The other morning, my son attempted to help me make pancakes for the family. He tried to move a canister filled with rice to get some pancake mix and spilled the rice all over the floor. I got frustrated and blew up at him. At that moment, I knew I was acting stupid. Believe me—I know spilled rice isn’t a big deal, but for whatever reason, I made yet another of my dad mistakes.
My wife gently took care of the rice and let me excuse myself. After I calmed down, I did a couple of things. First, I apologized to my son and family for how I responded. That in and of itself is a whole other discussion. And I’m still doing the second thing I did that day: try to understand why I blew up like that. Indeed, stress, personality, and other factors play into it. But as I’ve thought it through, I’ve realized there are dad mistakes all dads make every day. Here are 3 we need to overcome.
1. We allow our emotions to rule us.You can only hide feelings for so long before they begin to rule you.
Growing up, I trained myself to bottle up my emotions and not let anyone know how I feel. I thought that if you let someone see you hurting, you appeared weak. So I hid those emotions. You can only hide feelings for so long before they begin to rule you. The danger of not dealing with our emotions is we lose our ability to control how we respond. That’s exactly how I felt at that moment with my son. My first reaction, without thinking, was to blow up because I got angry, frustrated, and annoyed. I knew blowing up was wrong, but my emotions overpowered me. I realize how we express certain emotions can be difficult to adjust. So we need to find people we can be open with and share how we’re feeling. It is a mistake to let our emotions rule us.
2. We think only about ourselves.
A big part of me hates writing this article because it reminds me I can be selfish and prideful. My guess is a lot of us are and we get caught up in “surviving” or getting what we want to get done. I confess that sometimes I see my own family members as obstacles. When my son spilled the rice, part of me thought, “He’s making more work for me that I don’t want to do right now.” But someone famous once said to “love your neighbor, as yourself.” Your neighbor can mean your own family. We need to wake up every day with thoughts like these: “What does my wife need today? What do my kids need?” You can also ask them if you don’t know. One question I plan to use more is, “What’s your biggest need today/this week and how can I help you with it?” Let’s not keep making the mistake of thinking only about ourselves.
3. We forget what our true priorities are.
I suppose this last point relates a lot to the first two. If I remember each day when I wake up what my true priorities are, I’ll be more motivated to get my emotions under control, and I’ll think less about myself. This is because one of our most important priorities has to be our kids. I’m not sure what that means specifically to you, but for me, it means teaching my kids how to love and serve God along with loving and serving others. I didn’t do this well with my son the day I made pancakes, and thankfully, remembering my priority (and a gracious wife) helped me course correct. One of my mentors once said, “No one in this entire universe will care as much that you existed as your wife and kids.” Every day we need to remember our priorities so we can be intentional about investing in our families. It’s the most critical endeavor we’ll ever have. Keeping that priority at the forefront of our minds, again, should keep us from repeating these dad mistakes.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: Do You Control Your Emotions or Do Your Emotions Control You?
Sound off: Which of these mistakes do you repeatedly make and how have you sought to overcome it?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s your biggest struggle or need this week and how can I help you with it?”