Blaming first? Try empathy instead.

A great, short clip on blame from Brene Brown.

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Start beating your spouse, TODAY!

So here’s the scenario: you got married and now you’re at one of those crossroads: your spouse, in your opinion, is spending recklessly. Going out to the bar or the coffee shop too often. Buying new clothes or shoes all the time when the old ones are still fine. And this behaviour didn’t stop last month when the two of you both suddenly became unemployed. It has to stop right? You’ve had “the talks” before, but the behaviours just don’t seem to change. Each Monday rolls around, you check the finances and AGAIN the spending is still there. What should you do? Of course the clear, evidence based answer here is beat your spouse. Now I know, you should beat too hard, just enough so they get the message and learn from their…. Wait, WTF?

Are you buying this? I doubt it. But let’s step back a page and replace all instances of spouse with child. Sound familiar? Just a light little spanking. Just a light hit so they understand “who’s in charge.” In what universe does this sound healthy? If your spouse beat you (light it not), what would you do? You’d either hit back or leave. But what can a child do? NEITHER! Think about the cognitive dissonance when a child looks at you, the primary caregiver, the person in the world to trust, the comforter, and also sits in a state of fear because you also beat them.

And don’t for a minute sugar coat it. I use the word beat because that’s what it is. Spanking, since we have grown up around it, in some cases doesn’t sound that bad, right? Call it whatever you want. Beating is beating. Don’t rationalize it.

So what can you do?

  • Empathize
  • Assume best intent
  • Remember that discipline means to teach.

What is an awesome dad?

An awesome dad:

  • Someone who shows empathy both within his family and to those outside
  • Assumes the child is doing the best with what they have. Even when throwing a tantrum. They aren’t trying to manipulate us any more or less than you try to manipulate your spouse when you want the nice new set of tools. Think about it.
  • Models what it means to accept every human where they are at
  • Has a growth mindset and is constantly encouraging lifelong learning
  • Helps the child learn about the world via coaching and guiding, not through shame, guilt and punishment
  • Plays with his kids

There it is. Six easy bullets to awesome dads. What would you add?

Tip 9: find ways to say yes

Let’s face it: hearing no sucks. As a little one, your hear it a lot. This doesn’t always make it great, but hearing that they can have ice cream after dinner instead of “no, you just asked me,” is a much easier pill to swallow.

Tip 8: make it playful

Get them laughing! Brushing teeth a pain? I’ve been there… Not every night goes smoothly. Sometimes, you need to count all the teeth in their mouth. All ten thousand of them. Sometimes you need to search for boogers in their teeth, or mushrooms, or… Whatever it is, the sillier the better.

Tip 7: feelings are temporary

Feelings are temporary, and are meant to be felt. If we put off feelings, we bottle them up into a backlog of unfelt emotions waiting to burst like a volcano.

Tip 6: let them win

Play games and let your kids win… Give them some challenge, don’t literally roll over on them. But do let them win, and be playful about it. Don’t forget, your teaching them how to lose with grace… Role model here!