Open mouth...insert foot

Hello everybody. I haven’t been on here much in the last few weeks.

I made a big parenting goof tonight. I have a son who’s now 10, and he hates thunderstorms. There was one earlier over his mom’s house (we’re divorced and living about 25 miles apart) that knocked out the power today. While telling my kids goodnight over the phone, I checked the forecast and told him there might be some rain tonight, but at least there wouldn’t be another thunderstorm.

…then I kept reading the forecast for tomorrow, and saw there would be one in the afternoon. So, with only good intentions (to prepare my son), I mentioned that there was a chance of a thunderstorm tomorrow afternoon. You know…so he’s prepared for the possibility.

Then, half an hour later, his mom calls me berating me for upsetting him, because now he’s worrying about tomorrow’s storm and not going to sleep.

Before we divorced, it would have been me to be the one to go in and sit with him (and probably lay down beside him) until he falls asleep.

The kid is sensitive…like me. He worries about everything…like me.


(I’m just taking it hard. It’s not very often that I say things like this. It only happens once or twice a year. But, it’s always the same kid. I love him. I just don’t know what’s going to set him to tears. He tries to act tough, but underneath it all I know that he’s as sensitive as I was at his age…as sensitive as I often still am. My ex accuses me of not understanding him…but trust me, I can understand him better than she can, because he’s so much like I was.)


You did nothing wrong.

He is growing up and I bet an intelligent young boy.
He will be afraid, but he will learn and grow.

He will learn that he still is scared.
He will learn that his mother instead of sitting or lying beside him, calls you and accuses you.
He will learn that you are honest and tell and try to warn him, so he can prepare, and he will learn that you believe, this is a good strategy.
He will learn that he needs a strategy and that you will and can not always be around when there is a thunderstorm.
He will learn in the next week, and you will maybe help him, to come up with things (or people to call) he can do when there comes a thunderstorm.
It will be a good idea that he makes a list of these things, sensory stuff, books, blanket, music, thoughts, people… stuff that he knows is good.
He might learn that he will get through this, or if not that he needs to take his fear more serious and talk about it.

You are a good and caring father and you did telll him with good intentions. Don#t mix up relation problems and parenting problems.
And YES it is a major challenge and a change for all of you being divorced - having divorced parents- being not always there. Work out a anti thunder dance, fight routine or remember a cuddly toy.
He is sensitive and that is a wonderful quality. He could be sensitive and strong like his father.


Thank you for your calming response.

By the time the storm finally arrived…hardly a rumble could be heard. It went from dire prediction of thunderstorms, to a calm drizzly rain.

I’ll have to talk to my son about what sensory things he likes, what helps calm him down. (He likes to distract himself with videogames. He’s bothered by the sound of fireworks as much as thunder, so I made sure to ask of the hosts of the AirBnb we stayed on for the 4th of July if it gets noisy there…didn’t hear one firecracker!)

About a year ago, my eldest daughter gave her little brother a pair of shooting earphones, to help block the sounds that bother him so much. But, it’s even the thought of the noise that bothers him so.

I ought to be teaching my younger kids mindfulness. My parents only taught me mindfulness in the form of bedtime prayers when I was a kid, they had no concept of it. I first learned a technique to help me calm myself via progressive relaxation in my teens (I forget if it was junior high, high school, or where I learned it exactly).
Since then, I’ve learned a few more (more importantly, I’ve learned that mindfulness does not have to be tied to transcendental meditation, which is what my parents seemed to think, which bothered them because they consider TM to be counter to the faith they brought me up in).

Last week, when my youngest daughter was in one of her silent fits (she will refuse to speak when her brother makes her angry), I used a technique I read about how a school taught kindergarteners to use belly breathing. The teachers had the kids lie down on mats, with a “belly buddy” (a small stuffed animal) on their bellies. The kids would breathe slowly, watching their belly buddies rise and fall.

  • It calmed her mood very quickly, but she still went another minute or two before talking.

I think my son might respond as well, or better, to mindfulness. He is fairly bright for his age (not so much academically, but he seems to grasp concepts very well and speaks extremely well for a 10 year old).


I should teach my kids a things like this grounding technique. I first learned it from a mental health counselor. It’s as simple as 5,4,3,2,1…


My daughter had some serious somatic issues due to her health condition. This caused her having panic attacs. I brought her to a councilor.
she did something clever.
She asked her if anxiety was something good or bad.
And my daughter answered both…
good because… in short: it warns you…
and bad…in short: the way it makes you feel, think, behave

and than she gave her a piece of paper and had her draw a three divided circle.
While she did that she explained her the fight - flight - freeze.

