This is Daily Dadspeak—daily reflections on becoming a dad, while still growing up myself. You can find the full mini-pod audio list here.
Yesterday one of my kids was being a real pain in the butt.
In the morning, he threw a fit about the very little homework he had to do on his e-learning day at home. He slammed his computer when asked to put five extra minutes of study time into something that wasn’t on his school list. And on and on.
My wife and I both tried reasoned explanations, and we both tried ignoring him. But he persisted. And I finally snapped with a loud “Enough!”
The rest of the day wasn’t much better. He threw himself on the ground when asked to pick up some toys. He got angry when asked to set the table for dinner. And on and on.
And I snapped again.
I never touched or threatened him, and the exchange didn’t last more than 5 seconds. But I was direct, clearly letting him know that the behavior and attitude wasn’t going to work.
When we should have been sitting down for dinner he came crying, asking: “Why do you have to be so mean?” My response was calm: “You have no idea what mean is, and the problem here is not me, it’s been your attitude this entire day.”
Later that night I reflected. He’s not used to me snapping like that, which is why it has such an effect. But I realized something else must be bothering him. And I saw that he was really hurt by my strong reaction. I also know that he doesn’t want to act like he was. He’s just a kid—pushing boundaries, yes, but not really in control of his emotions.
Now, I’m a big believer in leaving the past in the past, going to bed, and waking up with a clean slate. But this morning I woke up, with more to add to yesterday’s ordeal. So we talked.
I let him know again that I wasn’t happy with his actions or responses, but it was done, and I hoped he learned from it. (We’ll see).
I also let him know that my reactions could have been better. I could have been calmer and looked for other solutions. Now I believe he was being a true pain in the ass and a message needed to get across.
But I wanted him to know that I had thought about my reactions too, and that I’ll continue to work on them.
I think it’s important to let your kids know that you aren’t always right just because you say you’re the boss. Just like your kids, we parents are a constant work in progress. And it’s okay if our kids know that.
→ Here’s why I also ask my wife for ways I can improve. And she’s always got something to say.
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