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Why I Yelled at My Son (Who Didn’t Deserve It)

"I laid it on pretty hard – especially considering I was in an airport terminal. I yelled, and I even pulled out the classic 'I’m disappointed in you...' dad line. Ugh."

Welcome to “Why I Yelled,Fatherly’s ongoing series in which real dudes discuss a time they lost their temper in front of their wife, their kids, their coworker — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. It’s about yelling and what really triggers it. This time, a 39-year-old hardware engineer named Matt unloads on his son for some long-distance home un-improvement.

When was the last time you yelled?

A few months back.

What happened?

I was about to board an airplane home to Florida from Salt Lake City. I was on a business trip. So I get a call from my wife, and she tells me that my son was playing and scratched up the laminate wood flooring pretty badly.

Uh oh.

Yeah. So, being far away from the situation, all I could do was start to fume. I was really angry. My wife was having some girlfriends over, and she could tell I was just furious. She had to go entertain them, so she hung up with me, and I just stewed.

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How did your son come into it?

I tried calling my wife back, but she didn’t answer. So I called my son. I laid it on pretty hard – especially considering I was in an airport terminal. I yelled, and I even pulled out the classic “I’m disappointed in you…” dad line. Ugh.

So how did you leave it when you hung up the phone?

Well, I’m not typically a guy who blows up, so my son took it pretty rough. But it was my wife who was actually the most upset. She called me back and thanked me for creating a sobbing kid – while her friends were over – from 1,500 miles away. Kind of a bonehead move on my part. Definitely not helpful.

 

 

Couldn’t have been a pleasant flight home.

No, not at all. I had three whole hours by myself to think about what had happened and what I’d done. I felt like such an idiot. I realized that I called my son because I felt so helpless being away from home – not being there to see the extent of the damage. It was less about the gouges in the floor and more about the feeling of isolation. Being on the road is stressful enough, it only gets worse when something happens at home.

What happened when you landed back at home?

When I arrived, I apologized to my son and my wife for the blow up. I told them that it wasn’t the right place or the right time to express my frustration. And that it wasn’t really even about the messed up floor – it was just culminating stress.

Would you say you learned anything from the incident?

Definitely – parenting from the road isn’t easy. It should be done thoughtfully, not impetuously. Sitting on an airplane for three hours with nothing to think about except how you just made your kid cry is good forced reflection. That definitely set my head straight for the next time.

 

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