In most families dad seems to carry a lot of stress. If he takes his job as protector/provider seriously, he most likely wants life to run smoothly at home because he can’t always control the circumstances at work.
If you find your husband getting frustrated at things at home that you don’t necessarily think are a big deal, this blog is a good opportunity to think through how you approach those times when you know he’ll say or do something he might regret.
Are you his friend in helping to calm the storm before it lashes out on the kids?
Now trust me when I say that you can’t stop all the emotion that rises up within him, but as his wife and mother of your children you do have the ability to add gas to the already brewing fire or have an opportunity to calm his emotions if the two of you are parenting toward the same goals.
So what can you do when you know ahead of time that your husband will react strongly to a situation in your home?
A. Not tell him.
B. Just let the chips fall where they may, after all it’s his reaction not yours.
C. Let him know in advance what is coming his way so that he will have time to think through his response.
D. Give him advance warning and make some suggestions on calming himself.
E. Give him advance warning, make suggestions that might help him self-calm, and give him some suggestions on how to not unleash his frustrations on his kids.
This past weekend I knew that my husband was stressed about an upcoming trip for work. In addition, he’s one who needs time to deal with transitions and we are in the midst of lots of them — a college student coming home next week for the summer, an older son moving back to the states from overseas who will be staying with us for a while until he can find a house. Furniture to move, lawn to mow, exhaustion, muscle stiffness, and a presentation to prepare added to his list of stresses.
Then my phone rang, “Mom, I think I need to come home this weekend, I’m not only sick but I’m not sure I can drive. I popped my shoulder out and I’m in a lot of pain.”
These words were from a kid who had shoulder surgery a year ago.
“How did you do it, son?” I calmly responded. (Know that I’ve really had to work on the ‘calmly’ part. Calmness comes from lots of opportunity to practice and failing miserably. 🙂 )
“Playing volleyball. I know, it was dumb.”
And I knew that the words would heap a lot more emotion and stress on my husband.
So what can you do to help your husband deal with the emotion and stress of similar situations? The correct answer is cultivate an environment where we not only give him ample warning, but help him return to calm and then help him work through non-emotional responses.
- Start with the facts. “Honey, I know this will probably upset you, but _______ did something really stupid and is going to need our help.” Then non-emotionally share the facts.
- Expect the emotion and remain calm. Allow your husband to get emotional with you. Empathize and let him know that you understand why he is upset. Comfort him to the point that he can talk rationally. Things like “our son needs us to be strong right now” or “remember that we need to be here to support our daughter in the midst of this” helps our spouse return to the fact that he needs to respond like the good parent he wants to be.
- With his permission, talk about healthy ways he might respond. “I know that you are upset, but I also know that you want a good relationship with our son, maybe it’s best to not tell him how upset you are, but to just help him in the situation he is in. We can save the ‘this is what you should have done’ conversation until after the crisis we’re in has blown over.”
If you get in the habit of responding this way (know that most of us need lots of practice), it is amazing how the relationships in the family can change dramatically. The storms seem to blow over more quickly and the tone of the house is more peaceful.
If your husband is like mine, his storm inside might brew for a little while longer, but those feelings can be sifted through together as husband and wife rather than heaped onto the kids as burdens that they will need to carry for a lifetime.
As a general rule, men need help in connecting with their kids in a healthy way during times of stress and conflict. God designed us to work in harmony as we parent through the teen years.
Genesis 2:18 (HCSB)
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Dare you to practice bringing peace to your family when stress has the potential of destroying relationships. Helping our husbands in this way can create unity in parenting and strengthen our marriage.
Double dare you to share this with your husband and ask if this would be helpful as you parent together.
“Let go…and let God”,
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