by Archie Wortham –show me more like this
Dads Anger Management © Jason Stitt – Fotolia.com All rights reserved.
“You can tell it’s good art, ‘cause it follows you when you move,” says Frank Barone, from “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
It’s unfortunate that a lot of time we have habits we don’t like, and when we arrive somewhere, like in a room, people have already given us the go-ahead to be ourselves, whether they like it or not. That’s okay, if you want to stay the same, and if it’s okay with others. But it’s not okay if you are driving wedges in the hearts of people you love, particularly your family–especially your sons.
I’m a yeller. Noticed I used ‘er, nor ‘ar, so as not to be confused with the color. Though sometimes I’m a coward too. Nothing is worse than a man with a fault he doesn’t like and won’t admit. I’m working on it. I’m counting to ten more and more often, and if I breathe in any more of this toxic cedar, I’ll probably get a nosebleed from my flonase.
What am I trying to tell you dads? Lighten up. I mentioned that some time back, but as stress invades our lives, invariably the ones who get the brunt of the stress happen to be the ones we love the most. We don’t want to admit all the time we are not right, but we get tired of being told we’re wrong. And before some of you ladies call foul, think about the last time you told the man you chose to sire your children he was right. If any of you are having difficulty with that exercise, then I’ve made my point. Those of you who can recall at least one thing you can say your husband was right about were perhaps spared the lobotomy many accused their husbands of having on their wedding day. Remember, dads, yelling is like snoring, you never knew you did it until someone heard it.
Dr. Kenneth Canfield, President of the National Center for Fathering in his New Year’s message to fathers talked about calm fathers, and stressed the idea that fathers need to realize that our families will sometime put us through emotional roller coasters. The most important thing he emphasized was to not be reactive. Losing our temper generally results in slamming doors, yelling at our kids or disciplining them too harshly. It’s important we realize the underlying damage that might be caused by a stance like “my way or the highway.” It sounds poetic, or like tough love, but taking a few deep breaths, counting to ten, or even saying “I’m too angry to talk to you right now,” might be better at alleviating tension that needs breathing room.
Where do we find that breathing room? Well, sometimes it could be taking a walk; going alone to see a movie; calling a friend to talk; or checking out a fathering Internet site. In addition, never forget to complete an issue. Unresolved Issues, like toothaches, have to be dealt with. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re wrong, apologizing and chalking it up to experience. It gives the kids something to remember when they have children.
Dads must remember that invariably when the tensions are high, everyone is affected; the other kids, mom, and sometimes it can spill over into work. If work is a stressor already, those stresses become something you bring home. Granted, you can unload on mom about what a dumb butt you have as a boss. You and mom are a team. Let her share your load, but don’t burden her with it.
Therefore, I’m joining YA [yelling anonymous]. I’m trying to have fun. Santa invaded our house again recently. Brought our older son a football, so our neighbors see me unloading steam, catching or throwing a ball when I’d be happier with Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, or even a chilled glass of red wine. I’m better at root canals than football, but playing with our kids gives them fun, tires them out, and makes them more complacent, but not zombies. It gives us some time together when we are not competing. Boys are born to compete. The competition starts with their dads. I try not to breathe too hard as I think about that. Besides, the karaoke machine Santa brought [which is more down my alley] gives me something to be ‘Joe Cool’ about, as I work on learning the words to “All Star,” or “Kryptonite.”
We dads have to get a grip. They are our kids. Realize how much we love them, and a heart attack from screaming, or sleepless nights because they took the highway is not what parenting should be about. As Gandalf said in ‘Lord of the Rings,’ “All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that’s given you.”