Hello, my name is Guilherme, I live in São Paulo, a very large and populous city in Brazil, I am 43 years old, married to Vivian who is 41 years old, and we have two children, Thales, 8 years old, and Christian, 3 years old. As a father, I would like to share a personal story with you.
My two children are very different, although they were both born on the same day, April 1st (but 5 years apart). And this is not an April fool prank! Thales, our oldest, is more reserved, quiet and rational and doesn’t like to share his feelings much. He is good at math and loves playing soccer and video games. Christian is more extrovert, talkative and affectionate. He loves to play with others all the time and loves to draw attention.
We noticed that they were different from birth. Thales, as a newborn would spend the days quietly in the crib, while Christian cried if we left him alone. When we put him in bed with his mother he would immediately stop crying. Although they are very different, I love them both in the same way. I try to treat each one in their own way and respect their characteristics.
I had a situation recently with Thales. He and his brother are always fighting but since Thales is older, I thought he had to always be responsible for the relationship even though he is a child. I was going through a very stressful phase at work and was getting angry all the time at home. As a result, I was always yelling at him to stop retaliating when his brother hit him. That would make him feel upset.
One day, noticing that he was sad, I asked what grade he would give to me as a father. He said 7 because there were two things, he didn’t like about how I treated him. His comments were that each thing had made me lose 1.5 points. I asked what those things were. He told me that the first was because I yelled at him and he got very sad with me. He said that if I spoke in a normal tone he would not feel sad. The second thing was that when I scolded him in front of his mother he felt that the scolding would make her love him less.
It is curious that I work in a company where we are often taught that we must be calm when giving feedback to our employees and not criticize them in front of others. I realized that I was making those exact mistakes with my son. But after what he said I started to reflect on my interactions with him.
One day I read an article that said the way we educate our children in childhood can impact up to seven generations ahead. The way I treat my son generates traumas or good memories that will generate values which will be passed on to his children and, in turn, their children. That’s when I realized that I needed to first change myself and how I see life situations. I would later learn that the way I deal with other people is just a reflection of how I see myself. Valuing myself more and understanding my defects, seeking to improve them and emphasizing my good qualities would reflect positively on how I deal with my children and people around me. That’s when I started trying to change my attitude.
At first it was hard but over time it got easier, and I started noticing that they were also getting calmer because I was being more human with them. After some time again asked Thales what my grade would be now. He thought went to get a paper and wrote grade 10.5. He said that since I now talk instead of yell and speak privately when I think he could improve on some specific attitude, I had overcome everything that I was previously doing wrong.
Although he never says “I LOVE YOU” because of his more introverted way of being, I know that this comment was a way of expressing his love for me in his own way.
I didn’t realize it as much before this, but today I am convinced that every day I live with them is a unique experience. How I educate them, seek to love them and treat them with all respect has brought me more learning than I could imagine and I thank every day that they have chosen me to be their father.
And to conclude, there is a phrase from a song that awakened me and has brought me closer to them: “It’s not about reaching the top of the world, knowing that you won. It’s about climbing and feeling that the path has strengthened you.”