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Real Dads Speak Softly and with Kind Words

If one wishes to hear hurtful and harming words directed towards a child, he only need step into a public place frequented by families and listen for a few moments. It is this very truth that has filled me with a great urgency to write this book. It is this very reality that has brought me to the edge of discomfort more times than I can number, and on more than one occasion has left my face stained by tears that could be held back no longer.

In October of 2010, I wrote and published a piece called You just broke your child. Congratulations. In it, I discussed a situation I was unfortunate enough to witness in which a father purposefully crushed the spirit of his child. I witnessed, apparently debatable by some, physical abuse as he dug his thumbs into his son’s color bones. I witnessed verbal abuse as he shook in anger, threatening his child of the things to come once they left the store. I then wrote a very strongly worded response, calling all fathers to up their game and to stop breaking their children.

The aftermath of that piece filled me with great hope in that it was read and shared by hundreds of thousands. It also broke my heart anew as I read many of the comments which followed, some of which defended the actions of this man. Some readers claimed that he could simply have been having a bad day. Others claim that the child probably drove him far past his limits, and therefore the child should shoulder much of the blame. Others responded that it was wrong of me to defame this man who surely would only do what he did to his child because of learned behavior from his own father or mother.

I have had many months to think about these responses now, and I wish to offer a response of my own, summed up in the following statement.

Real dads don’t publicly humiliate their children. Real dads don’t viciously threaten their children. And real dads certainly don’t inflict physical pain upon their children.

There is never a situation bad enough, a past life hard enough, or a child naughty enough to warrant such behavior. While a man’s past, or the events of his present may make what he’s done more forgivable, and perhaps even more understandable, such actions are never appropriate nor are they ever, under any circumstances, acceptable.

Real dads don’t hide behind the sins of their parents. They don’t believe when society tells them that because of their situation, their income, their neighborhood, or the color of their skin that they are okay or expected to be lesser fathers, lesser protectors, and lesser mentors. Real dads who come from such backgrounds or circumstances recognize the habitual responses and tendencies that have been built into them, and they spend their entire lifetimes, if they must, working to overcome them. Real dads speak softly and with kind words. When it comes to discipline, they keep their voices lowered, and they remain in control.

My father grew up in a generation where corporal punishment wasn’t just the norm, it was expected. His parents, as truly good of people as they were, were quick to pass out criticism to their children. They were quick to impugn and offer strong words to those over whom they cared. They were strict and slow to offer mercy when atrocities were committed.

Things hadn’t changed much by the time I was born. Corporal punishment was still very much the norm. There was very little material evidence against it, very little voice given to it, and very little effort by anyone to learn newer and more effective ways of parenting. My parents started out parenting the same way their parents did. Spanking was very common when I was growing up. Harsh words and yelling even more so.

But then society started becoming much more aware of the negative effects of such parenting. They became more aware of the long-lasting and often permanent damage that accompanied such tactics. There slowly but surely began to be a great push across our culture to treat children with more dignity and love. The iron fist was becoming more and more frowned upon.

When this started happening, my parents were in a similar boat to the vast majority of parents. They had only experienced one method of parenting, and had parented in a similar way throughout the initial span of their parenthood.

Some parents refused to jump on board or to even attempt change. Others embraced it quickly and with little trouble. Most gave it an honest effort, and with time were able to change much of their instinctual reactions. The same were very much real parents in my book. My parents were among them.

As I aged, I watched my parents work on themselves. I watched them learn newer, better, and more loving tactics of parenting. I began hearing far fewer words spoken in anger and far more words of encouragement and understanding. Over the course of a decade or so, it seemed they’d completely reversed the trend, safeguarding themselves from passing it onto the next generation.

My baby sister is almost exactly a decade younger than I. By the time she went through high school, the mainstream of society had made incredible strides in parenting. Parents everywhere knew that there were better ways of doing things. A plentitude of tools were readily available to any parent should they choose to use and implement them. No longer could any parent claim inability, habit, or lack of education as a valid excuse to not improve themselves along with other real parents. The world did well to push parents in the directions it has.

But, sadly, it’s not up to mainstream society to change the individual. You can tell a man not to swat at a beehive until your voice is unable to find itself, but in the end he’ll swat at it or he won’t. And so, even with all of the tools, all of the courses, all of the media, and all of the knowledge that is now available to help parents more effectively parent, there are those who refuse to put in the work and the effort to do so. There are those who refuse to make the changes in their own families and for their own generations. There are those who still have no problem breaking their children, hurting their children, or humiliating their children.

