Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

~ Carl Jung

What good is Father’s Day if we don’t spend a little time considering the effectiveness of our fathering? Are we doing this thing right? I’m talking big picture. Over the course of the time we have to influence our kids, are we interacting with them in ways that are beyond positive but instead reach the realm of being truly influential?

Do they see in us the kind of parent they want to become?

It’ll all makes sense one day, right? They’ll look back and see that we did the best we could, recognizing those moments where we failed as steps not only in their own growth but in ours as well. Right?

I hope so.

I hope that my son one day understands how difficult it is raising a kid when one doesn’t have all the answers. That confusion usually gets the upper hand and that no amount of talking it out or thinking it through will bring the slightest ray of light to certain situations. That this vice grip of control we keep squeezed around their hearts sometimes seems like the only thing we have left to cling to. And that loosening it means allowing them to grow up, to hold opinions we may not agree with, and to give voice to their own doubts, their own insecurities, and their own stubbornly-embraced attitudes toward the world they inhabit.

It’s when things make no sense that we tend to take the easy way out and provoke them to anger, clumsily stomping our filth-encrusted boot down upon the tenderness that is their glistening soul and driving it down hard. Spirit cracks and fissures widen. And in fear they react . . .

. . . wrapping brooms around poles. Lashing out verbally. Or, perhaps worst of all, turning their exasperation inward. The mantra embeds itself like a virus, “I’m no good!” and infects everything. Every action. Every thought. Every dream.

The field I romp through is strewn with wilting underbrush, a desolation of my own making. And yet, to the detriment of my children, I often fail to see the flowers that are blooming, struggling to reach for the sun. They seek nourishment, as pedals unfurling in the richness only the light of day brings. Too often I tower over them, blocking the path, stomping them into the dirt.

Today, I desire a heart that recognizes ever more profoundly its own frailty, and for the wherewithal to recoil when I hear the horrific sound of ground beginning to break . . .

[photo credit]


21 thoughts on “Stomp

  1. If I were a kid, I would want you for a dad, B. Your kids know, they are loved

  2. What a great post, and you’ve hit on something very important here: trying to discern whether we’re doing this parenting thing correctly. Before I became a father, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it, either financially or emotionally. Now, five years and two daughters later, I’m trying to find the point where those fears dissipated. More than likely, it was at the moment I held my first daughter for the first time – and I haven’t looked back since.

    As long as doing it correctly? Well, if my daughters keep doing what they’re doing and jumping up in my lap every night for snuggle time with daddy, then I can’t help but think I’m doing something right.

    Happy Father’s Day to you!

  3. First of all, Happy Father’s Day.

    Second of all. Don’t be too hard on yourself. None of us have all the answers and that’s just the way it is. We do the best we can. If we’re there – just present – we’re better than a lot of Fathers.

    You’re right about them turning that exasperation inward. Better a broom than themselves. In fact, buy the kid a truckload of brooms if that’s what it takes.

    I reckon that you’re doing a great job.

  4. I remember as a kid watching television and occasionally seeing a celebrity praise their parents. “My mother and father were wonderful parents.” I thought how neat it would be if my own children someday said the same thing.

    This parenting thing is an awesome and complicated responsibility. My hunch is, you’re an incredibly thoughtful parent. To me, that’s the best kind. Again, happy Father’s Day.

  5. I was going to make a father’s day post, but seeing as how I’m not a father and I’d be all smart aleck-y about it I thought I’d be best to leave those up to the fathers. Very good read.

  6. wow! I so get this. Parenting is so damn hard. I wonder sometimes what the equation will equal. Will they remember the times I lost it, and yelled, or didn’t listen, or will the kisses and the stories, and the tender outweigh my defecits as a mother. I sometimes wonder if all I can really do is hope, and save a little extra from each paycheck for future therapy.

