Dads. Stop breaking your children. Please.
I feel a need to write this post after what I witnessed at Costco yesterday. Forgive me for another post written in desperation and anger. Please read all the way to the end. I know it’s long, but this is something that needs to be said. It’s something that needs to be heard. It’s something that needs to be shared.
As Noah and I stood in line to make a return, I watched as a little boy (he couldn’t have been older than six) looked up at his dad and asked very timidly if they could buy some ice cream when they were done. The father glared him down, and through clenched teeth, growled at the boy to “leave him alone and be quiet”. The boy quickly cowered to the wall where he stood motionless and hurt for some time.
The line slowly progressed and the child eventually shuffled back to his father as he quietly hummed a childish tune, seemingly having forgotten the anger his father had just shown. The father again turned and scolded the boy for making too much noise. The boy again shrunk back and cowered against the wall, wilted.
I was agitated. I was confused. How could this man not see what I see? How could this man not see what a beautiful spirit stood in his shadow? How could this man be so quick to stub out all happiness in his own boy? How could this man not cherish the only time he’ll ever have to be everything to this boy? To be the person that matters most to this boy?
We were three from the front now, and the boy started to come towards his dad yet again. His dad immediately stepped out of the line, jammed his fingers into his son’s collar bones until he winced in pain, and threatened him. “If you so much as make a sound or come off of that wall again, I promise you’re going to get it when we get home.” The boy again cowered against the wall. This time, he didn’t move. He didn’t make a sound. His beautiful face pointed down, locked to the floor and expressionless. He had been broken. And that’s how his father wanted it. He didn’t want to deal with him, and breaking him was the easiest way.
And we wonder why so many of our kids grow up to be screwed up.
I’m going to be blunt. People see my relationship with Noah, and quite often put me up on a pedestal or sing my praises for loving him more than most dads love their own kids.
Damn it. I don’t understand that, and I’ll never understand that. Loving my son, building my son, touching my son, playing with my son, being with my son… these aren’t tasks that only super dads can perform. These are tasks that every dad should perform. Always. Without fail. There is nothing special about me. I am a dad who loves his son and would literally do anything for his well-being, safety, and health. I would gladly take a rake in the face or a jackhammer to my feet before I cut my own son down or make him feel small.
[sigh] I am far from a perfect dad. And I always will be. But I’m a damn good dad, and my son will always feel bigger than anything life can throw at him. Why? Because I get it. I get the power a dad has in a child’s life, and in a child’s level of self-belief. I get that everything I ever do and ever say to my son will be absorbed, for good or for bad. What I don’t get is how some dads don’t get it…
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I wish there was more help for broken adults. My dad broke me many times throughout my childhood. I am an adult now, but only physically. Life is too long to live broken by parents, and blamed by strangers for my "brokenness".
I'm sorry I'm useless, i wish I were dead too.
Oh,dear....you're blessed....I'M Barbara 38 y o from Hellas...forgive my english are not good enough,i'll try to make a point.... i try so hard everyday not to be cruel to my asperger son...but once i started,i went to a psychology to take advices for myself first and then for him..i couldn't deal with it ( i mean i was fighting with him) he was only 2,5 to 3 years old....Now,after 3 years since i know he's aspie, i've tried so hard and have done such amazing work with him,that i can feel happy the most of the time and not only some moments...he really drives me crazy sometimes, but now i know how to take things on my hands...and God, I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!!Both my boys!...my point is that some parents may not be able to deal up their own children,they may need some help with ... so, don't turn yourself apart of talking nicely to them... ask them... "what's the problem?Becouse maby i can help"....talk to them about taking some advice from doctors about their child,or why not for themselves...i know it's hard to make them listen,i was telling this to my dad, when i was a kid yet, he never did, but I DID becouse i was currying his ways somehow and i hated to treat like this to my sons... My boys are my last breath and i would nefer thought about losing it!! If you dont show your pure love to your children one day they don't know how to love you back!!!Thanks for your post,you made my cry from the depth of my heart..Keep being the perfect dad you ARE!!lOVE YOU!
