We all leave the hospital and climb into the car / truck / minivan with our baby, with the new baby scent, and tell our wife, “He’s the best thing we’ve ever done.” And it’s true.
Fast-forward 15 years: This time I’m in the driver’s seat while he’s in the back seat arguing with his younger brother. Then someone spills a water bottle because they can’t find the cap. I get blamed for bringing the wrong snacks. The volume escalates and so does my blood pressure. Then Mad Dad arrives.
I don’t like being Mad Dad, but I’ve discovered I usually get mad for two reasons.
1. Because of their behavior. Disobedience, disrespect, whining, fighting, and irresponsible behavior lead me to yell. I find myself saying phrases like, “How many times have I told you to hang up your jacket?” and “I’m throwing away all the Legos tomorrow if you can’t take care of them!”
2. Because of the sinful thoughts and desires in my heart. When I think about all my many mad moments (moments, days, weeks, etc.). Four triggers really lead to my frustration, and they’re all related to my mind & soul.
I know that being a “Mad Dad” isn’t who I want to be.
My response to my sinful, anger outbursts goes like this:
Yet I can’t seem to control the anger as it builds up inside of me and flows out of my mouth. I know why I get angry and I know Mad Dad isn’t who I want to be. So, what’s the next step for a Mad Dad? I think that’s my problem: I want a step-by-step guide to tell me “If this, then that” to teach me how to not get ridiculously angry.
I want to be a perfectly-performing papa with well-behaved boys. My goal is to have calm, compliant, obedient, and respectful kids, but God has a different goal in mind. God uses parenting to purify. God is more concerned with maturing us, in the fiery furnace of family life, than making sure our children are compliant and calm.
It’s true. It is. God is all about conforming us more and more into the image of His Son. He’s not at all concerned with our outward obedience if our inward motivation isn’t driven by love. So then what’s a Mad Dad to do?
It’s discouraging for “trying hard” dads to hear that there isn’t a guaranteed way to solve our Mad Dad issues, but I do have hope to offer. Let’s never forget that God is all about our relationship with Him and our kids. He wants this instead of what looks proper or acceptable. He’ll create situations we cannot handle to bring us back to Him. He equips us to parent. He never forsakes us.
There is no checklist and I’m sure these words sound great as you read them, but when your tween acts out, well, that’s when our faith and love get real. Let’s remember that moving away from anger is a marathon with a road full of potholes and hurdles.
When we left the hospital, we knew our kids were the best thing we’d ever done. My fellow Mad Dads, don’t give up on yourself or your kids. Even if we’re mad, our kids are always the best thing we’ve ever done. Amen?
See you Sunday.
*disclaimer: I’m a dad, not a mom, I cannot write from any other perspective.