Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax for Jan. 29: What to tell your kids when a parent loses control

January 30, 2017
in Kids

My husband and I work at home together and get along exceptionally well ... that is, until we don't. Once in a great long while we will have a huge blow-up. It doesn't get physical but my husband will start dropping the F-bomb. Last night such a dispute occurred -- he swore and stomped around and the kids could hear. We have household rules about cussing -- but he lost his temper. He is under stress at work and I think this contributes a great deal to his loss of control. Today I get the silent treatment. It will pass by tomorrow -- at least it usually does. What to tell the kids? You tell the kids what you always tell the kids when one of you screws up. You say you're sorry -- in this case, he says it -- and admit the mistake by name. "I lost my cool, no excuses. You deserve a better effort from me." If he refuses, then you need to tell the kids you're sorry you argued, you'll work with Daddy on it and it's going to be OK. Kids -- people, I should say -- are naturally inclined to lie their way out when they're busted, so push against this by making it clear that mistakes aren't big horrible things that must never be said out loud. Normalize the admission of fault, normalize a show of love for family members at their least lovable times. This is the whole purpose of "household rules" and the adults who serve as their enforcers, beyond just keeping a household in line. Kids need to...

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