Things that dads give up to make their children happy

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Things that dads give up to make their children happy

Things that dads give up to make their children happy. Boys and me at cumberland gap
Things that dads give up to make their children happy

Most dads just want to see their children be happy. We sacrifice a big portion of who we are to help keep not only our kids happy, but our spouse happy.  Dads drive a minivan instead of a fancy car to make sure everyone can fit in the same vehicle. We sit down and watch a movie with our kids instead of watching the baseball game.

Dads have to make tough decisions. We have to keep a delicate balance. Do the things that make us happy or do the things that will make our kids happy. I think most dads do a good job of balancing this because if they don’t it can lead to problems and eventually resentment.

Here are some things dads give up to make their children happy. This might not apply to all dads because some of them do a fantastic job of balancing being a great dad and keeping their life the way they would like it.

Dads give up their health

This may not apply to all dads. But for a majority of us, there is a reason they call it dad bod. We are so busy taking care of everyone else. We are so busy doing the things it takes to be a parent. That we forget to take care of ourselves.

Eating is probably one of the biggest factors that lead to this unhealthiness. Me personally I eat for comfort. And when I am stressed out I eat to level out the stress. I am trying so much harder to fight these urges but that ice cream that always comes home with me from the store is just too hard to resist.

I also don’t like to see food get wasted. When we go out to eat and the kids eat half of their food, something about that triggers a reaction to eat their food. Even if I am not hungry I will gorge myself to eat those leftovers.
And finding the energy to exercise regularly is near to impossible. Yes, we do stay busy playing with our kids, but that just isn’t enough exercise to work off all that food we eat.

Dads give up their money

Things that dads give up to make their children happy
Boys in a tank
Things that dads give up to make their children happy
Boys in a tank

My son and I were talking about money one day. He asked if I had ever made a million dollars. And I replied that over my life yes I have earned over a million dollars from working.

He was shocked. And upset. He asked why we were not millionaires. And my response was this:

“Because we had kids”

Now would we be millionaires if we didn’t have kids? Probably not. But I sure would have a lot more money.

I do everything I can to make sure my kids are happy and have what they need and even what they want before I buy things for me.  If it was me first, I would drive a brand new truck. But instead, I drive a 13-year-old car that looks like a junker.

Every time I see something and think, wow, I would love to have that. I think about what’s best for my family and my kids and that usually puts it out of my mind.

Dads give up alone time with their spouse

Men have strong libidos. In most cases, a man’s libido is so much greater than their spouse’s. But when you have kids they typically get in the way of this alone time.

And it isn’t even sex that dads give up. I think about how many times I would love to take my wife on a date and just go hang out, go eat a nice dinner or just watch a movie. But I think of the kids and all the things I have to do with them or for them.

Then you have to find a babysitter and do you trust the babysitter, or maybe your parents babysit for you but are they going to be available. It just turns into a big hassle and then you don’t go through with your plans.

Dads give up on emotions at times

There is an unfortunate stereotype that men must be strong and hold fast and never show emotion. I even used to believe this when I was younger. I thought it was a weakness to cry in front of someone. But as I got older I have relaxed a little bit and I show a little more emotions.

But in most cases, we still have to be the strong ones. We have to be the leader and hold our emotions in check. If something bad happens, maybe a loved pet dies, everyone in the family will be devastated. But even though we are upset we have to hold it in check so we can provide strength and wisdom to those family members that might be hit the hardest.

Dads give up on having social interactions

Things that dads give up to make their children happy
At the beach
Things that dads give up to make their children happy
At the beach

When I was younger I felt like I had a good social group. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends and enjoyed spending time camping or partying. But as I became a dad earlier than most of my friends I had to end those social interactions.

Early in my life, those social interactions caused me to get into more trouble than they were worth. In most cases, it was good to not hang out with some of those friends. But as I got older and they started families and calmed down, I miss those connections.  

We would try and meet a few times a year to go camping or have dinner but it always seemed like it never worked out. And then I would feel guilty for not spending that time with my kids or with my wife.

Now, most of my social interactions happen in two places. Church and events centered around my kids like scouts or school.

Dads give up on getting enough sleep

I can’t even explain how long it has been since I had an entire week with a good solid sleep schedule. With having little ones it always seems like there is something that wakes them up at night. When they are babies they need to be changed and fed. When they are toddlers they are teething. Or if they are potty training they might have an accident.

Then they get sick. And not only does being sick lead to even less sleep, but it also leads to messing up the existing sleep schedule. And don’t forget that if you travel you are just compounding the situation because you more than likely will have to alter their sleep schedule again.

But there are other reasons you lose sleep. When they get older and sleep on a more routine schedule you have other things on your mind. How am I going to pay the bills? How will I save money for college? Will they even make it into college?

All these questions weigh heavily on a dad’s mind. We want our kids to be successful. We want to make sure we have enough money. But situations change and kids are expensive, and we just keep trying our best to put food on the table and provide.

Dads give up their career opportunities

Being a dad means balancing the ongoing debate. Do you live in a smaller town and possibly make less money? Or do you live in a big town and make more money.
We look at the pros and cons of each:

Pros for living in the city

  • More money and career opportunities
  • More places to go do things with the kids
  • More friends and people to rely on
  • More choices for eating and going out

Cons for living in the city

  • Typically a higher crime rate
  • Higher cost of living
  • Fewer opportunities to do outdoor type activities
  • More than likely smaller houses and yards
  • More pollution

Pros for living in the country

  • More places to go do things outdoors with the kids
  • More isolated
  • Typically a lower crime rate
  • Smaller schools and class sizes
  • Lower cost of living

Cons for living in the country

  • Less money and career opportunities
  • Fewer choices for eating and going out
  • A larger yard means more yard work
  • Fewer friends to rely on for help

All these things force dads to make sacrifices. If it was just them they could bounce back between the two and not have to be tied down. In my case, I could make a lot more money if I worked in a big city. But I choose to make less and live in a rural area. But I wouldn’t give it up for the world. And when my kids get older they can decide whether to live close by or move to the city.

