How I Became a Better Parent
First and foremost I don’t think we get to decide what kind of parent we are. Only time and therapy bills will tell. There’s a classic stand-up bit about how you don’t get to decide whether or not you are an asshole,
“But, I’m not an asshole!”
“Well, that is not for you to decide. If every one thinks you are an asshole. You’re an asshole. That’s how labels work.”
This is step one. The understanding that parenting is a long game and there are no guarantees to how you may be perceived.
What’s the point of this article then?
It is kind of selfish, but it is also my best guess on how to be better and how I became better. For context I have two children. A 12 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. My son lives with me almost full time and my daughter is from my soon to be wife’s previous marriage. My daughter recently said, “you used to seem so angry all the time, but I think the darkness has gone.” Take that for what you will.
Don’t be a fucking dummy and use the “do as I say, not as I do model.” You are a role model. Your kids are looking at you for guidance. Do you think your kids eat too much bullshit food, or are lazy? You are probably lazy.
“When you point 1 finger at somebody you have three more pointing back at you.”
My son used to eat garbage. I was eating garbage. I am now the healthiest and most fit I have been in over a decade. This transformation took a long time. I grew up eating McDonald's multiple times a week and god love my mom but the Mountain Dew flowed like water in my child hood home.
The only thing that changed my son’s diet was by me changing my own.
I used to yell. A lot. I would tell myself,
“At least you’re better than your parents.”
That doesn’t matter. Stop saying stupid shit like that. That is absolutely no way to hold yourself accountable.
My son used to have crazy outburst of raging emotion. Like stabbing a pencil into the wall and ripping up hundred of Pokemon cards kind of outburst. It reminded me of dating women in my early 20’s who had drinking problems.
I remember quite distinctly the day that he had his last crazy outburst. He was 9 getting ready to turn 10. We were on a bike ride and he started swerving in and out and onto parts of the road where he should not have been.
We cut the bike ride short.
My daughter was at her Dad’s house. It was just my wife, my son and I.
We got back to the house. I told him to go to his room and wait for me to talk to him. He said no. I could tell that the meltdown was coming. My wife asked him politely to go to his room.
I had been meditating on a regular basis and working out. I was eating better and I accidentally became a more calm person by doing these things. My wife rightfully so didn’t know how I was going to handle this situation. Sometimes my sons meltdowns ended up with both of us yelling. In retrospect I know this is a completely dumb way to handle a child screaming.
“Stop Yelling! I know I am yelling! But that’s because I am supposed to know better and you should do as I say. Not as I do!!!!”
This is embarrassing. I am admitting this to anyone who reads this because I want you to learn from me and my erroneous way. We are not destined to be just as angry as our parents and their parents parents.. We can be better.
I went to go back to his room. My wife begged me to remain calm. I reassured her.
“I promise you. I am calm and I think I know what I should do.”
I went back to his room. He was in full hulk mode. He may have been punching a stuffed animal in the face. He like many adults and me up until recently was full of raging emotions. He didn’t know how to articulate what was raging through his veins. This is an emotional break down. He needed someone to be there for him to ferry him to the other side of the fucking river.
I sat on his bed.
I stared at him. I took a deep breath.
He raged some more.
“Dad I hate you!”
I took another deep breath. I told him that it is ok to feel angry. I told him that his words made me said.
“You just hurt my feelings, but I forgive you. I love you very much.”
He yelled some more. I calmly reassured him that things would be ok.
He stopped yelling.
He started crying and hugged me.
Then we both talked about anger. How powerful it is and how it can destroy things if you aren’t careful. His outburst have gotten progressively better and I have continued mediating. We aren’t perfect, but I suck so much less and I hardly ever yell anymore. It takes time, but if I can do it so can you.
Diet and Exercise
Eat better and your kids will eat better. Make them eat the healthy food that you are going to start eating now. Then go for a walk. Make them go with you.
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