Recently, on a road trip with my family, I pulled into a drive-through line for a quick bite. All three of my kids decided to yell their orders at me at the same time. As each kid got louder, I angrily yelled back, “Everybody, SHUT UP.” Embarrassed in front of the order-taker, I took our food and drove off in a quiet van.
Yes, my kids should know the proper protocol isn’t to yell their orders at me. But why did I get so angry? What frustrated me so much? Was it my embarrassment, my own hunger pangs? Was it the chaos? Asking myself these questions makes me wonder if most dads do this—and what we can do to change. I think it starts with knowing what causes it. Here are 3 things that make angry dads.
Be prepared for your kids to push boundaries and disrespect you at some point in their lives. Of course, disrespect needs to be confronted. But, if you’re like me, I let disrespect hurt, annoy, and generally make me angrier than it should. I often take disrespect personally rather than seeing kids as kids. In the drive-through on our road trip, there was some disrespect. And yelling “shut up” louder than my kids helped them get quiet. But in the moment of quietness, driving to our next spot, all I felt was embarrassed and disconnected from my kids.
Disrespect doesn’t have to create a disconnect. Instead, disrespect may create a teaching moment, a time to confront, a time to remind my kids of the boundaries and the consequences for overstepping them. Disrespect is going to happen. Be ready for a calm confrontation to help your kids learn rather than getting angry.
It’s easy to look over the fence and see your neighbor’s house, car, or well-behaved kids and gather that the neighbor dad is doing everything right and you’re doing everything wrong. James 4:2 says, “You covet and cannot obtain, so you quarrel and fight.” If all you think about is wanting what someone else has, it will only lead to bitterness. Comparison does not accomplish satisfaction. It’s dangerous and will ultimately create passive anger that divides relationships.Instead of comparing yourself to others, be grateful for what you’ve been given.
The reality is that angry dads are looking for contentment. Instead of comparing yourself to others, be grateful for what you’ve been given. Take time to jot down some things you’re grateful for and you’ll notice the blessings you have. In doing this, you might start to focus more on what you have rather than on what you don’t.
3. Weight of Responsibility
One night, I sat down to check out and watch football highlights. My five-year-old son jumped onto my lap, grabbed the remote, and changed the channel. I got mad. Was I wrong to get mad? No. My son shouldn’t grab the remote. But at that moment, I only saw a selfish five-year-old. Instead, I should’ve seen a selfish 40-year-old—myself. I wanted the weight of being a dad off me. But that weight never comes off, and it shouldn’t.
The biggest thing that needs to change is my attitude. When the desire to be freed from my responsibilities makes me angry, something is off in me, not my kids. My son will only be five for a little while. The right perspective is that while the demands aren’t going away any time soon, this stage won’t last forever. Maybe you’re at a stage when it’s time to lean in, persevere, see this time for what it is, and let the game highlights wait. You always have two choices: to think that the weight of responsibility is choking you or that the weight of responsibility is a privilege. If you carry the responsibility like a privilege, it will shape you unlike anything else.
Sound off: Which of these three things angers you the most?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think I look like and sound like when I’m angry?”