Monday, July 12, 2010

Raising Children

Raise your hand if you love your kids!  Are you like me - where you know you'll always love your children, but sometimes, they drive you crazy?

This blog post is aimed at keeping you sane and allows me to share some of my fatherhood stories.

On Saturday nights in the summer, I moonlight and work as a bartender for weddings at the local golf course.  It's a great gig, providing many interesting tales to tell my wife the next day.  However, I generally don't get home until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.  2:00 a.m. isn't bad if you get to sleep in.  Unfortunately, in my situation I typically have one or two kids who love to jump (knees first) on me come 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.  Which is funny because they never seem to jump on me when they have to go to school on weekdays - it's a conspiracy to ruin my sleep people!  My kids seem to know that I tend to give in when my bones are weak and tired.  "Yes Jake, you can cut your sister's hair."  Or,  "Yes Winona, you can use Pepsi instead of milk on your Frosted Flakes.  What's that, you want cotton candy for dessert?  Sure, why not?  You'll lose your baby teeth in a couple of years anyway".

Ok, maybe I don't give in that much when I'm tired.   On those Sundays when I'm worn out, and my wife is away working, I have to push myself to do my most important task in life.  Raising my children.  Yet sometimes, I still fail at fathering.  Because it is hard.

It's hard to keep your composure when at the grocery store and your child is having a meltdown
It's hard to make choices that benefit the family but not yourself.
It's hard to know if you're doing the right thing.
It's hard to sacrifice time with your career, personal interests, friends, and spouse.  
And the list goes on.

Many times you want to give up.  You must persevere.  Even when you have failed, try to correct your mistakes and keep going.  Yes, you long for a regular life - but that's not what you have chosen.  You can do this.  Don't give up.  Their future depends on it.

How do I persevere?
-I think about how much of a gift they are.  If taken away, there would be a hole in my heart that would never be healed.
-During tantrums and meltdowns
  • I recognize my elevated anger and frustration, then set those feelings aside.
  • Try to act as if my actions and my child aren't being judged by others.  
  • I realize that the meltdown is an attempt to manipulate me.  Giving into the meltdown means future tantrums.
-When my children cross a boundary I've set, I follow through with the consequence.  No exceptions.  I don't know for sure, but I bet this works for all ages.
-Time is flying fast.  I Try to slow down and savor it.  Empty nesters tell me only of the great family vacations they took, the quirkiness of their children when they were young, holiday stories, and how their kids grew up so quickly.
-When in a difficult stretch, I try to remember that it will pass.  Every winter has its spring.

My best advice:
If it hasn't happened already, someday your children will tell you that they hate you.  And it will hurt.  Don't for a second believe them.  A fourth grader in one of my after school programs is losing her father to cancer.  All she does is draw pictures of him.  She doesn't want to forget.  A kindergartner in the same program lost her mother to a car accident four months ago.  That kindergartner is so devastated that she hasn't spoken to anyone since the accident. 

Your children love you.

It makes dealing with the difficulties of parenthood worth it.


  1. Nathan, you write a great blog!! Well written, and very poignant!

    Great observations too!

    One thing I have noticed? My tolerance for my own children is noticeably less than my tolerance for other people's children...

    When I am shopping or at Church, and I hear a little one "fussing" - I can't help but get a little smile on my face! Not sure if that is my way of trying to signal the other parent that "things will be ok" or just being grateful that it's someone else's turn this time!! (snicker)

    Anyway - I'll be lurking around here from time to time... Our daughters play together!

    Another Jordan Dad Blogger....
    "The Father of Five"

  2. Thank you Father of Five! I think before kids I was the guy who said to himself, "Jeesh, control your kids". But now, I'm more like you.

    I'll have to check out your blog - say hi next time our daughters play together.