I stood on the sidelines with the players, watching the game. It was a Friday night and I was volunteering with a high school football team’s coaching staff. Suddenly, a ref flagged us with a holding penalty. The coaches shared their disapproval of the ref’s call but quickly moved on to the next play. Over the sounds of the game and the crowd, I heard yelling coming from the stands. A dad still upset about the holding penalty let the ref hear it. As the yelling continued, I turned toward the stands to get a look. That’s when the player next to me spoke with an embarrassed and apologetic look: “That’s my dad.”
I kept wondering if that dad knew, or perhaps even cared, how he was making his son feel. I could almost see him thinking, “Why is my dad so annoying?” We want to build close relationships with our kids, but when we do things that frustrate them, it pushes them away. Here are 5 things dads do that drive their kids crazy.
1. Minimize their pain.
Whatever is happening in their lives is very real, including their pain. Sure, it may seem small to us or overdramatized, but to them, it is fresh and painful. Don’t minimize it. Listen to them and empathize. Even if they need a perspective shift, be patient and give it to them after you have validated their hurt.Don’t assume you understand your child’s world until you step inside it.
2. Act like they understand when they don’t.
There are things you are going to understand right off the bat, having possibly experienced at least a portion of what your kids are going through. But it’s important to keep in mind that being a kid today is significantly different from being a kid when we were kids. Don’t assume you understand your child’s world until you step inside it. If you try to give your kids advice or direction without listening to them thoroughly, you’ll get nothing but an eye roll in return.
3. Try to control.
We can guide, but we can never control. Our kids are their own people with thoughts, feelings, desires, and dreams. The more we try to control them, the more they will resist and try to break free. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the relationship I want to have with my kids. Spend time with them and earn the right to be heard. The more known and loved by you they feel, the more they will adhere to your direction.
4. Give long lectures and criticism.
The other day, I asked my son to go for a walk. As we went, he said, “What do you want to talk about?” I replied, “Nothing. Just wanted to walk with you.” He said, “Phew. I braced myself. Normally it’s something really bad.” That was a wake-up call for me. The last thing we want our kids to do is repeat all the mistakes we made. So we pour out advice for a long time and pick apart every little thing they do wrong. But that makes them shy away.
5. Be hypocritical.
Here’s another thing my son said to me (he’s been on a roll): “I feel like I have to keep the volume of my voice down, but you’re allowed to yell anytime you want.” That was a punch in the gut. All I could do was tell him he was right and apologize. But for a second, I almost tried to justify myself. We can’t tell our kids to do anything we aren’t doing ourselves. Otherwise, we’ll lose credibility.
Sound off: What are some other things dads do that make kids say, “Why is my dad so annoying?”
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Is there anything I do that you wish I would stop doing?”