Honesty Sucks

I am going to be brutally honest and transparent in these next few minutes. It’s an effort to be real.

Being a parent is hard. I have a 5 year old, a 3 year old, 1 year old…and one on the way.

Since returning from a mission trip to Mexico on Sunday, I feel like 90% of what I have done as a parent is yell, sulk, spank, and sit on that fence between sheer anger and utter hopelessness. The other 10% I have doted on my kids; making up for missed time on my trip and also atoning for what I feel like could be bad parenting.

And it’s a terrible cycle.

Example: Today at lunch, daughter #1, Eden, didn’t want daughter #2, Jerah, to pray for her food. She broke down in tears over it. I (calmly) removed Eden from the table and set her down on the steps leading up to our bedrooms. This is the place we go when we can’t be around everyone else. She wailed. My wife, Keri, asked me if we are teaching our kids the wrong things about prayer when we do that. In essence, are we teaching them to be legalistic when we say they can’t eat if they don’t pray? I felt like the issue was not prayer itself…but more that Eden sometimes believes she is the center of the known universe and can get what she wants at any given time.

Keri and I then had one of those disagreeing moments. We didn’t fight; we just weren’t on the same page. And that simply compounds the problems.

Meanwhile, all these thought go through my head. Here is a sampling:

  • I haven’t had one good conversation with an older parent who gives me honest, helpful advice. There just isn’t any “parenting discipleship” happening anywhere. This is almost like sex; everyone is thinking about it and trying to do it better–but nobody is really talking about it.
  • I think this is just a phase, but do I just say that to make myself feel better as an inadequate parent?
  • How is Eden going to do in kindergarten next year? How much time will I have to spend with the principal?
  • We must be outside of our minds to be having another baby.
  • Why in the world will my daughters not pick up their toys at the end of the day? Everything I have tried to do has failed to motivate them.
  • I fear I am falling WAY short in teaching my children about God, Jesus, and living as a Follower.
  • I read books and blogs by other fathers who seem to have it all figured out. They “date” their kids at least once a month. And they date their wives. They have found the balance. I have not. Nobody writes about spankings or frustrations or kicking the crap out of the toy bucket that their kids are throwing at each other. These guys have figured it out…and they are not as utterly desperate as I feel.

I’m not sure what I am looking for here. I don’t think that it’s your advice or even your sympathy. Maybe it is. Maybe the process of writing this out helps me realize that I have a long ways to go before I am the kind of father to my kids that God is to me.

PostScript: My kids are great kids. I don’t think they are the issue. I think the issue is me.

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13 thoughts on “Honesty Sucks

  1. Umm, first one due any day, and suddenly I’m very, very scared. *gulp*

    i was just thinking today… do you give a breast-fed baby water, or do they get it all from the milk? i don’t know, would hate to mess up and dehydrate the kid or ruin their kidneys with too much. got thinking: God help me, I know less about raising a baby than a pet hamster.

    and now this post from the guy i thought was the uber-parent… we need a support group, bs!

    don’t tell your wife, but i agree with you: less about prayer and more about obedience. but what do i know? literally.

  2. No one has it figured out, man. It’s no use comparing yourself (a person you know everything about) to someone else (who has carefully and selectively described their life to you).

    I’ve just got one, so I’ve probably had it easy compared to you. We always considered Emma pretty high maintenance, but she just finished kindergarten with no big issues. They grow up a lot in that year when they have to learn to listen to someone else (a professional, at that) for 30+ hours a week.

    Hang in there.

  3. Sprocket,

    We haven’t chatted in FOR-EV-ER. Hope you’re OK.

    First of all…no need to give an newborn water. They get everything they need from mama’s milk. (See, this is that “parenting discipleship” thing I was thinking about!)

    It’s all good…getting some of this off my chest last night was very therapeutic. Of course, everyone now thinks I am a monster.

    Oh well.

  4. Danny,

    Thanks for your words of wisdom and encouragement. I have been thinking for a few months that Kindergarten will be good for both our girls. They seem joined at the hip. Suddenly, in August, they will be forced to function independently of each other. I’m hoping that works.

    I can’t believe Emma is already through Kindergarten. Man, where does the time go?

    You’re a good friend.

  5. Yes. I am all for saving the environment…but seriously. Washing your son’s crappy diapers in your washing machine. Gross.

    Go with disposable. They smell better. Clean up better.

  6. We were thinking more about money (I mean, I love the environment, but $150 total for diapers is nothing to sneeze at).

  7. Brandon,
    First of all, how are you all?? Also I just wanted to say that even the fact that you are worried about those sorts of things with your children shows that you are an amazing father, and I 100% believe that..those kiddos are lucky!

  8. Carli…

    First of all…we are doing just fine. I loved talking with Ross a few weeks ago. We miss you guys. Did he tell you that we are planning on all of us getting together sometime this summer?

    Secondly…thanks for your kind words and encouragement. I think I was suffering from the post-“heat of the battle” frustration. I feel like I am thinking more clearly now.

    How’s life?

  9. Ross did tell me that, we for sure need to do that! Life is pretty good…busy, of course. Well I look forward to seeing you guys, hopefully soon!

  10. Brandon,

    You are an awesome father. We all lose it every now and again, but luckily, our kids have selective memories and, most of the time, choose to remember the “mother/father of the year” moments. Kids are wonderful, but at times, taking care of them seems like dealing with a hostage situation: you must meet all their demands, in a short amount of time, while maintaining your cool, with everyone watching. . . it’s no wonder we don’t crack more than we do. I’m proud of you and Keri and hope we can see you soon to share some of our less savory parenting moments!

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