How to Deal with Shame as a Father

In our Facebook group, we had a dad who just posted this. I felt this was really vulnerable and also something that I know that all of us as dads struggle with, how do you deal with shame as a father? And, the way he put it was, “Do you ever feel guilt or shame because you feel like you don’t measure up to what you think you should measure up to?” And, so he just kind of dropped that in our Facebook group and had a really good conversation going on between the dads about how we deal with this. It’s so important to be honest and clear about, yeah, this is a huge part of life as human beings, every single one of our roles or responsibilities as human beings, we’re going to fall short and we’re going to have this experience of shame that goes all the way back to the garden.

But, I think when it comes to fatherhood, it can be especially intense, especially for dads who really want to do well for their families. And, so they might just feel, “Oh, my family gets me.” Because, one of the things that’s really true about family is that you get there’s one dad, there’s one mom, you generally… Whatever these kids are experiencing, whatever this family is experiencing, it’s so constrained by who you are and what you’re doing. And, so you could just heap on yourself, a lot of that guilt and shame. And, I really, I wanted to kind of talk this through with you, Jeff because I think that’s a, like I said, a universal experience, but yeah. How do you first react to just thinking about dads who are feeling that kind of that cloud of shame?

Yeah. I mean, I agree with it, first of all, I validate it in the sense of, not agree with it, but validate that it’s normal, it happens. There’s something about parenthood you can maybe psychoanalyze is there’s something that it’s such a heavy vocation from the Lord that Satan will extra attack it. I think there’s something there. But, I think in general, there’s also just something that I feel like yes, it is one of the highest forms of when you feel like falling short, I feel like out of a vocation, whatever.

I think there’s a couple things there. I think it’s really core to identity, so you always, anyone who ever has a closer identity to who they are takes things harder in that way. But, then two, there’s just something about parenthood where you’re so in the trenches, but it’s also so easy to see so many comparisons, even more than work and stuff like that. I don’t know how to explain it. Just, when you’re in community and with kids and your friends and people, and you just, you’re overwhelmed with… And, there’s so many areas for growth that you never get out of. You know what I mean? There’s always something to get better at.

When, I feel like there’s at least with work and stuff like that, kind of, “Oh yeah, I’m successful at it. I can still grow, but it is measurably working.” I don’t feel like you ever get that feedback loop in parenting. So, all that combined, I think sometimes makes this harder. But, yeah, I think it really just comes down back to the good news, the Gospel of that Jesus is Lord, that he came to die and absorb our sin and our death and our shame and resurrection is this moment of this bursting forth of new creation and new life.

And, that has to kind of be pulled down into your life every day or else it just doesn’t impact you. And, then the shame and these other things win you know? I don’t know. What would you say?

Yeah, totally. Yeah. I think that a lot of times, depending on which stream of the Christian tradition you grown up in, you might think of the Gospel as primarily an event in your life. Something that happened when you became a Christian or got saved. But, it’s really important to understand that the Gospel is not just the ABCs, it’s the A through Z. It’s the only way that you can have… You can get away from this feeling of guilt and shame. And, the way you do that is you have to receive all that Jesus did for you on the cross as not just being enough for your salvation, but enough period.


When he said “It is finished.” He means every one of your projects is complete. From the perspective of you are now fully loved, fully known. Everything that you are, you’re standing a hundred percent on a ground of grace. And, so it’s really important just to receive that. And, one of these we talk a lot about in family teams is the idea of Sabbath. And, probably for me, this is what’s helped me the most receive the Gospel. It is a part of my normal life, because I definitely grew up kind of in that stream of it’s it was a onetime event.


And, really what the Sabbath is, it’s a day in which you just say, “All of my work is never going to measure up to what it should” and that’s okay, that’s why I need Jesus. And, so I’m just going to rest in the Gospel and proactively just enjoy his perfect record on my behalf for an entire 24 hours so that I can learn to rest on that foundation throughout the rest of my week. But, oftentimes you need the discipline of actually enjoying that when you’re not working, you’re not trying to perform and you’re not trying to be the perfect dad.

You’re just saying thank you and, really it’s learning to be a good son. Sometimes you can be so overwhelmed by your identity as a father that you forget that you’re a son and that a son needs to receive and not just do, do, do, do, do. A son just enjoys the benefits of being in the family and the love of the father. And, so if you’re finding that you’re just cruising through your weeks. And, you’re just finding yourself, working, working, working on all the time. You really need to learn how to take some time to just rest in what Jesus has done for you and make sure that son ship identity is as strong as your fatherhood identity, because it’s really from that identity that you can be a full, complete person as you father your children, not somebody who’s attempting to earn something. But, somebody who’s really received so much love that they’re their life force is really an overflow of the love they received from the Lord and from their father.

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