Posted by: babbo | May 20, 2008

Stop Yelling Daddy!

No matter how hard I try, no matter how mindful I attempt to be I sometimes find myself yelling at one or both of my kids. It never lasts very long and it’s always after an extended amount of crying, screaming, food throwing or obsessive-compulsive behavior that rivals Mr. Monk’s (from the USA TV show).

It seems that I can not get through a weekend without yelling about something. And this weekend was no exception.

It was our 11-year anniversary. The babysitter cancelled on us, so instead of a romantic adult dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, we settled for a family outing at Quaker Steak & Lube. As the name suggests, this is not your ordinary “anniversary dinner.” At least not for us.

Max, 4, began a tirade of wanting more macaroni and cheese WAY before he was done eating what he had in front of him. Relentless, he continued to repeat his desire for more. I tried many ways of reasoning with him to stop. Since his brother Joss, almost 2, was flinging his mac & cheese off his plate, I deftly gave some to Max who ate it and stopped complaining. OK, that wasn’t so hard.

Now Joss starts screaming. Not because I gave his brother some of his food, but because he’s done. He’s ready to go. NOW. My wife has barely eaten & my beer is far from finished. We do our best to eat what we can. I realize this situation is a great way to help people lose weight. Under this type of stress, one simply does not have an appetite!

On the way to the car…

Everything has calmed down. I’ve managed to hold it together until I try to put Joss in the car. He grabs onto the metal rods holding up the passenger side headrest. He clutches them with the will and the strength of a gorilla who’s really hungry for the very last banana (or the most desirable mate).

Now he’s just trying to tell me (in his 2 year old way), “hey dad, listen, sorry but I’m not ready to get in my car seat yet. Maybe you could give me a minute…” But I’m not hearing him. I just want him to sit in the car seat!

I finally pry his fingers off the headrest and get him in the seat. He’s screaming and fighting me and then he kicks me in the face (not intentional)!

That was it. I saw red. I lost it. I started screaming at the top of my lungs in the middle of the Quaker Steak & Lube parking lot about how he was “being a bad boy. BAD BOY! Stop it! Stop it now!”

Another weekend tainted. Another chance at setting a good example lost. It doesn’t matter (at least not at that moment) that I set hundreds of good examples for my boys every week. This is simply not a habit I am proud of, it’s not who I want to be. My father yelled alot when I was a kid (big surprise there), and now I am teaching my kids the same thing. And I can’t seem to stop.

The whole incident may have lasted 20 seconds, but three days later I am still ashamed & incredibly disappointed with myself. It’s not that my son’s behavior was acceptable. It wasn’t. But he’s not even two.

The problem is that my behavior is unacceptable at any age.

I’ve given this much thought, because I realize “trying harder” to stay calm is not the answer. It won’t work unless I address the underlying factors that are causing me to be so volatile. Joss’ behavior was only the catalyst.

The real problem is my frustration. I’m tired & overwhelmed. My wife has diabetes and gallbladder problems, and I’m scared of losing her. I miss my boys all day while I’m at work. And although I am very happy to have a good job, it is quite often VERY FRUSTRATING! We’re 800 miles from everyone we know, everyone we can depend on for help. We are alone out here in Wisconsin. Money always seems to be an issue, and there’s a ton of stuff to do in order to maintain our home. And the pizza sucks!

Hey, I know most (if not all) parents have this same amount of stress. I’m not saying my case is special. But I’m having trouble finding a solution.

If anybody has any suggestions, please feel free to share them.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related posts:
Stop Yelling Daddy! (Part 2)

How to Retrain the Reactive Brain, Part 1

How to Retrain the Reactive Brain, Part 2

An Interview with Mark Brady: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Equal Rights for Kids. Part 2: Don’t Hit!

Family Blogs

Posted by: babbo | March 8, 2018

Dealing with the Illness of a Spouse

Dealing with the Illness of a SpouseUnexpected.

Causing uncontrollable sobbing on my part.

The feeling of living in multiple worlds that sometimes clash or collide and cause these severe emotions because these worlds are so DIFFERENT.

Nothing like we desired or expected. And yet it IS.

So how do we best deal? Move forward and see if there’s a way to improve things? Or accept it (at least for now) because it might never change.

