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.