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I’m a good dad but sometimes I’m also a jerk.


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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 didn’t 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, tonight’s 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 I’ve been in since my marriage ended...and wouldn’t you know it I’m 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 didn’t go anywhere near the depths I did with my son.

 

Needless to say I’m feeling like a total jerk, but at the same time a bit relieved to understand what’s happening as I can now address it and make healthier choices. My son left and I’m not sure when he will be back. For now I’m not calling/texting just giving him some space to cool down. My daughter and I are calm and ok, but there’s that “holy moly that was crazy” 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 that’s not a current option either....THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME PUT MY THOUGHTS IN WRITING AND SPILL MY GUTS!

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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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I'm going to take a softer tack here...

 

Lots of silver linings here, from what I can see—the 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, hey—another 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 this—and 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 journey—so, 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.

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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.

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If I had a dollar for every time I felt like I failed as a parent I’d be a millionaire.

 

We’re going to stumble, we’re going to be wrong, we’re going to mess up.

 

One thing that really works with my child is admitting when I’m 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.

 

Don’t beat yourself up too much but at the same time make a real effort to change, they only get one childhood.

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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.

 

Spot on!!!!!'

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This is all really good stuff. So far everyone is in agreement about taking ownership and apologizing. What I’ve 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.

 

Everyone’s right, it doesn’t take back bad behavior and it doesn’t 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 everyone’s 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 kids’ 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 won’t lie, having some adult time has been helpful to me as well.

 

Anyway I’m getting off track - I did want to respond to the suggestion of “getting a new target!” It’s purely coincidental, but tomorrow morning is my first day back in the gym after several years. I’ve 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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Thank you for your reply. I can appreciate your views - although we disagree in many places you raise some excellent points!

 

Please feel free to elaborate on what you disagree with. I mean that sincerely, not as a challenge.

 

I am glad that you seem to be receptive to criticism and taking it in the right way, I know what I wrote was harsh and can seem condescending and downright mean, it is an awful thing to call somebody a bad parent, so it would not have been entirely unreasonable for you to react against that trigger.

 

Anyway I promise I did not take that approach just to try to get a rise out of you. I felt that some sort of jolt was maybe necessary if you did not perhaps appreciate the power imbalance between you and your children, and the profound ways that parents affect their children. This is the one relationship where you do not get many second chances or much sympathy if you were expecting your feelings to be taken into consideration alongside your children's needs, because you have a responsibility to be the best father that you can be for your children, and it is not their responsibility to take care of your baggage (whilst they are children, at least).

 

A few positive and negative examples to make my point.

 

Myself

 

My parents were very loving, caring and supportive towards me, so despite all the difficulties that I have faced growing up and in my young adult life, I have been blessed with an inherent sense of my self-worth, an inner confidence underneath whatever insecurities and fears that I may have. I suffered with depression for most of my 20s, but where others might have mentally given up, I never stopped fighting, because a part of me always knew that things can and will get better.

 

On the flip side my parents had ugly rows in front of me as a child, mostly instigated by my mum, who had an awful temper in her younger days. My dad, the more patient and softer soul, de-escalated almost every row by apologizing even if it was not his fault. The result? Some part of me lost some respect for my dad, because my mother demonstrated that it was okay to not respect him, and I neglected to follow his advice in my latter teenage years, which at least in part led to the major mishaps that I would suffer in my young adulthood. I also ended up with a somewhat warped attitude towards women, because I vowed to never allow my partner to treat me the way my mum treated my dad, but I probably took that too far and it meant I could not maintain a relationship with any woman that had a strong will.

 

"Evan"

 

Evan is one of my best friends with an absolute genius level intellect, the type who would go to an Ivy League university if he was an American, and be top 5% of his class there quite easily, if he was not crippled by chronic depression.

 

I don't claim to entirely understand the root causes of his depression, but he has consistently blamed his parents for ruining his life. Having met his parents on a number of occasions, I know that they love him and are deeply concerned about him, but he does not believe them, even though they let him live at home for free into his 30s and financially supported him since he quit his job in 2013.

 

Why do I think Evan feels this way? Partly I think it is because his parents focused on providing him with material things, encouraging him to study, like typical Chinese tiger parents, but failed to support him emotionally during hugely disruptive phases in his development and some real trauma that he endured in his teens. I don't think he knows what true parental love and affection looks like now, and so even when his parents do express it now, he thinks it is an act and does not believe it is real.

 

Back to you

 

Having said all the above, it is important to acknowledge that parents are not solely responsible for their children's future happiness, you can only equip them emotionally and materially to the best of your ability, and nobody is perfect. It is not the end of the world to mess up occasionally, I said that you don't get many second chances, but hopefully you get some.

