That’s how I felt yesterday when it was time to write. We just got back from vacation and I was caught in that “catch-up mode” we all feel when we arrive home. I also had my son sitting across from my desk, writing sentences about lying. Truth be told, I was also in self-hate mode, because I felt I had gone completely berserk on him the night before and was definitely NOT a great dad to him.
It’s such a struggle. I wanted to all caps that. STRUGGLE. When it’s not a struggle with the child in question, it’s a struggle with myself. And all too often, I’m a big fat failure.
And I have good kids. By all accounts, I have GREAT kids. I’ve had people tell me my kids were more welcome in their home than their own grandchildren. They’re polite, kind, and helpful. And I think that makes it even more jolting when they screw up. They’ve set the bar too high…. or I have.
It’s a hard day when you’re replaying in your mind what you did wrong with your kids. I fear that they’ll remember the bad days, more than the good. When I think back on my childhood, I remember punishment far more than
reward. Discipline, but without closeness. Corporal punishment was given for all offences, not some. I don’t have a memory of throwing a ball with my father. I can’t put my finger on a single memory of a day we just ‘hung out’ and had a great day. I’m sure they happened, but the other days strain to the forefront of my memory banks.
This isn’t to say I don’t believe in discipline. I do. Other parents give me the “you’re too hard on them” look as I chide or scold. In turn, I give the “you gotta’ reign them in” look in return. It’s a happy balance I’m looking for. But I find I’m fighting my upbringing more and more. And when I do break, I feel I sometimes go FURTHER into strong discipline than even I received.
My heart hurts at the moment. There’s a lot of things on my mind lately. Mistakes. Mis-steps. Misunderstandings. A lot of MISses. And what frightens me, is that there’s more to come. I won’t stop making them. I CAN’T stop making them. All I can do is aim for LESS. It’s this cosmic nightmare of misery, where you can shoot for the bulls-eye every time, but you’re just as likely to shoot yourself in the foot.
There’s no funny anecdote to go with this week’s post. No snappy witticism. This is just a post to say, “I don’t know what to do.” I haven’t found the answers yet. I keep looking. I keep trying. I keep hoping that it will get easier, but I’m coming to realize it only gets harder.
My littlest just turned one last week. Will I be better when he gets to be CJ’s age? How much damage will my oldest endure while I’m figuring it out? Will what I learn raising him even work on this other person… this other personality? I don’t know. No answers.
So I struggle on.
Dads, what are some of your struggles in communicating with your kids? Tell us about how you’re succeeding in communicating with them. We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.
After he and his wife adopted 2 children, and his burgeoning stand-up career sidelined, Christian re-routed his comedic efforts into a web comic at ForeverFamilyComic.com. Having just missed Aaron in college by a few years, they connected online, finding they had a similar sense of humor [read: DARK]. Christian now has 3 children and 1 wife, and he will tell anyone he meets that’s plenty of each.