Dear God, I’m thankful that’s not you. Just the fact that you’re reading this book proves to me that you’re a real parent, and that you intend to pass these better methods of doing things down to the next generation.

And here’s some good news. To be a real parent, you don’t have to be perfect in this. Heaven knows just about every parent out there has completely blown it with their kid at one point or another. Almost every parent out there has completely lost it, gone ballistic, or said things so hurtful they could never be taken back. No, making the occasional mistake, even if it’s a big one, doesn’t define any parent. What defines a parent is whether or not they’re constantly working to improve. What defines a parent, is whether or not they recognize their blunders, apologize to their children for their mistakes, and work to make sure the darker parts of history don’t repeat themselves.

Real parents speak softly to their children. They speak kind words to their children.

A real dad knows the damage he inflicts when he is constantly angry or speaks harsh words. He understands that every word he finds rolling off his tongue has the potential to build or destroy his child. When and if they do use words that destroy, real dads make it right, and they teach their kids the correct way of coming back from stepping back.

My grandparents were good people. In fact, they were among the greatest on earth. Some of my fondest memories included them, and I’ll always be grateful for the good they brought to the people on this planet. They kept most of the rules for being real parents, they played with their kids, they were there for kids, and they loved their kids. Regardless of that, they practiced and passed down a societal norm that was unhealthy and damaging to their children.

My parents were blessed to be in the first generation that collectively worked to put an end to it. My parents are real parents, and while they slipped many times along the way, they always tried to improve. They always tried to do better. They always tried to make things right. And in the end, that’s most of what I remember.

There are few relationships that are so damaged and so strained that starting to speak more softly and starting to use kind words won’t drastically improve and eventually find a way to heal them. Even fewer relationships exist in which parents no longer have a chance to leave good memories, soft spoken memories, and kindly worded memories as the memories that will dominate the reminiscences of their children’s minds forever.

How incredible would it be if the fathers of this world looked upon their children as the gifts that they truly are? How inspirational would it be if the fathers of this world didn’t just recognize that they need to change and tweak some things, but truly do whatever it takes to do so? How amazing would it be to see fathers lining up at book stores, eager to buy the latest parenting books? How marvelous would it be to see fathers everywhere sign-up for courses, take counseling, or attend seminars in order to overcome their anger and their sharpness?

A real dad does these things. He works on himself. He watches his tongue, fully aware of the power it harnesses. One of a real dad’s greatest fears is to have his own child fear him.

And while he masters his own words and his own voice, he simultaneously learns to encourage and promote his child in every circumstance, in every moment, and in every opportunity he encounters. He fills his child with confidence, love, and self-esteem. Always.

In a later chapter, we’ll really delve into both positive labels and negative labels. We’ll discuss how certain words have the power to make or break any child. We’ll look at the true power a parent has to push his child into a great and prosperous life or into a lifetime of struggle and challenge.

That chapter and this go hand-in-hand, yet are so fantastically important to parenting, and so intrinsically different from each other, that I felt a need to discuss each separately and in great depth. If you feel that this is an area of parenting you struggle with, it would not hurt my feelings at all if you were to jump straight ahead to that section.

In regards to this side of the equation, perhaps I could passionately state that the golden rule rules the roost. Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.

For some reason, children are so often left out of this equation. Parents often feel that children are theirs to do with as they like. They frequently take no care or thought as to how their words and their actions will affect their children either in the short term or the long. Far more care and thought is given to the words spoken to a stranger than to the tender spirits standing in their shadows.

This is never the case for a real dad. A real dad teaches his child respect by first respecting his child. A real dad consistently steps into the shoes of his child, and he looks at himself through the very eyes that have always looked up to him. He treats his child how he would expect to be treated by his child. He says the words that he would want his own father to say to him, he speaks in a voice that he would want his own father to use, and he retains control just as he would want his own father to do. No father, when truly looking through the eyes of his child, ever looks at himself and desires harshness, meanness, or anger. He doesn’t see himself and wish for criticism or disparagement.

On the contrary. He looks at himself and he is desperate for love. He is desperate for understanding. He is desperate for encouragement. And, he is desperate for tenderness.

A man will be measured by the world when he is old; there is no secret in this. Men strive for this worldly recognition over the course of their entire lives. Yet, what the world remembers him as is of little value if not accompanied by a much greater endorsement. I can promise you that far more significant than the world’s perspective, is how a man’s own child remembers him.

