All at sea with a hormonally turbo-charged teenage daughter

‘There’s not much online for the tragi-comic untogether modern dad’

Sometimes it feels like parents are programmed to lose, no matter what we do

Okay, maybe it’s time to come clean: this parenting lark can be such a downer. Brings out the best in me, occasionally, but brings out the worst in me way too often. I struggle to get it right, thinking I am doing it for the best, but sometimes I have to ask myself am I just trying to come out on top in a battle of wills? One ego versus another? And me supposedly the responsible adult, but really owner of the bigger ego.

My dear, departed dad was a really good man, which I suspected as a child but luckily came to know when I became an adult myself.

But I remember as a kid hearing my dad saying certain things, in that horrible cross daddy way, and thinking I won’t ever be like that, or say anything so stupid or so obviously out of touch.

Guess what, I’ve heard myself saying things, and I have reacted to my kids in ways, that have left me red hot with shame and embarrassment right down into the pit of my belly.


Right now, the immediate issue is dealing – not always well – with a hormonally turbo-charged teenage daughter. All these things you encounter in a tantrumming tot, imagine them coming back from a person now adult-sized and physically imposing? And with the words to go with it? Trying to get the phone off her? “just one sec!” . . . “now” . . . “just one sec!!” . . . “no, we want it now” . . . “just one sec!!!” . . . expensive, monthly-plan phone tossed in our direction, bedroom door slams, again . . . swearing and shouting . . . and me the stoic, authorative oner, tantrumming right back at her.

Cripes, I can hear the self-pitying tone in this, but I am not going to edit it, try and make it clever, salvage my ego’s authority or status. This ego’s on toast. Sunny side down.

'Programmed to lose'

It’s just sometimes it feels like we parents are programmed to lose, no matter what we do, either appeasing and letting certain bad behaviours pass and accentuating the good stuff when it happens, or going the other way and imposing limits and boundaries, it seems to end up in the same place.

Well, that’s how I feel right now anyway.

Meanwhile, I’m Just back from exploring the net, looking for sites and posts about struggling dads, less than perfect dads . . . anything I could properly relate to.

The experts were all high up the search-engine charts, of course, smugly confident I would call them up first, and sit back rapt while they smoothly doled out the advice, mostly self-aggrandising statements of the blindingly obvious, all so formulaic and achievable – supposedly. By the book, or better, buy the book. Blaah! Blaaaaaah!

The crap-dad sites were mostly jokey, just playing for laughs. Of the cheaper variety. Not much in the line of pathos, bathos, or the tragi-comic drama of life as a thoroughly untogether modern dad.

The crap-dad sites were mostly jokey, just playing for laughs

And little in between, nothing that went even close to capturing what it’s like going through the good days, the not so good days and those days from a fresh hell. The whole gamut of parenting highs, lows, and blind stumblings towards enlightenment. The absurdity of the whole enterprise, and the sheer pointlessness of even trying to get a handle on it all. No guru, no method, no s**t.

So where is the magic site I’m looking for, the one where I can vent my frustrations, share an embarrassing but ultimately amusing tale or two, get some advice and reassurance in a way I can hear? Would it be, or Start my own site? I don’t think so.

Just writing this, but more importantly, with the minutes since my last blow-up ticking by, I am beginning to feel the tide of hope and optimism beginning their journey towards the shore again. Tidal not terminal.