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A Dad who consciously and purposely decides to make his children feel loved would also hopefully lift up the mother of his children and give her his love and caring, too. My Dad did great with me when he was home, but he traveled for work and my Mom seemed to be overwhelmed when he was gone and wanted to be left alone and not be "bothered" by me. We rarely did anything together that was "just spending time," and I could not talk with her about anything the whole time I was growing up. Due to bad things in her past, she did not/could not feel loved and supported enough by her husband, so she is the one who tore me down every time Dad was away. But Dad also did not pay her much attention when he was home, no affection or special things, and they also drank and fought a lot until they got divorced when I was 12, and I remember all of that. So he was a good Dad but not a great husband. Anyway, all of her hurt came out to me whenever he was away, and she was jealous of the time Dad spent with his only child (me) when he was home. Every put-down and negative thing I heard from her cut me like a knife, and burned into my soul, and at 59 I am still overcoming the lasting effects of being broken by her. I thought I married a man who could love me and his children, but after having only one daughter, I found out how broken we both were. And so the cycle continued. The husband/father sets the whole tone of the family, but our culture does nothing to support that concept; in fact, media shows men who are loving, thoughtful, caring, and put family first as weak and stupid. The outdated model of being a tough, emotionless "macho man" still permeates our culture as the ideal. Until we as a society can change that, one family at a time, then the men who become fathers may not always be able to do the right things.
I am speechless, and touched. With as many horrible examples out there, thanks for speaking up to be a positive light in a grey world.
You're not the only one who gets angry when you see a child "broken". There are those of us, who are non traditional parents as well (step, grand etc) that have felt that anger, that helpless burn in the pit of your stomach, when a child has "that" look on their face.
I have always wished for my own children. I have been blessed to be a step parent. I try to build our children up at every opportunity, knowing only that I'm a good enough parent to know that I can always grow to be better.
My wish is that the father of that boy, read this post. So I will share and share again.
Keep being who you are. From one parent to another, I think you're pretty great.
Everyone! Abandon social media! Interact with your offspring! Retire your binary facsimiles! Embrace your physical existence!
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Dan, what a great piece. I am 60 now but still the little boy in the store you saw. Because my Dad is the father in that picture. Always angry. And he STILL is. He broke me a million times, into a billion little pieces. And he still tries! I am a lawyer, a published author and I play lead and rhythm guitar in a fantastic funk/soul/r&b/rock cover band ... I am a remarried husband to a wife that blesses me with her presence by my side - each and every day of my life. I'm father to three wonderful children, two stepchildren .......... and a grandpa to 4 grandkids and counting. But as great as that all is, a man is still the boy. He always will be. And the broken boy never heals completely. The wounds scar over and thankfully, there is the education of life, and all that it has to offer us here in the USA. Still, there is and always will be the angry man that is ALWAYS standing in the background shaking his fist and gritting his teeth at me. A friend to his circle of withered cronies. A bastard to me. A dichotomy of "here, take this money" and "you goddamn republican." A double standard that sits and prays a rosary on a church bench, and curses the people he glares at all around him. Right there in the pew! Dads. Wake up and realize that someday, you might just have a 60 year old son like me. A loving guy who knows in his heart that the only real lesson you ever taught him as his father, is how NOT to be. What NOT to do. Those are your best lessons for your sons and daughters? I don't think so.
What really breaks a child is when you don't treat his/her mother right, when you divorce, when you are so selfish that instead of making the relationship that YOU CHOSE work by giving up your "rights" and putting your family's needs before your own. To a child whose family is broken, everything you say will be B.S. until you live it. You may tell them they are wonderful and build their self-esteem sky high until they are the biggest thing in school, but when they take that selfish attitude to their relationships... no matter how good they think they are, until they can learn to be successful while putting others' needs before their own, they will not have healthy relationships. So many parents today preach building their child's self esteem, when what the child really needs is parents who are living examples of selflessness and discipline (this means doing what is right when it's not easy) in their own lives first, and then are willing to lovingly introduce discipline into their children's lives as well.
