The Wake Up Call – Learning to Control My Temper So My Daughter Doesn’t Throw Me to The Wolves

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

5 Responses to “The Wake Up Call – Learning to Control My Temper So My Daughter Doesn’t Throw Me to The Wolves”

  • Justin Says:

    This is an incredibly courageous post.

    It strikes very close to home for me because I also have a terrible temper. So far, I’ve been able to avoid swearing at my kids, but they are 3 and 1 and a half, so I still have plenty of time.

    I worry that I fly off the handle way too easily and that I will be doing damage to them in ways that I won’t notice until they are much older.

    Keep the faith, brother. Self-reflection is the first step to self-improvement and we must all improve.


  • Ross Says:

    I agree with Justin on everything he said, Kudos on posting this.

    Anger and Temperament can be hard to ‘just quit’, its easier to just move into something you actually like and get benefits from.

    I can tell you love your daughter and she too with you. Be open and honest with how sick/weak you are and you need love and patience, then you won’t have to defend you ‘gross’ behaviors too much. Being open and exposing weaknesses may seem to question the stability of the parent, yet it will promote honesty, trust, and respect (for the honesty and trust) that you showed her.

    When you start defending yourself its quick to get angry, instead ask her for help (make her feel important to you) or a hug so you have the energy to throw it away and possibly bring a trash bin with you.

    No but leads to resistance and anger
    yes and leads to growth and love

    I guess that’s just my quick input, and some ways I started dealing with my anger. I’m not a father, but I was loved in a very loving family but also one with some temperament problems. These are just thing I remember them doing right and the things I wanted them to do as their child, when they were actually wrong in their actions. (me looking back as an adult on a situation from me being a child)


  • Michael Says:

    You said it!

    I also snap pretty quickly. When sometimes I need everything quickly get “under control” cause the baby’s about to fall off the bed and my oldest is pulling my cell phone out of my pocket right after I told her not too, I might sharply say, “Sit on your hands!”

    I so regret ever losing my self-contained cool with her. But I think that her response is less about caring about me less, and more about seeing my vulnerability. I know it is ok to be have a soft, human side, but I think self-control is something that daughters especially respect in their fathers.

    I also keep an online journal about my experiences and learning as a dad. It’s here I’d love to know what you think so far.


  • Monica Says:

    Michael, I am posting for help. I am impressed that the men above could be honest and sorry about their tempers and the cussing. I am hearing the cussing a lot and the temper is out of control where I babysit daily. I have LOTS of issues with the home environment. Electricity off twice since February (no AC all day yesterday) and almost evicted in March. I babysit full-time, daily. Dad works hard but things are abnormal. Child was tardy 73 times last school year and absent over 18. Child can’t read or write and cant add 1+1 or 2+5. But, child plays video games 8-10 hours per day at Dad’s urging. If you can help with suggestions, please respond. I am trying not to judge Dad. But, son is suffering. THANKS


  • Aaron Blakeley Says:

    I have a temper as well. The thing that has helped me the most is to remember that in the end it is not my children I ultimately struggle with, so there is no reason to snap.

    Not saying I succeed at this all the time. In fact, I lost my temper this morning, but it was far less severe because I caught myself.


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