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“You Just Broke Your Child. Congratulations.” by Dan Pearce

April 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Fathering, Relationships

This is the all-time best article I have ever shared on this site.

I stumbled upon this beautifully written article by accident and was so moved from the opening that I
could not tear myself away. I could not stop crying and have now started again as I write this.

There are many very powerful and true statements. As the Dad of nine awesome children, I think the words shared here are very important, for both dads and moms! Sometimes we all have not so great days and life gets in the way of us doing the things we should.

I’m at a loss for words, but (in the best way I know how) I just wanted to let you know how much it has
touched me. Children are a gift, children are ALL beautiful, and all children deserve to be children and
feel loved, and wanted and respected at all times. Read and enjoy and change for the best!

Dads. Stop breaking your children. Please.

I feel a need to write this post after what I witnessed at Costco yesterday. Forgive me for another post written in desperation and anger. Please read all the way to the end. I know it’s long, but this is something that needs to be said. It’s something that needs to be heard. It’s something that needs to be shared.

As Noah and I stood in line to make a return, I watched as a little boy (he couldn’t have been older than six) looked up at his dad and asked very timidly if they could buy some ice cream when they were done. The father glared him down, and through clenched teeth, growled at the boy to “leave him alone and be quiet”. The boy quickly cowered to the wall where he stood motionless and hurt for some time.A

The line slowly progressed and the child eventually shuffled back to his father as he quietly hummed a childish tune, seemingly having forgotten the anger his father had just shown. The father again turned and scolded the boy for making too much noise. The boy again shrunk back and cowered against the wall, wilted.

Read the complete article by Dan Pearce here. I also recommend you check out his new book, Real Dad Rules.

Feel free to add to the hundreds of comments below or shoot me an email today: sjhammond@suddenlink.net.

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548 thoughts on ““You Just Broke Your Child. Congratulations.” by Dan Pearce

  1. The person who posted this article on her FB page could not consider the view that the single father of one young child could possibly be mistaken in his interpretation of the whole scene. People who interfere in other people’s parenting may consider that spiritually / metaphorically speaking, their name might be written in as a “cause of death” on the child’s death certificate. Because slandering a child’s parents is actually another way of disregarding the 5th Commandment, the one with a promise to the child, even if his parents are not perfect.

    Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which YHVH thy God giveth thee. //Mark 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.//Ephes 6:2 Honour thy father & mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

    I speak as one who has observed not so much single fathers as single mothers undermining and providing havens for teens whose parents are/were already struggling to get them to do what they need to do in order to mature into responsible men and women.

    The best criticism you can give is to the child: tell him to listen to his parents, for crying out loud.

  2. I am in agreement with Jodi. They had a tense moment. We don’t know what kind of day that dad had to precipitate that response.
    As a mom I of four I have found myself occasionally on the edge of losing it(shopping trips with kids are hard!) and talking through gritted teeth.
    I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, but it is not worthy of such outrage. I hope I am not judged solely on how my interactions with my children are on a bad day in a public place!
    If we expect parents to be able to respond with love then perhaps we should be examples and show some compassion to this dad, who is for whatever reason stressed out and taking it out on the child.

  3. As a mother of 4 boys, and grandma to 6, it can be dismaying to read such articles as above. There are many families who struggle to have positive relationships with their children. I certainly don’t profess to being the perfect mother because I know I wasn’t, in fact, I know my sons probably had a better dad than they did mum at times. He was the one who got down and played with them, bathed them if not working, etc
    However, I always did my best when ever I could. But guess what, I have been like that father with the young child was too; did I deliberately set out to belittle my child/children at the time – NO, and just maybe this father was just the same.
    We all have bad days where we act and react inappropriately. We should all be careful about what we do in public, but we should also be equally as careful of how we interpret the scene.
    I pray that the father was just having a bad day and does have at least a reasonable relationship with his son. Further more, I pray that if his relationship is not great, that someone will have the courage enough to come along side him and offer some help.
    The relationships we develop are often only as good as the relationships we grew up with and the examples our parents set. May God grant us the wisdom and power to change where necessary and be the loving parents He wants us to be. And if our children are grown up, that we can work to improve the relationships with our children and develop good positive relationships with our grandchildren.

  4. Wow….Seems we struck a chord in the Universe of parenting and fathering in particular. You guys made this a viral experience in that all the commentary actually shut down our servers hosting this blog…

    The commentary and the heart of the thought that many of you shared is truly amazing. Some of the stories were, in their own right, actually as amazing as Dan’s. I really liked and was touched with all the kudos to the AWESOME DADS out there in Parenting Land. Tip of the hat you cool dads….someone is noticing. Me for one.

    In conclusion, thanks to the amazing writing of Dan Pearce—a hero of mine for sure. Carry on and live the amazing, positive legacy. BE THAT GUY.

    —Scott Hammond, Author/Dad/Blogger/Dude

  5. Bravo!!!! to the person that wrote this articular! this touched my heart to no end, I have seen people Dads and Moms alike treat their precious children poorly in public, sad to say they probably do even worse at home =(
    but it is a blessing that you have brought attention to this to the public eye, I believe that this is what the public needs. for More Dads and Moms to speak out and to stop and take a look at our own behavior and say enough! this abuse stops with US and Our generation!!!!! Refuse to treat children as you may have been treated! Refuse to carry on the bad you learned from someone that set a bad example when you were a child. give the love and time to your children that they need, it may be your only time with them.


