I Yelled Too Much: 16 Dads on Their Biggest Parenting Regrets

If a someone says they have no regrets about the way theyve parented, that persons pants are, indeed, on fire. Regrets dot the road of parenthood like billboards, displaying in big bold letters the things you shouldve done but didnt. Raising decent human beings is hard work. Mistakes and regrets come with the territory. And while dwelling on regrets is not a healthy way to go about life, it is helpful to interrogate them and extract lessons where we can. Thats why weve arranged this collection of regrets from parents about what, if they got a parenting do-over, they wouldve done differently. One wished he wouldve yelled less; another, that he wished he had less plans for his kids. All offered up their advice to help new parents avoid their errors.

I Wish I Was More Constructive When Talking to My Kids

The first words out of my mouth were always Be careful. I think that phrase is so over-used. I understand why parents say it. Kids need to be mindful of what theyre doing and its a parents job to protect. But what does be careful mean? It doesnt mean anything or teach anything. I shouldve been constructive instead. Hold that glass tighter in your hands instead of saying No, no, no, be careful. What does that do? Nothing. So, I wish Id been more constructive and less anxious when trying to teach my kids. Kevin, 37, Texas

I Wish I Was More Consistent

Kids need consistency, you know? And for me that was really difficult. I dont do well with routine. I was also lacking in self-confidence, which made me sort of sensitive to the ways my kids reacted to me and so Id change how I handled things or what persona I leaned into. Sometimes I was the fun dad, some days I was the strict dad. But there was no consistency. It was based on my personal moods as opposed to what they needed from me. Im better at it now, but I wished I learned earlier how important consistency is both in their routine and in how their parents act. Taylor, 44, California

IWish I Spoke to My Children About Money More Often

I wish I knew how much talking about money in front of my kids wouldve influenced them. We were never poor or anything, but I was always so frugal. And, looking back, the way I phrased things saying, We cant afford that, instead of Thats pretty expensive. planted seeds. Now, they bothstressout about moneyall the time. You always hear to be careful about what you say around your kids, but you never consider subtle things like that. Its fine, just something I wouldve done differently. Keith, 43, Ohio

I Wish I Realized Sooner I Didnt Have to Act Like My Parents

I wouldve listenedwayless to my own parents. Theyre good parents, and they mean well, but they definitely screwed some things up. And they were very heavy-handed when it came to telling us how to raise our kids. My wife took exception to it, and I was torn. Ultimately, we made a lot of our own decisions and ended up with some wonderful, wonderful kids. When theyre young, kids are like a project for everyone. I appreciated the input, but I needed to lean the right way when I was trying to balance. Jordan, 35, Florida

I Wish Id Taken a More Active Interest in My Kids Obsessions

My son was super into Pokmon when he was about 10. He was just obsessed with it. And he was so excited to share it with anyone who would listen. I was very meh about it. Like, Oh, thats cool! Or, Neat! I really missed a chance there. I didnt need to become a Pokmon expert theyre called Masters, FYI but sometimes I think of the way my sons face wouldve lit up if I asked him to teach me how to play, or explain the different characters. Or if I surprised him with a special card or something. It was his thing, but there were parts of it that couldve beenourthing, too, if Id been a little more proactive. Al, 44, Pennsylvania

I Wish I Spent More One-on-One Time With My Daughter

My wife and I made such an effort to hang out with our daughter as a family. I think I and we couldve benefitted from more alone, one-on-one time here and there. You know, just like a trip to the grocery store, or even a walk down the street. Just Dad and daughter. Or Mom and daughter. Everything turned out fine, but those memories wouldve been special, I think. Darrell, 40, Colorado

I Wish I Worked Out More Before I Had Kids

I didnt know that my physical well-being would have such an impact on my role as a parent. Even when our daughter wasnt super active, I was struggling to stay awake, and to sleep, and to keep up with the hectic schedule of caring for her. It was physically demanding, and much more exhausting than it should have been. You have to be in shape to have a kid. Its a lot of work. Like alotof work. And the physical part is the easy part. Thats the part that you can control most directly, by not becoming a slob. If you let that go, it gives way to mental instability, emotional instability, and all sorts of other problems. The day you find out youre pregnant, start doing some squats or Zumba or something. Itll help come crunch time. Jeff, 38, New Jersey

I Wish Stressed Less About My Sons Interests

I used to be so worried about my son not having any interests or activities. My oldest was always so quiet andintroverted. I was always trying to get him to do one thing or another, and stressing about it. Then, all on his own, he started getting into music and photography. Next thing I know, hes been accepted to seven colleges and playing drums at our church. I really wish Id just relaxed more and realized that hed find his own path without me having to pave it for him. Jeremy, 44, New York

