Tempers can flare for any parent as children test the boundaries in place. However, I have noticed an increase in my temper flare-ups since the separation. I truly believe it is normal, as stress increases for any single parent, but I also believe it doesn’t have to stay “normal.”
My oldest, for example, pushes my buttons. He will argue over the little things that really do not matter much in the grand scheme of things. I have responded with my own temper tantrums which I have not been proud of. (Funny how we do not fully rid ourselves of our inner three year old, isn’t it?) I have said my fair share of apologies over the past few months.
But here is what I am learning through it all:
Tempers are a result of my selfishness intersecting with situations out of my control. When I take time to pause and accept reality for what it is — out of my control — and realize that it is time to exercise control over what I have influence over — my temper — a crisis is avoided a majority of the time. As a friend told me recently, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.
Relationship and rules are important, but they must be in that order. My relationship with each of my kids is much more important then how I think things should go. What is more important? One of the kids doing a task the exact way I want it done, or the relationship preserved as I thank them for their help and then patiently fix the dishes myself. I heard an equation once that speaks to this well:
- Rules without relationship equals rebellion
- Relationship without rules equals recklessness
- Relationship with rules equals rapport
Part of relationship with my kids is instructing them how to do things. And when they do something incorrectly, I should take them time to lovingly correct them and how to do it the right way or the best way. And through that, the child learns to take pride in a job well done. Best of all, I build influence with them for later in life when parents usually have none…the teenage years.
I am not the perfect dad. Truth be told, I really suck at it at times. We all do. But we must not choose to beat ourselves up over past mistakes but instead reflect on the good experiences, learn from all experiences, and focus on the bond we get to build with each child the Lord has given us.