 

It is very positive that you are taking ownership for your mistakes and apologizing sincerely to your children. That takes courage and humility and teaches your children that your behaviour was unacceptable (and thus they should not tolerate it from other people). A genuine apology also demonstrates to them that you respect them, care about them, and that it is okay to mess up if you take ownership and do your utmost to avoid the same mistake again.

 

Finally I just want to commend your son for standing up for his sister. Having the compassion to protect her and the courage to stand up to you. In that regard, you have raised him very well indeed. :)

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This is all really good stuff. So far everyone is in agreement about taking ownership and apologizing. What I’ve 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.

 

Everyone’s right, it doesn’t take back bad behavior and it doesn’t 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 everyone’s 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 kids’ 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 won’t lie, having some adult time has been helpful to me as well.

 

Anyway I’m getting off track - I did want to respond to the suggestion of “getting a new target!” It’s purely coincidental, but tomorrow morning is my first day back in the gym after several years. I’ve 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.

 

Good for you!

 

Have you done family counseling?

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If I had a dollar for every time I felt like I failed as a parent I’d be a millionaire.

 

We’re going to stumble, we’re going to be wrong, we’re going to mess up.

 

One thing that really works with my child is admitting when I’m 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.

 

Don’t beat yourself up too much but at the same time make a real effort to change, they only get one childhood.

 

I was going to say exactly this. I am rereading the book How to Talk so Kids Will Listen And Listen so Kids Will Talk and it explained that so much of this is repairable, there are "do overs". With what FIO mentioned -the apologies.

 

Last night I was carrying my son's heavy backpack, his binder-briefcase, my bag and his dinner as he was using the restroom at the take out place. Taking FOREVER. So I went in to check on him (single use bathroom) and told him he needed to wash up and be done. I'm balancing all this stuff after a bus ride home from his after school program. I'm also hangry. Had been calm during the preceding hour till then. He then holds out a wet penny. It's wet because he found it on the bathroom floor and "washed it" so I could take it. I looked at him like he had two heads and sure I lost it a bit. I was mad that he would be so thoughtless seeing me with all that stuff and trying to get out of a public restroom without dropping his bag that had a precariously covered mild chile sauce in it. He apologized. I then told him I was sorry I'd yelled when I was frustrated. He said no, he understood, he was wrong and he was sorry.

 

I made it very clear to him that my yelling at that moment was not ok and also talked to him about being more of a help to me/cooperating when we're going from place to place carrying heavy things. It was a good conversation. Should I beat myself up that I yelled at that moment, that I'd had it? I feel like it but no -that won't help - I work on my "triggers" and "button pushers" and in each situation do my very best. Here's what I do when I'm frustrated with homework stuff. I watch my body -if I feel myself getting tense/losing patience I explain this to him in a matter of fact normal tone. I also tell him that if he doesn't start behaving "like a student" I will have to get up and go in the other room and be by myself/take a breather.

 

But the point is I deliver this message as calmly as possible and not in a "threat" kind of way -but as a natural consequence so he sees that people have limits and people need to take care of themselves if they're going to reach that limit. Yes I have given myself time outs. I've physically moved away from my child when he's deliberately scribbling or getting things wrong on purpose or refusing to sit still for 10 seconds to finish homework. I see my my job as knowing myself in a humble way - knowing that while I think I can withstand mounting misbehavior my body knows better. My body knows it needs a break/space/to exhale. And if I don't heed the warning it will still be totally my fault if I lose it/yell/raise my voice - because while some reactions are just as close to impulsive as you can get (like screaming if someone deliberately scares you) if you have the opportunity to prevent the 'impulse" it's your job to do your utmost to do it. We're all works in progress. I hope this helped. I am not going to go so far as saying that children never deserve to be yelled at - it depends what is meant by yelling. If there is imminent danger and you have to yell/raise voice to get the child to safety you do it and if the child doesn't comply and you can't physically get there so the voice can be lowered, you might have to yell again.

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How to Parent Pic in 2019: [ATTACH=CONFIG]11605[/ATTACH]

 

You could be the most perfect parent, and at 17, they still may think you suck big time. Don't be so hard on yourself. And if you are being a jerk with them, talk about it, and apologize.

 

Get an outlet; scream in your car while driving (it helps), yoga, exercise and I mean cardio.

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Please feel free to elaborate on what you disagree with. I mean that sincerely, not as a challenge.

