Can Kids Talk to an Angry Dad?
We were going to be late. My kids were dawdling,
even though I'd asked them to get ready on two
occasions. "Come on!" I yelled. "How many times do
I have to say this?"
As they picked up their pace and came down the
stairs, my kids both gave me a "look." "Geez, Dad,
you don't have to yell," my son told me.
My dark side had a number of responses to this
comment. All of them defended my yelling and placed
the blame squarely on my kids. And they were all
wrong. My ego badly wanted to be protected from
taking responsibility for this outburst. After all,
I was the one who would take the "heat" for being
late. I was the one trying to move things along.
And they were the ones who weren't listening,
Angry outbursts from fathers are one of the main
reasons kids don't feel like confiding in them. And
besides being frightening, and damaging
relationships with your kids, angry outbursts have
been shown to shorten your life.
In fact, a large study at Johns Hopkins
University, following young men for an average of
36 years, showed that young men who quickly react
to stress with anger have three times the normal
risk of developing premature heart disease. Also,
these men were five times more likely than men who
were calmer to have an early heart attack, even if
they didn't have a family history of heart
Another recent study asked a group of teens and
young adult women to anonymously identify why they
wouldn't confide in their fathers. The reasons:
- "He would blow up."
- "His reaction." "I'm scared about his
- "He would start yelling at me."
- I'm afraid of what he will do."
- "He will reject me."
- "He will freak out."
Fathers aren't the only ones guilty of angry
outbursts, but they have more than their fair
share. In the case of many fathers, impatience and
anger surface when they're faced with situations
that feel "out of control." Men feel most
comfortable when there's a sense of control. When
they're at work, they feel comfort from a familiar
atmosphere that stresses a "bottom line mentality."
At home, this mentality fails miserably, because it
doesn't address the question that's really
important for families: "What does my family
Fathers with a "bottom line mentality," and a
need for control, often find themselves struggling
with their patience and anger. And if they want to
avoid angry outbursts that will distance them from
their kids and shorten their lives, they should
consider the following steps:
- Take responsibility for your anger. Nobody
causes you to be angry except you. Accept this
- Prepare well with your kids. Do your best to
avoid situations that stress everyone. Start
preparing your kids early to get them out the
door, and make sure you give them warnings , so
you don't take them by surprise.
- Find someone whom you're accountable to for
your anger. This can be your spouse, or it can
even be your child. They'll help you to stay
aware of it, and they'll help you remember the
- Become more aware of the physiological signs
of your anger-mind racing, sweaty palms, etc.
Speak up when you feel these signs. "I'm
beginning to feel angry," is a great thing to
say to increase control of your anger. Make this
part of your "plan" to reduce your anger.
When I yelled at my kids, I hadn't taken any of
these steps. But I was still able to muster up some
blame for them. Part of me was still convinced that
they "caused" my anger.
As we drove off in the car, things became
clearer. My apology helped me feel better, and my
kids were quick to forgive. Of course, I gave up
the right to feel justified for my anger. I guess
I'd like my kids to feel like they can confide in
And I guess I'd like that even more than being
© 2008 Mark
Other Father Issues,
* * *
To this day I can remember my father's
voice, singing over me in the stillness of the
night. - Carl G. Jung
a Masters degree in counseling psychology and has
been a counselor, business consultant, sports
counselor, and a certified life and business coach.
He has worked with individuals, teams, and
businesses to improve their performance for over 20
years. Prior to life and business coaching Mark was
a world-ranked professional tennis player and has
coached other world-ranked athletes. He has helped
hundreds of individuals to implement his coaching
techniques. Mark specializes in coaching men to
balance their lives and to improve the important
relationships in their lives. He is the author of
the popular e-books, 25
Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent
Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself
at the Same Time
Mark is also the publisher of the Dads
Dont Fix your Kids ezine for fathers.
To sign up, go to www.markbrandenburg.com
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