I’m not his friend, but I’m not the enemy…I’m his dad.
My own journey towards greater self awareness always seems to hit a speed bump with my kids. Yesterday was a long day at work. I don’t do anything that is saving the world or curing cancer, but just like everyone else, I sometimes have long and challenging days at work. At the end of the day, as I was preparing to get dinner started I asked my son to get his homework started before dinner and get as much done as possible. Tantrum ensued…
My first instinct was: “you’re not his friend, that is an INAPPROPRIATE response to a simple request! Correct this reaction with an equally powerful CONSEQUENCE!!!”
And for the first time I paused (the self awareness creeping in), and a second thought crossed my mind: “you’re not the enemy either, redirect his response and work with him to get him to do what was asked.”
What I realized that night as I tucked my firstborn in and discussed his day is that I’m his dad, and that noun does not have the word ‘friend’ or ‘enemy’ in the definition. I often wring my hands at today’s Generation X Parent who out of a desire to be their child’s ‘friend’ becomes permissive, smothering, and protective. I now realize that in reaction to that, I have often taken on the role of ‘enemy’ by lashing out in harshness, elevating my own status to make sure I get what I want, and fighting anger with anger in battles with my kids.
I love them, have always loved them. But from now on, I’m going to strive to be dad, not friend or enemy. I’m going to correct without anger, react without overreaction, support with expectation, and love without obsession.