Advice for struggling fathers
I’ve seen it before. I’ve been there before. At the end of your wits and ready to throw in the towel on being a dad. Parenting sucks sometimes. You love these little creatures and then they rebel or worse yet they leave you and want nothing to do with you. That feeling of, “What am I doing?”, creeps in and makes you question everything you know.
But don’t give in.
Don’t give up.
These little ones need you. They may not show it. They may actually be rejecting you. But they need you.
I can’t promise it won’t get better right away. But if you stick around, it will be worth it. Here are some of my tips to help you get through the tough times. And some of these are tips that I need to remind myself.
Number one piece of advice for those struggling.
If you have a partner that you are raising kids with, get them to help. If you have trusted friends or relatives close by, get them to help. Sometimes our kids will rebel against us but they won’t show that same attitude with a family member or a family friend. This might be because they need a break from you, or it might be that they can’t communicate with you effectively.
If your feelings are leading to hopelessness or feelings of anger towards your kid that might lead to violence. Get professional help. See a doctor and/or maybe a therapist. Anger and violence towards kids is never the answer and will lead to nothing but jail time and possibly losing your kids for life. If you are considering harm to yourself because you can’t do it any more please see someone or call someone immediately. These kids need you. Even if they are not showing it at the moment.
If the kids issues do not improve over time it might also be time to call in professional help for your kids. Start with their pediatrician to see if there is anything physical that might be causing the issues. And if they check out fine with your doctor then maybe try finding a family counselor or therapist that might be able to dig in and help out.
Try to Understand What is Causing the Problem
Find the root cause of the problem. Utilize the H.A.L.T. method.
As an adult I think about these 4 pillars. When I am any one of these 4 things I get agitated and I am not generally in a good mood. But because I am an adult and I can reasonably solve these problems and have encountered these problems I don’t act out or throw tantrums or cry uncontrollably.
But young kids haven’t learned to process these things. And sometimes they can’t solve these problems on their own. They need you to solve them. Take a step back, assess their situation, and see if one of these issues might be the problem. If it is a problem, try and solve it.
This can also apply to older kids. There are times when our teenagers get mouthy and want to talk back or just shut us down. It could be that they are angry at someone else or maybe a friend moved away. They are not the best at communicating their feelings so you have to figure out the best approach to get to them.
Take a Break
If you are single this one will be hard. But if you are married give your spouse a break and ask they do the same in return. Perhaps you had a bad day at work and you know your state of mind is not going to take a kid who is having a tantrum because they couldn’t watch TV. Ask your spouse if you can have the night off. That doesn’t mean you have to physically be removed from the house but maybe you can go straight to your bedroom and pretend like you are not there.
Just remember this goes both ways. If you are having a hard time your spouse is probably having a rough go with it also. If your spouse tells you they need a night off. Then let them have it and don’t be upset about it. Power through it, do what you can to keep the kids happy and safe and keep your sanity.
Sometimes this is as simple as telling your spouse that you need a 5 minute break. Then walk outside and do what you need to do to calm down. Scream at a tree, run a few laps around the yard, punch a punching bag, pet a dog. Anything to get your nerves calmed down so you can go back in and deal with the problem with a level head. Just don’t break anything or injure yourself. That will only lead to more problems in the future
Try a Change of Scenery
One thing the last year has taught me is staying in the same place and being restricted is awful. If you can go on vacation. If you can find someone to watch the kids that is great. But if not then take the kids with you. Make it fun. Just plan for interruptions. Make it open ended so that if something happens you can pivot and switch the plans up.
But getting out of the house and maybe into a hotel or a condo for a weekend could be refreshing. And it might be just what your kids need if they have to come along. If you go alone or with your spouse don’t feel guilty about leaving your kids. This is your chance to relax and unwind, even if just for a few days.
And it doesn’t have to be a weekend trip. Maybe just a day trip to a nearby attraction or trail to help clear your head and change it up.
Never Turn to Alcohol or Drugs to Solve the Problem
When you have reached that last nerve and are ready to give up it can tend to lead people to drugs or alcohol to help them “avoid” the situation.
This is never a solution.
Yes they can lead to short term relief, but what happens when that relief is over and the child is still crying or throwing a tantrum? Then we tend to go back to that relief and the cycle starts again. Then it becomes a problem and before you know it your whole life revolves around this relief. Now having a drink to relax on occasion is fine. But keep it within a reasonable limit. And try not to make it a habit as a way to deal with your kids.
Join Support Groups
These days you don’t even have to leave your home to get support. There are lots of great support groups on Facebook and other social media sites to get help, ask advice, or just vent about the issues you are having with your kids. Should you heed all advice from a stranger on the internet. No. But at least listen and if the advice sounds good maybe do a little more research to see if it will help your situation.
But sometimes we just need an ear. And that is what is great about these groups. You can vent and complain about your situation and I would bet it is not unique. You will find sympathy. Sometimes you will get a few hater trolls that will tell you to suck it up. But don’t listen to them. Filter out the negative and latch on to the positive.
Find a Mentor
Maybe you haven’t been doing the dad thing for a while. I was very young when I became a dad. And luckily my dad was always a great mentor and father figure in my life. But I realize not everyone had that situation growing up. So reach out and find mentors. You can ask around at church or maybe your kid’s school. Or on some of the Facebook groups I mentioned before they offer mentor services. Basically it is dads that are part of the group that agree to be a mentor and help you out when needed with advice and words of wisdom.
Being a dad is hard. We make mistakes, our kids don’t listen, our kids fight us, our kids will even say they hate us. But don’t give up. Keep the faith and push on and love those kids. Hold them tight tell them you love them when they push you away. Tell them how much you care about them. Find the help you need. And when needed, take a little break. Quitting is not an option.
And if you need some more reasons why you need to stick around. Check out some of these images from https://www.fatherhood.org/father-absence-statistic
Struggling yourself and need more advice? Let me know in the comments or pop over and send us a message on our Facebook page.