Compassionate fathering: Saying ‘Suck it up, buttercup’ to your kids makes you an unoriginal douche

The following is part of the continuing series of posts exploring the world of Compassionate Fathering. If you have any post ideas, topics you’d like addressed, or stories you’d like to share about your Compassionate Fatherhood, Tweet them @KyleBelanger1 using #CompassionateFathering, or email them to Kyle Belanger here.

I spent an awful lot of time on that title. Had to get the sense just right. Fortunately, I think I nailed it–subtle, perhaps, but effective.

… except you’re a dad. And that was precisely part of the deal.
So, let’s get past the obvious part of the post: There is nothing more unoriginal than the phrase “Suck it up, buttercup.”

I understand that, at one time, it had some meaning to it. But, at this point, when someone pitches that doozy out there, they might as well be wearing a “Where’s the beef?” t-shirt. There’s just no meaning left. It’s empty.

Let me be clear: This is not super-new-aged dad telling you to solve all of your kids’ problems on the spot. This is not that, at all.

This is, however, an acknowledgement that reducing your child’s issue to a form rejection letter can and will have long-lasting effects on your relationship.

Don’t believe me? Take yourself back to the last time you complained to a waitress about your burger not being cooked properly. Remember how she just passed it off as unimportant? Remember how irate you were? You damn near burned the place down.

And that was just over a 10-dollar burger.

Now imagine those same emotions, but for a child who has only one father to advocate for them. A child who barely has the capability to dress and feed themselves. A child who sees the world through lenses you keep clean. That tiny person has developed the courage to air a concern and bare a weakness to you.

What a responsibility. Don’t blow it by being lazy.

We both know you’re better than that.

So, while it may be easiest to reduce that moment to a quick slogan that you use with your friends, there are two effects you can expect:

The first is that you will begin to dismantle your child’s ability to trust you as a compassionate ally. The second is that you are modeling a lack of compassion, thereby showing your child that it’s acceptable not to listen to concerns and problems of others.

The solution is simple: Listen to your children. Hear their concerns. Give them time and show compassion.

Truth is, there will be armloads of times when the solution will be you telling them to solve it themselves, or that they are over-reacting, or that it’s going to be OK–essentially informing them of their option to “suck it up.” The difference is that you will have actually heard them first, affirming their value as members of your own.

You’ll be surprised just how quickly your relationship with your kids will flourish.

Now, it’s true that by the very nature of you being a FTFP community member, I’ve likely said nothing that surprises you. There’s a great chance you agree with everything I’ve said.


Keep on doing you.

Kyle Belanger

Written by: Kyle Belanger

Proud father to three children (in order: one deceased, one adopted and one biological), Kyle is constantly navigating the worlds between actively grieving and openly gloating. Learn more about Kyle here.

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