Angry parents can be scary to kids. As a dad, sometimes my kids get the worst from me. I get upset and snap quickly and find myself feeling embarrassed and guilty for how I speak to them. I have never physically touched them in anger, but my words wound deeply.
One day, I yelled at my daughter for tearing up her brother’s coloring pages out of anger. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and my gut sank. She wasn’t upset because she got in trouble. She was upset because after I snapped, she was afraid of me. As fathers, we are protectors, and our kids should be comforted by our actions and words. Anger and frustration may happen in our homes, but our kids should never be afraid of Dad. I have had to learn some tough lessons dealing with my anger. Here are 5 things every father needs to know.
1. We don’t have to be mean.
I have the ability to be very mean with my words, my tone, and volume. I used to think speaking to them in a forceful way would demand respect. And yes, as dads, our kids need to respect us. But we don’t have to be mean when we are upset. We need to avoid mean words like “are you stupid?” These words spoken over our kids can and will impact their perceptions of their identities in the long run. If your kids hear you call them stupid long enough, they will start to believe they are stupid.
2. Our words can hurt our kids’ feelings.
When I correct and discipline my boys, how they feel about the situation isn’t usually evident. Most times, they say, “yes sir” and move on. But I know the exact moment I hurt my daughter’s feelings. She shows it with her body language and with her words. As dads, we have to learn to think before we speak. There is a fine line between our kids being sad or disappointed and having their feelings hurt. I know I can cross that line, but we have to watch our reactions in the moment and choose our words.
3. Our kids deserve consistency.
As I mentioned in point two, my boys do not respond the same way to discipline as my daughter. I have learned that I am much harder on them because of this….