I don’t think of myself as a hypocritical person, but my kids proved me wrong. Case in point, I like things clean. Specifically, clutter kills me. There’s nothing that’s worse for me than trying to walk across a room and having to watch my step. One of my biggest reoccurring challenges greets me at the front door. We have a basket that houses our kids’ most-used shoes. It’s there so we can move quickly when we are on the go without having to do a massive shoe search. As adamant and consistent as I am in reminding our kids to put their shoes in the basket, it seems like this is unlearnable. So the living room is typically littered with shoes like a driving range green is littered with golf balls.
One night before bed, as we did our nightly cleanup, I got fed up with the shoes. “I’m tired of seeing your shoes all over the floor,” I said. My son responded: “Dad, how come you get to leave your shoes in the middle of the room and we don’t?” He pointed across the room and there they were, a hypocritical pair of leather violators. Even worse, I realized at that moment that I left them there all the time. I wanted to say, “Because I’m an adult. I can do what I want!” But I was expecting my kids to maintain a standard I failed to reach myself. What is a hypocrite dad? I was, and that needed to change. Here are 4 ways not to be a hypocrite dad.
1. Yelling at my kids because they are being too loud or fighting.
There’s something about loud noise that gives me anxiety. Ironically and hypocritically, that anxiety often comes out of me loudly. I am a repeat offender, particularly in the car. While I do need to raise my voice so they hear me, I tend to continue yelling long after I have gotten their attention. It’s tough after that to teach them how to resolve their issues calmly. As I have changed my approach, I’ve noticed that when I am controlled with a lower voice, they are more apt to listen and obey.
2. Spanking my kids for hitting.
I know this one can be controversial. There are many views on spanking and good arguments both for and against. We have used this method of discipline in our house and I am not against it. However, I did this once when my son had hit his sister and it felt a little off. I do believe there is a big difference between hitting and disciplinary spanking and I think kids can tell that difference. However, I personally found it hard to tell him that we don’t hit one another afterward. I ended up only using it for the worst non-hitting offenses and have since moved away from it altogether.
3. My messy room.
This one is similar to the scattered shoes. Every night, I have my kids clean their rooms. One night, I went in to see if my son had cleaned his and saw several items out of place. I made him try again. Then I took the opportunity to teach about doing things with excellence and the consequences of cutting corners. After we finished, I passed my own bedroom, which looked like it had been hit by a tornado made of my stuff. My wife’s side looked great. I later showed my son that I needed to follow my own advice.
4. Being a sore loser.
My son is super competitive and when he loses, he throws a fit. I have had a number of conversations with him about it being OK to be competitive and wanting to win. I told him it’s fine to be a little upset after losing, but it’s important to be a good sport and maintain a proper perspective. Then I noticed my response to my favorite football team losing on Sundays, which has been a lot. I was so emotionally involved it would ruin my entire day and that would affect the rest of the family.If I don’t model what I am saying, I will lose the trust of my kids.
These have been humbling revelations. If I don’t model what I am saying, I will lose the trust of my kids. I have been honest with them and apologized when I have missed the mark. I’ve given them permission to call me out when they feel like I am not being consistent. Fortunately, they have been gracious with me—probably more gracious than I have been with them, which once again, has me thinking.
Sound off: In what ways have you been hypocritical as a dad?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Do you feel like I have ever treated you unfairly?”