Adventures Of Fatherhood – February 10, 2017

Adventures Of Fatherhood – February 10, 2017
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Kids can be so emotional at times while seemingly emotion-less in other instances.

A few years ago when we had to put one of our dogs down, Pam and I fretted over how we were going to tell the kids. We worried how they would take their first true encounter with loss in their young lives. It turned out we were worried for naught because they handled it fine. I recall Beckett responded to our inquiries as to why he was not more upset with a comment about him being glad I didn’t have to carry the dog outside to use the bathroom anymore.

While my kids seem to handle the big stuff pretty well, the littlest things can lead to water works and drama. As we were getting ready for school a few weeks ago, Beckett continually ignored my requests to brush his teeth, put his belt on, find his shoes and use the bathroom. He was more into whatever it was he was doing at that time and disrespecting me.

My requests eventually turned to demands and then to threats about losing electronics time. All of that resulted in him accusing me of being too hard on him and letting his little brother off too easily because I was helping him get dressed. He got pretty worked up over the whole thing, serving as a reminder there was resentment on the different expectations we have for the children.

He seemed to want to talk more about why more is expected of him than his little brother, who has special needs. That was a conversation I didn’t want to have at that time because we were running late to school. He took that to mean I didn’t care about him as much as I did his brother and the conversation became more dramatic from there.

By the time we got to school, he was pretty down about the whole thing. I tried to get him right by assuring him we can talk more about this later when we are not rushed for school. I felt terrible as he walked into school that morning.

With guilt working its magic on my psyche for the next couple hours, I reached out to his teacher that morning to ensure everything was okay with him. The feeling of guilt leads to regret in hindsight, at least when it comes to my children. After a few minutes of dwelling on it and kicking myself for letting “Mad Dad” surface, I was thankful to get a message from his teacher that everything was fine and no indication of anything awry with my son.

I could make the case that Beckett is probably too in touch with his emotions and can be overly sensitive. The opposite is true for Carson, who operates on a much more even keel and doesn’t seem to care if we have to raise our voices at him or hold him accountable for something. In fact, a couple weeks ago when a friend was over playing in the backyard and twisted his ankle on the trampoline, he tossed a chair atop him for no reason before running away and laughing. Clearly, he’s not processing situations and emotions correctly. Therefore, we are working to help him understand his emotions. That’s much easier said than done, however.

There has been a lot of unexpected hurdles in this parenting adventure, but one of the more surprising aspects has been the seemingly constant navigation of the complicated emotional roller coaster that comes with it.

“We just don’t have the cojones our parents had.”

That was the first line of an article forwarded to me by my wife and written by Rhonda Stephens who writes an online parenting blog. Pam knows I’m a sap for these sorts of parenting commentaries so often sends me articles.

This particular blog dealt with a topic many parents weigh — are we doing this whole child rearing thing right or are we messing them up forever?

I sense in my children and most others the same sort of sense of entitlement I see in many teens and 20-somethings these days. I don’t want to raise my kids to be the people who have sat before me in a job interview with requests (or demands) of four weeks of paid vacation, free health insurance and no expectation to adhere to office hours and story budgets. When I inform them none of those will be the reality at our company, they act like they are victims.

Claiming umbrage amid unrealistic expectations is something that drives me crazy. It’s important for people to understand not everything is going to go as they wish in life. Teaching this to my children, however, has been no easy chore.

Stephens addressed this topic with acuity in her blog.

“Mental toughness is what allows a person to keep going despite everything going wrong. People with mental toughness are the ones who come out on top. They battle through job losses, difficult relationships, illness, and failure. It is a quality born from adversity. Adversity is a GOOD thing. It teaches you what you’re made of. It puts into practice the old saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ It’s life’s teacher,” she wrote. “Our bubble-wrapped kids are so sheltered from adversity, I wonder how the mental health professionals will handle them all after the world chews them up and spits them out a few times.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.