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Thread: Iím a good dad but sometimes Iím also a jerk.

  1. #1
    Bronze Member Skeptic76's Avatar
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    Iím a good dad but sometimes Iím also a jerk.

    Well folks, I just got a livid earful from my 17yo son. Been having homework struggles with his 12yo sister for a couple of days now and he didnít like the way I was talking to her (he was absolutely in the right, too - embarrassing as it is to admit I was mocking her at the moment.)

    I am a single dad, and six years ago when I divorced their mom I made some REALLY serious mistakes with my son. I redirected a lot of pain and it came out as an anger problem - he bore the brunt. The silver lining was that it brought everyone into therapy and generally speaking, tonightís fight aside, we have a great relationship today.

    Tonight after the tongue lashing my son unleashed it dawned on me that a month ago the only relationship Iíve been in since my marriage ended...and wouldnít you know it Iím repeating the same behavior and redirecting my pain on to my daughter this time. Silver lining is that I see it for what it is much earlier this time and didnít go anywhere near the depths I did with my son.

    Needless to say Iím feeling like a total jerk, but at the same time a bit relieved to understand whatís happening as I can now address it and make healthier choices. My son left and Iím not sure when he will be back. For now Iím not calling/texting just giving him some space to cool down. My daughter and I are calm and ok, but thereís that ďholy moly that was crazyĒ kind of awkwardness that you can feel after a family argument.

    After my mom died my only comfortable option for seeking guidance when I was ashamed of how I acted was from my significant other, but since thatís not a current option either....THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME PUT MY THOUGHTS IN WRITING AND SPILL MY GUTS!

  2. #2
    Platinum Member melancholy123's Avatar
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    Have you thought of going to therapy again? Kids dont deserve to be yelled at by their parent(s).

  3. #3
    Bronze Member Skeptic76's Avatar
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    Just to clarify there was no yelling, but that doesnít mean my behavior was okay. And yes, I am still in therapy. Good call Mel.

    *edit* no yelling on my part this time lol. But there definitely WAS yelling from one pissed off kiddo.

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    Silver Member MirrorKnight's Avatar
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    I'm sorry if you were expecting kind words, acceptance and forgiveness... but if you were capable of lashing out at your children whenever you are in pain or angry, there is an underlying selfishness to your behaviour that you need to recognize and address. I know you say you feel like a jerk, you feel embarrassed, whatever... but is that really just an appeal for people to sympathize with you and help you to assuage your guilt? Only you would know the honest answer.

    I do not buy that you have a "great" relationship with your son. Therapy might have patched up the wounds you have inflicted upon him during the most vulnerable stage in his development, but chances are the scars will stay with him for life. There is no way to sugar coat the truth.

    Children are profoundly influenced by their parents, you do not have an equal relationship with them, you are their role model, provider, guardian etc... If you lash out at your children whenever you are angry, they are going to learn that is how (lash out at somebody weaker) they should deal with anger themselves, if you get angry over issue x and issue y, they will learn that anger is the appropriate response when they face those same issues... when you mock your 12 year old daughter for struggling with her homework, that is going to devastate her self-esteem, she is going to believe that she is stupid and incapable of learning, undeserving of love and respect. You are sewing the seeds for a lifetime of pain. Do not be shocked if she grows up with no ambition, puts up with losers and abusers for boyfriends etc...

    You are not a good dad if you can be a jerk to your children sometimes.

    In all likelihood, it is too late for your son, he is basically an adult already. For your daughter's sake, I hope you can reflect honestly on the effect that your words and actions will have on her development, values and character.

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  6. #5
    Bronze Member Skeptic76's Avatar
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    Thank you for your reply. I can appreciate your views - although we disagree in many places you raise some excellent points!

  7. #6
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    I'm going to take a softer tack here...

    Lots of silver linings here, from what I can seeóthe sort that make the kind of webs that families coexist inside, if not always harmoniously. Sounds like you owe your son an apology, and an explanation. So do that, treating him like the man he is. As a family who has known the insides of therapist's offices, something tells me you've all got the tools for this. There are people who spend many thousands of dollars in therapy who still can't say "Sometimes I'm a jerk," let alone "I'm sorry I was a jerk." Those people? They always win the blue ribbon at the Jerk Fair. So, heyóanother silver lining, right there. More webbing.

    Now, the question: could your pain, right now, be asking you to find a new target? Basement punching bag? A few solo sessions seated across from a professional? Pigeon pose in a heated room? I don't know, but something to shield the 12 year old from needing to grow a shield to protect herself from you, you know? Something that gives her an awesome model about how to stand tall when we slip? She's got enough coming at her right now, with plenty on the way. She needs dad to be an advocate, not a foe. Figure out how to let her know that you know that. She'll thank you in 15 years.

