Fatherhood lesson #5 is a family corollary to Newton’s Law of Gravity. Inelegantly put, stuff flows downhill.
It’s one that regularly grabs my ear and kicks my butt. The more time that you spend with the kids, the more attuned they’ll be to your moods and concerns and while you might tell kids otherwise, they are pretty perceptive. You help set the tone in the house and it does have an impact.
In this particular instance, I’ve found that if I respond harshly – whether it’s deserved or not – to a child, that child will pass the love onto a younger sibling. And if you have more than two children, you can watch it pass in a linear and chronological fashion through the children. So I’ve had to really work at trying to temper the response to the situation. Honestly, if I’m in a really bad mood then I can tell the kids to go to their rooms for a period so that I can come to grips with myself. When they were younger, there was confusion as to what they might have done but continued conversation with them can help understand that there are moments when Dad needs a break as much as any of them. They now understand that there are moments when I just tell them to go to their rooms while I regain control and that it’s nothing that they might have necessarily done themselves.
All told, it beats the stink caused by spreading the toxicity through the household.