Do men need anger management techniques while on vacation? Steve does.
Steve was on vacation in Hawaii with his family last week. While at the beach with his 8 year old son, Steve lost his temper when his son kept throwing sand in the air while building a sand castle.
So what’s the big deal? Sand, beach, Hawaii -- what could be wrong?
Well, the sand was landing on Steve's Kindle (his e-book reader). Even thought they were on Maui, Steve erupted like Kilauea (Hawaii's volcano). Kilauea means "spewing" in Hawaiian, which is exactly what he did all over his son.
This vacation Steve had thought was going to be the perfect break from everything, even his anger management problems. Unfortunately, he didn't realize that along with his swimsuit he also packed his anger management problems.
Fortunately, a few weeks before the trip Steve had begun anger management classes at Guy Stuff. Although he's just beginning to learn anger management techniques, Steve quickly recognized his anger problem and put to work one of the tools Guy Stuff had given him.
"I probably wouldn't have recognized it before. But I remembered the anger management techniques you taught me and started using it. That made me think about my anger and realize I needed to do something before it grew."
Later on when Steve's wife, Rebecca, heard from their son what had happened she snapped at Steve, "When are you going to start anger management classes?"
He told her "I already have. And after only the second meeting I already have a tool that works."
Can you relate to Steve's anger management problems? Ever lost it with your kid and regretted it like Steve? Then do what Steve did and start learning some anger management techniques that really work.
Do you wish you were a better dad, but just don't know how? A lot of us guys struggle with how to be a better dad. Many of us weren't taught how because we had fathers who were poor examples. And many of us just don't feel that comfortable with being a father.
If any of that describes you, here are 5 small steps you can take to begin to be a better dad:
SAY I'M SORRY There's a song by Elton John that says 'sorry' is the hardest word. It certainly is, and it's also a very powerful word. One mistake we dads often make is having the belief that we have to set a great, or even a perfect, example for our kids. This is belief is a lie. It's also not possible, as you and I both know. But having this belief causes us to hide parts of ourselves from our kids in order to maintain this illusion.
One of the best gifts you can give your kids is to let them see your mistakes. This builds their confidence in themselves and helps them be more comfortable with their own imperfections. We all get frustrated with our kids, sometimes we do things we regret, and say things we wish we could take back. Rather than ignore these mistakes, use them as opportunities to say I'm sorry and make it a teachable moment for your kids.
TREAT MOMMY RIGHT Even for men who are divorced, treating your kids' mommy right is crucial to being a better dad. Part of the way we love our kids is by how we treat the most important person in their world -- mommy. Sorry guys, we dads by nature take second place to mom, but not an inferior place. Being respectful, considerate, loving towards their mom is a very important way we can be a better dad.
TURN YOUR BLACKBERRY OFF We've all got a lot of demands on us to do more and more and more. Technology hasn't turned out to make our lives much easier, just more intruded on. Our kids have suffered as a result.
- When we can make it to our kid's soccer games, we'll check email on our Blackberry while we watch them play.
- We can be wrestling with them on the living room floor, but if our cell phone rings, we've got to take the call.
- We can feel rushed when working with them on their homework because of our own work we've got to get back too when they go to bed.
Sound familiar? Our kids see it, feel it, and know it -- they're not the most important thing in our lives. We tell them they are, but our actions say something different.
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH KID It's easy and convenient when we have multiple kids to do things with all of them together. When I talk to dads in counseling about their kids they usually make no discernment between each one. Mothers on the other hand seem to know all the nuances that make each kid unique.
Each of our kids needs to know and experience the love we have specifically for just them. Here are some ideas how:
- Look for ways to spend time with each one separately
- Compliment something unique about them
- Know what's going on in their life, such as a conflict with a friend, and ask them about it.
DEAL WITH YOUR STUFF We've all got stuff; that's why the name of our company is "Guy Stuff" Counseling. Whatever your stuff -- anger, self-esteem, struggling to love mommy, stress, porn, dissatisfaction with your life, an affair -- get help and deal with it. One of the most common characteristics of men is that we ignore our stuff. I guarantee you that your stuff gets in the way of your being a better dad. If you don't see how, then talk to a counselor specializing in men and find out.
Take just one of these tips on being a better dad and start doing it -- today.
Malcolm and Janine went at each other again. They said they couldn't remember how it started. What struck me was how it ended.
As Janine was crying and Malcolm yelling, their 4 year old daughter, Brielle, came over with their wedding photo that hangs above her bed. She held it out to them, grabbed their legs and pulled them back together.
The fear our kids feel when we attack their mom or dad is like an earthquake to their world. Sadly, Janine and Malcolm had convinced themselves that it wasn't that bad for Brielle.
So how do we fight around our kids? We don't. Dr. Phil says that when we fight in front of our kids we're attacking our kids. Here's a page from his website with some tips on how to Avoid Fighting in Front of the Kids. And here's his first 3 suggestions:
Turn around and walk away if you think you'll have a hard time dealing with your urge to fight. Decide that you don't care if your partner sets your skirt on fire.
After you walk away, write down everything you're thinking and feeling, so you can give it to each other later and discuss -- when the kids aren't around.
Get one of the kids and tell them three reasons that you love them and think they're special.