 

I am glad that you seem to be receptive to criticism and taking it in the right way, I know what I wrote was harsh and can seem condescending and downright mean, it is an awful thing to call somebody a bad parent, so it would not have been entirely unreasonable for you to react against that trigger.

 

Anyway I promise I did not take that approach just to try to get a rise out of you. I felt that some sort of jolt was maybe necessary if you did not perhaps appreciate the power imbalance between you and your children, and the profound ways that parents affect their children. This is the one relationship where you do not get many second chances or much sympathy if you were expecting your feelings to be taken into consideration alongside your children's needs, because you have a responsibility to be the best father that you can be for your children, and it is not their responsibility to take care of your baggage (whilst they are children, at least).

 

A few positive and negative examples to make my point.

 

Myself

 

My parents were very loving, caring and supportive towards me, so despite all the difficulties that I have faced growing up and in my young adult life, I have been blessed with an inherent sense of my self-worth, an inner confidence underneath whatever insecurities and fears that I may have. I suffered with depression for most of my 20s, but where others might have mentally given up, I never stopped fighting, because a part of me always knew that things can and will get better.

 

On the flip side my parents had ugly rows in front of me as a child, mostly instigated by my mum, who had an awful temper in her younger days. My dad, the more patient and softer soul, de-escalated almost every row by apologizing even if it was not his fault. The result? Some part of me lost some respect for my dad, because my mother demonstrated that it was okay to not respect him, and I neglected to follow his advice in my latter teenage years, which at least in part led to the major mishaps that I would suffer in my young adulthood. I also ended up with a somewhat warped attitude towards women, because I vowed to never allow my partner to treat me the way my mum treated my dad, but I probably took that too far and it meant I could not maintain a relationship with any woman that had a strong will.

 

"Evan"

 

Evan is one of my best friends with an absolute genius level intellect, the type who would go to an Ivy League university if he was an American, and be top 5% of his class there quite easily, if he was not crippled by chronic depression.

 

I don't claim to entirely understand the root causes of his depression, but he has consistently blamed his parents for ruining his life. Having met his parents on a number of occasions, I know that they love him and are deeply concerned about him, but he does not believe them, even though they let him live at home for free into his 30s and financially supported him since he quit his job in 2013.

 

Why do I think Evan feels this way? Partly I think it is because his parents focused on providing him with material things, encouraging him to study, like typical Chinese tiger parents, but failed to support him emotionally during hugely disruptive phases in his development and some real trauma that he endured in his teens. I don't think he knows what true parental love and affection looks like now, and so even when his parents do express it now, he thinks it is an act and does not believe it is real.

 

Back to you

 

Having said all the above, it is important to acknowledge that parents are not solely responsible for their children's future happiness, you can only equip them emotionally and materially to the best of your ability, and nobody is perfect. It is not the end of the world to mess up occasionally, I said that you don't get many second chances, but hopefully you get some.

 

It is very positive that you are taking ownership for your mistakes and apologizing sincerely to your children. That takes courage and humility and teaches your children that your behaviour was unacceptable (and thus they should not tolerate it from other people). A genuine apology also demonstrates to them that you respect them, care about them, and that it is okay to mess up if you take ownership and do your utmost to avoid the same mistake again.

 

Finally I just want to commend your son for standing up for his sister. Having the compassion to protect her and the courage to stand up to you. In that regard, you have raised him very well indeed. :)

 

I know I'm not a bad parent, so that helped to take everything you said with a grain of salt and not react/attack. Plus, the whole reason for posting was to get some different points of view, and you certainly did do that; I was definitely feeling humble in that moment and not in a position to be justifying anything.

 

So in your original post you mentioned that you "don't buy" that we have a great relationship, and that's understandable. You don't have any knowledge of our circumstances, past or present. Not only that, but it's a subjective thing...somebody who was beaten as a child may have a metric that says "if your parents don't hit you, then that relationship is great." So it's quite possible that in your eyes I truly am a bad parent and I could accept your point of view without subscribing to it.

 

The fact is that I make a family meal every night and we all laugh our heads off the whole dinner. We talk about anything and everything and it's consistently a close and warm time together. I taught him to drive and that went good, no arguments or problems (maybe a little whiplash those first couple stops though? haha.) He picked up my love of baseball and we go to games together and watch together on TV. He works and goes to community college and I regularly give him rides (next month he'll take his license test at the DMV.) We go on family trips together. I make sure to tell him I love him, give hugs and make sure he knows I'm always available if he wants to talk. Day in and day out our time together is comfortable and loving and I couldn't ask for a kid with a bigger heart. Anyways, it certainly may fall short of your definition of a great relationship, however I enjoy our dynamic very much and that's one place I don't agree with you.

