5 Lies Dads Tell Themselves About Working Long Hours

The movie Liar Liar opens with Fletcher Reede (played by Jim Carrey) bringing his son Max to work on the day before his fifth birthday. As they walk through the office, Max watches his dad tell a series of lies to his coworkers, learning that his dad is a master liar. When Fletcher phones to say he’ll have to miss Max’s birthday because “he has to work,” Max sees through his father’s lie and wishes that for one day, his dad will have to tell nothing but the truth.

Many dads put in long hours out of necessity, fully aware of the impact our absence can have on our kids. Some of us might lie to our kids like Fletcher Reede did, while others might be fooling themselves instead. Here are 5 lies dads tell themselves about working long hours.

1. I’m just teaching my kids the value of hard work.

It doesn’t matter if a man is working long hours in an office or in a trade. Every job, if done well, demands hard work from us. When we start habitually putting in longer and longer hours, we can tell ourselves “I’m just teaching my kids the value of hard work.” While there might be some truth in that statement, we might also be telling them that our work is more important than they are.

2. My kids need _________ more than they need me.

Dads work hard to give their kids a better life. It’s common to hear a dad talk about giving their kids something they didn’t have growing up. The problem is when we become more concerned with these things than spending time with them. Kids would gladly give up a week at Disneyland or a new PlayStation for seeing us coming home an hour earlier every day.

There may be times we need to work long hours, but there also need to be times we give long hours to our kids.

3. My job is too important.

Whether it’s long shifts, looming deadline, or an emergency, every job can demand extra hours from us. When this becomes the norm, we can start to place work commitments ahead of all of the places our kids need us to be. There may be times all of us need to work long hours, but there also need to be times we give long hours to our kids.

4. I’m not that good of a dad anyway.

Men are often keenly aware of their shortcomings. We can look at ourselves in the mirror and see the ways we don’t measure up. This can be true of our work, our faith, our marriage, and our parenting, especially during difficult times that affect every family. When we feel discouraged by life or negative self-talk, we can allow work to become the place we hide from the responsibilities we have to our kids.

5. Everyone will love me more if I get this promotion.

For many men, our sense of self-worth can be tied to our accomplishments at work. It makes sense then that we are easily driven to find greater success at work. The problem here is when we start to imagine that our kids see us the way some other people do—that they would love us more if we had a more important job title or a bigger office. Our kids don’t love us because of our professional successes. They just want us to spend time with them.

Sound off: What are some other lies dads tell themselves about working long hours?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “If we had an evening all to ourselves, how would you like to spend it?”