Almost any parent will tell you that at some point, your kids are going to push your buttons. Sometimes they do it on purpose and sometimes they don’t, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference in the level of frustration it can cause us. I don’t claim that this frustration is any harder to deal with as a dad, but maybe that extra testosterone is to blame for all the stereotypes of “wait until your father gets home”.
I always used to be the calm one in our household, but maybe the stress of life finally got to me because over the last year and a half, I found myself getting angry over the smallest things. My wife and I try to balance each other out as much as possible, but I knew that I needed to work on me! I don’t claim to have come up with this method at all, but I also have no idea where to attribute it. I have started trying to take a little pause before answering or reacting to behaviors to rationalize what is happening and the best solution while incurring minimal damage. I am a very logical person and try to take a logical problem solving approach to almost everything – parenting included.
This approach has already shown great benefits in my household. I am nowhere near perfect and can still overreact from time to time but I am working on it. A few nights ago, both of my kids came in the room claiming to have had a nightmare (this never happens) and wanted to sleep with us. After about 3 minutes, we realized that the king size bed is not big enough for everyone so my wife took my son and they went into his bed and left my daughter with me. Well, she wanted momma in her half-awake state, and I wasn’t momma. Let me give the disclaimer that I am not the happiest person in the world when I am woken up from a dead sleep by crying (not that anyone is) when I know that I am the first person awake every day and only have a couple more hours to get in. There was no consoling her sobbing and I felt my blood start to boil but I took my own advice and took a long deep breath and gave her a hug and told her that she could hold my hand while she went to sleep. She grabbed my hand and was asleep in under a minute. I obviously couldn’t go back to sleep as easily and lay there thinking. What if I would have gotten mad and yelled at her; she would have cried louder and everyone in the house would have suffered.
Moments like those make us think that we actually know what we are doing for a change. That split second of clarity can make all the difference in the short term and hopefully pass on the best habits to our miniature versions for the future. We all slip up from time to time and that is almost inevitable, but being the calming and reasonable force in your child’s brain makes all the difference.
Stay calm and strong out there dads!