It can happen to anyone; the feeling of being overwhelmed with work or technology or responsibility. All of us are prone to it, given the right circumstances. Sometimes it just sneaks up on us without warning and sometimes it builds up over time. Regardless of how you land there, it’s your duty to deal with your emotions in a way that doesn’t hurt those around you.
Last night I yelled at my daughter. I yelled at her because she’s two.
After a long day of staring at a screen I came home to daddy duty. My wife was headed out for the evening and my lot was to feed and bathe and snuggle the kiddos before putting them to bed for the night. This isn’t a rare thing, but for some reason, last night it felt insurmountable. Even the thought of rowdiness gave me stress. Dinner was rough, getting their PJs on was rougher, and bed time was a nightmare. And I lost it. I snapped.
After 2 hours of trying to get the little one to just lay down in bed, I let her have it. I threatened a time out. I walked out of the room. I raised my voice to a totally innocent two-year-old because I was overwhelmed.
Being a parent doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect. Raising your voice happens. Discipline is important. But it’s also important to recognize when you’re at your wits end; if it’s their fault or yours. Last night it was my fault.
I don’t ever plan on being the perfect father. I think that having parents that mess up is an important part of childhood and an important part of becoming a well-rounded adult. I also think that it’s important to be honest with yourself when you do cross the line and appreciate that being overwhelmed happens.
Given the opportunity for a do-over, though, I wouldn’t accept it, because this was an important lesson for me. I’ve recognizing that my wee one didn’t deserve what I dished out. She still loves me (she’s sitting on my lap at the moment playing with my hair and trying to type this for me.) She doesn’t remember my raised voice. She’s as happy as can be.
All of this is to say that it’s important to think about your actions. It’s important to feel their repercussions and to grow yourself in their wake. Try not to yell at your kids for being kids. If it happens, think about why and try and learn from it.