We all struggle with not letting our emotions get the best of us around our kids. So take a quick glance over Dr. Phil's list and find an idea you can start to practice.
If you need help getting started, that's okay. We all need marriage help sometimes. Just contact a professional counselor.
What do you think is the hardest part about not fighting in front of our kids? Share your thoughts below.
Adam was busted.
Months of avoiding, hiding, and lying came to an end when Lori found all the email messages. She confronted him about who the woman was and he admitted he was having an affair.
She told him to pack his bags and get out. "Before you leave" she added, "you need to tell the kids."
Adam called in a panic. He said he needed to talk with a marriage counselor ASAP. He didn't want to tell his kids and didn't want the marriage separation to affect them.
When we talked, Adam was convinced, as was Lori, that the kids knew nothing about what was going on. They both said they hadn't fought or discussed anything in front of them.
I explained to him why they were wrong about their kids not knowing anything. Kids know when things aren't right between their parents, and most of the time they have known for a long time. They don't know the details, but they know -- kids just feel it.
Adam and I talked about why the best thing parents can do is to be honest with their kids. It's damaging to children to tell them that things are fine when they can feel that they aren't. This confuses them and makes it hard for them to trust what they feel and think; which can have horrible consequences on their ability to make good decisions as they get older.
Here's how to tell your kids you're separating:
- Do It together. It didn't matter what the circumstances were or who was at fault, Adam and Lori had to tell their kids what was happening and they needed to do it together. They didn't need to share the details about why. They just need to tell them that Adam was going to live somewhere else for right now.
- Use a Script. Write out beforehand the points you want to cover. This will help you to keep from forgetting something important and also to keep you on only the necessary points.
- Give Them a Schedule. Using the script we put together, Adam and Lori sat down with their kids and he told them where he would be staying and the schedule of when he would be visiting them. Both he and Lori reassured them that they still loved them and would still be a regular part of their lives, and that their routines would not be affected.
- Stay Calm. Kids need to be reassured as best as you can that their world is not ending. Keep in mind that, depending upon their age, they've probably heard stories from other kids about parents separating and divorcing. These stories probably left them confused and filled with a lot of fear about what happens when parents separate.
- Don't Blame or Demean. Because of how angry and hurt both Lori and Adam were, I had to caution them to be very careful not to be blaming or demeaning of the other parent in front of their kids. This is a time for both parents to be supportive of each other's role as a parent; be actors if necessary. You may be failing as husband and wife, but you can still be successful as parents.
With some marriage counseling Adam and Lori successfully told their kids that he was leaving temporarily, and they did it together. If your marriage is separating, you can too.
If you've ever separated, how did you tell your kids? Share your story in the comments below.
On the walk to the multi-purpose room for Back to School Night, Paul grumbled about what a waste of his time this was going to be. When the school administrators asked the parents several times for financial donations, he became even grumpier. By the time he and Janine got to their son's classroom, he was done.
Janine took a seat at their son's desk. Paul found a chair along the wall at the far end of the room. Ms. Scott talked about her plan for the 2nd graders for about 45 minutes, which turned out to be about 42 minutes too long for Paul. Afterwards, he outlined to Janine the many ways the presentation could have been significantly shorter.
During Ms. Scott's presentation, Paul clicked away on his Blackberry to pass the time. Janine struggled to stay focused on Ms. Scott while out of the corner of her eye she could see that Paul had checked out. She was pissed.
They walked home in silence. When they got back to the house, they went in opposite directions. She went to the kitchen; he headed back to the den.
The next night Janine didn't even bother reminding Paul about their daughter's Back to School night and went by her self. Once again, feeling alone in her marriage, she talked to herself all night about the many ways she doesn't have the partner she wants and needs.
Can you relate to either Paul or Janine? If so, what can you do?
A starting place would be to practice voicing your feelings to your partner in a clear, constructive, appropriate manner.
For Paul, this does not mean grumbling at the school all night. It means telling Janine how he feels before leaving the house. It could sound like this: "Hey, honey. I hate going to these things and really don't want to go tonight." Enough said. Feeling expressed.
Even though Paul feels that way, it doesn't mean he has to act on it. He's a dad, and part of his dad responsibility is to support his wife and his son. On Monday night, what that looked like was going to Back to School Night and not being a pill about it.
For Janine, expressing feelings appropriately does not mean evil eye glares in the classroom, silence on the walk home, or dismissing Paul's attendance at the next Back to School Night. For her, it might sound like this: "Paul, it really hurts me that you can't give up an evening for our son without griping all night about it."
Few parents, dads or moms, would choose Back to School night over one of their favorite activities. Paul wanted to stay at home watching Brett Favre play for the first time as a Minnesota Viking on Monday Night Football. Janine would have much preferred to finish the phone call with her sister. But parenting duty beckoned -- both of them.
Keep these 3 things in mind:
Many of us do not share with our partner how we're feeling in a very constructive way.
Not knowing how to resolve the problem that's causing the feeling often keeps us silent.
Feelings need to be voiced, no matter whether we know how to resolve them or not.
So on your next Back to School Night, don't focus on the marriage problem you don't know how to solve and just practice telling your partner how you feel about it. Then head back to school together. Sometimes parenting isn't very fun, but much of the time it's more enjoyable and easier when done honestly, and together.
What's your best or worst Back to School Night story? Share your story in the comments below.