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How Could They Push My Buttons?

At times, I think the only difference between a parent with adult children and parents of young children is this: The parents of younger children haven’t dodged the bullets that the parents of adult children have…Yet.

I am so grateful that my kids have grown up in relative safety; knowing that most of that safety is direct divine intervention. I marvel that I made it to adulthood! Without telling embarrassing stories, my brother and should have gotten injured more often than we actually did. There should have been many hospital visits.

I guess what they say is true: God looks out for children and idiots.

On top of it, I live in utter awe of my mother’s ability…NAY, HER VERY POWER OF IRON WILL to not take me out as a teenager.

I was an idiot.

Again, children and idiots…children and idiots.

Which brings me to my thought: How do we keep from killing our children?

Yes, I know. Morbid.  But, hang with me for a second.

Ok, maybe we aren’t tempted to kill our kids. But, they do know how to push all the right buttons.

Let’s be honest. Dads are known for blowing their tops more than moms are.  Yes, moms can do it too. But, dads are the ones with adrenaline flowing. We are the ones more prone to violence. We are more likely to react violently in anger.

So, how do we keep from abusing our kids when we come to that point of melt down?

We will be tired. They really will be on our very last nerve.  And we will yell with Bill Cosby’s Wife, at the top of our lungs; “I’ve Had Enough of This!”

In my household, there are three things that keep me from eating my young.

1. Safety Valve named Spouse!

First, I have a wife.  We act as good safety valves for each other. There have been times when I am just about to loose it that she steps in and deals with the kids.

I need to be man enough to let her. I need to be adult enough to recognize my own limitations. I have to care enough for my children, squash my ego instead of squashing my rug-rats.

If you don’t have a spouse, I don’t know what your safety valve can be. Perhaps you can talk with some other single dads and see what is working for them.

2. Accountability Partner

Another thing that keeps me on the straight and narrow is an accountability partner. I meet with another pastor in town, and we talk about stuff we want to be held accountable on. For me, one area of accountability is how I treat my kids.

Just the knowledge that I’m going to have to face Jeff on Thursday mornings has been enough for me to keep my cool.

3. Choose the Opposite

Lastly, I choose to do the opposite.

This is a self-control thing. I made the decision while still at work that I was going to try this on my eldest prince. I intentionally decided that:

  • Instead of getting louder, I would get softer.
  • Instead of spanking, I would tickle.
  • Instead acting angry at him, I would smother him with affection.


I kid you not. I didn’t have to spank him once that night. The night was sooooo much more pleasurable for all of us in the household.

Look, I don’t know how you can absolutely, 100%, not go nuclear on your kids. But maybe, just maybe, these ideas can help you in some way.

So, how do you keep from killing your kids?