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The author of this article took two or three minutes out of someone's life and made an assumption about them (that the kid was going to end up screwed up and the dad was a bad parent). What if the kid had been screwing up in school, or had been acting up all day and the dad was just fed up? My point is: Unless you can see the full picture, you cannot make an assumption of anyone's parenting skills. My ex-wife went to church with a guy who seemed like a really good husband and dad when he was out in public eye but behind closed doors we all learned that he was molesting his step daughters. I'm sure if you'd seen him in that same store hugging up on his kids you would have assumed that he was a great dad.
I am a single dad of two wonderful girls. They are both honor students, into sports are very independent and strong willed young women. Sometimes they misbehave, they fight and yell and there are times when I lose my patience and you might here me tell one of them to: Sit down and shut the hell up. But you know what: I'm still a damn good dad and the author needs to stop being so judgmental.
My husband left us a year ago when we had our last kid because he has always been afraid of having kids (so embarrassing). I was in a dark world, things did not go as we have planned when we exchanging our marriage vows, he hates kids and never plays with them even on their birthdays; he always wants to have me alone for reasons best known to him. I tried teaching him ways to love kids but he constantly keeps his distance away from them which made them to think that he is not their father.
He finally left us to an unknown destination when he couldn’t bear with the pressure around him. I suffered and convinced them that their father will change to a better man and come back. This made me stand by my word because I don’t want to be a lying Mother, so I had to find ways to bring back my Boo as a changed man until I overheard a woman in a mall talking to her friend about a Spell Doctor called Dr. Wakina who help her sister get back her husband; so I quickly asked her if she can help me with the doctor’s contact if he can help me.
Thanks to her and Dr. Wakina who changed my husband and brought him back to us as I promised our kids. He now loves them and plays with them. Dr. made him a lovely Father and Husband. I am so happy that I finally fulfilled the promise I made to my kids. Contact Doctor Wakina if you are suffered relationship humiliation via [email protected]
I loved this article. My dad is a great dad. My husband is a great dad. It is one of the things that I love about him most, the way he loves our children and the time he invests in just being with them. I hope every parent out there gets to read this article.
Not everyone is meant to be a parent. Not everyone needs to be a parent. Some people in this world just completely suck at being a mom or dad. These people don't abd won't possess a quality parental mentality, ever. These unfit 'parents' that should never have been don't realize this fact until they have a child who is unfortunate enough to become stuck with this human, a human who has absolutely no business having a malleable sponge depend on them for everything. What child should have to endure this?
First line, 3rd page - 'It’s time to stand up and ask what we can do to be better dads. It’s time to get our priorities straight. It’s time to come home and actually be a dad.'
Can i ask if YOU actually stood up for the boy? You certainly had an opinion on what you saw was happening but didn't list anything regarding your conversation with the father.
My husband is a wonderful father. He takes time off work to be able to stay home and help out with our two children, who are both under 5. He made draining the tub fun for our son. He builds towers out of blocks, shares his food with them. He is gentle and kind and is incredibly kind, respectful, and supportive to me, his wife. He wants to have as many children as he can so that he can put more good, caring, kind people out into the world. I hope this helps.
Hi Dan! I'd like to take a moment to say that the greatest father I know is my husband. He shows our daughter, Lana, so much love everyday. He takes time out to talk to her about school and how she's doing. He plays with her. Their favorite thing to do together right now is Minecraft because she just got that game for Christmas (our daughter is 5). He takes her to fly kites, they go to the park, he reads her bedtime stories every other night (we take turns), and he just in general loves her. Our daughter is never without the love and support that she needs from us. She's the happiest, sweetest little girl. I'm definitely going to be showing him this post because even though I feel that we are doing an amazing job molding and loving our baby girl, this was an inspiring read. Thank you for taking the time to post this.
