Father Knows Squat

So, it’s been almost a week since Father’s Day, and I still find myself conflicted on how good a father I really am…well, to Little Girl Blue, anyway. Son of Blue was a pretty mellow kid, and we’ve never really had any troubles to speak of.

It’s not that I think I’m a bad father. That would be foolish. I provide for my little girl. I give her love and recognition of accomplishments. I make sure her meals are mostly nutritious and healthy and I try to take all the boo-boos seriously, even the ones I know are mostly imaginary.

But I often feel like I don’t have the patience that I should. I fear that I get upset more quickly than I should. I am a mellow guy who likes to be able to talk, with a daughter who is the antithesis of mellow and who will routinely challenge my calm requests and directions until I feel I am forced into needing the (metaphorical) rod with which to discipline her or get her back on track.

And this is where I feel a disconnect between the daddy I want to be and the daddy I end up being. Sometimes I’m pretty sure that even when I don’t like what I do, I do it because it’s necessary, but at times I wonder if it’s just a bad reaction.

I was on a trip recently, with some people from our church, one of whom is a librarian at our local library. She was commenting to my wife how great she and the other librarians think I am with Little Girl Blue whenever we visit to get some books or DVDs.

Yet I often feel like I’m an ogre who’s always telling her “slow down” or “stop that” or “open those listening ears.” I feel like controlling jerk, and I also worry that she’s driving everyone up a wall.

And yet here I’m getting praise for my fathering, and everyone sees Little Girl Blue as a charming and wonderful child (which she is, despite the fact that her energy levels sometimes cause problems and stresses for me).

So it makes me wonder about my own assumptions. Am I a really good dad, instead of merely the (mostly) competent one I see myself as? Am I raising my daughter to function well in society and balance the needs of others with her frenetic approach to life?

I suppose in the end, it’s better that I question myself and sometimes beat up on myself. I suppose it’s better that when I discipline her, I try to analyze whether it was the right thing to do, and feel pain at having to deprive her of something she enjoys or otherwise make her life uncomfortable.

In the end, though, will I ever celebrate a Father’s Day without wondering whether I really deserve any special rewards for my efforts?

No matter what people tell your about parenting, these are among the things they don’t mention. You know you’ll wring your hands over your daughter dating but no one tells you how heart-wrenching it will be to tuck her in having wanted sweetness and kisses, but realizing that to get her under the sheets, you just had to take away some privilege or threaten to put a toy in the “black bag.”

I love being a father, but at the same time, I feel like I’m always in uncharted territory now. And I wonder whether that will ever change.


9 Responses to “Father Knows Squat”

  1. 1 Big Man
    June 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Parents should make their children’s lives uncomfortable.
    Parents should be a correcting force, although that correction must be balanced with love. I wonder if you are feeling this way because your wife leaves much of the correcting to you, while she gets to mainly be “good parent.” I know with my wife, she loathes disciplining the boys, and will often let things build until she explodes with them. On the other hand, I tend to be fairly firm most of the time to establish a baseline of acceptable behavior. I think, and it’s just my opinion based on life and the Bible, that’s what fathers should do. If you’re doing that, and it sounds like you are, then stop fretting and worrying.

    Have some faith Deac.

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    June 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Faith doesn’t preclude second-guessing, Big Man. 😉

    Nor does it make things feel better when I find myself having to be “rough” at a time when I’ve made it so easy for my daughter to simply do right and not set me off.

    As for Mrs. Blue, she’s no pushover, and it’s not like she’s pushed discipline to me, though admittedly she has been a bit slower to see the need for a firmer hand on a more frequent basis. But in all honesty, we’ve both been more sluggish in clamping down as Little Girl Blue has become more…um…headstrong. 😛 On the other hand, one could say I was too quick at times to raise my voice or exact a consequence for actions, but that’s a tough call.

    Anyway, just my thoughts. This post is a lot more about how I’m a negotiator and peacemaker, and that mindset is often at odds with my role as a father. That makes things very uncomfortable for me, and make parenting a bit less pleasurable and rewarding at times than I’d like. Conflict rocks my world…and not in the good way.

  3. 3 Big Man
    June 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm


    I never had a problem with conflict, a fact my wife bemoans constantly. I don’t have fights with random people, but I have no problem with conflict, particularly with my kids. Honestly, I kind of like making them jump a little bit and keeping them in line.
    I think that you might expect a little too much from you daugther. I had the same problem. What I’ve discovered is often when intelligent, generally decent kids consistently do the same wrong thing over and over, it’s because they haven’t physically or mentally matured enough to do the right thing. I’ve noticed that kids lack impulse control on scale that’s unimaginable until you have kids. I’ve seen my son do stuff he knows not to do, and instantly regrets, but couldn’t stop himself from doing because he doesn’t know how to govern that little voice in his head provoking him to wrong, or heed the voice telling him to do right.

    Relax and, like I said, don’t beat yourself up. It’s good to have standards as a parent, and I doubt you’re being abusive towards your little girl. Trust me, I had a really, REALLY rough dad and if you’re motives are right, kids usually find a way to love you.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    June 26, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I appreciate the kind words, Big Man…Little Girl Blue still calls me the “best daddy in the world” so I guess I’m not traumatizing her much…LOL

    You’re probably right on the impulse control. She’s started lying about foolish things lately, and that’s gotten under my skin. In fact, it’s taken front seat in my “must stamp this out” list.

  5. June 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I so totally identify with this post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. 6 Big Man
    June 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm


    Yeah, my son is going through a phase where he likes to say “Why” when I tell him to do something. I promise you the first time he did that it took all my strength not to snatch him up and beat him.

    I have given him some warnings, and he’s on notice that the next time he says “Why” it’s an automatic spanking, no matter what. The other day I told to clean something up, and he went to do it, and came back and said “I didn’t say ‘Why’ daddy.” Kids are hilarious.

  7. 7 Deacon Blue
    June 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Yeah, I’ve tried to drill into my girl that when I suggest you do something or ask you to do something, you’re entitled to ask “Why?” (though not repeatedly) or suggest an alternate action if you have one to offer.

    But when I TELL you to do something (and I’m pretty sure she’s old enough to realize the difference between being TOLD and being ASKED), you do it NOW, and AFTERWARD if you have questions or complaints, you can lodge them with me.

  8. 8 Inda Pink
    June 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    From the reports of my huge spy network it seems like you’re doin’ fine Deke but if you want to trade I think I’ll take your fully ambulatory and communicative almost 5-year-old and trade you one 20-month-old girl and you can start over and refine your skills with someone who still don’t communicate so well, pees/poops her pants and is only just learning how to get up a set of stairs.

  9. 9 Deacon Blue
    June 30, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I’ll pass, but thanks for the offer, Pink.

    However, I will gladly trade the following dude 5 years of my life to have his dancing skills:

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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