An apology to my kids

I’m a terrible dad. I dont need comments telling me otherwise because I won’t accept it.

I’ve known this for a long time.

I love my kids. No matter what I write here I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I feel anything other than love.

It’s hard to see other parents in action and not pass judgment on yourself. I am not so naive that I don’t understand that we all have different parenting styles and we have different approaches on how to handle things. As you all know, I spent time at my brothers house and now at my cousins. My brother has five kids and my cousin has six, so neither has small families and their kids are very close in age to mine. I see a lot of similarities in our current life chapters.

I am amazed watching them parent. Mostly their patience and their kindness. Each day I spend with them I see their kids do things that shock me. Not horrible things, not even really bad things. But things that at my house would bring on anger and harsh words. There isn’t a day that goes by where I am not verbally after my kids for something. Yet, the kids in these homes are still parented, they are corrected calmly and talked with, or they are just allowed to be kids.

It makes me twitch a little when I see some things and I half expect to hear a rebuke or correction shouted out from another room, but it never comes and I sit there in silent awe wondering how this works.

I think my kids are happy. I’m not sure. I often catch myself saying no to any inquiry and at least I’ve recognized that and sometimes after the initial no, I call them back and say yes. Why do I just say no all of the time? I’m not trying to save them or keep them from harm. I just say no. For no good reason.

I can’t handle the chaos that kids have a knack for producing and that has everything to do with PTSD. I used to explode and shout and berate. Now I isolate myself so that I can let my kids have fun. I’ve made an effort to go throw a ball or play basketball. Sometimes it only lasts a short while but my kids are thrilled that I’m out there doing something with them. I feel that it’s too little, too late.

I feel horrible for the childhood my kids have experienced. I’m sure they’ll all be in therapy someday with Dad issues. I can’t fix what’s happened and I’m not sure I can fix anything in the future.

A lot of this trip is about being a better dad. It’s one of, if not the top, goal for this trip. I want to be a calm, involved parent.

I’ve mentioned me being a one trick pony with mountain biking. That extends to my parenting as well. I have been heavily involved with youth mountain biking for a very long time. I put a lot into it and it was all for my kids. I guess that makes me a little bit of a better parent but the problem was that I really dropped the ball in other areas. My kids who were mountain biking got all of my focus and my time. I’m lucky in that all of my kids love biking and I’ve never had to force them or even coerce them into doing it. They know I love it and they want to be part of that. Unfortunately the kids at home didn’t get much focus.

I’m changing that this year. I’ve stepped back my level of involvement. My kids are still riding and racing and even my daughter Elle is gungho about it this year. But, I’m going to be there for all of my kids. I want to go camping. I want to go boating. I want to go see amazing things with them and teach them about the world.

And I want to do it with patience and kindness.

That’s a tall order. I possess neither of those traits. Not yet. Can I relax and reset enough on this trip to teach myself to be a better parent? I want to try.

This is one of the hardest things I’ve written about here. Who writes a blog about how much of a crappy parent they are?

This needs to be said for me though. I need to be able to look back or reflect back on these thoughts and really focus, really make them happen.

This is a big deal. I don’t feel strong enough to pull it off. How exactly does one change their parenting style? My oldest just graduated from high school and it made me realize I have no more chances with him. He is who he is and I am a terrible memory for him. I can never fix that child/father relationship. Sure, I can change what we have now, but we’ll never get this time back. Fortunately he’s a good, smart man and he will do well. No thanks to me.

I cannot allow that to happen with my other kids. I’m running out of time.

So to my kids. I am sorry. I have not been there for you in the way a father should be. I have not been a safe place for you, which is one of the most important things a father should be. You could not approach me or talk with me without fear of triggering an angry outburst. You deserve so much better.

I love you so much.

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16 thoughts on “An apology to my kids”

  1. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard this is for you. I do think you are on the right track though, by recognizing your shortcomings. For you and your family’s sake, I wish you strength and patience.

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  2. Your kids always seem happy when I see them. I love their comments and the testimonies they share. We can all learn something from our kids and we can all be better parents. “We can’t parent a child, whose heart we don’t have”. My kids are what keeps me alive.

