Kids can drive you crazy. My wife says that kids use cuteness as a defense mechanism. It helps keep them alive. I imagine that’s how I made it through childhood. That’s how my children are getting by as well. This concept rings true today more than usual. My wife and I started sleep training our youngest daughter a few weeks ago, with the hopes that we would break away from the long ritual that has gotten her to sleep in the past. Let’s just say it’s not going well. I am behind in sleep far more than a pot of coffee can compensate for. It has been exhausting! Thankfully, my daughter is one of the cutest creatures I have ever seen. This serves her well. Being a dad tests your will sometimes. Many men say that being a father is one of the best ways to teach a man patience and discipline. Getting to this point is no easy journey, though. That is why I want to share with you some thoughts that have helped me get through the challenging parenting days.
When the kids are at their worst, I try to remember that my current struggles are only for a season. If I can endure the storm, then I will see sunshine when everything settles. It’s not always easy to remember the good days, and sometimes it’s hard to believe there will ever be another. Regardless, they will come. In the meantime, I grab onto whatever can keep my head above the water. For me, personally, I rely on prayer and draw from my relationship with God. I remember truths about life that steady me when the ground under my feet is shifting and giving way. I can’t tell you what that steadiness might look like for you, but I can say that I have found a lot of peace in dark times this way.
Another lesson I have learned through parenting is to roll with the punches. Parenting is harder when we fight it kicking and screaming. When I approach a situation with bitterness or anger, I tend to make things worse. Instead, we lessen the impact that the hard times have on us by embracing the momentum of our circumstances. Practically speaking, we don’t allow negative thoughts to fester in our heads, we avoid acting with emotions, and we discover how to find acceptance in what is taking place. As an example, last night I told myself, “there is no use in becoming angry that the baby is crying. I can’t make it stop, and I can’t take it out on her. I am going to be tired at work tomorrow, but I can make it through the day. So, I guess I can live with this setback tonight.” Once I got myself in a foxhole and prepared for a battle, the rest of the night came easier.
It is also important to grow from our mistakes. We try our best to handle each situation with love and wisdom, but it doesn’t always pan out well. There are going to be times when we question if we have done enough or if it could have been better if we had done things differently. “Should have’s,” “would have’s” and “could have’s” can be suffocating if left unchallenged. We could spend a lifetime second guessing ourselves. However, there is another way we could approach this: we acknowledge to ourselves (and our children when age appropriate) when we make mistakes, then we draw benefit from them. I heard in a movie or cartoon once that there is as much to learn from failure as there is from success. There’s a lot of truth in this. Embrace failure, grow from it, and you will be more a disciplined man today than you were yesterday.
Raising children comes with some challenging days. Thankfully, we are not alone in the struggle. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with frustration or are uncertain how to move forward, feel free to reach out. There are seasoned fathers out there that can relate to the struggles that we go through. I am more than willing to talk with you and be an encouragement if you need it. You can use any of the contacts provided to get in touch. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone.
Keep strong, Dad! You may not wear a cape, but it’s days like these that truly demonstrate the hero inside of you.
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.