 

Another thing that is not a disagreement as much as it may be a miscommunication: I was not mocking my daughter for struggling with her homework. I can see where you would have thought that from reading my OP. The truth is that I was imitating the voice she was using as I was trying to have a conversation with her. She is extremely averse to confrontation and she has a tendency to go into a the softest, highest "mousy" voice which makes it imperceptible to hear what she is saying. This is where my son got upset: after I lost my patience trying to have a conversation with my daughter I responded to her in a satirical, mimicking voice. Of course this is not productive and not a reasonable way to act towards anyone, let alone my 12yo daughter - and I don't mean to rationalize or shirk. That said, I do think there is a distinction between mocking her struggles and mocking the voice she was using.

 

The only other point I really don't agree with (and perhaps this is just me being defensive and reading too much into the language you chose to use) was your comment, which you repeated twice, that I lash out at my children whenever I am angry. You only know me from a single post where I am admitting that I have just done exactly that, and that it is a ::facepalm:: repeat offense. I suppose it's understandable that you are going to assume I'm defaulting to taking stuff out on my kids. However, none of my friends or family or the kids themselves could say that something like this happens with any frequency. I'm flawed, I messed up last night for sure. It isn't my first screw up and it isn't going to be my last (as much as I wish it was.) That said, overall I'm a pretty chill and happy dad who wants to be transparent when I get off the rails and learn from it. I see a therapist, I meditate daily and I take ownership for my mental and emotional health. Yes, I have found a destructive pattern which needs to be disrupted, however I'm not a "kick the dog" and "whip the kids" parent. Again, I can read my post which is what you have to go on to form your opinion and in no way do I hold it against you if you feel I'm in denial or delusion. I can understand where you're coming from.

 

Lastly, I'll end this post on some agreement lest you think I do not value your time and consideration. It's actually quite the opposite: I woke up today SO grateful for having a forum to shine light on this and get a clear view of my bad behavior and you are definitely a part of that @mirrorknight. Anyways, here's the text I sent my son last night after a couple hours had passed:

 

"You brought up some really good points tonight. Even though it was a difficult exchange between us I'm proud of you for speaking your mind. I owe you an apology so whenever I see you in person I will give that to you. Hope you have a good rest tonight, I love you."

 

He's a good dude and he's definitely got his sister's back. Thanks again to you and to all the contributors.

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Buddy, that text to your son. Good stuff. Should you run into my dad, let him know that his 40-year-old son would really appreciate something like that. Let him know that "hey" would suffice.

 

Point being, all good. Better than all good, and better than what a lot of people get. You're giving your best, and it seems to be pretty great stuff.

 

We're not perfect, as you know. We slip here and there, and sometimes those nearest to us take blow to the shins. Those of us who are parents? (I'm not.) Well, sometimes it'll be our children's shin that take a (metaphorical) hit. This is unavoidable. Keep doing what you're doing, maybe with a few more pushups before bed. I know what it is to be someone who needs to use the body to calm the mind.

 

Best of luck out there.

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He's super upset because this is not his first rodeo seeing his dad gent bent out of shape about homework; even though my parental shortcomings were manifesting with his sister this time, it definitely triggered past trauma for him. SO, he hasn't responded to my text. I'm just leaving it at that and giving him his space. I know where he is and I know he's safe...and I actually think it's great that his mom is there to support him and give him some love. I'm one of those "grand purpose to it all even if I can't see it" people and I have to believe that bonding with his mother is a great side effect here.

 

I appreciate the encouragement and support as well as the constructive criticism. The "not alone" part of this forum really lived up to its name for me last night and today. Thank you.

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but chances are the scars will stay with him for life. There is no way to sugar coat the truth.
I'd agree with that if they hadn't had family therapy but they have and its clear that the Op is trying, has learned from the therapy as has his son who has learned to communicate when family relating isn't at its finest.

 

I will venture to say that there isn't a parent here that hasn't lost patience with a child during homework time. Not saying mimicking a child is okay, but I am saying that you quickly realized (with the help of your son's consternation) that you were in the wrong and you've shown your son that you love and have pride in him. You don't say (if you did, I've missed it and my apologies) but I'll assume you've shown your daughter the same.

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Your biggest job right now is to make sure your son has not learned to take out his frustrations on a "target" and become an abusive husband or father and your daughter doesn't learn to "take it" and wind up with a man who belittles her when she is struggling to understand something - or learn to belittle as well. Right now, good on him for trying to protect his sister and stand up to you. I agree, treat him as the man he almost is. And find a caring tutor for your daughter - be that a retired teacher who tutors, a teacher who has taken a year off from the classroom to stay home with her child, or a grad student in that subject. That may be the best thing for her to learn outside the family dynamic and give her the most success - she won't absorb the lesson that she is "stupid"

 

Where is their mother? if you were the person treating mom like a verbal punching bag, how do you have the kids, or by "single dad" you mean a dad with shared custody?