Real dads don’t just step into the shoes of their children now, they step into the shoes of their children a time long from now. A real dad will gaze into the future and imagine himself at his child’s graduation, his child’s wedding, and at his grandchildren’s graduations and his grandchildren’s weddings. He’ll look at himself through the eyes of his child then, and he’ll ask himself what he remembers himself to be. One of a real dad’s greatest fears is for a child to spend her adult life resenting him, able only to remember the disheartening and disrespectful way she was parented. All of the recognition in the world would be washed away as he looked into his child’s eyes and saw only sadness or antipathy.

By continuously checking-in to their children’s perspectives, real dads have very little trouble biting their tongues, closing their lips, and staying their hands against their children. They have little trouble finding the words that will build and edify. They easily find the ability to connect the long-term dots of their actions and reactions.

Most importantly, they are completely loved, trusted, and respected by their children because they themselves took the time to love, trust, and respect them first.

A real dad never takes for granted the permanence of his child in his life, and he certainly doesn’t resent it. Instead, he cherishes his child. And he aches as his time with his child depletes from actuality.

Society has made great strides in parenting. Real dads are always three steps ahead.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

What is your story? Did your dad work? Did he work too much? Do you have memories of him being there when he came home or do you have memories of him working even after he came home from work?

PS. Today’s post is the eleventh chapter in a read-along of my new book The Real Dad Rules (which will go on through February of next year).  Don’t wait to read the rest ofThe Real Dad Rules! Get your own copy today (AmazonKindleiBooks,NookHardcover, or visit the official Real Dad Rules webpage for signed copies). Get it for yourself. Get it for your kids.  Give it as a gift. Just get it, and get in on the conversation!

While I wrote this book to everyday dads (from an everyday dad), I believe that its message can be applied to and appreciated by mothers and fathers alike. And if you agree with it, please share today’s post.

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79 comments
LittleHeartsBooks
LittleHeartsBooks

This is wonderful. It's encouraging to know that there are voices like yours helping to spread the message of the immense value of kindness, compassion, and respect in parenting!

Fretboard
Fretboard

I had a child show up for a music lesson recently.  Being a new client, I am very open minded.  She has been told she is a singer/songwriter diva.  When her dad picked her up he asked me how his little "star" had performed.  Inside my head, being honest and truthful, I know this child has no gene for music.  She did not hit one correct note, and her guitar skills are less than adequate for how long she has supposedly been working at it.  I think these parents do their child an injustice, allowing them to believe they don't have to work to become something.  We have a whole new generation of 18-35 year olds living on mom and dad's couch, waiting for that 75k a year job and everything they are entitled to.  I don't believe in ranting and raving at your kids, but I think they deserve some truth in their lives.  I told my son not to be afraid to put the guitar down for a few years, or just strum it as a hobby.  When you are ready to work at it you'll know it, I said.  Anything worth doing takes work IMO.  I don't believe everyone should get a ribbon for showing up.

BlackCat
BlackCat

"A real dad teaches his child respect by first respecting his child."

How true this is. And when he has no real respect for his child, or when the respect he shows is no more than a thin veneer of social wallpaper, then he shouldn't have the audacity to be surprised when his child holds little respect for him in turn.

Fatherhood Isn't For Wimps
Fatherhood Isn't For Wimps

This is without a doubt rule #1. Parents don't realize how much power they hold over their children. It's the proper use of that power that come into question everyday. Over use it and you will lose your children. Don't forget that you also help to form your child's identity through the use of this power. Use it wisely.... : )

Jennifer Williams
Jennifer Williams

ps references to 'pushing buttons" is reflective of a perception that your child is deliberately working against you rather than expressing or acting out of a complex range of emotions and needs.. (and ironically what many abusers say to defend assaults on battered spouses ). 'oppositional defiance' springs from a notion that children should obey and be controlled rather than be respected, included and gently guided. At the end of the day its the adults responsibility to maintain their composure, and apply true ' discipline' meaning to teach and guide not to control and punish.

Rebecca Gerloff-Malaguti
Rebecca Gerloff-Malaguti

Something that wasn't mentioned... Some children possess the unique gift of pushing their parents buttons and serve up a dish of oppositional defiance on a daily basis. The message is a good one you are sending... Just trying to say that sometimes no matter how hard you as a parent try to improve the situation; unless your child is willing to meet you half way there will continue to be issues & breaking the cycle becomes that much harder. Parents & kids aren't perfect. Both need to learn from their mistakes to not repeat them and have a successful relationship.

