The scene was one of laughter and joy, reading the Berenstain Bears Go To School book. Sister goes to get on the bus, and my son imagines himself being in her place.
“What if I just stood there and didn’t get on the bus?” he asked.
“The bus driver would say, ‘come on,'” I said, waving my arm. My son repeated the question.
“The bus driver may honk his horn and ask you to get on the bus,” I said in reply. I could feel my sons tension build, as he didn’t seem to be liking my answers.
This back-and-forth continued until my four year old used all his strength to squeeze my arm. I laughed in confusion, which only escalated his anger. What did he want me to say? That the bus driver would leave him behind?
Looking back I know I could have taken an alternate route. I continued to smile, laughing at times, and even told him that his punches tickled. Yeah, who’s the father in this situation?
I ended up having to leave the room, so he could cool down, which did not go over well. I’m not sure exactly where this fit came from, and I’ll probably never know. I do know that I can relate to being frustrated when things don’t go the way I envision.
But I ask anyone reading this how does a father best hold himself in such a situation? I don’t want to just accept that this, “is in his blood” or something. Yes, alcoholism runs in families. Poverty runs in families. Abusive fathers are often followed by abusive fathers or abused mothers. But goodness and love also run in families.
I learned of a study published in 1915 by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, when a member of the New York prison board recognized that there we six family members serving in one of the prisons.
Max Jukes, born in 1720, was known as a…let’s just say he wasn’t exactly a role model. He had six daughters and two sons. From there, 1200 of their descendants were studied, 341 were alcoholic or drug addicts (and not of the recovered variety), 310 were homeless, 150 criminals, seven of them committed murder.
Both of these examples bring up the environment and lineage forming a child’s future. Is it nature or nurture? Is my son or daughter set to repeat my mistakes? Maybe, as long as they repeat my strengths and positive characteristics, too.
Another family around that time was also studied was John Edwards, born in 1703. He was the president of Princeton University. He was a family man, had 11 children. 1400 of his descendants were studied. Among these, 13 were college presidents, 66 were professors, 100 were attorneys, 85 were authors, 32 were state judges, 66 were physicians, and 80 were holders of public office, including three governors, three senators, and one vice president of the united states.
Now, I haven’t dug deep into the many contributing factors of each of these blood lines. Granted, there is a lot at play when we are talking about life influence, but I know which one I’d like to guide my son and daughter toward.
Now, if I could just pinpoint how my son developed his quickness toward anger.