Dads give up inner peace

If I told you that dads struggle with anxiety and stress you might think I was a little crazy. Dads are chill. Dads are relaxed. Dads don’t do anxiety. But more and more dads suffer from anxiety quite often.

We stress about bills. We stress about our health. We stress about our jobs. We stress about are we good enough for our spouse.

Do we need to stress that much? Probably not. But we do. Because deep down every dad wants to be the best dad around. We hold ourselves to a high standard because so many times we get a bad rap for a few absentee fathers.

I realized several years ago that all that stress was doing nothing for me. I was even to the point I would grind my teeth at night. I tried everything to stop. But I knew deep down that the cause of my teeth grinding was overwhelming stress. 

Then one day I just let it go. With the help of God of course. As I got more involved with church and dug deeper into my faith, I realized that God has it all under control. So each night I try to lay down, pray to God and give him anything that is troubling me. It’s pretty amazing the relief I have felt since then.

Dads give up on their dreams

Things that dads give up to make their children happy
Kayaking with the boys
Things that dads give up to make their children happy
Kayaking with the boys

When most people are young they have hopes and dreams of how their life is going to turn out. Maybe a dad wants to travel Europe, hike across the country, or work from the beaches of Belize. But having kids changes their whole perspective and can even change those dreams.

I always had dreams of owning a big house and lots of land to camp and fish all day. I wanted to own a really nice car. But after having kids those things didn’t matter to me anymore. I want those things for my kids now. I want them to have a nice house. I want them to drive the car they always wanted.

But for me, it doesn’t matter. And maybe it is wisdom that comes with age that those dreams change. But for now, I would be happy to sell my house and live in an RV and be able to visit my kids wherever life takes them and hopefully see grandkids.

A part of me also wants to have a bigger house so that we can all get together and my house would be the gathering house. I would love to be able to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving with all my kids and their spouses at my house.
Regardless of those things I dream of doing, they will always be dreams. And circumstances can and will change. And when that happens and my kids need me. I will be there to help them out.

Dads give up their personal space

Our previous house had a downstairs that was separate from everything else. It had “my space” where I had my TV, my video games, my computer.  This was the space for dad to just escape. Even though the boys would come down and play video games with me or watch a movie with me, this was my space.

And when we moved we had that separate space. And I thought ok this is where I can have my stuff. But I realized that my boys were getting older and they really needed their own hangout space. So we transitioned it into a family room that really became the “boys” room.

I imagine this happens to a lot of dads. They have their man cave. Then a child comes along or more children come along. And that man cave turns into a family room or a playroom.

Dads give up their time

Dads enjoy their alone time. We cherish those moments where we can just sit and do nothing. People don’t understand how we can just sit there, not thinking about anything, and be at peace. I will say it takes practice, but it is amazing to just sit and do nothing.

With kids, this usually isn’t an option. Children will take up almost every waking moment you have. But we love it. And honestly, it makes those times we have alone to ourselves even more special.

And dads also like to have a set schedule. When you have kids those set schedules get interrupted quickly. I have a pretty standard sleeping schedule. If I don’t get in bed by a certain time and sleep until a certain time, I can get a bit cranky.

There are a lot of times I get asked by coworkers to go out and have some drinks or go do some trivia. I enjoy doing those things. But my kids want me at home. And my wife wants me at home. Generally, I end up turning down those opportunities because spending time with my family is more important than “hanging out”.

Reading this list shouldn’t make you sad. Dads only give up these things because it makes their children happy. And for dads like me, that is the only thing you need in life (that and a happy wife). 

There will always be time after the kids are grown that dads can get some of these things back. But while children are young and they require the attention of their dad, these things might be out of reach.

Is there something that you have given up as a dad to make your kids happy? Let us know in the comments or join us on our Facebook page.


  1. Greg this is such an interesting twist. Mom’s are the ones that usually voice the many sacrifices they make for their children. Men are most often given a bad rap for their contributions. But thank you for sharing and representing all the dads or men who also sacrifice alot for their chidren and partner. Great read ! 👍

  2. Dry interesting and well thought out, we as a society often forget that both parents(or anyone who raises a child) does give up so much. It’s true many of the things single or kid free people take for granted are given up, but the benefits that come from having kids definitely out way anything given up. I see it more as my ways of connecting, socializing and having fun has changed to become more building or guiding my kids to have fun.

  3. We need both parents. So thankful to my husband you is an amazing man, husband, and father I think in our society we focus too much on the negative. I am grateful for great fathers.

  4. Wow all so true. Health is the biggest one for us as parents. We don’t exercise at all as it’s too hard to find time and we’re spending a fortune on chiropractors to fix our backs from lifting heavy kids and lying awkwardly next to kids at night. Lucky they’re cute right? 😉

  5. What a great insight into a dad’s mindset. So many parents have these feelings but hide them because they don’t want to be seen as a bad parent. It’s nice to know they aren’t alone and that these feelings are completely normal. Kids need all the community they can get and sometimes thats the community we make more than the one we are born into.

  6. I love this! My hubby has the same issues. And it’s great that you can point it out as “dads give up…” bc a lot of the time, people assume dads don’t do any of this stuff. Great read! Thanks!

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