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Dads2dads: Put the ‘breaks’ on a bad habit

Tom Tozer and Bill Black • Updated Mar 25, 2018 at 4:00 PM

We’re creatures of habit. A lot of the things we do stem from unconscious actions and reactions. Some are pretty benign – sitting in the same seat at church every Sunday, buying gas at the same station, using the same old arguments when dealing with our teens.

Some are more significant – continuing to smoke when we know it’s harmful, driving far too fast on the same stretch of road, dismissing our spouse whenever she brings up something important to her and insignificant to us.

The habit of habits

Dad, do you have a habit you should break? Sure you do. We all do. It might be impatience when our teen describes a problem with her friends, irritation when a coworker complains again about his pay or impudence when dealing with a waiter. Whatever our station in life, whoever we may be, we all have habits we could break.

Habits may seem to be ingrained or insignificant, but they are neither. If we reflect on how we react, what image we present to others and how we feel in a variety of circumstances, we can all quickly identify habits that need to be broken.

A careful look

Take some time and consider how you react in particularly situations. Look at who you’re interacting with – your coworker, subordinate or family member. Watch their reactions. Take a risk and ask someone if there is something that you’re doing that is bothersome. Take a few moments and consider how you might be coming across to those with whom you interact. You can make that relationship better by assessing your habits.

The importance of broken habits

In time, we develop ways of dealing with the world of work, of commerce and with our own family. We create patterns for everyday situations and don’t often review our actions unless they are brought to our attention in a direct way. Frequently they aren’t.

You’re not often going to hear, “What you said really hurt my feelings,” or “Why are you frowning at me – are you mad?” On the rare occasion, when a troublesome action is pointed out to us, our reaction is too often one of resistance and defensiveness. But our kids watch and learn from us about how we deal with the challenges and opportunities of living. Our habits make impressive teaching tools – for good or not so good.

When our teen brings up an idea for a class project, a plan for the future, or a creative proposal, do we meet it with attentiveness and care or do we frown, pelt our child with questions and discourage any youthful enthusiasm? Take an area of your life and consider what habit you could break. Think about the improvement it could make in your relationship and the example you set. You are a role model to someone, perhaps many someones. Breaking a bad habit could make you an even better example to emulate.

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@dads2dadsllc.com.

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