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Imposter DAD?: Impostor Syndrome, the unexpected journey through Fatherhood

Mannn, the role of a father is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in life, or as my buddy told me years before I had children, Larry, fatherhood is the hardest job you'll ever love, he stated. But what happens when you're navigating this role without any previous blueprints?

The experience is akin to starting a new job without any training and learning on the job, a daunting task indeed. This was my reality growing up without a father and using fictional fathers such as Heathcliff Huxtable and Jim Anderson from the "Cosby Show" and "Father Knows Best" as

references to fatherhood. These TV dads were always the epitome of kindness and dedication, with a unique blend of humor and an unwavering commitment to their families.

In many ways, I've tried to emulate their personas and positive attributes, incorporating their character traits into my fatherhood journey while supplementing them with my dynamic personality and sheer love of being a father. Despite these attempts, there have been times when I've questioned my ability to live up to the image of a 'perfect father,' feeling like an impostor dad.

Impostor syndrome, a term commonly used to describe the persistent feeling of self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud, is usually associated with professional life. However, it can also apply to fatherhood. The routine chaos and unpredictability accompanying raising children often leave me feeling inadequate and bewildered. The constant bickering of siblings, the numerous outfit changes, my children's volcanic-like eruptions of emotions, and their second-guessing of my decisions despite my earnest attempts to understand and meet their needs are confusing and discouraging.

One particular incident stands out: As I left for work one day, I casually told my son that I loved him. He responded, "I love you as well, Dad; I just love Mom a lot more." His innocent remark gnawed at me the entire drive to work, sparking a tidal wave of self-doubt and insecurity. Am I an impostor here? Why would he say that? I'm here, and I'm involved. Do my daily efforts go unnoticed?

I have often felt that society has long laid out roles for fathers, often focusing on being the provider, protector, and hunter. At the same time, emotional caregiving has typically been seen as the mother's domain. A father who finds himself more involved in the emotional aspects of childcare is viewed as a man out of his depth, and his abilities are questioned.

Many fathers put pressure on themselves to be perfect, driven by a desire to provide the best for their children and prove they can be involved in all aspects of childcare. In doing so, we dads can make comparisons in fatherhood. For me, it was those tv dads. I often compare myself to an idealized image of fatherhood portrayed by the media, and when falling short of those images, I feel inadequate and like an impostor.

But here's the thing: all fathers sometimes feel this way. Here are a few ways I've found to manage these feelings:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: It's okay to feel like you're not perfect or even like an impostor. Accepting these feelings can be the first step towards addressing them.

2. Share Your Experience: Talk to other dads. More often than not, you'll find they have experienced the same feelings. This can provide reassurance that you're not alone in your struggles.

3. Learn from Your Children: Kids are brutally honest, which can be an excellent tool for self-improvement. Take their feedback seriously (even if it hurts) and try to understand their perspective.

4. Cut Yourself Some Slack: Accept that you won't get everything right. Making mistakes is part of being a parent and how we learn and grow.

5. Seek Support: If you're feeling overwhelmed, consider seeking support from a counselor or psychologist. Sometimes a professional can provide tools and strategies to cope with feelings of inadequacy.

6. Celebrate Your Unique Contributions: Each parent brings something different to the table. Maybe you're the one who knows how to make them laugh when they're upset or the one who makes the best pancakes on a Saturday morning. Embrace and celebrate these unique contributions you make to your child's life.

7. Patience is Key: Understand that children are constantly evolving. Their preferences today might not be the same tomorrow. Your role as a father is to be patient, understanding, and supportive as they figure things out.

8. Embrace Learning: Nobody has all the answers, especially when it comes to parenting. Be open to learning - whether from books, experts, or even your loud neighbor.

9. Create a Bond: Spend quality time with your children doing activities they love. Whether it's playing a video game together, painting, or going for a bike ride, this can create memorable moments and strengthen your bond.

10. Self-care: Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being isn't selfish - it's essential. It allows you to be the best father you can be.

Impostor syndrome can make you feel like you're failing at fatherhood, but remember that these feelings are just that - feelings. They are not an accurate representation of your capabilities as a father. You are more than enough in the eyes of your child. The fact that you question yourself is a testament to your commitment and desire to be the best dad you can be(or at least this is what I try to sell myself daily). Embrace the journey, trust in your capabilities, and remember your love and presence mean the world to your children. Keep moving forward; every day is a new opportunity to learn and grow, both for you and your children.

190 views2 comments


Larry I love this. It’s a great resource for so many dads as well as dads to be. I see you as an established writer and really believe you should write more. 💕


Errika Harrington
Errika Harrington
Jun 16, 2023

This is so true for a lot of people! Great read Larry!!! ❤️

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