The words I dread from my wife when I walk through the door, “The kids are all yours.” This is code for: the kids are driving me crazy and I cannot handle it anymore. I love my kids. I enjoy spending time with them, but when I hear my wife say those words, I think ‘oh no, how am I going to survive the night.’
Some days, I am SuperDad, I come in the room and have the power to change the situation. I rescue Mom from the screaming, obstinate kids, and we all have a great evening. My wife says to me, “That is not the way they were acting before you got home,” and we all live happily ever after, at least until the sun rises on a new day.
Those other times…I am not SuperDad, I get frustrated and discouraged. I lose my cool and no one gets saved; instead, I feel like an epic ‘Father Fail.’ By now, you may have seen the Pinterest Fails, if not, check out this site for a good laugh or cry.
Unlike, my other blogs, this is not about successful tips I have used. Rather this is a challenge to myself to try certain strategies when I feel like a “father fail.’ Each time I feel like an ineffective dad I will attempt at least one of these tips and then write about it. This way I also hope to help other dads who, at times, feel inadequate.
Below are the strategies some experts suggest as well as ideas I thought would help me.
Stay in Control
This suggestion comes from the website About Parenting. I need to do a better job of staying calm. Since I usually know ahead of time that the kids are acting out, I can prepare myself. My patience runs low and when I am forewarned that the kids are misbehaving my patience runs on fumes. So I do not feel like a father fail, staying in control is step one.
Another suggestion I read about and even tried with some success, though usually not when the kids are screaming at me. An active listener, hears and validates why a child is feeling the way they do. The Center for Parenting Education has excellent scenarios for how an active listener approaches an upset child. If I can master this, I might win Father of the Year!
I need to stop taking for granted that I will just figure this father thing out as I go along. There are many resources out there about how to handle different situations. It is time I checked them out and put them to practice. There will be lots of suggestions, some of which I will disagree with. I will have to go through trial and error and lots of tears (by everyone). I should trust those who know and learn from them.
Connect with Other Dads
Boy, this is going to be a hard one for me. This is a suggestion from Empowering Parents. As I am writing this, I realize I have never talked to anyone about being a dad. I have never asked for help. It is a pride issue. I have a difficult time asking for help, but I do not want to feel like a ‘father fail.’ If asking means being a better father to my kids, then I need to do it.
Pray and Read Scripture
When I need help and guidance, this should be the first place to turn. I need to spend more time in prayer, asking God for wisdom. Time to open my Bible and read what God has requested of me as a father. While all the other suggestions I have made are important, I have a feeling prayer and scripture will have a more important role as I interact with my children.
The challenge is in place, time to see how I will respond when my children act outrageous. Will I remember everything I need to do? Can I handle the situations better? Will I improve and be a better dad? Perhaps the next time I come home from work and my wife says “the kids are all yours,’ I can respond, “Great! I am happy to help.”