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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Parent mistake #78314 May 1, 2009 9:04 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Amy, Daily Life, Evan, Family, Of Being Dad
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There are a few things I inherited from my father. He is still alive. I am talking about genetically and behaviorally. For instance, I have his hair. Fortunately for me he still has his so odds are baldness is not in my future. Not that I’m saying anything about hairlessness. Bald is cool. Shoot for the past week I’ve been thinking about shaving my head. It’s the economy stupid. I also got his intelligence even if my wife cannot see it. The words "god damn" came from him. Despite my efforts to remove that from my vocabulary, I seem intent on passing that legacy to my children. It’s reflexive particularly when the stress is up. Ever since I started taking blood pressure medicine, I have become acutely aware of when the stress is up. Don’t get me wrong. Before the blood pressure medicine I was well aware of my mental state and knew when the stress was up. But now I feel it differently. Yesterday I could feel the blood coursing through my veins. Prior to the blood pressure medicine I was less aware of the tension in my arms and chest but it was there and constant. I should fart more. Or get the wife to calm me down more frequently.

Yesterday, knowing my blood pressure and stress were up, I struggled to keep myself in check. This morning, I overslept and was simply not awake enough to be responsive instead of reactionary.

I’m bigger and louder than you so I’m right

Amy will be seven in just over a month. Her sister, who turns 16 in June, has taught Amy teenager behaviors that she shouldn’t know. Then there is the inheritance thing. After all, she is my child. And she has my temper. And stubbornness. And those pretty blue eyes. This morning I had but one focus: get Amy ready for school and out the door on time. Considering I overslept, we were pressed for time. I was so focused on doing my job of being a father I forgot to actually be a father. After I dropped a teary eyed child off at school, I finally realized that this morning Amy needed to be in control. In control of what? Anything. It wouldn’t have mattered but instead of being that television dad who instantly has the wisdom and humility to help his child, I became the unruly dictator and drill sergeant who bullies his children as objects instead of sensitive beings. I yelled, I cursed, I threatened to throw toys away, and I produced tears on demand from what minutes earlier had been two happy, joyful children. Yes it was abusive. And wrong. And unnecessary. And I feel horrible. She had a need and did not know how to express it. She needed to be in control. She took this control by taking her brother’s toy. All I had to do we redirect her and give her the chance to make some choices and decisions and, in effect, be in control. Instead I taught her that you can be in control by raging, raising your voice, cursing, and threatening. I get no dad points today. Raising children is tough but you shouldn’t raise the dead and wake the house in the process. Last week I secretly vowed to myself to never raise my voice in anger to the children again. No. It wasn’t just the children. I vowed to never raise my voice in anger to anyone ever again. I failed. Can I have a Mulligan? Amy, I’m sorry.

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1. Andrea - May 1, 2009

I saw her in line with her class at school today and she was smiling!

2. Doug McCaughan - May 1, 2009

Good to hear! She came home skipping, grinning ear to ear and very happy. She is a good child and finds joy all around her.

3. Andrea - May 1, 2009

Don’t you just love that age?

4. Victor Agreda Jr - May 5, 2009

I’ve had a pattern of yelling that I learned growing up (not an excuse, just historical perspective). Glad you were able to crystalize the control thing, as my 7 yr-old does a similar thing. She can be stubborn, and so can mom and dad…

While away I made the decision to stop that stuff. Every moment is a new opportunity to shed the past and be a better dad, so keep me in your thoughts as I struggle with my own temper.

Thanks for this post.

5. Doug McCaughan - May 5, 2009

I’ve got you in my thoughts. We’ll do this together!