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7 Sins of A Disappointed Father: #5 Shame not Solutions

July 17, 2012

Kids by their very nature can be exhilirating, charming, frustrating and exhausting – and that could all be in the same hour.  When our kids screw up, our reaction as fathers is critical.  It is natural to be frustrated, disappointed or even angry when our children do something crazy or silly.  Have your kids ever done any of these things:  backed the car into the wall of the garage, stayed up too late before a big event, forgot to tell you about a deadline, posted something crazy on facebook, watched TV all day when a project is due, panicked during a sporting event, blamed their sibling for everything or dressed inappropriately to a fancy event?  I think I have seen all these movies at my house, most of them more than once!!!

It is actually OK to be frustrated or even angry with our kids’ behaviors, but like a good comedien, the key is how we deliver our feelings.  The disappointed father tends to shame his kids with statements like, “You did it again!!!”  “When will you ever learn?”  “I cannot believe you keep doing this!!!”  “You are going nowhere if you keep this up.”  These statements are not helpful because they provide criticism without any way forward.  When we shame our kids, we make the critical mistake of equating mistakes or failures with the identity of our kids.  For the disappointed father, making a mistake, becomes “You’re an idiot.”  Failing or losing becomes, “You’re a failure or a loser.”  See, failing or making a mistake is an event in time and should not be confused with being an personal identity.  Calling someone a failure or a loser is a shaming identity statement, which can be crushing to a kid.

So, how do we avoid being the shaming disappointed father?  Patience, patience and more patience.  We need to calmly assess tough situations with our kids and provide solutions and good questions, rather than just negative blanket statements. If your kid has screwed up and you are ready to kill them, it is a good time to walk away and collect yourself.  Count to 10, go for a walk, talk to your wife, whatever it takes to not launch into a shaming tirade.  Once you are calm, approach your child with these three simple questions:  1.  What happened?  2.  What can we learn from it?  3.  What is the way forward?

The mark of a great father is the ability to provide guidance for his children even in the toughest of circumstances.  Be that man today!!!

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach who specializes in working with fathers.  Contact him at

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