19 May 2008

I'm not a great Dad, there I've said it

The Bear has been working through her new emotions, those of no longer being the constant star of a one-woman show, those of growing older and having additional responsibilities and those of coming to terms with the fact that this childhood thing is a process (for example, one cannot learn to read overnight nor can one learn to paint a masterpiece without considerable practice). Tough lessons and emotions indeed. As she gets frustrated easier and easier so have I been losing my cool with her faster and faster. I now find myself in quite a predicament - wanting her to grow up and handle herself better yet at the same time longing for her to remain young, tender and sweet as pie. I gotta think those traits can co-exist!
I had no idea how to talk to her when she flipped her lid so we would butt heads like buttheads all because the adult of the duo couldn't figure out what it meant to act like one when relating to this young lady's crybaby-esque meltdowns.

Add to that this tasty treat: The Mrs. and I started to battle each other about my handling of situations involving the Bear during her freak-out episodes. So not only was my relationship with the Bear getting worse, but the bond with my wife was becoming simultaneously strained.
Needless to say, the past month or so has not been 100% enjoyable in Chateau OWTK.
I'd fall into patterns of calling the Bear names like crybaby, baby, even sissy once or twice, and also shouting comments along the lines of "your sister, who IS actually a baby, cries less than you!"

In my cloudy mind I was toughening her up, making her see what she was becoming. That would, in turn, make the Bear want to change and not cry over every little thing. Yeah, not quite. The reality of the situation was a far cry (no pun intended) from my goal. I became a dad that made almost every situation worse and, at least on some level, was working to destroy the self-esteem of my lovely gal by acting like an ignorant name-calling adolescent.
I was perfecting the circle of poor behavior and shame.

This was up until a week ago. Now I stay calm, or at least much calmer than before, when she acts up. I focus on her positives trying to build her self-worth and make her know how happy her good behavior makes the Mrs. and I. The theory is that kids are pleasers by nature and if she knows she is making us happy she will keep at it.



Why the sudden change? Two things really, most notably I started reading a good book that helped me understand things from a different perspective, one closer to the Mrs' brand of parenting. The volume is entitled "How to behave so your preschooler will, too" by Sal Severe. If your a dad or mom struggling to comprehend the little people running around your home, check out this book. It's proving quite helpful for me...and that's after only a few chapters. The other factor is more nuanced. Something just clicked last weekend, a sort of drug-addict rock bottom moment that made me see a little clearer and really, truly want to start become better in this area of parenting. So far, everyone is a little happier around the house now that daddy is not a psycho and this dad is happier to spend more time hugging the Bear than belittling her.

3 comments:

landismom said...

Well, as you know from my own recent blog post, I've been struggling with the kid emotions too. It's a tough road to hoe, this parenting.

I'm glad to hear that you've found a book that is helpful. It's always good to find out that other parents have gone through the same things that you are going through, and figured out how to survive in it!

russ said...

Some of my worst fatherhood moments have been times when I'm frustrated with my daughters. Our "TT" ( tiny tyrant ), she's almost 4 really has a hard time with her emotions. Anger and fear are the worst. She screams and scratches your arms when she's mad at you.

I don't remember our elder daughter ( the dq, drama queen ) being quite so tempestuous.

Thanks for the tip on the book!

SuburbanDaddy said...

I good lesson for all of us parents. As they say, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.