Jennifer Williams
Jennifer Williams

Thank you so much for this post! I grew up in a house like this, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the yelling to start and I can confirm it haunts a child and follows them all the way into adulthood. You are right there is NEVER ever a reason to talk to a child in this way, and the impact of doing so is profound and life changing. As an adult I still hear that negative patriarchal voice in my ear every day coupled with self doubt and it is honestly devastating to a child's spirit and their psychological makeup. Luckily I recognized this truth early, and chose and married a man who I knew would be a patient, gentle, loving, affectionate and playful father.. watching him parent our little girl with tenderness, love, caring touch and understanding is one of the greatest joys in my life.

Rob Hill
Rob Hill

Thanks and agree - but when you have a wife/spouse that "spoils", has zero dicipline, "no turns into yes" in (5) minutes - the father needs to draw a line in the sand and take a firmer stance- tone of voice and/or inflection plays a role and has a purpose to let them know that you mean business- parenting is all about consistancy...and when one "parent" is a pushover the "other" is forced to play bad cop- NOT Ideal... but has happened to me especially when I say one thing and give an answer and then my wife caves in and doesn't have your back and support you during the situation at hand-

Marianne Bryan
Marianne Bryan

This is wonderful...Wish every parent could internalise it.

Zachary Lauer
Zachary Lauer

That was wonderful.....i just love it....thanks sdl for doing what you do. keep on

Gaby Niedenfuhr
Gaby Niedenfuhr

Amen to that! And in the name of all the kids that feel unloved, thank you for speaking out and being a role model to other parents.

Megan Vardiman
Megan Vardiman

@Manda I do believe in his post he stated that everyone slips up and that those moments don't define you as a parent

Manda Wich
Manda Wich

But I do agree with what you're saying

Bryn Moody
Bryn Moody

I wish my dad would have had your words of encouragement and advice while he raised me. I will be buying your book for my husband -- and we are still a long way from having kids of our own!

Manda Wich
Manda Wich

As I noted when I shared it I don't like the usage of "real" parent/dad/mom..I understand the point you're trying to convey using that term...and I understand it. But a "REAL" Human will do some of those things in error...because none of us are perfect. I have lost my temper and raised my voice with my son. It doesn't invalidate my parenthood...it just makes me a human who makes mistakes. I'm still a real parent

Sarah Baines-Garza
Sarah Baines-Garza

Wow. Well said.
Thank you for being willing to deal with a little flack to deliver a life changing message. The world needs to hear this.
Keep it up!

Randi Seay
Randi Seay

that is so perfect, I really love it!

Single Dad Laughing
Single Dad Laughing

Just FYI, your comments here will show up in the comments below the blog post. It updates every ten minutes or so. A new feature on SDL!

ChrystaLyn Hope
ChrystaLyn Hope

Side note; Kahlil Gibran was an amazing person and a great writer.

via SDL's Facebook Page
via SDL's Facebook Page

This is without a doubt rule #1. Parents don't realize how much power they hold over their children. It's the proper use of that power that come into question everyday. Over use it and you will lose your children. Don't forget that you also help to form your child's identity through the use of this power. Use it wisely.... : )

Bobbi
Bobbi

Real dads (and moms) remember that their children are not just short adults and therefore will act like children and not think like an adult.

I have lost it with my son sometimes but when things have calmed down I always apologize for my behavior and talk to him in a more rational manner.

Hopefully it is working for us. I am frequently told what a well-manner, respectful teenager he is. This means more to me than anything.

Ania
Ania

This is the kind of parents my husband and I will try to be. Appreciate our children for the gifts that they are, love, support and encourage them. When we do make mistakes, we hope to be humble enough to admit it. No one likes double standards or hypocrites.

Jennifer via SDL's Facebook Page
Jennifer via SDL's Facebook Page

ps references to 'pushing buttons" is reflective of a perception that your child is deliberately working against you rather than expressing or acting out of a complex range of emotions and needs.. (and ironically what many abusers say to defend assaults on battered spouses ). 'oppositional defiance' springs from a notion that children should obey and be controlled rather than be respected, included and gently guided. At the end of the day its the adults responsibility to maintain their composure, and apply true ' discipline' meaning to teach and guide not to control and punish.

