cause stress and tension in the household and can impact a child’s well-being if basic needs are not being met. It’s important for parents to prioritize their spending and seek help when necessary.

41-Not Prioritizing their Kid’s well-being

Doing this can lead to children not receiving proper medical care, nutrition, and exercise. This can surely lead to long-term impacts on their physical and mental health. Moms and Dads should make it a priority to learn by themselves on how to support their kid’s health and well-being.

42-Can’t deal with emotions and reactions

Some parents who struggle with their own emotions and reactions may unintentionally pass on these behaviors to their children. Parents need to work on their own emotional regulation and seek help when necessary. Many people, parents or not, are emotional and react in ways that might not be proper in society, or at home.

43-Not Dealing with stress and anxiety

If you are constantly stressed and anxious, you may struggle to provide a calm and supportive environment for your children. Parents should prioritize their own mental health and seek support when needed. Easier said than done eh? But only you can do this…

44-addiction or substance abuse

Addiction or substance abuse can have a profound impact on both the parent and the child. I was raised in a family that loved drinking, so I can relate well to this. Parents who struggle with addiction should seek professional help and support to deal with these issues and provide a safe and stable environment for their children. Look it up…something out there can lead you to a better life.

45-Bad at balancing their needs with their children’s

Parents who struggle to balance their own needs with their children’s may feel overwhelmed and stressed, which can impact their ability to parent effectively. Parents need to find ways to prioritize their own needs while still meeting the needs of their children.

46-Can’t maintain a healthy relationship with their Spouse

Relationship issues between parents are real and they can have a serious impact on the entire family and create a tense and unstable home environment. Kids can feel it if there’s something going on at home… sixth sense. You need to prioritize your relationship and seek help when necessary.

47-Can’t model a healthy relationship

Children learn by example, and if parents are not modeling healthy relationships, it can impact their relationships later in life. Parents should strive to model healthy communication, boundaries, and respect in their relationships.

Last word on Regrets

So how do we as parents become more effective in our parenting? And how do we minimize any regrets we might have in our older years? By asking ourselves several important questions:

What do my children want?

Can I make this happen?

How will this impact them?

How can I be a better parent?

Let this, our regrets, as fathers, be a lesson to all of us to live our lives with purpose, love, and compassion. Let’s strive to create a life that we will be proud of when we look back on it, and a legacy that will inspire future generations.

Always remember that ‘they are only young once.’ Make that time count!

++And If you’re lucky enough to have a father please read this article...

***Please send us a comment on your regrets and if this list was accurate.***

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