  7. Brian – please remember that these kids will survive being told “no” or “we can’t right now.” No one can tell me that our kids are spoiled so we have to be doing something right. They all are willing to hang out with us from time to time too, so we can’t be all that bad! Also remember this is our first experience raising a teenager! Surely the next time around will be a tad easier and maybe by the time we get to the youngest we’ll have at least part of it figured out!

  8. Teenagers are so complicated that they normally can’t explain what they want to themselves. If you are there to pick up the broom, hug it out, and stick through the long haul you’ll be great.

    Says I High School Teacher Lady.

    🙂 They get sensible after a year of college!

  9. I am always painfully aware of my parenting. Perhaps it’s my nature, perhaps it’s the constant reminders I carry of my own father’s shitty choices, perhaps it’s both. Whatever the reason, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how I’m doing (admittedly mostly beating myself up for mistakes).

    Bottom line, you’re learning as you go, both of you, and there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as both of you are aware of the situation, and you as the adult remain calm during the tough times.

  10. LOL. Or you could say what I said to my daughter the other day while she was complaining about my parenting. “Honey save it for your psychotherapist”……. “Daddy, whats a psychotherapist?”………”Oh, thats the person youre going to talk with when youre 30 about how bad your Dad was” 😉

  11. “I desire a heart that recognizes its own frailty, and for the wherewithal to recoil when I hear the horrific sound of ground beginning to break . . .”

    Yes, this is good. A struggle for myself and for many others. That balance between loving them unconditionally, yet tilling the soil to ensure they can be fruitful.

  12. Isn’t noticing our imperfection the first thing? I hope so. It seems to me it is the key to learning, trying again, being able to laugh at ourselves, willingness to try our best to teach others anyway.
    Happy Fathers Day to a man who is AWARE.

  13. I think we all wonder if our parenting is effective. All we can do is ask God for wisdom and rely on Him to provide guidance.

  14. Thinking about parenting is most of the battle won I would say. Action, not reaction.

    “I hope that my son one day understands how difficult it is raising a kid”

    For years my wife was a Girl Guide leader and she said one of the best things that she’d noticed about children’s consciousness about parenthood came when girls were made a patrol leaders. All of a sudden the child has responsibility and has to try and organize other kids, who just want to play…….

    and that’s when the penny drops.

    1. Reminds me of that old book: “Ten Things Your Kids Will Thank You For . . . Someday!”

  15. This post makes me smile. I know this is the wrong response. I know you were somewhat tormented when you wrote it and that smiling is totally inappropriate.

    However, on the other side of teendom you will eventually find a strong and well-balanced man and you will smile too. He will make you prouder than you can imagine (sort of like how fatherhood was so much more than you could imagine) and you will one day look at the bent brooms, fisted walls and loud words with a smile. I promise.

  16. I really think that kids, deep down, WANT to have their parents be a little hard on them. It really does show that the parents care. Have you ever seen the kids where their parents do nothing? They’re the ones who want to hang out at the house where the parents are strict. They want someone to stop them from making the poor choices.

    You’re doing it right because you care if you’re doing it right.

  17. I think that if you are thinking these things you probably are a better parent than you give yourself credit for.

    Teens are tough–I’ve had four. There was/is a lot of “no” said in our house and by the time they are 19 the kids actually realize it was a good thing.

  18. The big question is the phrase: the best I could. I think can be painful to ask that question and answer it honestly. If in reflection one can say they really did their best, then there is hope one day the kids will know. If one realizes that they didn’t do their best, then they’ve learned and can do better the next time. It is when we don’t learn as parents that we do our children a disservice. Not that we learn together. It is the awareness that matters and the willingness to better ourselves that make everything okay in the end.

  19. I have no advice. I know enough to know that I don’t know.

    But I’m pretty sure thinking about parenting as much as you clearly do, means you’re OK.

  20. “Today, I desire a heart that recognizes ever more profoundly its own frailty, and for the wherewithal to recoil when I hear the horrific sound of ground beginning to break . . .”

    Asking is the first step. You will fill in the rest.

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