Helloooooo, Mini-Women! It's FRIDAY! That means the weekend is upon us and Dad will probably be home. All day. For two days. So what a perfect time to talk about how to deal with it when he ... loses his cool.
Lots of you had things to say about your dads getting angry, and what impresses me is that you KNOW what sets your father off. Here's a quick summary:
* when you and your siblings fight -- or even just bug each other
* when he has to repeat himself; one time telling you to do (or not do) something should clearly be enough
* when your room is messy
* when you fight with your mom .. and yell. (Interesting how the dads don't like it when YOU yell.)
* when you're messing around when he thinks you should be studying
* when you don't get good grades
* when you disrespect him in public
* when you don't act like a lady (I'm in trouble with your dad because I don't always act like one either!)
It was easy to figure out WHAT gets your dads' faces turning red and their neck veins bulging, or that look of disappointment dawning in their eyes. Not as simple to figure out WHY those things get to them. Some of you gave that a try, though:
* He wants the best for me, especially in my education
* He doesn't want me falling over stuff and getting hurt just because I didn't clean my room (now, that is ONE messy room!)
* He's like that because that's the way his parents treated him
* He gets tired from working so hard
* He doesn't want me to be seen as a brat by other people and not be liked
I can add to that list, having witnessed my husband being a dad to our daughter when she was a tween:
* He doesn't want you to get hurt, period. He's as protective as a bear when it comes to you, so if he sees you acting out, endangering yourself, not taking advantage of the opportunity to get a good education, he envisions you with a horrible future and he's not having it
* He's protective of the other people in his family too -- like your siblings and your mom. If you disrespect them, that hurts and he's not having that either.
* He wants to be proud of his family so when you disobey him in front of other people or smack your brother up the side of the head in the parking lot at church, uh, yeah, he's gonna blow. Can you blame him?
And here's the biggest reason of all: you have always been his little girl who was easy to protect, who crawled into his lap if you did get hurt or sad, who thought he was the best thing ever. Now you're growing up -- not spending as much time climbing on him -- questioning him on some things. That's hard for him but most dads, being men, aren't going to sit down with you and discuss that. (If you have a dad who does, awesome.) Instead, they get scared and they express that as, 'How many times do I have to tell you?!"
So what can you do? . Remember the Scripture verse from last time about honoring your father (and mother)? That passage is telling you to honor what is honorable. That doesn't mean dis him when he's in a bad mood and doing some acting out himself! It does mean show him you honor him when he's taking time with you, when he's patiently explaining something to you, when he's grinning at you across the dinner table just because you're cute.
Honor him out loud. "Thanks Dad." "You're so cool, Daddy." "Love ya."
Honor him in your prayers. Talk to God about your earthly father in your Talking to God Journal. Ask God to help you understand your dad and to get why he wants you to behave a certain way. Pray for Daddy, too. He needs all the help he can get!
Honor him with your actions. It can be SO hard not to scream when your dad tells you to back off the brother who has driven you almost to insanity. The urge to roll your eyes when your father tells you your room should be condemned by the health department is almost irresistible. And the need to burst into sobs when he says that B+ in math just isn't good enough? It's almost impossible to control.
But you can try.
You can make a big ol' effort to stay calm and wait until he's through holding forth before you ask if you can say something. You can give being rational your best shot, just explaining where you're coming from. If you really put your mind to it, you can take a deep breath, think about it and say, genuinely, "Y'know what, Dad, you're right and I'm sorry."
You won't be perfect at it. Nobody is. Emotions are wiley things that can get away from you pretty fast. But if you just try, you're going to add a lot less fuel to that fire, know what I mean? Dads usually only keep yelling when they're met with stubbornness, glazed-over eyes (that was my daughter), or backtalk, yell for yell. If you stop -- if you show as much respect as you can muster -- Dad might calm down faster.
Even if he doesn't, even if this doesn't "work", who are you trying to change here? Not your dad. That isn't your job. You're working to change YOU into that real self who doesn't yell, doesn't fight, doesn't disobey when you KNOW your dad is right or at least KNOW what he expects. No, he's not always right because, well, he's a person ...
But he isn't always wrong, either.
Besides, remember how that verse ends, that one we talked about last time: you honor him and it will "go well with you." God's in this. God makes sure that somehow, some way, good behavior is rewarded. Even if it's just in knowing you're doing the best you can.
Just one more thing about dads: mine died when I was 14 and not a day has gone by in the almost 50 years since then that I haven't thought about him and missed him. Find something to honor in your dad every single day.
And consider climbing into his lap.