And than my daughter should shorty describe how he feels when anxious, what she thinks… and the bodily sensations…
Than the rationalized (yes it could happen, did it happen the last time, would your behavior help…) and after that she came up with things that could help agains any of the points she mentioned…
My belly hurts… what could you do is it rather dance with cool music, hot bottle, bed, bathtub or chocolate ice cream… She was very eager working out the things.
and in the end the made a plan how she could use it when it occurs and where to put the sheet of paper. … My daughter rewrote it neatly when she came home and had no panic attack since. I think what did the trick was, that she was not shown something that helps, but she came up with something herself and she didn’t have to oppose that it won#t work anyways.


Your daughter seems very insightful. Many people would not see that anxiety can have a good result. She’s right, though.

And that I think is the genius of the solution…she came up with it herself. Seems to understand herself very well.

If I may ask, about how old was your daughter when she came up with this self-care plan for her anxiety that has helped prevent more panic attacks?


It amazes me the way that we can be taught things… my GP actually did that belly breathing thing on me over the phone a few weeks ago, so now if I’m not thinking/feeling what I want for a long time, I will stop and belly breathe.

I have put my foot in it so many times today…. I was hoping this would reduce with the meds but today it was worse than ever…. I actually created extra work for one of my colleagues by jumping a head of her setting things up and then making her catch up and do the actual work needed.

I thought I was past this!

I don’t mind jumping down the throat of some one acting badly but I do Ming hurting people unintentionally…

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So, if this happens again, can you go back and help your coworker?

I realize that I’ve done similar things in the past, but when I get so far out ahead, then I will go back and help others to catch up. (When the situation is reversed, a lot of people I’ve worked with would choose to just sit and wait, doing nothing productive while I stressed about catching up. I’ve always appreciated those who would do like I do, and lend a hand.)

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Yeah it wasn’t possible in this case…
She asked a question and I thought I could help by action… but… then she made another suggestion and I included that before checking with her if she was ready…

I feel really… UP and I’m gritting,y teeth a lot and…well I hope it settles down…

For instance I hadLGBT ally training today and every situation I suggested the wrong thing, I tried to think of the right thing to do but it was always wrong… I mean it’s a learning curve, using your privilege to help others, but I often put my foot right in it in ways I didn’t expect…

Yet I’m one of those peolple that will never be a bystander, never tolerate an inappropriate joke, never miss and opportunitytoraisean important issue….

I just should maybe not be involved in the lives of people who are marginalised as I would probably step in and speak for them, or highlight the issue and embarrass them….I’m so bad at this stuff… but heart i the right place isn’t enough if you’re hurting people.


She is twelve now, she was eleven than.

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@j_d_aengus don’t beat yourself up over this. It is ok. Even one’s best intentions can be misinterpreted by others. And exes have a way of pushing your buttons! Just remember you don’t have to buy into their drama any more and get unsettled! But it is a good exercise to learn to stay centered under stress :slight_smile:

Breathing exercises, breathing from one’s abdomen, are very useful in calming oneself. I close my eyes and focus on my breath. I imagine I can see it on inhaling and exhaling. Or imagining a calm scene in my mind.

I understand your daughter refusing to speak when angry. I used to be like that as a kid. Basically all circuits are firing all at once and it is difficult to get anything coherent out! So calming exercises are very useful. Once calm one can think more clearly.

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For the record, later that same night and again the next day I received an apology from my ex-wife for her overreaction.

The next day when I spoke with my son on the phone, the first thing I did was apologize to him. He seemed very chill about the whole thing. (It helped that the weather turned out better than was forecast…still rainy, but only a slight murmur of thunder.)

On two separate occasions when I talked with my daughter about this (and she was finally speaking again), she very plainly said that she was simply choosing not to talk. Now, that might have been her masking, or maybe what she meant was that she knew exactly how she felt and the words to say…but she seemed to be saying that she was just CHOOSING not to speak BECAUSE she was angry.

Her big sister is quite the opposite; eldest daughter (currently 28 y.o.) has always been VERY VERBOSE whenever she was upset (and like their mom, she can paint her words with very poetic use of profanity when she has a mind to do so). With her gift of speech, I honestly think that she would be an exceptional host for a radio show (interview or call-in type), podcast, or livestream channel.

  • If my eldest has ADHD, and her doctor has suggested that she does, I would wager that she is predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive.

Second-oldest son (age 20) prefers to keep his feelings close to his chest. He tends to be a man of few words, even though he aspires to be a writer; when he speaks, he is diplomatic in his choice of words…he is so much like me, including every Inattentive trait I’ve got!

My younger son (age 10) isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He often tries to take charge (though he isn’t in the same league as his mom and eldest sister, but he’s got the same sort of spirit within him). And that’s why he triggers his baby sister so much, because he just flat-out tells her what they’re going to do. If he could just learn to follow up his ideas of what to do with a question like, “does that sound like fun?” or “would you like to do that?”, then maybe the two youngest could get along better.

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