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Parents Make ALL the Difference

This is a deeply personal story. It is a story that changed my life forever. As a child and forensic psychiatrist, I always believed I was emotionally stable and calm. One day, I discovered I had my own demons to face. 

 

Years ago, I experienced a day that still haunts me - the worst day of my parenting life, perhaps even my entire life. It shook me to my core and made me realize I needed to change.

 

Imagine this: A young child, my child, left distraught, anxious, and crying in a bustling school car park as I drove away in a fit of anger. The image of her tear-streaked face in my rearview mirror, her hand reaching out, pleading ‘daddy please,’ is etched in my memory. I could see other children nearby, wondering who the heartless man in the car was. Yes, that was me.

 

That morning, I had anxiety about an important meeting. My daughter, sensing my anxiety, began showing signs of not wanting to go to school. I was torn between my professional commitments and my duty as a father. I chose wrong.

 

As we drove to school, I saw her angelic face in the backseat, tears welling up in her eyes. I was getting more upset, thinking about my meeting and her reluctance to go to school. We reached the school, a place buzzing with parents and children. I found a parking spot, and with people waiting for me to leave, I hurriedly asked my sobbing daughter to get out of the car.

 

She stepped out slowly, her pleas falling on my deaf ears. I drove away, leaving her alone and scared. A few minutes later, the gravity of what I had done hit me. I had abandoned my child. I turned the car around, fearing the worst. What if she hadn’t gone to class? What if she had run away?

 

I called the school office, and they assured me she was in class, albeit not her usual self. I knew what this meant. My daughter internalizes her pain, and I had caused her immense distress. The guilt and shame were overwhelming. I cried in the car.

 

Ironically, the meeting that seemed so important was cancelled. That evening, I apologized to my daughter. I admitted I was wrong. I had prioritized work over her needs. I had hurt her spirit. I vowed never to repeat this mistake.

 

This incident led me to introspect deeply. I realized that my connection with my children was more important than anything else. I decided to prioritize my family over everything else. This decision did not mean shirking my responsibilities, but it did mean that other obligations would have to wait if it was a choice between my girls and other things.

 

The guilt and shame led to a depressive episode. I felt like a fraud. Here I was, a supposed ‘expert’ in human behavior, yet I had failed my own child. I decided then that I would never put my kids in that position again. I needed a way to ensure that despite my feelings, I would still be the parent my child needed.

 

So, I developed a framework to keep me and my kids safe from my own shortcomings. I had no intention of turning it into a course, but when I saw the positive impact it had on my family, I knew others could benefit from it.

 

Parents do their best most of the time. But we are limited by our knowledge and our personal flaws. I believe that equipping oneself with certain frameworks of thinking is critical. It doesn’t have to be my framework - you can develop your own or use other systems. The important thing is to have a system. If you ever feel like you don’t have what it takes, remember, you’ve got this. You need a system.

 

If you’re interested, the framework I’ve crafted—borne of personal experience and shared by many—could be a valuable asset for your family.

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