It’s been quite a while since I posted last, unless you count my response to some trolling. Mel has been gently requesting that I write something, and gently reminding me that “it’s supposed to be our joint blog but I do all the work.” Code for “I really want you to blog, now, yesterday, last week even.” My usual response is along the lines of “I’ll blog when I’ve got something to write about.”
It seems that time has come for me to get off my blessed assurance and crack to it. It does take quite some effort for me to write, while words seem to flow freely from between my lips, getting them out of my fingers is a whole other story. Feelings of inadequacy and the overwhelming sense that it needs to be perfect usually prevent much from happening. Let it be know, it’s something I’m working on, and most likely always will.
Lately, something has been happening in our home. Something that I’m not proud of, and I am trying to change it. I’ve been losing my cool with our eldest son, Lucas. For a while there, it was almost as though if he coughed, I would tell him off, yell, send him to his room or, dare I say is, give him a smack. I’ve only ever smacked him on the backside.
Am I proud of it? No.
Did I grow up with the same kind of discipline from my parents? Yes.
Do I hate them for it? Not at all.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m happy about getting my butt smacked, because lets face it, no one really is as a kid. You hate it. Dad and I were having a talk about discipline once, and he mentioned that when we were smacked as kids, it was more frustration on their part than anything. And it is absolutely true. There are only so many times you can politely ask someone to put their shoes away before you start to sound like a broken record. And trust me, both Mel and I try not to sweat the small stuff, but take it from me, that shit adds up. Real fast!
Everyone has their own opinions on parenting, and it’s all well and good to have opinions, however, what might work for your family and circumstances might be completely the opposite for another. Is it OK to lose your cool at your child? No, I don’t think it is. Have I done it? Yes. Very recently in fact. I did it such a monumental fashion that I’m sure the neighbours were filling out father of the year nominations for me. Did it make me feel better? Not one little bit. I actually felt worse.
It was weeks and weeks of pent up frustration that all boiled to the surface in one spectacular explosion of a verbal tirade. One that ultimately says a heck of a lot more about my attitude towards Lucas in particular, than it does about his actual behavior. The end result? ‘Daddy, can I take a truck to bed?’
It all kind of hit me. What kind of role model was I setting for him? Blaming my son, who is 5, for my lack of self control. It just started to sit wrong with me. I won’t lie to you, he is sometimes not an easy kid to look after. He is highly impulsive, doesn’t listen, does whatever he pleases, regardless of what we ask him, and some days, he just will not stop talking. It has a tendency to wear you thin after a while.
As most of you are well aware, I do a bit of reading, not as regular as I would like. After some talk about leadership with one of my business mentors, I came to a simple solution. If I want to lead my team to victory, I first need to lead my house. And to lead my house, I need to lead myself. Real leadership comes from leading yourself and others will naturally follow you. Not by telling people what to do. That defines a boss, and not someone that I aspire to be like.
What does this all have to do with parenting? Well, my young padawan, parenting is just another form of leadership. While you might not be directly engaged in ‘parenting’ (ie, 1 on 1 time with your child), everything you do, in and out of the home is parenting. Its 24/7, 100% on all the time. It’s hardly a job, it’s life. Whether we like it or not. Once the kids are in bed and you put your feeit up for the evening, crack a stubbie and snap off a couple of rows of dairy milk, yup, you’re still parenting.
Recently, I came to the realisation that I just didn’t want to be like that any more. Not just for my own sake, but absolutely for Lucas’s sake. He
deserves better than that.
So I have started to make a committed effort to lead myself better. To be the kind of father my boys look up to, and aim to be like. To be the kind of man that if we ever have a daughter, I would be happy for her to marry.
It hasn’t been easy, some days are harder than others. The things I do are pretty simple though. I usually stop what I’m doing, take a few breaths, remind myself that it isn’t his fault, he’s just a kid and he is wired a little different than most, and really, does it matter in the grand scheme of things?
He’s got a great personality. Loving, caring, zest for life and can find wonder in the smallest of things (a dead jumping spider for example), so I reckon that it’s a damn good start.
As parents, our kids will always do as they see us do, not what we say. We need to make sure our actions match our words so that we don’t create confusion in developing minds.
I’m by no means a perfect father, nor do I ever think I will be. I am however committed to improvement.
I’d love to hear what tips and strategies you guys use to keep calm during those stressful parenting moments!