This sounds great and all, but you have no idea as to what may have happened in Cosco for that boy to deserve it. Maybe he needed a good stern hand at that moment because he was being disobedient or something else. Yes for sure it could have been a Dad crushing his son, odds are tho he had a good reason for doing what he did.
Im not a single dad, but a single mom- and yet truely inspired after reading this. Being a parent is hard, we make so many mistakes and by the time we realize them we've lost time we cant get back. I appreciate you writing this, as i feel it doesnt just apply to super dads but to super moms as well...and this had made me truely stop and rethink some of the angles of my learning single parenting experience. - Thank You for it.
I worked in a grocery store for 28 years, I have seen this thing, not only dads, but older siblings, Mom, and the Grandparents. I've seen kids get smacked in the back of the head, on the butt and on the face. I have come close to calling Child Protective Services, and I did on my neighbor. Parents I know they don't come with a manual, but did you get treated like that? My parents never smacked me in public and only 1st in the bathroom of a department store, them made me appologise to the clerk who was helping my mom. You are teaching the only way to achieve good beheavior is to Smack, yell, and beat them. I have seen a parent wrap both hands around a childs neck. If I had seen this I would have 1 pulled out my phone and snapped a video or picture. Gone up and asked the parent if there was a problem? Then at the check out glance at the credit card or the check and got the name of the person and called the police. Because what he dose in public is usually 50 times worse than at home. The cashier would know if he was always like that and she might call and report him. Parents, careful what you teach your children, the old saying kids are sponges they not only absorbe the good but also the bad.
I feel like this post can apply to moms as well! I'm a mother of 3 boys, and I'll admit that I was deeply convicted by this. I want to be gentle towards my boys, and I want them to know I love them. Yes, they might drive me crazy sometimes, but that's the beauty of having energetic boys. Thank you for reminding me what's important! With tears in my eyes, I'm determined to change. With the Lord's help, I know I can.
My boyfriend is the best dad ever, we have a blended family he has 2 girls 10, 9 and i have one girl 7. His life revolves around us, his girls. He has full custody of his girls because their birth mom is unfit. From day one he has made sacrifice after sacrifice for them. Everyday he is shocked at what girls do. We even took in a friends kids for a while, and he quickly acepted the father role with them as well i thank his mom all the time for rasing such a wonderful man/father. We are truly blessed. Also it is probably a good thing you didnt step in, in some cases when people have, the child pays for it when no one is looking. Its sad that this happens to children. His dad was in and out and he was raised by his step dad/ thats his dad. Even after his mom left hus step dad kept him there. So codos to all you real men out there keep it up! Spread the word what a real man is! God bless you guys!
My dad was and still is AMAZING! I am doing my best to follow in his footsteps. My beautiful son is adopted, hard-won after many years of trying to conceive - he is my world. We want more, but it is hard road to travel... When I see people belittle and tear down their children I feel the same as you do Dan - LIVID! They have no idea how precious a gift a child is. I remember hearing one mother ask her 4yr old daughter what she was, to which the child parroted, "I'm a hindrance". Really? That's the identity you've ingrained into your child?! I want my children to respond with, "I'm your treasure!"
I want to tell you about a wonderful man whom I meant when my daughter was six. from day one I could not believe how good and wonderful he was with my daughter.She is now 30 years old and still thinks her "dad" rules the universe. He was so patient with her and always there for her whether she needed help with homework or with ball practice or to teach her how to remove a fish from the hook. He taught her how to do simple repairs on her vehicle even taught her to drive a manual. He is still there when she needs him. No he isn't perfect, but he is awesome. To accept this child as his own and then to make her feel like she was his. Takes a very special man. He was even very accepting when she got married, that for him and her biological father to share the joy of walking her down the isle. that is a man who I feel had believe in himself and love for a fatherless child. Thank You for reading my story sorry it was so long, but I could go on for hours of all the wonderful things my husband of 23 and a half years has done for my daughter and me. Hope this helps your day Sharon
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Dan you should have spoken up! Too many people stand back and watch bad behavior to children because they don't want to be involved. I hope someone speaks up for that child one day, the world does not need another angry man.
