Updated: Jul 30, 2021
An article on bad parenting, reacting rather than responding, learning from mistakes and the fact that 'doing' is harder than 'knowing'
The catalyst for this short article is not one of my proudest moments; I’m writing about it to help myself learn from my mistake. And I am sharing it because some people may also learn from my example. And whilst I’ve already apologised to my beautiful daughter, I’d like to do it again…
Two days ago I lost my temper with my daughter and ended up yelling and swearing at her. I had a valid reason to be upset, however, there was no justification for me to lose control, raise my voice and swear at a 13-year old girl. My response to her error was completely out of proportion.
What’s worse is that I did this in public, in front of friends (hers and mine), and in hindsight at a moment when she was having such fun and joy with her mate. My actions crushed this joy with just a few words and some flapping of arms… That 30-seconds of anger ruined my daughter’s night and mine.
In the spirit of Stoicism — where I am still only at the beginning of my journey — I am learning from my mistake and am taking away three key lessons from this moment of self described “crap parenting”
Lesson 1: You can always control how you react
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
The above quote by Viktor E. Frankl resonates with me. In the moment, I couldn’t find the space to give myself the ability to choose my response. I can come up with all the excuses in the world, such as; work pressures, stress, timing, etc. However, those are lame-arse excuses for inexcusable behaviour.
To borrow from Stoicism, the only things that are truly up to us are our Thoughts, Judgement and Actions. Therefore, these elements are what we should all be focusing on improving. No matter what event or stimuli has just happened, you have control over what you Think about it, how you Judge the situation and finally what Action you take.
Lesson 2: Learn from your mistakes
“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.”
I am still embarrassed about my behaviour yesterday, however, the best thing about making mistakes is that you can learn from them! I am trying not to beat myself up too much or hold onto the negative emotion for too long (that doesn’t help anyone), because no one is perfect — and certainly not me.
What’s important when you make a mistake is that you should analyse and learn from it, rather than dwell on it.
Lesson 3: ‘Doing’ is harder than ‘knowing’. “Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honoured. Dying…or busy with other assignments.” Marcus Aurelius You would think that someone who teaches leadership, is studying Stoicism and has spent over 500 hours in the past year learning what tools, techniques and behaviours hyper-successful people use to excel in their lives would be able to control their emotions and not lose their sh#t? The thing is, taking action is harder than simply understanding something or talking about it. Carl Gustav Jung said; “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” i.e. we must walk the talk. It’s not easy to walk the talk, however, the good news is that if I continue to build my self-awareness, and focus on having a growth mindset, I’ll continue to learn from my mistakes and in future make less of them. So there it is! Parenting is hard sometimes and whilst I will continue to make mistakes, as long as I remember that; 1] I control my reactions, 2] mistakes are learning exercises and 3] I must walk the talk, then I think I’ll be fine… Writing this article has been a cathartic process, and I hope by sharing it I may help a few of you too. Cheers, Gareth.