I Wish I Didnt Judge Other Parents So Much

Before I had kids, I used to sneer and snicker every time Id see an unruly child in public. Id get annoyed and think, My kid wouldneveract like that. Of course not, right? I was going to be the perfect parent, and raise the perfect child. A child incapable of ever acting up. I was such a judgy asshole, and I want to sincerely apologize to any struggling parent I ever looked up-and-down. Before having kids, I didnt know any better. I figured kids would do what you told them to if you were a good parent. I forgot that theyre living, breathing creatures with the capacity to just go crazy at a moments notice. Obviously, I had a lot to learn. K.J., 39, Colorado

I Wish Id Waited to Tell Him Stories About My Childhood

I would withhold stories about my troublemaking days until I was sure my kid wasnt going to be an asshole. When I was little, my friends and I used to ride our bikes toward giant snow drifts in parking lots. Wed crash, then flip over the handlebars. Classic young boy stuff. I told my son this, in a sort of braggy way, and he goes out and does it with his friends, one of who separated his shoulder. My point is, sharing stories about the trouble I caused growing up has been a huge source of bonding between me and my son. Now that hes older, and mature, and a good person, that is. Be patient, make sure your kid isnt an idiot, then tell him about the way you used to mess with your RAs. John, 36, North Carolina

I Wish Id Went a Bit Easier on Myself

Instead of questioning every decision I made, I might only question, like, every third or fourth decision. When my kids were young, I would constantly question myself. Did they brush their teeth for long enough? Is this laundry detergent safe for baby skin? It was just endless self-doubt. Instead of doing that, I would pick my battles, for sure. Is this school system worth moving for? Definitely a necessary question to answer. Will my kid get salmonella from licking a Lego? Id let that one go. Aaron, 37, Illinois

I Wish Id Been More Accepting of My Childs Phases

Everything is a phase. Being a whiny toddler is a phase. Being a pussy at sports is a phase. Thinking about nothing but girls is a long, long phase. But the thing is, after all these phases end or at least become less intense if youve done your job, and youve guided your kid, hell come out of them with the best lessons learned, and leave the bullshit behind. Your kid will go in and out of things when hes ready, and you just have to be accepting. Sometimes, thats brutally hard. But, even if the phase outlasts you, the discomfort wont if you dont let it. John, 62, Ohio

I Wish I Wouldve Traded Fights for Pep Talks

I wish I knew that having a plan isnt the same thing as having a plan that works out. When we got married, we tried to see the future. Jobs first. Then house. Then kids. Then better house. And so on. That was our plan, and we were both on board. But then life happened. I lost my first job before we could buy a house. When we could finally afford one, her credit was so bad that it was almost impossible to get a loan. All of these little things derailed our perfect plans. And instead of saying, Thats life, I think she and, in a way, me too took it as a sign that we werent meant for each other. Looking back, I probably wouldve traded a lot of those fights for pep talks, instead. Liam, 33, Florida

I Wish I Wouldve Worried Less About the Little Things

I could, without too much trouble list 10, 20 or 100 things about my kids that I used to worry about. I worried about big things like the fact that I was suddenly giving my son and daughter a 5-year-old brother from Ethiopia, when they were still just 5 and 7 themselves and I worried about little things like the fact that Clay couldnt read in Kindergarten and whether the princess dresses my daughter Grace wanted to wear in pre-school would cause her to lag behind her male classmates in math and science in years to come.

I should have cared less. Seriously, I worried about nap schedules. Has there ever been a doctor, lawyer, or Supreme Court Justice who owes his or her success to having gotten the right amount of nap time as a toddler? Nap schedules? Why did I ever care?

That time they had extra cake and sugar at their friends birthday party? Yeah, that was fine. The son who was the last kid in Kindergarten to read is now a Sophomore at Duke, where he regularly tackles books I couldnt begin to understand. The daughter who wore princess dresses to pre-school has been the president of her High School Student Body two years running. Claude

I Wish I Said I Love You More

Its simple: I wish I said I love you more often. I come from a family that didnt express affection outwardly very much. My parents were great people and expressed love in a different way, but they didnt ever tell me they loved me. When my kids were young I barely told them it. It wasnt a part of my vocabulary. I didnt realize what a blind spot I had until my daughter flat out asked me why I didnt tell her I loved her. Thats a feeling I never want to have again. So, express love through actions. But also through words. Liam, 34, North Carolina

I Wish I Didnt Yell As Much

I yelled too much. Too much. I would fly off the handle at every little thing if I was stressed or anxious and often wanted the house to be quiet. Kids arent quiet and they shouldnt be. Silence is deafening, you know? I was so concerned with my own mental health that I yelled instead of explained or suggested. I shouldnt have been so quick to lose my temper. It hurt my relationship with my kids and I worked a long time to fix it. Jake, 49, Massachusetts

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