Reddit Dad Feels Like His Emotions Aren't Allowed During Daughter's Graduation

A dad on Reddit is having a 'tough time' as his daughter graduates high school. But he's also raising an important point about how we need to talk more about how all parents feel during these moments.

An image of a girl in a graduation cap and gown.
Photo: Getty Images.

We talk a lot about the experience of parenting. A lot of it is focused on new parenthood, navigating the toddler years, and how to juggle more than one child. So often, that focus is on the emotional toll of motherhood. But at the very core of it—being a parent is a tough job from the time a child is born until they leave your home—and beyond. It isn't any different for a mother, a father, or a nonbinary parent.

Still, there is often a stereotype around parents who identify as male when it comes to their emotions—especially the emotional toll of a child leaving home after graduation. The dad of a high school grad started an important (and very, very sweet) conversation as he stared down this exact situation.

The father posted to Reddit to express how he's feeling as his daughter graduates high school. "I should be filled with joy AND I am! But I'm having a really tough time holding it together. In private, I can't stop sobbing," he writes. (I'm 110% sure he's not the only one feeling this during graduation season!)

"All I ever wanted to be as far back as I can remember, is a Dad. It is the best job in the world. And now it feels like it's ending," he continues. "Yes, I know it really isn't. My role as a Dad will be different but I will always be HER Dad. Still, I've been dreading this day for 18 years. In a little more than a month, she will be going off to college in another state."

The dad then wonders: Is it normal for him to feel so broken up about the thought of his child going to college and his role as her dad to change so drastically? "Is it normal for Dads to feel this way?" he asks. There are many articles talking about moms feeling this way, but dads, he points out, "Not so much."

He's right: There certainly are more resources and discussions out there geared toward moms. But one thing becomes very clear in the Reddit thread—this dad is not alone.

"I'm a dad, my daughter isn't even four and I'm already dreading that day," one fellow father comments. Another adds, "It's perfectly normal. Dads have emotions too. Never let any stereotype tell you how to deal with your kids."

Several moms weighed in as well. "I'm a mom and my daughter is only 6 months old and I'm crying right now thinking about the day she'll leave for college," she writes. "As a grown woman, I can tell you there is no person that can ever replace a girl's dad. You take a special place in her heart no matter the physical distance between you."

All the comments make it abundantly clear that this dad's experience and feelings are not uncommon—and his post provides an important space to normalize ALL parents having strong emotional reactions, especially during the major moments in their kids' lives.

As for the monumental role parents play in their children's lives? Sure, it changes over time, particularly as kids become adults, but it doesn't become any less important.

One commenter puts it best: "You are mourning the end of one part of your life—that is ok and perfectly normal!" they write. "She will still need you for quite a while to come—college, jobs, dating, serious relationships, marriage, babies….all things that are possible in your future to help her out with."

Can you please pass the tissues to a parent of a graduating senior? They'll need them.

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