Why’d I Really Yell at My Son? Because I Don’t Want Him to Become Entitled

"I want my kids to have more than I did, and I struggle with the balance of providing them with nice things, and them acting entitled."

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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, Frank, a 48-year-old father of four, talks about blowing up at his son over a pair of dirty tennis shoes. 

Okay, so what went down?

Some quick background – I have four sons, ages 18, 16, 14, and 11. They’re all active boys and recently my 14-year old decided to wear his brother’s tennis shoes without asking. These aren’t normal tennis shoes – they’re more of the “player-branded” $150 plus variety. And this pair was all white. Was. My 14-year-old wore them to play tackle football with about a dozen of his friends, on a muddy day. So, of course he came home with the shoes — these really expensive shoes — just covered in mud. We have plenty of “extra” shoes, so why someone would think of wearing those is beyond me.

Seems like a boneheaded move. Is that what set you off?

It was the blatant disrespect. First, the cost of the shoes was a big deal. But he also didn’t care because they “weren’t his”. That really made me mad. The shoes are just this week’s example, mind you. Other times it’s been clothing that isn’t his, or leaving dishes in the living room for me or my wife to pick up. Leaving his bike out in the rain. This just happened to be a really egregious and, like you said, “boneheaded” move on his part.

My wife seriously worries that I might have a heart attack the next time I pop off like this 

Does it take a lot to get you riled up?

I can tolerate a lot. And I do. I’m a sales guy, though, so my job can lead to a lot of pressure. I just can’t tolerate disrespect. We give our children a lot and, unfortunately, I think that can lead to ungratefulness … especially with this particular son. Our other sons don’t seem to be like that. I think there’s an inherent attitude that comes with being a 14-year-old boy, but him being so blasé about everything — just not caring that he’d ruined someone else’s stuff — really torques me.

How did you confront him about everything?

Pretty directly. After I blew my top, I explained that he doesn’t have the right to do what he did. Not with shoes, not with anything. I told him that he was going to pay to have the shoes professionally cleaned. Then, I got in my car and went to the store. I find that stepping away from the situation always helps me calm down quicker. I’m almost 50 now, and my wife seriously worries that I might have a heart attack the next time I pop off like this. Obviously, it’s not worth having a heart attack over a pair of ruined shoes, but I do need to make sure that my son understands the need to respect others and other people’s property. If he doesn’t figure it out, he’s going to be in for a rude awakening at some point.

Did you feel ashamed or embarrassed after losing it?

Nobody was around, but I always tell my wife immediately when something like this happens. I called her while I was driving to the store. She wasn’t surprised. She said that I need to learn to talk through things, as opposed to yelling. I really wish I could. I know this sounds cliché, but I grew up with a single mother, and we didn’t have much for a long time until she remarried. I want my kids to have more than I did, and I struggle with the balance of providing them with nice things, and them acting entitled.

I want my kids to have more than I did, and I struggle with the balance of providing them with nice things, and them acting entitled.

How did you feel after calming down?

Oh, I always regret it. I feel terrible. I don’t formally apologize, but I am able to explain why I get so angry. He’ll acknowledge it, and I’ll feel like I got through to him — at least temporarily. Until the next incident, that is. I’m hoping that, one day, it clicks for him, and we can avoid future confrontations.

 

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