Yes, I Yelled At My Daughter

It happened last night during dinner.

My wife was at one of her yoga classes and I was by myself with the kids for a couple hours during dinner. Our oldest, Sophia, has been going through this phase lately where she’s hit or miss during mealtimes. Sometimes she is crazy about green beans. Other times she abhors them. Quite honestly, it has been frustrating.

And then it happened; I raised my voice and said something to the effect of, “Sophia, if you do not eat your food, we are done!”. It wasn’t that the message I communicated was wrong; it was my tone and the manner in which it was delivered. All of a sudden, I was condescending, harsh, and unforgiving.

Certainly it wasn’t a moment I was proud of.

Nobody's perfect...

Lately, God has been reminding me about the grand importance of speaking life into my children’s life.┬áIn an opposite-kind-of-way, this was how he showed me this last night.

In one split second I crush her delicate spirit. I was immediately convicted to ask for her forgiveness. I did and it was a humbling moment–a brief story I don’t plan on forgetting.

I can speak life into her by asking for forgiveness. It demonstrates humility. It admits a shortcoming. It places others above myself.

I want to always remember to affirm, encourage and admonish my children. In the same vein, I also want to remember to show them it is okay to be mad, upset and frustrated (in healthy ways).

In the end, I want my life to communicate that their daddy is far from perfect, yet points to a heavenly Father who is infinitely perfect.

Have you had to ask forgiveness from your child? What happened?

Photo credit: laurenbratton

50 Comments

  • Jim F

    February 4, 2011

    My kids are 15 and 8 – I have had to ask them for forgiveness A LOT through the years. My kids have been than gracious when I have asked. I have learned that it is a great way to teach my children how to ask for forgiveness and to model it for them. I have also used it to show my kids that I am not perfect by their heavenly father is.

    Good thoughts Dustin.

    Side note : in your picture staring at me in the reply section – you look angry like you are going to hurt me if I do not write a good comment :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Jim, thanks for sharing that. I’m learning the importance of modeling those things for my kids also. And…. that’s the reason why I didn’t smile in that picture. I want to be intimidating. :)

      Reply
  • Michael

    February 4, 2011

    Yes, and for the exact same thing. Except it was over Macaroni and cheese.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      My kids are on a mac and cheese kick. They inhale that stuff right now. And clementines, my youngest ate like 6 of them for breakfast this morning. :)

      Reply
  • Moe

    February 4, 2011

    Ugh! I’m guilty of this. My kids have heard me gone a little ahem.. crazy. I’ve been close to ordering a code “red” (A few good men style)

    What I find amazing is that kids will easily forgive. I wish I can forgive that easy.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Easily forgive… Isn’t that the case? Glad I’m not alone! :)

      Reply
  • Ben

    February 4, 2011

    Welcome to the “I just yelled at my kid and I’m an ass” club. Moe’s right in that they will easily forgive, but it’s imperative you ask for forgiveness and not just assume everything is “a-ok.”

    Reply
    • Moe

      February 4, 2011

      BTW, we are having an “I just yelled at my kid and I’m an ass club” board meeting next week.

      I have the agenda if you are interested.

      Ben, you bring the cookies and Dustin, you bring the milk (1% please).

      Reply
      • Ben

        February 4, 2011

        1% is not milk, that’s straight white water.

        Reply
        • Moe

          February 4, 2011

          LOL. True dat!

          Reply
        • Donald Borsch Jr

          February 4, 2011

          Why’s it gotta be “white water”? Why can’t it be caucasian water? Ben,… LOL! Jokes!

          Reply
          • Ben

            February 4, 2011

            Words. I got none.

            Reply
        • Dustin

          February 4, 2011

          I drink skim milk. What is that? LOL

          Reply
      • Dustin

        February 4, 2011

        I can bring whatever kind of milk is needed. I think we have skim, 1%, and whole in fridge right now!

        Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Ben, are you a founding father? ;)

      Reply
  • Tom Raines

    February 4, 2011

    O yes, I have had to ask for forgiveness many many times. That is a great time to show humility and transparency. It’s a much longer story than this but I actually told my 18 year old I was soooo ready for her to go to college and get out of my house. I was able to share how I felt like th prodigal son’s father and it was time to let her go…I meant it and it saddened me but it also was like shock treatment for her.She was much more restrained from then on out and our relationship has never been better. Maybe the letting go was harsh but was, in the end, healthy. I didn’t have to apologize for the message just the way I relayed it!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Thanks for sharing that Tom. I felt the same way last night: the message was okay (she needed to eat her food), but I totally communicated it in an unhealthy way. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Reply
  • Adam

    February 4, 2011

    I have done this, and not something that makes you feel good afterwards.
    The good thing is that kids forgive pretty easy. The main thing is not to make yelling at your children common. It will just make forgiveness more difficult.

