Dear Tell All: I recently got fired from a Rock County company for blowing up at a coworker. I admit I have a bad temper at times but have been trying to get it under control.
I was embarrassed about getting fired and asked my wife not to tell our son about it while I looked for a new job. He’s only 14 and doesn’t need to know the ugly details. Plus, I treasure our relationship and value his respect.
I came home from job-hunting one day and got the cold shoulder from him. He wouldn’t even have dinner with us. I confronted my wife, and she admitted she’d told him about what happened at work. That set off my temper, and I started screaming at her. My son loudly slammed his bedroom door, and I haven’t gotten two words out of him since.
Again, I regret losing my temper, but I think my wife is also in the wrong for humiliating me in front of my child. She doesn’t see it that way, and now she and I are barely speaking.
Who’s right, who’s wrong, and how do I solve this mess?
Dear Hothead: Your wife could have handled the situation more sensitively, but I think she was right to broach the subject with your son. At 14, he’s old enough to handle the truth. He’s also old enough to deserve honesty from his parents.
You say your wife humiliated you in front of your child. Sorry, Hothead, but you’re the guilty party here: You humiliated yourself by getting fired over your temper. Your wife was just the messenger, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to tell your son about his father’s screw-up. So add that to the list of things you’re guilty of: humiliating your wife.
But all is not lost. You made a mistake, and now you can make up for it. Start the process of earning back your son’s respect by talking with him frankly about what happened. Let him know that you’re sorry for what you did and that you’ve learned a lesson. Encourage him to ask questions and to express his feelings. Follow the same steps with your wife.
Most important, control your damn temper. You don’t want to blow it with your family the way you blew it with your job.
Do you have a question about life or love in Madison? Write Tell All, 100 State St., Madison, WI 53703. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.