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Friday 27 May 2011

Angry Dads

I was reading through some archive posts recently on Wag The Dad and came across a post titled Yelling Is The New Spanking, which is very much worth the read.

I began a Comment in response, then realised how long it would be & decided to just blog about it instead.


I've seen the disastrous results of the no-discipline parents, and obviously *some* discipline is required... but the thing I grew up fearing wasn't the beatings or the screaming, but the sheer unpredictability of the rages.

I grew up with a very angry, easily triggered ex-military father who would smack AND yell AND go red in the face, before even asking what had happened. Wooden spoons, electrical cords, broom handles, duster handles - anything close-to-hand was a possible implement (he rarely broke the "don't discipline with your bare hands" rule of puppy training).

We sometimes went weeks on end without speaking at the dinner table, or drove 8 hours in a car in absolute silence, "because your father's had a bad day" and absolutely anything could set him off. 5 kids, in the back of a van, making no noise for an entire day?!? That's not discipline, that's an unhealthy level of fear.

As we got older, the fear became tinged with contempt and a complete lack of respect. For a man whose issues centred around control, blatant disrespect from His Children was unbearable. He said to me once, "you WILL respect me!" and I said, "you can't demand that. I'll show respect, but you can't MAKE me respect you". That did not end well.

It took me years, *decades*, before I understood my dad's deep level of insecurity; his fear of being an inadequate parent; the stinking residue of his own parents' screw-ups that affected his character and his decision-making process. His history and temperament made for a bad combination... but his children shouldn't have had to bear that burden.

If you have anger management issues, whatever method of discipline you use will be over-the-top and screw up your kids' lives, if you don't get treatment. My grandparents believed that only crazy people spoke to psychiatrists, and even psychologists were viewed with deep suspicion. My dad felt shame and disgust at the IDEA of telling someone "he got angry" (the very suggestion that it might be wrong was enough to get him defensively furious).

4 of the 5 of us kids are now on anti-depressants, and I'm convinced our lives would have been better if my dad had been able to overcome the inherited hooey and get help.

I do not have children, partly because I too have that hair-trigger temper and am afraid of what I might do if frustration and sleep-deprivation and colic built and built and built... or if my child screamed, "I hate you!" in front of guests.

For me, choosing not to breed is the only way to be sure to avoid perpetuating that behaviour.

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