Ask me about my best memories with my kids after being a dad, and I might give some thought before listing all those occasions.
Ask me about something I did with my kids that I am not proud of – and desperately want to undo if I could go back – and I don’t even have to think.
My reply would be instant; it would be scathing – it was when I lost my temper on my kids.
I can recall what happened, why it happened, and how did I react.
I was preoccupied with my work. By midday only, I already had a fair share of stress to make me lose my shit. It was like I was waiting for something to happen so that I can rage. And it happened.
We were doing lunch, and my wife was having a tough time making our daughter eat. She was continually squalling. I was trying to control, and I did for some time…
But then in a sudden burst of anger, I lost my control. I shouted at the top of my lung and scolded her. My daughter’s face was filled with an expression of shock and disbelief. That look, at that moment… I can never forget that, and I can never forgive myself for making my daughter feel that way.
She did stop crying, but her shell-shocked body gave me no consolation. I didn’t realize that I have made my daughter fearful of me in my moment of rage.
Yes! She isn’t crying anymore, but what about the perpetual fear she now has for me?
Being a dad, I can tell that nothing is more disheartening than a kid who fears you instead of respecting you.
That night, I couldn’t face my wife or my daughter. I went into deep rumination, locked myself into a room, and talked to myself.
I was a long night of introspection.
As a man in this society, I always found it easier to vent out my anger than to keep it inside me. It almost feels like this society encourages men to be angry and normalizes it to an extent.
The platitudes like “boys will be boys” and “angry young man” give a sense that men have this intrinsic nature of being short-tempered and that there isn’t much wrong with being an ‘angry young man.’
Losing your temper over your kids is easy. It gives you a conduit to vent, and you know they won’t come back at you out of respect.
Most of the time, the reason for our out bust is misdirected. We are stressed and agitated at other things in our life. It could be work stress, household chores, lack of social activities, etc.
When you’re in this situation, it’s easy to lose patience and feel angry when things don’t go to plan. Those things appear out of control, and thus, we look for inconsequential avenues to channel our anger.
And, kids become the target.
Think about all the time you shouted at your kids.
Think about all those instances, and you will realize that you could’ve easily ‘not lost your temper’. The reason you did was you were angry at other things you couldn’t change.
In the end, what did you achieve? You are still stressed over other things in your life, and now you also have a kid who is afraid of you.
Shouting at kids is as futile as it can get. Yes, for a moment, you might scare them into submission, but what about the long-term effects? Now, they are fearful of you.
Is it worth it? Ask me, and I’d say no!
For every time I shouted at my kids, I now think about it and say, “Man, take me back, and I wouldn’t do it again.”
This is exactly how I feel now. I always think, “What if I shouldn’t have done that?” “What if I had controlled myself for five more seconds?”
Whenever I have lost my temper with my kids, I have found them avoiding me for the next couple of days. Like whenever I enter a room, they would just sit quietly in a corner. If we are at the table, they wouldn’t speak out loud, and just whisper in their mother’s ears. I could see that they are fearful of me.
In retrospect, I hate myself for making them feel that way. Being a dad, instead of shouting at them, I should’ve politely talked to them. That would’ve done so much good.
Yes, kids are stubborn, and sometimes it is hard not to burst out in anger. But you gotta control it. Whenever you feel like you’re about to lose it, give yourself 5 more seconds, then 5 more, and then 5 more.
By this time, your anger would’ve subsided. Now, calmly talk to your kids and tell them what’s wrong and what they shouldn’t do again.
Trust me, you’d feel much better, at that moment, and in the future as well.
Anger hasn’t ever solved any problem. It has only exacerbated them. Being a dad, I realized that I could work more smoothly when I am calm and composed. It could be the reason why I now lose my temper less often.
In my quest to not make my kids not fear me, I have increased my anger threshold. I have to thank my kids for this.
Believe me when I say that I vividly remember every instance when shouted at my kids or scolded them harshly. These aren’t the moments I am not very proud of.
It is not to say never to correct your kids whenever they are wrong, but whenever you are about to shout at them, just pause, and ask yourself two questions:
Am I really angry at them, or am I just looking for a target to channel my anger?
Can I not shout and still tell my kids that whatever they did is wrong?
Find the answers to these questions, and you will find yourself knocking some sense into your mind. You’ll be happy, and so will be your kids.