That child probably would have paid the price if someone had spoken up. My children are grown & have children of their own now. I will watch what I say and do around and to my children & grand-children from now on. I've always been careful not to tear my kids down but not one person is perfect. Thank you so much Dan for this article. I pray it motivates millions of parents & grand-parents.
All you said is YES!!! I raised four children and prayed over them every day. I could not bring myself to spank them and some would say I was weak. I prayed God if I am I ask you take over for me. My youngest a senior, the other three married happy and have jobs. Oh and the comment do not judge maybe the child was in trouble, really, please even in trouble that is NOT how to love and respond to your gift from God.
Awesome article. I find myself constantly thinking that I want to be a better dad. I want to be a super-dad so bad, but don't always have the conviction in the "time of need". This a good motivational article for me.
Anyway, I'm not sure what Dan could have done or said to that man to make anything better. How would the dad have reacted to an adult trying to tell him how to raise/discipline/speak to his own child? Not well, I'm guessing. If the cute little face of his son isn't enough to instill any patience/compassion in that moment for that man, a "nosey" stranger sure isn't either. Additionally, it could have made the situation worse for the boy. For the additional embarrassment of having someone criticize his parenting, the dad may have taken it out on the child later.
I am stunned that so many would come to this father's defence. Sure we don't know what happened that day, this boy could have been out of control for three successive hours, but that would not EVER excuse the type of behavior that was described here. Let me point out something that really stuck out to me, this man pinched or pressed this boy about his collarbone in such a way the kid winced in pain. This was a quick and calculated action of a man that knows just how to inflict pain ON A CHILD. Is this still a defensible position?
As for those that say Dan should have stepped in and did something: sure, he seems to think so too. And he goes into this at length. This may be something that plagues him for a long time. And maybe this is a problem with our society, where we are to quick to not say anything as it is not our place. I would certainly have reservations at first about correcting this man in public, but I'd LIKE TO think that by the third encounter this man had with his child I would have spoke up.
I for one really welcome this blog post, and it comes at the best time for me. I have a daughter just turning 6 and a newborn daughter.
For the longest time, I thought if I did a better job than my dysfunctional parents and actually stayed around, showed my child that I loved her more than anything in known existance, and never beat her, that I would raise a well adjusted human being.
But somehow I am failing her.
My child is very spirited and exuberant, and it is all that we can do to see that she is not acting out all of the time.
We have tried reward systems, taking her things away, time out chairs, grounding to her room, the whole gamut of what we feel is healthy parenting, and still she acts out.
But I know she is not getting the attention she deserves. And I now know that I have failed with my language and attitutde to her.
Sure she is one of Tue brightest
I'm amazed. Three pages of sanctimony and yet you did nothing at all about the situation but watched silently.
Unfortunately, this is how I was raised especially by my mother. I grew up with low self esteem & severe anxiety. I'm now 31 and I still have issues. Therapy has only succeeded in telling me that I've become self defeating, when you grow up feeling like you don't matter, you start to tell yourself that you don't matter when your parents are no longer around to tell you. I wish my childhood was different, but now I stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, because I know how it feels.
That was awesome! I mean, it was terrible for what that little boy experienced but this was well written. I am a single father of 2 girls and it is an extremely difficult challenge to try to raise them alone but I just wanted you, Dan Pearce, to know that this has inspired me to want to "step up my game" for my girls. It's too bad that a few people didn't stand up to this coward at Costco but at least you took the time to write this up and post it. Thank you for sharing!
Hi, I'm a mom of two and sometimes find myself falling into bad habits on the way I choose to communicate with my son.
So thank you for you motivational words, everybody needs to set the restart button now and then. With that said I can't help but feel like a bad parent and a total asshole when reading your blog, for only being human. Let me make myself very clear yelling all the time, belittling, using your power all the time to make your child feel smaller is wrong..but it is also wrong to skip through life hiding true feelings. I choose to share my real self with my kids when angry,happy, sad ,etc. So they know they can express themselves with no judgement and to take notice that their not the only ones with feelings also...
