Working-Dad Guilt Is a Thing, Too — Just Ask Bill Hader

Working-Dad Guilt Is a Thing, Too — Just Ask Bill Hader

Some dads are away so much they barely see their kids.

By Marianne Garvey

Aren't we always talking about working moms? It’s hard to hold down a job and raise a kid (or kids). But gone are the days when dads were seen as stoic, hard workers who provided for family without complaint. Dads are affected by working guilt, too.

Bill Hader, now divorced from ex-wife Maggie Carey, broke down while discussing his kids Hannah, 9, Harper, 6, and Hayley, 4, in a new interview for Variety’s Golden Globes issue, and it’s bringing attention to dads who long to see their children while struggling to provide for them and balance a career at the same time.

“I think I saw my kids a total of five days all summer,” Hader said. “It was terrible. So, I’m going, ‘Next summer I’m taking off.’ And I’m going to spend every day with them. It’s this weird thing when you’re in this industry, you don’t have time to be with them, and it’s really, really difficult. I’m getting emotional right now talking about it.”

His separation from the kids happened in the wake of his split from Maggie in 2017, after 11 years of marriage. During the marriage he suffered from guilt because he spent so much time at Saturday Night Live working. He added in the interview it was the first time he has ever cried while doing press.

Relationship expert and founder of pregnantish Andrea Syrtash says the times have changed, of course, and now dads are playing a very equal part in child rearing, so when they don’t see their kids due to work, it can be heartbreaking.

“These days many dads are as involved in their children’s lives as their partners are. Feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your kids is a reality for so many working parents, not just mothers,” Syrtash said. “This can impact a relationship if a couple isn’t on the same page about their work and travel schedule or responsibilities. Also, couples who spend so much time apart often have to work a bit harder to re-establish their own connection. Overall, making a resolution to have more balance with work and family is a positive thing, for both dads and moms.”

And parenting expert Lyss Stern, who's also a mom of three and CEO of Divamoms, knows working fathers who have guilt, too.

“Of course daddy guilt is real and I applaud Bill Hader for being so open and honest about his work and family life,” she said. “I think it's really important to try and maintain parental balance. As two working parents, both myself and my husband, we are always trying to figure out ways that we can spend more quality time with the kids. I believe in the quality of the time spent with the kids, not just the quantity. Just to give you an example, over the holiday break we were in Miami as a family. My husband suggested we all leave our cell phones in the hotel room, so that we could have a family meal and be connected and not distracted.  [It] was one of the best family meals we had in a long time. We laughed, we talked, and we had a great time together as a family. My husband and I also keep a schedule synced into our phones, which is very important for working parents. I think open communication is also key between both spouses.”

That goes for divorced parents, too. Hader plans to take a much needed break after Season 2 of his HBO show, Barry, wraps. He’s going to be writing at home, where he can spend time with his daughters. “They can see me all day if they want,” he said. “They can really get sick of me.”

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