Part of the reason I started this blog in the first place is to try and make people laugh. I am a very sarcastic person when I talk to people. I mostly make sarcastic comments at the expense of others, but I will only do that if I feel comfortable enough with you to make fun of you. So, FYI, if I don’t know you very well, I probably won’t talk to you very much or aim my sarcasm at you. Anyway, the other reason I started this blog is to help dads know that they are not alone out there. Our kids can drive us nuts, and we dads should stick together. Just like women go to the bathroom together, guys should share kid-war stories with each other. That idea of dads exchanging ideas doesn’t happen. Tasha has told me numerous times to ask my friends with kids, particularly daughters, how they relate to their kids and manage to stay sane.
But I never have. Partially because I felt embarrassed, and partially because I feel weird doing it. It is the old adage or stereotype of guys who don’t like to ask for directions. I don’t like asking for directions with my kids just as much as I wouldn’t want to ask for directions to the nearest McDonald’s. So my hope is that this blog will entertain as well as let dads know or remind them why being a dad is cool and they are not alone.
I have mentioned it before, but I listen to a lot of podcasts. I was listening to an Entreleadership episode recently, and the guest mentioned a quote: “When you know your why, you can endure any how.” I had heard that before, but I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t understand my why, why I am doing what I am doing, either with this blog or as a parent. Sometimes I forget my why as a parent and that’s when the thought, “Don’t ever f%$#ing have kids” either crosses my mind or comes out of my mouth. Tasha is coaching me on building up my blog into more than just a blog, and she asks me why I am doing things and I don’t know.
I need to find my why. And you should too.
There are a lot of hows because there are so many million scenarios, but there are only a few whys. Or perhaps just one: why am I parenting? I am parenting because I want my kids to be better than me. Depending on who you ask, that shouldn’t be that hard. Regardless, I want them to be better. I want them to be awesome. They already are awesome. I want them to be awesomer, but for them, not me. I will be proud of them no matter what they do, as long as they know they are doing what God made them to do and they are doing their best at it. There are a lot of hows, and most of them baffle me, but the important thing is why am I trying to be a good parent to my kids? So they do what I say? Or so that they learn on their own how to do what’s best for them?
Some of my posts so far have been about how my kids drive me nuts. They drive me nuts when they don’t listen when I ask them to do things. They drive me nuts when they whine about doing things I ask them to do and they don’t want to do it and kick and scream on the floor. They drive me nuts when they want mom to push them on the swings instead of me, but she’s not available because she is pushing the other kid. They drive me nuts when I am trying to get them ready in the morning for school, and I have to ask them again and again and again to eat their breakfast, find clothes to wear, put those clothes on, brush their teeth, and put their shoes on. All of these things usually end with me screaming, “How many times do I need to tell you to eat?! How many times do I need to ask you to get your clothes?! Didn’t you hear me say you woke up late, and we can’t be late to school?!”
Well, you’re not alone. Just the other day I was talking to a mom of Zoey’s friend at school about her struggle and how loud she was screaming at her girls to get them to focus, eat, and get dressed. Great chance for me to plug my blog, which I did: I said, “Welcome to my life. It’s like that every day for me. This is why you should read my blog. The struggle is real, and you are not alone.” She’s not on Facebook or Twitter (I know, I don’t know how she survives keeping her life so private), so she hasn’t seen that I have a blog.
The struggle is real, and you are not alone.
I struggle with the hows. When the girls get in trouble, they go to timeout like most kids would. So how many “hows” do I have? How come you can’t just listen? How many times are you going to ask me where we are going? How come you girls can’t play together without fighting? How can you still be whining? How can you be crying when I caught you trying to eat cupcakes without permission? How can you get mad at your sister for taking the toy you are not playing with? How many times do I need to put you in time out? I go to mental time out and stomp around the house for a few minutes to calm myself down. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Why put them in timeout? Tasha has made a habit for herself and for me to sit down and talk to our girls after a timeout. Part of the sit down is to talk them about why they were in timeout, what they did to earn the timeout, and what we both can learn from it. Part of the sit down is also for either Tasha or I to apologize for getting upset and losing our cool. The point is to train and discipline our girls that whatever they did is not the behavior we deem acceptable and not the culture we want to have in our family, and to teach them that apologizing for mistakes by both of us is important. Granted me steaming, stewing, and storming the halls of the house is not the culture Tasha wants me to cultivate in our family and house either, but she can only work on one or two children at a time, not all three (I’m the other child, by the way).
A more important part of the timeout is to explain why we got upset. It would be so much easier to just do nothing and let our kids run around like crazy people, scream at us, snatch toys from other kids, and do whatever they want. In the short term that would be easier to let them be “free spirits” and learn the ways of the world and society on their own. Hippies! Just kidding, but there are parents like that right? I’m sure we all know one. In the long term, I am making a large assumption that most people and parents know that a kid like that makes a bad adult. Now, 1+1 doesn’t necessarily equal 2. There does come a point where kids, young adults, or adults, make their own decisions. I know I made my own despite what my parents wanted or demanded me to do, but overall I work hard (just not study hard), I am generally polite to people, and have good manners because of the way my parents raised and disciplined me. That is the goal Tasha and I have, and I would assume most parents have for their kids: to have happy, healthy, shiny, productive kids that contribute positively to the world. An over simplification, but I am sure you get the point.
Comedian Louis C.K. said in one of his specials he is training his daughters to be the adults he wants them to grow up to be, not just disciplined kids. Our goal, Tasha’s and mine, is to have good adults, not just good kids. We want them to make good decisions now so that they develop the habit of doing it later on.
When I tell people that my daughters at 3 and 5 have allowances and chores to earn that allowance, they think I’m running a sweatshop, or whipping my kids to do the dishes. They feed the fish, practice karate, and put dirty dishes in the kitchen. But why not teach them about money and work early? The earlier the better. We also teach them about tithing and offering and why we do it. I didn’t learn how to make and stick to a budget until I got married. Now we’re on the Dave Ramsey plan, which can be tough, but it’s also better than being stressed out wondering how we’re going to pay our bills. It would be great if my girls had enough money to go to college debt free and buy a house before their 25th birthday.
I am not the perfect dad, but I think I am on the right track. The other morning I was getting ready for work, and we were all in the kitchen. Tasha and Zoey were in some conversation about her growing up and getting married, maybe she asked if Zoey had a boyfriend or something. I can’t remember, but what did catch our attention was that she “wants to marry someone like daddy.”
I must be doing something right.
What is your parenting why? What are your parenting challenges? Have you lost your noodle and need a reminder of your “why”? Leave a comment with your “why” and let’s work together!
If you want to listen to the Entreleadership podcast episode I mentioned, here is the link:
My kids have an allowance. Read about it here: http://charliesdadlife.com/why-my-daughter-has-more-spending-money-than-i-do/
Need some financial peace of mind? Do the Dave Ramsey plan that we did: (http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/)
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