2 STRIKES DAD!! (a bad 2 hour span in the life of this dad..)
Well, Superdad (as I like to think of myself – why not eh?) showed some chinks in the armour yesterday as I made 2 critical errors as dad yesterday. Many people would not see these as ERRORS, however I do… these were 2 things that, having watched OTHER parents do this, I swore I would never do.
The first one, well, it happened in the van – my son decided to go through the passenger seat to get to his car seat – it’s cool – he does it all the time, but this time I warned him that it wasn’t a good idea this time because the box of snacks was on the front seat – well he did it anyway – and whammo – the box of snacks is now strewn all over the disgusting floor of the van. Well, he felt bad, said “sorry dad”. But instead of just saying, “it’s okay buddy accidents happen” and letting him have his feelings and enduring the natural consequence of “no snack”. I guess I decided it was a teachable moment and added, “I told you that would happen, now we have no snack, why did you have to go that way?” — I immediately caught myself REACTING and stopped, but the ‘damage’ was done — my motive in saying “I told you that would happen” was to shame and humiliate so the behaviour doesn’t happen again – wow, bad choice dad – STRIKE ONE.
STRIKE 2 happened about 2 hours later with my daughter. I should preface this by saying that I am a dad that works from home and plays a lot with my children. I try to keep regular office hours but can seldom resist the tap on the door and offer to play house, forts, board games… etc… so with fresh snow falling outside, my son and dog wanted desperately to go explore. Well, that was great except my daughter decided that she didn’t want to put on her snowsuit – she wanted to go outside, but wanted to go naked (but that’s another story for another day). Well, I could feel a power struggle coming and with my son desperate to get out and the dog barking, I opted for the brutal and horribly ineffective. “Well, we are going outside and I guess we will have to leave you here, BYE!” and pretended to close the door.
Well, I was shocked at what I did. Of course, my daughter was upset and started screaming. I was devastated for making her feel that way. I am one of the constant sources of comfort and love and here I am pretending to abandon her – just to get her to put on her stupid snowsuit. It’s little things like this that can harm a sense of attachment. It’s also little things like this that teach me that I have a long way to go to be a perfect parent.
What would a perfect parent do in that case? Well, have patience for one, perhaps figure out how the dog and boy can go outside safely while my daughter gets dressed. Maybe get curious about her behaviour instead of just judging it negatively. Maybe the last time her snowsuit zipper caught her neck, or maybe her boots were wet – get curious why a 2 year old doesn’t want to get dressed DAD… don’t abandon. I see that approach all the time in the toy store when a child refuses to leave. Don’t do it – you are only hurting your relationship – read the signs of the situation BEFORE it gets to THAT. Don’t threaten abandonment – the short term gains do not outweigh the long term harm…
Anyway, as far as I could tell, I didn’t commit STRIKE 3 that day (perhaps my children might say otherwise). Bedtime was my saviour and was the best time of the day (as it usually is). I talked to my son about the snack in the van, acknowledging that it was an accident and apologized for saying what I said (although I bet he didn’t really remember my exact words, only my yucky tone) – and my daughter, well, I hugged her even closer, assured her that I was still her main man, and snuggled her off to sleep.
Tomorrow is another day, a clean slate, and chance to shine! Go Dad go!!