Summary: Simple things like loosing your temper have far more impact of your kid than you think.
About four weeks ago I’m at Silver Spur having our pre Saturday adventure breakfast with my daughter and her friend. I’m checking some schedules on my phone to figure out what we should do, and in what order, while the two of them do their normal chit chat and goofing around.
After a few minute my daughter’s friend gets my attention.
“I asked (your daughter) that if she had to choose which parent to save which one would she choose. She said she would choose her mom because you cuss and yell at her.”
Ouch. Now, I didn’t think my daughter would ever choose me over her mom. She has a special bond that can only happens with the person who gave birth to you and breast feed you for the first year and half of your life. However, to know that my daughter would let me die because of my temper and foul mouth is pretty sad. That one really hit home.
Now fast forward to last might. I’m sitting on the coach getting ready to read Stewart Little to my daughter. We just finished Charlotte’s Web yesterday and the sophistication of E. B. Whites prose was a welcome reprieve from the mind numbing repetition of her Breyer Stablemates pony books that she loves so much.
I’m exhausted as I’ve had the flu for five days and the phlegm has settled into my lungs leaving me weak and coughing most of the day. I grab a tissue, blow my nose for the umpteenth time and lay the tissue next to the couch on a bookshelf.
“Throw that away.”
“Throw your tissue away.”
“You should throw it away.”
“Fucking get off my case. It’s none of your god damn business what I do with my tissue! You ever think that maybe I put it there because I plan to use it again instead of just wasting one box of tissue after another using each sheet just once? Fuck!”
My daughter gets really quiet and I can see she’s on the verge of tearing up.
“I’m sorry for yelling at you. I handled that wrong.”
“That’s all right.”
But I know even though she’s says that it’s all right, it really isn’t.
So we read a few chapters of Stewart Little and after a half an hour it’s time for bed…for both of us.
After putting my daughter to bed and giving her a goodnight kiss and head to be myself. I’m totally beat.
Twenty minutes later my partner comes in. She and our daughter often share a short tuck-in conversation before the lights go out.
“We talked for a while about your behavior. She said that she feels that she can’t trust you completely. I told her that she can trust you 100%. That you love her more than anything. I told her that she is part of both of us. Half of her is me and half of her is you. Then she asked in all sincerity, “my eyebrows?”
We got a good chuckle out of that because it was quite obvious the day she was born that she got my thick and bushy meet in the middle eyebrows.
Joking aside, it’s become painfully clear that I’m undermining my super dad status and her security and self-worth with my very infrequent but intense outbursts.
The funny thing is I’m fairly patient, easy-going, have a very high tolerance for chaos and I’m more forgiving and tolerant than my partner, but when I snap it happens very suddenly. Almost too fast for me to see it coming. On the other hand my partner is more of a slow boil type so she has far more warning internally that she’s about to lose it.
So my daughter can’t really read me and sense when it’s time to back off. And I don’t sense it either. So in her mind she has no idea which dad she’s going to get at any one moment.
So that’s my new project. Look for the signs that I’m about to snap so I can learn to catch it before it happens. Kind of like those “early signs of stroke” lists but one tailored to my temper.
Let the learnin’ begin!
File Under: Controlling Your Temper When Around Children – How Cussing and Angry Words Hurt Your Kids