I can't help feel but this is a family in a lot of pain...

     I have been trying to figure out how to handle this since I started this job and it is only getting worse.
     My youngest charge is almost 4 years old. In the neighborhood, he is known as a tough kid. When the kids play soccer, they want him on their team. The same goes for baseball. He is fast and has great skills.
     The single father I work for is about 5'5" and he talks a lot about sports. I don't get the feeling he ever played sports, but anyway, his son is good. He has plenty of good things to jump on with his son and reinforce. And he does.
     But the son is also tough. He doesn't share. If someone takes something from him, he hits them, knocks them down, kicks them, etc. He gave a 7 year old a bloody nose for riding his scooter without permission. The father reinforces this behavior by saying things like, "Well, good they're gonna know not to mess with him" and "You either get kicked or do the kicking". Now I could debate his stupidity all day long, but he's the day. I get it. The problem is Dad works until 8 most nights. I am the person who deals with the fall out from the fights. I am the one the other mommies and nannies glare at. They think I am not doing my job because he keeps hurting other kids.
    When I tell the father that "Mrs. X doesn't want X playing with X because he is too rough.' he says things like, "Sounds like she's raising a weak kid". Everything is about being weak.  The mother is not in the picture at all because she abandoned them both when the youngest was only 2 months old. Just up and left, left a note and said she didn't want to be a mother or wife, that her world was bigger than this.
     The older boy is so sweet and good natured, a perfectionist who is really hard on himself. He is only 7 and will do crunches before bed and is always demonstrating his strength and speed, not for me, but out of habit. His day always says, "show me what you got" and "show me what you're made of". I'm not going to quit because I really like the Dad a lot. He tries but this is an area where I think he comes up short in. I am also concerned because he sees therapy as for people who are "weak" and obviously never got help for himself or the kids after they were deserted by their mother. I can't help feel but this is a family in a lot of pain. Is there anything I can do? Right now, I spend a lot of time out of the neighborhood with the kids so they don't run into the neighbors or have the chance to play with them, but now summer is in full swing and the kids are out all day long.
     In addition to their mother leaving them, they have had four nannies in the past 2 years, most of the changes occurring because of the younger child's aggression and the father not being able to deal with it. He was completely honest in the interview. He told me the nannies and him didn't see eye to eye on X,Y and Z. He told me if his kids do something wrong, they will apologize. They will not apologize for not wanting to share their toys or for defending themselves or each other. I know he sounds like a hard ass, but when I see him when he doesn't expect me, he is rolling around on the floor with them, playing race cars, reading to them. I feel like he is trying to protect them from being hurt but...I just don't know. Sometimes I get so sad by this family.
     I don't want to hurt anyone, threaten anyone or challenge anyone. I want to help. Does anyone have any considerate advice?


Jean said...

So the dad has a Napoleon complex. Like a bantam rooster out in the yard saying come have a go if you think you're hard enough. That's not a healthy way to raise kids. I get that mom left and he's trying to protect them, but part of growing up is learning to get along with other people. I don't know if I'd stay.

nc said...

I'd mention to dad what Jean said, "...part of growing up is learning to get along with other people." Tell him about the future, where his son won't be able to just kick/hit his boss when the boss does something his son doesn't like. Maybe dad will see the long-term/bigger picture. Maybe he won't, but it's worth a try.

Anonymous said...

I really think this dad was bullied as a kid and he doesn't want his kids to end up like him. I suggest karate for both kids. Any martial art that is defensive not offensive. He will learn self control this way as well as getting any aggression out. Also, what NC said about future consequences definitely needs to be discussed.

ZD said...

Good insight Anonymous. That is a good thought since OP said Dad is 5'5", which is pretty short for a man. I would also wonder if he was bullied or feels like he needs to compensate for being short.

Anonymous said...

I really like Anonymous' suggestion about karate (or any other martial art). Heck, even the dad can do it with the kids! It's an excellent way to learn discipline and can give people peace of mind, without having to go to therapy and be seen as "weak" by the dad. I hope you can suggest it to them as a family activity :)