    Good post Dustin, and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      thanks for sharing your thoughts, adam!

      Reply
  • Donald Borsch Jr

    February 4, 2011

    No worries, Dustin. These things will happen. Shake it off, see it for what it was, and move on. Your daughter will have no lasting damage, I am quite sure.

    You’re doing a great job as a father. Don’t forget that!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Thanks, Donald! I suppose its all part of the what it looks like to be a dad…

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    February 4, 2011

    Yes–more times that I want to admit. 5 kids, small house, tight finances–stress arises and with that many children some days it seems like someone is always “getting into” something. We talke about grace and forgivness A LOT.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      matt- i can relate in many ways. while we don’t have 5 kids, we do have a pretty small living space, tight budget, and things just happen… I like what you said- talking about grace and forgiveness. I want to learn how to model those things in my everyday life with my kids. Do you see a different between the older and younger ones? (ex. the message you communicate, etc).

      Reply
  • Jay Cookingham

    February 4, 2011

    In my 21 years of being a dad the most powerful thing I have learned is saying the words…”Please forgive me”. My willingness to admit when I’m wrong has brought my kids closer to my heart.

    It’s a hard lesson but a good one…keep up the good work bro’

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Jay, that is powerful advice. In no way do I want me kids to think I am perfect, and I think you’re right- in the end it will be a ‘hard lesson, but ultimately show a humble heart with a sincere desire for change.

      Reply
    • Randy Kinnick

      February 4, 2011

      Wise words, Jay. I, too, have learned that lesson in my 21 years as a dad. The journey is awesome!

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    February 4, 2011

    I’m guilty of this, more than I want to admit. Anger is a huge struggle for me, every single day. I don’t want them to suffer for my sin, though, and so, I’m going to keep working at it.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Thanks for sharing Kristin. I think a lot of parents struggle with it- sometimes I might not be ‘vocal’ about it, but I get just as frustrated in my head… and have to deal with a little bit of bitterness.

      Reply
  • Keri

    February 4, 2011

    I wish that the instances in which I’ve raised my voice at my boys were as solitary as your story. :( I’ve found that they can push my buttons very easily, and I quickly jump to anger, frustration and irritation with them. It makes me very sad and frustrated with myself. I do ask them for forgiveness. The oldest is 4, so I think he knows what that means although he doesn’t completely seem to understand.

    I’ve heard that if you discipline your children in anger the only thing they will remember is the anger, and not the discipline. I try really hard not to discipline out of anger, but it’s funny how it happens more often than it doesn’t. Thank goodness God is with me and helping me work through this! How anyone is able to parent successfully without the Father by their side, I have no idea.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      So true! Without our heavenly Father, it would be so much more difficult… futile, even.

      I enjoyed what you wrote about disciplining in anger. I think that be so true at times- when our hearts aren’t right, who’s to say we are even in a place to discipline our children? I mean, I think we have a responsibility as parents to discipline no matter what, but the condition of even our hearts have to be considered. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  • Some Wise Guy

    February 4, 2011

    Dude, totally been there. Worst feeling in the world. I’ve had to apologize to my kids for shouting a few times and it’s one of the most humbling experiences in the world.

    They sure know how to push buttons, but gotta remind myself who the parent is.

    That isn’t to say my son doesn’t warrant the “Dad voice” every once in awhile. I find it very effective for instantaneously curbing attitudes.

    Reply
  • Dustin

    February 4, 2011

    KC, I appreciate you sharing that. It has been nice to see that I’m not alone… :) (And believe me, I have a dad voice as well!)

    Reply
  • Michelle

    February 4, 2011

    About a 1000 times a week. LOL. My oldest has Aspergers and hates chaos. My second child is hyper, but containable. My son is like a tasmanian devil. He has sensory issues and is always needing some sort of stimulation to rid himself of all his energy. It’s winter here and you can imagine how cooped up he feels. Some days I just lose my cool. I can’t stand one more ounce of noise, or crying from the oldest because of the noise or the way the middle child antagonizes him. If I’m tired, its even worse. I had to say my sorry to all three kids last week. I went off on a rant and it wasn’t pretty. They were disobedient, so I still had to hold the line with them, but I apologized for my own actions. I think humility is the best thing we can teach our kids. If we act like we have all the answers or know everything, they will hate us. Good points Dustin.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      I know what you mean by feeling cooped up. You definitely have to get creative with things to do! :) Michelle, thanks again for sharing part of your story with us!

