Dad prioritizes his hug over son’s punctuality

It’s not his job, though, to keep his dad from getting upset.

  • By Wire Service
  • Monday, August 5, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Dear Carolyn:

I drive my son to school, but beforehand, we drop his sister at their dad’s, where she catches the bus.

We were running late one day, and my son did not want to take the time to go in, hug his dad, and say good morning to him. He felt stressed about getting to school on time. However, he forced himself to go in and do it, because otherwise, his dad gets upset.

Sounds perfectly innocent, right? A good son.

But, in general, their dad tends to prioritize his own needs above all else — even if those needs are that he gets a little visit with a hug and hello when a child is trying not to be late to school. How do I teach my children that their needs are important as well, even if their dad’s needs are not being met?

I can only imagine the roasting I’ll be getting in the comments section; however, this controlling trait does tend to extend to other aspects of his life with the kids.

— How to Deal With Controlling People

You’ll get roasted for what — raising a question with valid implication for your child’s long-term emotional health?

The first thing I hope you do, soon and without flinching, is to explain to your son that it’s not his job to keep other people from getting upset. Not his father, not you, not his teachers, not his friends. Each of us is responsible for our own feelings, and our own choices. His job — everyone’s job — is to know the rules and expectations, to know the consequences of meeting them versus not meeting them, and to make choices accordingly.

So, to apply it to your situation: It’s not your son’s job to manage his father’s feelings. Your son’s job is to know what his father’s preferences and expectations are; to know the consequences of meeting them (possibly being late) versus not meeting them (upsetting his dad); and to make his choice accordingly.

This process of awareness and decision-making will make your son the driver of his own life, versus his dad’s puppet, even if he decides to risk being late by going inside to hug his dad. This is how you equip him to know his own mind and own his own choices, which is how you equip him to deal with people, period — not just the controlling or difficult ones, though it is with them that healthy practices are the most handy.

If you’re wobbly on this stuff yourself, then good counseling could shore you up. It’s also covered concisely in “Lifeskills for Adult Children” by Woititz/Garner.

Re: Controlling People:

The book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” teaches children to say no. Very useful for kids who may have been raised to never say it.

—Anonymous

Re: Controlling People:

The hug-needing dad is a complete control freak and I worry about both of those kids.

— N.M.

The parent who wrote the letter sees through it, at least — that gives them a fighting chance.

— Washington Post Writers Group

Talk to us

More in Life

Washington’s most beloved state park turns 100

Deception Pass State Park, which draws as many visitors as the best-known national parks in the U.S., celebrates a century of recreation and conservation

Hydrangea and rose
July checklist for Snohomish County gardeners

After a slow start to summer, things should take off this month. So keep planting and nurturing.

Caption: The 12 week Edmonds Community Police Academy was a free opportunity for private citizens to learn about law enforcement.
An inside look at how law enforcement works

A pregnant mother. A man who rescues abused horses and donkeys. A… Continue reading

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

So-called relaxing summer vacations can wear you out

To truly enjoy a family getaway, tone down your expectations. Everything won’t be picture-perfect.

Gimmelwald, built in an avalanche zone, yet specializing in alpine tranquility.
Roaming the Alps brings cultural insights along with the views

The Swiss have great respect for Alpine traditions and culture — and contempt for tourists who disrespect both.

Will TripMate cover costs for trip canceled for medical reasons?

After Stanley Wales cancels his diving trip to Bonaire, he files a travel insurance claim with TripMate. What’s taking them so long to respond?

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’ (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’

This Hinoki cypress is graceful and beautiful, and is very drought-tolerant once established.

Photo Caption: Butter prints like this one pressed a design into freshly made butter as a decoration or for marketing. Today, collectors search for antique butter prints and consider them folk art.
19th century farm families’ butter prints are coveted folk art

One example with a flower-and-heart design recently sold at auction for more than $5,000.

After two years of wellness, Covid finally hit this family, but thanks to vaccinations, the symptoms were mild. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Jennifer Bardsley’s fighting COVID-19 with vaccines and TLC

But even with vaccinations, the disease is scary for people like her with less than robust immune systems.

Turkey vultures’ pervious nostrils are among the features that help them feed on carrion. (The Columbian files)
In praise of turkey vultures, nature’s cleaning service

These raptors should be revered, not reviled, for their disposal of stinky, disease-laden animal matter.