Posted by: babbo | February 17, 2015

Loving Our Kids in the Face of Exhaustion

Enjoying Our Kids Even When We're ExhaustedEvery day, I get out of bed and do my best to be the most incredible dad, husband, business owner and man I can be.

But sometimes I fall short. Short on energy, patience, answers, compassion or time.

Lately, my struggle with exhaustion seems more tough than usual. And whatever self pity I experience is overshadowed by the guilt that I am not doing a better job as a dad.

I’m not doing anything “wrong,” per se. It’s just that I’m so overwhelmed that I feel like it’s difficult to handle even the smallest of issues.

Of course it’s not really the issue that’s the problem, I have really good kids. The problem is that my nervous system is on overload — ALL THE TIME.

Is this how you feel, too?

The question is, how do we overcome this and simply love our children? Love them in a way that says “I’m so glad you’re here and that you chose me as your dad.”

To let all of the noise fade away so we can love our children and ENJOY them.

We were watching the first episode of The Brady Bunch on Hulu today, and Mr. & Mrs. Brady were on their honeymoon, regretting yelling at their kids and being short with them. I can relate.

So, what do we do?

I’ve found the best solution is to take better care of myself so I am more equipped to handle life. Meditation and exercise serve me very well, as does being mindful. I also apologize to my boys when I make a mistake. I can’t take it back, but I can at least admit my misstep.

When I’m mindful, I stop myself from reacting and getting stressed. Instead, I look at my boys, smile and realize how much I love them.

Thank you Max and Joss for being my boys.

And remember, you are not alone …

Posted by: babbo | June 10, 2014

The Daddy Brain Workshop: Upcoming Events

The Daddy Brain Workshop


Dads and dads to be, join us at one of the following Daddy Brain Workshops:

Dads Day @ Meriter Hospital
February 7, 2015, from 9-11am
2650 Novation Parkway
Madison, WI 53713
Register for the workshop

The Daddy Brain Workshop @ Matrix Collaborative
March 4, 2015 from 6-7:30pm
6302 Odana Rd.
Madison, WI 53719
Register for the workshop

The Daddy Brain Workshop @ Stoughton Hospital
March 26, 2015 from 6-7:30pm
Stoughton Hospital Bryant Health Education Center
Register for the workshop

Dads Day @ Meriter Hospital
May 16, 2015, from 10am-12pm
2650 Novation Parkway
Madison, WI 53713
Register for the workshop


  • Dad’s emotional life
  • Transition into fatherhood
  • Co-parenting
  • Positive and negative forms of discipline
  • Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner
  • Intimacy issues
  • Coping with exhaustion
  • Bonding with baby
  • Second-class parent syndrome
  • Goals for dad, kids and the family
  • Maintaining a balance, as best as possible
  • Supporting mom and and asking for support

The workshop is a safe place for dads, and dads-to-be to share, learn and be heard. Hope to see you there!

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Posted by: babbo | May 29, 2014

Daddy Brain’s Appearance on the NBC Evening News

Daddy Brain on the NBC News

Tune into NBC TV Channel 15 (WMTV) tonight at 6pm for a special segment on dads featuring Daddy Brain! We’ll be talking about some of the challenges dads face when learning to engage with their children (pre & post birth). We’ll also touch upon the Daddy Brain Workshop @ Meriter Hospital (Dads’ Day).

Here’s the link to the Daddy Brain segment, in case you missed it.

And remember, you are not alone …

Posted by: babbo | May 18, 2014

Spending More Time with Our Kids

Spending More Time with Our KidsMy boys Max & Joss are 10, and almost 8, respectively.

They’re awesome boys and I love spending time with them.

With so many things on my to-do list (including three jobs), it’s often a challenge to cast all of it aside and simply be with my kids — while they’re still super psyched to spend time with me.

Do you get distracted by things like work, email, Facebook, mowing the lawn, etc.?

One day our kids won’t be kids anymore, and the time we spend away from them now — while they’re still kids — can’t be replaced.

One thing me and my boys like to do is “dad day,” where I take one of my boys out on a day I’m not working. It’s a great way to reconnect and spend solid time with each of my boys.

No matter what your situation — good, bad or average — when your kids are grown up, they’re not going to remember whether you paid the bills on time, or if the lawn looked like crap. They’re going to remember whether or not you spent quality time with them.