Jennifer via SDL's Facebook Page
Jennifer via SDL's Facebook Page

Thank you so much for this post! I grew up in a house like this, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the yelling to start and I can confirm it haunts a child and follows them all the way into adulthood. You are right there is NEVER ever a reason to talk to a child in this way, and the impact of doing so is profound and life changing. As an adult I still hear that negative patriarchal voice in my ear every day coupled with self doubt and it is honestly devastating to a child's spirit and their psychological makeup. Luckily I recognized this truth early, and chose and married a man who I knew would be a patient, gentle, loving, affectionate and playful father.. watching him parent our little girl with tenderness, love, caring touch and understanding is one of the greatest joys in my life.

Tyrean
Tyrean

Love this post, love your attitude, and I totally agree with you. Real dads have the strength to be gentle. My dad was, and is.
My mom struggled with the "norm" of spanking until she lost her temper one day. She actually didn't hurt me, but she felt that she had stepped beyond a "controlled discipline" response. Raised voices between my mom and I were unfortunately a norm until I reached high school. It took years to change those habits.
My dad always spoke softly, except twice that I remember. He yelled at me once about not turning off the lights when I left the house. We were both shocked, and he apologized. Another time, after I had yelled, used harsh language and generally been awful at the age of 16, he simply raised his voice and said, "Stop." I did, and I apologized. He asked me quietly if I felt good about acting in that way, and I was embarassed. He didn't guilt trip me any more than that, didn't browbeat me with words or attitude. He forgave me, and I learned a better way to behave.
Misguided parents will often say that children only respect the "rod" of punishment. The reality is, I respected my dad more than any other adult in my life because he had the strength to speak softly even in his anger. Those two times he yelled were memorable because they were the only times. The parents who quote Biblical "rods" seemed to forget the Biblical verses that state that "fathers should not frustrate their children." Love, and kindness speak a long-lasting language that resonates in a child's life forever.

Rebecca via SDL's Facebook Page
Rebecca via SDL's Facebook Page

Something that wasn't mentioned... Some children possess the unique gift of pushing their parents buttons and serve up a dish of oppositional defiance on a daily basis. The message is a good one you are sending... Just trying to say that sometimes no matter how hard you as a parent try to improve the situation; unless your child is willing to meet you half way there will continue to be issues & breaking the cycle becomes that much harder. Parents & kids aren't perfect. Both need to learn from their mistakes to not repeat them and have a successful relationship.

Jossie
Jossie

I absolutely support this 100% For everyone out there who has a justification for mistreating their child, they need to read this. There's absolutely no justification at all to mistreating a child. There might be reasons why a parent reacted poorly, but it will never be OK to mistreat a child. So go be a real dad/mom and when you make a mistake, step up and own it...apologize to your kid and learn to be better and better each day. Loved this article!

diamond dave
diamond dave

I was one of those who pointed out in your previous post about breaking children that that particular parent may have just been having a really bad day with his child. I wasn't there, I have no idea what really happened other than what you wrote. And I'll allow for the likelihood that what you saw really was abusive behavior. I'd just like to make the point that we're all human. We all have bad days (God knows I have) and make mistakes. My father, as good a dad as any, once snapped under pressure and slapped me hard enough to give me a black eye. Just the other day, while trying to control my two-year-old having a tantrum, he head-butted me in the mouth hard enough to draw blood. I immediately put him down and walked into the bathroom, not just to tend to my busted lip, but to deal with that base impulse of anger we all feel when getting suddenly hurt. I just knew that for the next couple minutes, I didn't need to be around my child. But once things were calmer, I held him, talked to him, and gave him hugs and kisses and tickles.

Like one poster pointed out previously, what matters is how you deal with the aftermath. My father did apologize for losing it (something he rarely did), and it never happened again. I always make sure there is plenty of love to compensate for my mistakes and lapses of patience with my child. I can't disagree with anything you've written, but some of us aren't completely there yet. What matters is we're trying. And we all need to understand the difference between sometimes having to be loving but firm with an errant child, and giving in to our own frustrations and taking it out on our children, if not being downright abusive (verbal or physical).