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She is extremely averse to confrontation and she has a tendency to go into a the softest, highest "mousy" voice which makes it imperceptible to hear what she is saying. This is where my son got upset: after I lost my patience trying to have a conversation with my daughter I responded to her in a satirical, mimicking voice. Of course this is not productive and not a reasonable way to act towards anyone, let alone my 12yo daughter - and I don't mean to rationalize or shirk. That said, I do think there is a distinction between mocking her struggles and mocking the voice she was using.

 

She is not making a "funny" voice. she is a little girl and when some get upset, their raises an octive vs getting louder a bunch of decibels. Mocking how she naturally sounds is just as bad or worse about mocking her hard time.

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She is extremely averse to confrontation .

 

If she is, when you get frustrated, then its time to take a deep breath and tell her that you will both take a break and talk about in 5 minutes, 10 minutes or however long. Maybe you say "let's take a walk to look at the changing leaves/say hi to Mrs Smith's dog. We are both frustrated. maybe we'll get some fresh air and come back when we went around the block" so you are still engaging with your daughter, but cooling off, too.

 

I don't care what voice she is making, she was at the end of her rope or sensed your anger

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Anyways, here's the text I sent my son last night after a couple hours had passed:

 

"You brought up some really good points tonight. Even though it was a difficult exchange between us I'm proud of you for speaking your mind. I owe you an apology so whenever I see you in person I will give that to you. Hope you have a good rest tonight, I love you."

 

He's a good dude and he's definitely got his sister's back.

 

I think that will mean a lot to your son.

 

Everybody makes mistakes. I think the most important thing is that you are accountable, insightful, and willing to make adjustments where they are necessary.

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Where is their mother? if you were the person treating mom like a verbal punching bag, how do you have the kids, or by "single dad" you mean a dad with shared custody?

 

Hello everyone, I just came back to provide an update that the Skeptic household is completely back into their groove. I wanted to thank everyone for listening and providing feedback that genuinely helped us all make the most of each moment...even the challenging ones!

 

I quoted the above post because I'm not sure where you got the idea that I treated their mother like a verbal punching bag? I think you can probably search my original posts from when we divorced and I found this forum in the first place...but I never did or said anything like that. I also didn't see in the thread where you might have gotten that idea? Honestly, you guys...you're probably going to be mad and take it as further evidence of what a failure of a father I am, but a lot of the "doom and gloom" about how my kids were going to grow up debilitated and emotionally chained to abusive people made me shake my head and chuckle as I read it. If you could come stay with us here in in sunny SoCal for a week you would laugh too, though. We're a great family who loves each other and we enjoy a healthy dynamic. I understand, if you're basing your complete opinion of us on what you know (the entirety of which is limited to my original post detailing an ugly mistake) then it's not surprising if you feel the kids are in a hopeless situation with me. However I posit that perhaps your perspective is somewhat limited.

 

I am for the past five years a full-time single parent. Full custody. That said, mom has recently been having them over every other weekend and that has been a wonderful development for both kids. @abitbroken, thank you for your feedback about mocking her voice when she is under pressure. As previously stated I recognize that was a very mean and thoughtless thing for me to do in a moment of exasperation and I had to sit down and take ownership for my immature behavior with her. Furthermore, I had to go deeper and begin exploring why I felt exasperated in the first place. I have a pretty good idea after several days of introspection, but will have an opportunity tomorrow night to examine it with the aid of an outside opinion who actually knows my kids and me - my therapist.

 

At this point, I will not be returning to this thread. I feel like it has become more of an opportunity for speculative judgement on the part of the contributors rather than constructive criticism for the facts about the situation I bared. I do believe in my heart of hearts that it's coming from a place of concern and wanting to help, that much is true. However, I took it a little bit personally when the direction swerved toward a witchhunt about how abusive I am towards their mother?! Leaving their mom was the single hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. My heart was broken. You weren't there and you couldn't possibly know what we all went through, so on the one hand I can't be mad at you...and on the other hand I'm left wondering if you would say that exact sentence to somebody in person based on what you were able to read up to that point? There is no basis for you to say that and if I were the one who said that to somebody else I think I would have to take a look at why I did and determine where it came from.

 

Best wishes to each and every contributor; thanks again for chiming in.

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