Over the weekend my son got upset over a game he was playing. I decided that he had enough and shut it down. I could see tears welling up in his eyes. He’s 10 years old and I remember that at that age crying was not an option. I told him “stop crying, you’re too old for that.” in an assertive but not overly loud tone. He looked at me with that look that I think most boys give their fathers when they realize that I’m not going to coddle or comfort him. Its a look of respect, fear, and maybe even a slight bit of anger. The whole interaction got me thinking about how and when to show your children that you aren’t the one they come crying to for comfort over every little thing. Today, I’ll share my experiences and thoughts on the matter.
Knowing When to Put Your Foot Down
The scenario above was a perfect time in my opinion to not coddle the boy. It was an overly emotional response to something that didn’t warrant it. I wanted him to know that something as stupid as a video game should not affect him so deeply. I told him “its just a game, you can play later” and he continued giving me the look I described above, but then agreed to do the tasks required of him.
I’ll note here that I’m not advocating being an outright dick to your family. Anyone that thinks coming home and screaming at your wife and kids will get you anywhere is delusional. A lot of people claim that you have to be “king alpha” to raise a family but in all honesty, it takes you understanding both parental roles. The key is to which one you use the most. If you’re a placating bitch to a nasty woman, it doesn’t work. If its known in your family that you hold the authority, but can joke around or even comfort a child when necessary, then you’re usually okay.
Another thing to note is that if your child is in real physical or even emotional pain to an extent, you should be there for them. You’re the protector and provider, so they trust your ability to handle things. Also, the younger they are, the more you have to realize how helpless they are. Being tough on my 2 year old son, despite him deserving it sometimes, will be time wasted as there is no take away.
I think a good rule of thumb is to be tough on your sons especially when they’re whining or complaining about basic things in life. Getting upset over a video game or complaining about having to do chores is something I won’t budge on. Also, I feel tough love comes into play when your kids are trying to figure out a problem. Far too much these days do parents automatically show their kid the easy way or give them the answers instead of making them figure it out. When I was 14 years old, my father gave me finishing trowel and told me to get to work, finishing concrete for a job he had been doing. It sucked, I had no idea what the hell I was doing, but by the time I was finished, I had something in front of me that looked nice. It was a lesson I remember to this day. Learning, only comes from doing.
I believe that as the father you need teach and guide your children differently than your wife. You need to show tough love sometimes to make them better people. Knowing when to do it can be tricky, but you can figure it out most of time. Your kids will thank you in the long run.