Rob via SDL's Facebook Page
Rob via SDL's Facebook Page

Thanks and agree - but when you have a wife/spouse that "spoils", has zero dicipline, "no turns into yes" in (5) minutes - the father needs to draw a line in the sand and take a firmer stance- tone of voice and/or inflection plays a role and has a purpose to let them know that you mean business- parenting is all about consistancy...and when one "parent" is a pushover the "other" is forced to play bad cop- NOT Ideal... but has happened to me especially when I say one thing and give an answer and then my wife caves in and doesn't have your back and support you during the situation at hand-

Gaby via SDL's Facebook Page
Gaby via SDL's Facebook Page

Amen to that! And in the name of all the kids that feel unloved, thank you for speaking out and being a role model to other parents.

Lucy
Lucy

I wish my dad had been like this. As a grown person with children of my own..the way I was raised affects -everything- I do. Thankfully, my husband is the best daddy a kid could ever need. Your kids are blessed, too.

Andrew
Andrew

Beautiful indeed. I am a very sensitive person. My father did have a temper, but I don't remember it flaring up many times. However, the times he did yell have impacted me to the point where I defensively detached from him as I grew older to the point where it's hard to think of him as my father now. I do remember him helping many times with school projects, but I've found that I always lived in fear of displeasing him. That fear still surfaces as an adult today.

Sarah
Sarah

I love this article and hope that we start having more and more dads who are gentle and loving toward their children.
However, I also think we need to figure out how to make this happen. Most dads get no parenting advice. To me, this is different than mothers. As mothers we have many books aimed at us and I think we talk to more moms as well. Dads are expected to just kind of jump in and know how to parent without much knowledge and often not much experience with children.
In addition, most dads work all day and come home when kiddos are often at a challenging time during their day (dinner & bedtime). Mom is often worn out and men often feel the need to "fix" situations. So, there isn't a lot of good, connecting time between dad and his kids either. There is a lack of a strong bond (especially with many dads getting no paternity leave either).
So, while we can talk about how we want dads to be (and I think it is good to clarify what direction we want to head in!) we also need to think about how to give dads some tools to change their perspective about their children. And then some tools to change their own behavior.
So many men cannot express or even acknowledge their own feelings, how do we expect them to be empathetic and kind about their children's feelings?

Trina R
Trina R

To commemnters who disagree with the term "real", I think might be taking the word too literally. I see the word "real" being used to provoke a wake-up to readers, to establish an ideal. Clearly we are not perfect real humans nor perfect real parents. But what if we strived for better? What if we woke up and became "real" to ourselves and in turn became "real" to our children? What if we asked oursleves everyday to real and honest and use that frame of mind when parenting?
Thank you Dan for another great post- the insight is always affirming and inspiring.

Steve W.
Steve W.

"There is never a situation bad enough, a past life hard enough, or a child naughty enough to warrant such behavior." Bingo! There is no excuse. Ever. I've never subscribed to the "abuse excuse" - there are those of us who were beaten, molested and degraded our entire childhood and it's a choice each person makes. Do you take the easy way out and play the "I was abused" card? Or do you man up and be the parent your parents never were? I chose the later....

linda leese
linda leese

my beloved father in law once witnessed a man hit his child so hard around his head that it knocked him to the floor, the man then raise his hand again to repeat the blow my father in law blocked the blow and said very calmly if you are a big enough man to hit your child then surely you are big enough to hit me. The man quickly grabbed the child and moved on all this in a highly public place and no one challenged the man - I would like to think that the man still remembers the kind act he did to save the child from at least one beating.

Megan via SDL's Facebook Page
Megan via SDL's Facebook Page

@Manda I do believe in his post he stated that everyone slips up and that those moments don't define you as a parent

Bryn via SDL's Facebook Page
Bryn via SDL's Facebook Page

I wish my dad would have had your words of encouragement and advice while he raised me. I will be buying your book for my husband -- and we are still a long way from having kids of our own!

Angela
Angela

As the parent of a "willful" child I totally agree that some children are more talented in their ability to get under their parents skin. However, it is always, always, the parent's responsibility. (Unless the child is much older and even then I think the responsibility is still largely the parents). Having a kid means sacrificing the vast majority of your rights. Even the right to be met halfway.

Kathy
Kathy

You did the right thing by removing yourself until you regained control of your anger! I wished my Dad had done the same when my sister accidently busted his lip one time. That scene has stayed in my mind for over 50 years.

Jossie
Jossie

I believe that's pretty much what Dan said. He clearly sated "He works on himself" (He meaning the real dad) and "And while he masters his own words and his own voice, he simultaneously learns to encourage and promote his child in every circumstance, in every moment, and in every opportunity he encounters"