I've learned from my kids that there's usually a reason kids act out. They are hungry, tired or sick. Kids, heck even adults, don't always know how to tell you something is wrong. All we do is rush rush rush and it's havoc on our kids. We seem to live in our cars. Don't you feel like throwing a tantrum sometimes? I wish I had paused and evaluated my kids more often. What appeared to be an anger problem was a child that couldn't hear. You just never know unless you seek to understand. Bad behavior does NOT equal bad kid or 'tough love' but most often bad parenting or ignorance.
Judge much? We all have parenting moments we are ashamed of. We beat ourselves up about these moments quite enough I assure you. This man may have just lost his job earlier that day and doesn't know how he's going to feed his family. I consider myself a good parent, I really do, but I most certainly have moments of stress that lead me to situations I know I could have handled better with my children. Don't we all? Don't be so quick to assume that this man is the father you judged him to be from in this moment.
@Shareallicu i felt somany times in that way.. dont do it to your self..... if you want to talk we are here... I feel useless too sometimes but i dont let it take me down...
@Shareallicu OMG please don't say those words...You are a not useless and should never wish your own death...Please reach out to anyone even me!!...XO
@Good Example So.......just because parents divorce, they break their child? That is BS. Not everyone should be married and if the relationship is bad, that affects the child far worse than divorce!
If you think telling your children to shut the hell up is being a good father then you need help. If my husband ever told one of our children that, we'd be divorced. He'd never speak to our children like that. Yes, he's been fed up before but talking to them like a dog isn't an option. You may think you've not hurt them but trust me, you have. Sad that you feel the need to talk like that to your kids. Call me judgemental if you want, it is what it is. I'll be praying your lovely daughters don't marry a man that talks to them the way you have.
@Callingithowiseeit From the description of the father, it seems plausible that he would've turned around with that same anger and threats of violence to the author, who had his own son with him to protect. Point your judgement to where it can do some good. We're not all our bravest at all times. Third page, near end of article - "I believe a part of me feels like a coward for not saying something to the man in front of me at Costco. Consider this post to be my penance. Perhaps a part of me feels that if even one person reads this and decides to be a better dad, it was worth every second that I spent typing it."
@Nick I understand being frustrated by something, but to physically take it out on his son and to threaten and belittle him is NOT okay! Never. Children need structured discipline, not threats and fear to be poured into them. There is no good reason to not at least listen to what your child has to say without getting angry at them. They have thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes just as you or any other adult does. Being patient and understanding is a part of parenting and it makes me so sad to see that a lot of people these days don't take the time to love and appreciate the greatest beauty in their lives - their children.
Sure she is one of the brightest individuals that I have ever met, but I still say some of those mean old "what were you thinking" remarks at her for making those dumb kid goof-ups.
Now I know better.
After reading this, my wife and I have new parenting tools at our disposal, we know where we have been doing it wrong. And we are willing to fix it where we can, so that our children don't end up broken too.
Thank you Dan
@Grace What if he had spoken up and the man had then gone home and beaten the living daylights out of the boy because he was angry that someone spoke up about what he was doing to his son? Because that is what abusive parents (and partners) do. Unless you are able to call the police to come and deal with the situation or find some other way to get child welfare agencies involved with the family, then saying nothing at the time can actually be a way to protect the child from further hostility or violence. Three pages of 'sanctimony' has at least helped influence MOST of those who read it to react by wanting to be better parents themselves and to think (hopefully rationally rather than hot-headedly) about how they would respond if they witnessed an incident like this. Hopefully those people who know the boy and his family personally (relatives, neighbours, friends, the school, etc) will be speaking up to protect this child and get the father into some form of counselling so he can learn to be a better parent.
Agree. Guy is up his own ass
Funnily enough plugging a book
Interestingly not entitled how to keep a wife or meet someone