Isn’t it completely bizarre? This dual-world I live in, that is. While I love my daughter more than anything and want her and I to be best friends, I still have to be the hardass who lays down the law so she doesn’t grow up to be an awful human being. The simultaneous emotions contained within “tough love” can spur quite the conversation inside your head.
To be the best father I can be is going to be the ultimate test of patience – but I really like tough challenges.
I have this routine of communication – not impatient yelling or spanking – but focused communication that I use to explain why Grace is in a Time Out or why we don’t eat food off of the floor, or any other life lesson that it’s my job to do.
That routine is growing rapidly.
How many times have you told your kids to not touch something only to watch them reach out and touch it just one more time? Perfectly normal test of boundaries, right?
Do the words “What did I just say?” ring a bell? They’ve come out of my mouth (immediately followed by the thought that I sound just like my parents).
I’m far from any type of expert. I only have one daughter and I’ve met an incredible girlfriend who completely “gets it” when it comes to parenting so I’ve got an incredible support system. So maybe this is a luxury others can’t afford, but while I can…here’s what I do.
I stop the world.
I’ll pull the car over. I’ll put my grocery bags down. I’ll turn off the TV. In public, in private, the world stops.
Then, I’ll have a talk that explains to my daughter that when I ask her to stop doing something, it means to actually stop and not get “one more in”.
I’m hoping that the act of stopping everything I’m doing, focusing all of my attention on her, and talking with her will make a difference. I have no idea if this works, but it’s what my gut tells me to do.
The most important thing I’ll do on this planet is raise my daughter.
So, when the desire to ignore that little test of what she wants to get away with or the thought that I just don’t have the time to stop what I’m doing and have a talk with her occurs, I remind myself of that fact.
And if she’s anything like her old man when he was a kid, I’m in for a lot of life stoppage.