    Anyhow, that's my few cents. For whatever it's worth, I'd have given a lot, when I was 12 and 17, to have a dad who was posting on a forum after a moment like thisóand a dad who not only posted, but made an effort to dust off and be a better dad? I literally do not have the experience to even imagine that as a reality of dads. I'm no mess of a human for those potholes in my journeyóso, no, I'm not giving you a gold star for tonight. Just saying take this moment as a little tap on the shoulder telling you that you need to be more proactive in getting your homework done so the kids can get theirs done without the noise.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    I think you're progressing much better than you give yourself credit for.
    Don't forget that we are all human and we all make mistakes, parents included. You're still going to make mistakes, and that's okay.

    You recognize the behaviors that are causing harm and you're doing your best to remedy it. I think that's a really good thing.

    I just wanted to give you some encouragement as there are lots of parents in this world doing harm and not giving a damn.
    At least you are trying, and I find that commendable.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member figureitout23's Avatar
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    If I had a dollar for every time I felt like I failed as a parent Iíd be a millionaire.

    Weíre going to stumble, weíre going to be wrong, weíre going to mess up.

    One thing that really works with my child is admitting when Iím wrong.

    I genuinely apologize.

    I explain my mistake, I take ownership and I express ways I will try harder if the issue arises again.

    My child recognizes the humanity in their parent, that no matter your age you are owed decency consideration and courtesy and it displays that we all stumble.

    I think may after the dust settles taking your kids out for ice cream or another treat and apologize, explain yourself, explain how you are feeling and give them ways you will try to rectify your actions.

    Kids are developing coping skills, seeing you cope, helps them develop.

    Donít beat yourself up too much but at the same time make a real effort to change, they only get one childhood.

  10. #9
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    Originally Posted by MirrorKnight
    I'm sorry if you were expecting kind words, acceptance and forgiveness... but if you were capable of lashing out at your children whenever you are in pain or angry, there is an underlying selfishness to your behaviour that you need to recognize and address. I know you say you feel like a jerk, you feel embarrassed, whatever... but is that really just an appeal for people to sympathize with you and help you to assuage your guilt? Only you would know the honest answer.

    I do not buy that you have a "great" relationship with your son. Therapy might have patched up the wounds you have inflicted upon him during the most vulnerable stage in his development, but chances are the scars will stay with him for life. There is no way to sugar coat the truth.

    Children are profoundly influenced by their parents, you do not have an equal relationship with them, you are their role model, provider, guardian etc... If you lash out at your children whenever you are angry, they are going to learn that is how (lash out at somebody weaker) they should deal with anger themselves, if you get angry over issue x and issue y, they will learn that anger is the appropriate response when they face those same issues... when you mock your 12 year old daughter for struggling with her homework, that is going to devastate her self-esteem, she is going to believe that she is stupid and incapable of learning, undeserving of love and respect. You are sewing the seeds for a lifetime of pain. Do not be shocked if she grows up with no ambition, puts up with losers and abusers for boyfriends etc...

    You are not a good dad if you can be a jerk to your children sometimes.

    In all likelihood, it is too late for your son, he is basically an adult already. For your daughter's sake, I hope you can reflect honestly on the effect that your words and actions will have on her development, values and character.
    Spot on!!!!!'

  11. #10
    Bronze Member Skeptic76's Avatar
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    This is all really good stuff. So far everyone is in agreement about taking ownership and apologizing. What Iíve found works best is to immediately call out bad behavior, and stop that behavior the instant I become aware of it. Then, to circle back later once all the parties have had a chance to process. Once everyone has returned to baseline a heart-to-heart apology with a lot of listening involved is good medicine.

    Everyoneís right, it doesnít take back bad behavior and it doesnít make it okay...but genuinely acknowledging my part, doing anything I can to make it right and doing my best to never make the same mistake again goes a long way towards everyoneís mental health.

    I wish I had a co-parent living here with me to help with my blind spots BEFORE I got off in the weeds. I know my behavior is my responsibility and my responsibility alone, but I do miss having regular feedback from somebody who knows the situation and knows me. In the meantime the time and energy invested by this community to comment and provide insight to total strangers is appreciated deeply.

    Speaking of perspective: on the plus side in September the kidsí mom got her stuff together enough so that she can have them over every other weekend and I think that will give the kids (well the kid and the not-so-kidlike one) some broader parental input. I wonít lie, having some adult time has been helpful to me as well.

    Anyway Iím getting off track - I did want to respond to the suggestion of ďgetting a new target!Ē Itís purely coincidental, but tomorrow morning is my first day back in the gym after several years. Iíve been staying fit with running and surfing but nothing like lifting heavy weights for that physical outlet...perhaps somewhere on a subconscious level my higher self also knew what @bluecastle suggested was something I needed.

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