What’s Fatherhood Like?

It’s a Lot Lonelier Than I Expected

Steven Ma


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As a father, I feel like I’m obligated to say how much I love my kids and what a blessing they are. And yes, I do love my kids. But there’s another side of fatherhood that doesn’t get talked about that much. That sometimes… most of the time… it’s just hard.

I’m a dad of two boys: a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. These are my challenges, fears, hopes and dreams as a father. They probably apply to parenthood in general, but I can only speak from my personal experience, but perhaps you can relate to some of it.

Challenges of Fatherhood

The Stress and Tiredness

I feel like I’m in a constant state of being exhausted. The infant stage was horrible, but now my kids are toddlers, and though it’s gotten better, I’m still just tired. Fatigue and stress compound on each other, resulting in a lot of negative emotions.

I don’t normally swear, but after my kids were born, I had filthy mouth. Of course when they started talking, I’ve pulled it on my cursing signifcantly so they wouldn’t pick it up. But there’s so much stress, anxiety and anger on a whole other level that I’ve never experienced before. It’s all all that tension has to find a way out somehow, and for me, it came out through swearing (though at least that’s not as bad as some other forms of expression).

Trying to Teach My Kids to Be Better Than Me

The constant state of exhaustion doesn’t make me the best human being, yet I’m trying to nurture good human beings. Fatherhood is a bit of a hypocrisy. I want my kids to ignore the worst of me, but also be all the good things I’m not.

I don’t deal with the stress of fatherhood very well. I get frustrated, I yell, I scroll on my phone — all negative traits that they’re surely picking up that I don’t want them to. And yet I want them to be kind, grateful, generous, and social — traits that I don’t emulate all that well myself. I guess the whole “Be better than me” is the hypocritical pressure that all parents seem to put their kids.

Fatherhood is Lonely