And remember, you are not alone …

Posted by: babbo | March 23, 2014

The Loss of Time & the Art of Surviving

Lost Time & The Art of SurvivalI find it hard to believe that it’s been 4 months since my last blog post.

I have plenty to say, but three jobs, karate, swimming, financial stress — and doing my best to be a good dad and husband have left me tired and out of time.

Blogging, which was once done 3X per week, is now perpetually on the back burner. And this makes me sad.

I’ve recently started exercising and meditating again, which is helping me hold everything together. 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there, I feel like a thief stealing time that no longer belongs to me.

Survival trumps just about everything. But if all we focus on is survival, then we’re essentially standing still — or worse sinking in metaphorical quick sand. Yuck.

So, how do we get unstuck?


Especially moving our eyes up & over the junk that lies before us. If we can look past the junk, we can see where we’d like to go. Once we accomplish this, we can take steps to get there. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing one or two major things each week to move my progress forward. And inch by inch, I am moving closer to my goals.

You can do this, too. I know you can. The trick is to stop thinking about it, and start doing it. Put it on the schedule — actually on your calendar — and do it.

Start today. Even if it’s only for 3 minutes.

And remember, you are not alone …



The Daddy Brain Radio Show: Kids & Conflict

Monday, November 4 @ 7pm CT

Have you ever thought about how to talk with your kids about war and conflict?

It’s a delicate topic that many parents aren’t comfortable breeching. Our first guest, Niki Walker, has written a book called Why Do We Fight, which focuses on helping our kids understand, and think critically, about conflict and war in the world. She’ll be sharing some of her insights on healthy ways to discuss this sensitive subject.

Our second guest, Dr. Mark Brady, Ph.D. will talk with us about conflict and discord within our own homes. We’ll be focusing on conflict between siblings, spouses, parents and their kids — as well as how negative forms of discipline can play a role in children’s perception of conflict resolution.

I hope you’ll tune in on Monday, November 4 at 7pm CT for the Daddy Brain Radio show on the WORT access hour.

Local Listeners Tune in to 89.9 FM

Listen from anywhere in the world by going to WORT Radio’s Home Page and clicking on the “Listen Live” button in the upper right hand corner.

Want to Join the Conversation? I’ll be taking calls throughout the hour at: (608) 256-2001.

And remember, you are not alone …

Posted by: babbo | October 2, 2013

Healing from the Loss of a Child


You might be wondering, what’s the significance of a girl’s T-shirt in a post about the loss of a child? Or in our case, the loss of two children.

For me and my wife it represents our two girls — Skye and Sheila.

And every time I walk into my local Target I’m reminded of them.

Typically, I enter the store through the same doors, the one that leads past the women’s section into the girls’ department. I always look at what’s on display to see what I think my girls would like.

Some may think this is inflicting pain unnecessarily onto myself. But it’s not. It’s a way for me to honor my girls, and even though it hurts it’s important for me to REMEMBER them and acknowledge their existence.

Before we had our two boys, Max and Joss, we had two ectopic pregnancies — the second of which almost killed my wife. These were our girls.

Whether you’re a mom or a dad, if you’ve experienced an ectopic pregnancy, it’s OK to talk about it. It’s OK to hurt. There are more of us in mourning that you realize.

In reality, it’s not something we’ll ever heal from — the pain is something we cope with.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Posted by: babbo | September 8, 2013

The Daddy Brain Workshop for Dads

The Daddy Brain Workshop
Saturday, October 19, 2013


Meriter Hospital
2650 Novation Parkway
Madison, WI 53713

10–11:30 a.m.

– Dad’s emotional life
– Transition into fatherhood
– Co-parenting
– Positive and negative forms of discipline
– Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner
– Intimacy issues
– Coping with exhaustion
– Bonding with baby
– Second-class parent syndrome
– Goals for dad, kids and the family
– Maintaining a balance, as best as possible
– Supporting mom and and asking for support

For more info, or to register, please visit Meriter Hospital’s website.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Posted by: babbo | August 2, 2013

Family Time is Sacred


Every moment with our family is sacred.

It may not feel like it sometimes — like when our kids are bickering or when we’ve heard the Minions version of YMCA (from Despicable Me 2) for the hundredth time.

I notice this truth most strongly when I am away from my sacred space …

My home. With my family.

My goal is to be there more often, and to relish in the gift of this sacred time.

I hope you enjoyed this bleet

Family Blogs

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