      Reply
  • Michelle

    February 4, 2011

    You and Jen are such great parents. I love to read and hear about your stories. And I love how you’re able to see God in everything!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Thanks, Michelle! We can’t wait to stop by and see “Fido’s”!

      Reply
  • Randy Kinnick

    February 4, 2011

    Dustin, I’ve been there and done that. I remember when I yelled at my daughter (can’t even remember now what it was about) and immediately was convicted about it. After I calmed down, went to her, got down on her level and looked her square in the eyes and said something like, “Sweetie, I am sorry for yelling at you. I wasn’t wrong to correct you for not obeying, but I was wrong to yell at you that way. I’m sorry and I ask you to forgive me.” Then we hugged to make sure she understood that I loved her.

    The next morning, I was still feeling so bad about, I went in and talked with my boss (I worked in a Christian school system) about it and he told me basically, “welcome to the club.” …the humanity club where we aren’t perfect as parents.

    I like your words, “In the end, I want my life to communicate that their daddy is far from perfect, yet points to a heavenly Father who is infinitely perfect.” We always have the opportunity for the issues of life to teach a lesson. I also suggest that our willingness to ask for forgiveness when we’ve wronged our children will help them to learn the value of forgiveness and admission of wrong in their lives, as well as a respect for authority.

    Thanks for being transparent…you’re a good dad!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 4, 2011

      Thanks Randy, I’m glad I’m not alone and now part of the “humanity club”. I really appreciate you sharing your story/experience with you. Thanks for affirming in your comments-I completely agree with you: I want to take advantage of these moments, use them as opportunities to teach a lesson, and ultimately point to Christ.

      Reply
  • jenn

    February 4, 2011

    Been there, done that. I always feel so bad when I raise my voice to my daughter. I try not to, but it happens. The last time I got frustrated with her, I apologized and she hugged me and said, “I always forgive you Mommy.” Very sweet.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 5, 2011

      I wish even we would have that response, “I will always forgive….”. Very sweet!

      Reply
  • Sandy Sandmeyer

    February 5, 2011

    I believe that even using names in a joking manner, when my 16 year old son knows that we’re having fun, has made a difference my son’s self-esteem and not in a good way. I have to struggle to speak positive, loving comments into his life to try to fix the damage I’ve done. I am so not proud of myself.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 5, 2011

      I think you’re right, Sandy. The importance of simply speaking positively has to be top-of-mind for us.

      Reply
  • Bryan Thompson

    February 5, 2011

    Dustin, man oh man, I’ve been there. I’ve lost my patience – in fact, I think it was over the same thing. My 3 yr-old is so very picky. We try to be well-rounded, but there’s only so much snacking we allow them to do. While I do feel terrible when I lose my patience, I am not beyond telling her, “I was wrong and shouldn’t have talked to you that way.” I think it shows our kids that we’re humans just like they are. Thanks for being bold enough to share your experience.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 8, 2011

      Absolutely, thanks for sharing yourself Bryan. I think that is the key-what you said- always being open to asking for forgiveness.

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    February 5, 2011

    No children yet, but I find myself having to ask forgiveness from my fiancee. We are both under a lot of weight as we transition several areas of our lives (and move towards becoming one!). Sometimes, on particularly rough days, my words are harsh. I feel shame even writing this.

    God has shown me, in those moments, that the proper response is always an apology. By God’s grace we are quick to forgive one another and discuss what brought us to this point. We both walk away learning something from it and I find the harsh words from both sides subside (though proving we’re sinners they always come back).

    I doubt it is quite the same with kids. They cannot understand the world the way us adults can. All they can see is dad is mad for some reason.

    Thank you for sharing this moment with us (and thanks for all the amazing comments). I am reading them and will remember.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 6, 2011

      Alex, thanks for sharing your experience. Thanks for tour readership!

      I enjoyed hearing that you’ve enjoyed reading the comments … I’m pretty humbled that so many people are being transparent with their experiences as well.

      Reply
  • Bernard Shuford

    February 5, 2011

    I have to deal with this basically every day.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 8, 2011

      Thanks for sharing Bernard. As you can see in some of the comments, you’re not alone! :)

      Reply
  • Faith Barista Bonnie

    February 7, 2011

    I’m guilty of this too. And I am thankful I can always ask for forgiveness because my child will know that even if I’m not perfect, my love for them is.

    Kinda the verse that says that love perfects everything. So, they see that no matter what we do wrong, we can love each other and because of that it can work out.

    Because quite honestly, that is the one and only thing I fall back on, when I’m at a loss in parenting (which happens everyday). :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 7, 2011

      Bonnie, I think you’re right. Love is such a powerful thing: it accepts, it embraces, and it restores. And….. I’m at a loss in parenting quite a bit as well. :)

      Reply

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