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  3. Love you brother. I’m always amazed at how quickly kids forgive. Your kids are great and they’ll love any effort you make to spend quality time with them. Looking forward to driving JD down to your place this weekend!

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  4. Jake. #1: I applaud you for your bravery in talking about this publicly. #2: the first step to changing anything in our lives is to recognize what needs change so he proud of yourself for doing that. #3: the great thing about kids is they are very forgiving. You and Megan have amazing kids and they will forgive you. #4. Life can change, you can change if you want it bad enough. I believe you can do it and your family will help you along the way. Be patient with yourself because you are bound to “mess up” but keep at it, change is possible and worth it. I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it. Keep at it. I’m proud of you.

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  5. Wow! what a powerful post. Not many of us have the courage to dig this deep into our shortcomings and then share them so openly. I love that you are making commitments to yourself. Grandpa Blackburn used to say “We’re here in this life to learn how to get along with each other”. I have thought of that often, and I know it’s true. That’s what it’s all about. Love you Jake.

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  6. I think we all have parenting that we wish we could take back. Things we could do more, things we could do in a better way, things we could do with more love, etc…. I’ve often thought the very same things you are expressing here.

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  7. You have just shared an incredible post. My own regrets are many are many, however, I’m also confident in the healing power of tomorrow. Maybe our purpose in mortality isn’t to grow up as children but to learn how to be parents, and we’re doing it. I’m sorry for the myriad of mistakes that I made.

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  8. I have 6 children…I’ve made some really bad mistakes along the way. The important thing I read in your post is that you recognize your problem(s) and are desiring to correct them! That’s an important step. You Son that graduated isn’t too far gone…he will still need a Father to guide him in life’s most important decisions…be there for him and all the rest…you CAN do this!

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  9. I wouldn’t be so quick to conclude that it’s too late for you and your oldest. My dad and I had a really rocky relationship. Even into my mid 20s, he was hard on me, and frankly, more that once I wondered if it wouldn’t be better if either he or I or both of us were dead. But I knew he loved me, and I love him too, even though it was an awkward and tense understanding that brought little comfort to either of us.

    He kept trying. I did too but he tried harder than I did. Somewhere around my late 20s we hit our stride. He was in Seattle on business once and I picked him up in the evening after his meetings. We sat at a bar over beers, and he did what you just did. He apologized and expressed regret. He did it in his own words and without being prompted, and I knew he meant it. From what I understand this rarely happens, so you and he are already in rare air. It meant the world to me, and I didn’t want details but we shook hands and agreed to call it even and move on from there.

    We had 25 more years of being the greatest of friends. He was proud of me, and I loved him more that I can express. My liver shudders to think of how much Jack Daniels we filtered through our kidneys as we watched golf or old westerns on TV, or spent way too long at the Museum of Flight looking at the WWII war birds. This guy that started out being my nemesis ended up being my hero. In his last year, I had seen him three times (he lived in Arizona) and had spoken to him on the phone twice the week before he stopped pulling air in and out of his lungs. I’d hoped we had longer but I’m forever grateful for what we did have.

    So don’t give up on your oldest, it’s not too late. You won’t erase the past or snap out of PTSD on this ride. But with luck and time and a lot of hard work you might kind of wallow out of it. And that will be good enough.

    Keep fighting. You’re a warrior. It will be worth it.

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  10. Jake, I see it, most likely you don’t….yet. It the peeling back one layer at a time of that onion , that represents the negativity toward yourself. It’s battle, (I know), {but you’re doing it}. and that brings out a lot emotion in me. God’s speed, brother.

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  11. Jake, this post is powerful. I think every parent has felt this at some level or another. Let me just say, your kids are brave, strong, and very respectful. Probably my favorite nieces and nephews.. and I have a lot 🙂 I know those traits came from you. I admire your honesty. I hope you can continue to find peace and work out ways to continue to become better. Thanks for sharing all this, we love fallowing along. We love you and your kids.

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