  6. Firstly, I just want to thank you, Jill, for posting this article “Congratulations Dad, you just broke your child”. You did not have to do it, but you did and I did not read though the other people’s commnents, but what i know, it moved me, because I also have 3 sons. This is how I feel come Christmas and Easter shopping times, month end shopping times and even just that “Milk & bread” shopping times. Kids get scolded, humiliated, even beaten in public…. What do we do? I can’t stay quiet, what are we doing about it, we can make a difference, I believe it with my whole heart, EVERYBODY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF WE JUST REACH OUT TO THOSE CLOSEST TO US. If all of us just do that little, CHANGE WILL START, LET’S DO OT FOR OUR CHILDREN. Thanks Jill, I salute you in what you do. Amelia

  7. I agree with Amanda who knows what the situation was, and lets not forget there are thousands of great Dads out there to balance. Lets see some articles about positive observations too please. Interesting that such an emotional and well written article is concluded with a plug for a book. I believe this is part of the new approach to viral marketing.

  8. For those speaking about discipline, this is not discipline. A smack on the wrist, a harsh word and quick threat I can deal with. This guy yelled at his son for humming a tune. Chances are that if he reacted so strongly in this way in public, what is he capable of behind closed doors? Doesn’t matter what day he has had, if he struggling that much he needs to seek help. Every parent has bad days but as parents we need to work on those reactions because little children are sponges.
    How do you know Dan hasn’t done anything? Does he really want to toot his own horn and tell everyone he reported it? What would you say if he did?

    Good on u Dan, every mother and father need to hear how this can shape a child’s life.
    I still remember my mum saying I couldn’t be a singer even though I was 6 and just mucking around playing pretend. And she is a loving mother, but that affected my self conscious more than I realized. We have an enormous task of shaping tomorrows society, we need to wake up and step up to the mark.

  9. I think what you have to say is a very important reminder and needs to be heard. I also think that maybe we could have a little bit of grace for each other. We have no idea what is going on with them. Maybe instead of wanting to throttle him it could be as simple as asking if his boy could play with your kids in line to keep each other occupied. I know it looked as though the child’s spirit was broken but they are more resilient than you might think. Every relationship has bumps and valleys. For all we know it could have turned into a moment where dad accepted his responsibility and apologized and taught the boy how to do the same when he makes a bad call. I guess I just wished that we could help each other out more. Let’s put the pitch forks down and save them for times when we know they are warranted. Just my two cents…

  10. Tears began streaming down my face as I read your post. Bravo to you for being the awesome dad you are and for speaking your mind! A great big thank you. A little under a year ago I became a single mom of 4 of the most amazing kiddos in the world. Their dad made the choice to have an affair with my friend and kick us out. He was verbally abusive and sometimes physically, but I never realized how bad until we left. We are now a lot happier and my children are starting to actually live life. Daily I have my daughter repeat with me, “Mommy, I am Shaylee and I am beautiful inside… and out”. To my boys I tell them how proud of them I am and what amazing little gentlemen they are. They have their amazing grandpa to fill in as a father figure and he is and does everything you have said a dad should do, but my kids are forced to see their dad every other weekend. I fear that they will believe his extremely harsh words and actions over mine. My 3 year old daughter already comes home telling me she is not a pretty princess any more because her daddy says he is pretty not her. :’( My 3 boys express to me they feel as though they’ll never be good enough for his love and attention. If only he would read this and take it to heart, but he will not. I know the damage he’s doing and can only hope and pray that I and those around me are enough influence that my children’s self worth and value will come from us rather than him. People are not allowed to speak negatively about him to my children. I try to undo all the damage he does every other week, but fear it’s not enough. I fear that I am not enough and that their dad will have more influence on bringing them down than I will in building them up. You are an amazing dad… keep it up. All children deserve to be loved in the way you love yours. You give me hope.

  11. Just read this story and I am sad to say that I have seen this more than once, and I am normally not a violent man but ever since my little girl was born I have had a real hard time not getting physical with guys like this who were being overtly harsh with thier children in public. I have been making every effort to be an all star dad, and thought I am not always perfect, my little girl (and other future children someday) will always know how special and loved that they are. Personally I never had the constant father figure in my life that was able to give me a good example of how to be a great dad, but I have known some great men who have inspired me. I am glad that I found this site, and will be following from now on.

  12. I didn’t know my dad, no, no he was living with us but he would leave at 4 or 5am to go to work as a lumberjack, cutting trees with a chainsaw, not a big machine, real hard work, and when he got home at 5pm he was out of energie and he didn’t know us and he didn’t feel like he knew what to do with us so he just did nothing. I’ve never played ball with my dad, never gone fishing, camping or gone on a vacation with my dad. But i was not alone, there was 4 of us, he had to work hard to just give us what we need ( not always what we wanted ) pay rent, food,clothes ( no name brand )Mom stayed home she worked just as hard, and to make things worst,i was born with spina bifida and i was in and out of the hospital, operation after operations, most of the time i was 12 hours away from my famely, MEDICARE? well my first operation was not paid by medicare, they had to borrow the money but not from a bank but from a hight interest company or something.. anyway it was 7000$ back in 1970, took them 16 years to pay that off… i got to know my dad when i was about 19, he had gotten hurt at work and was force to stop, so for the first time i had a dad, it took a long time to build a relationship with him, aldo i always loved him and i know he loved me all along but i don’t remember hearing him say it to us. I learned after i was an adult from my mom that when we where babies, dad would come home from work and sing to us, give us our baths, put us to bed, but once we got to about age 2 or 3 he didn’t know what to do or how to play with us because he didn’t have it in his childhood… he didn’t learn.. i’m happy to say, i’m 43 Dad is 72 and he is my best friend, i can’t go a week without talking to him or go to see him, mom is not the same, she was always there, sometimes too much…Dad never hurt us.I thank god everyday that i still have my dad and that i got a chance to have a dad after all. And don’t mather where we are, who is around,could be in a mall or what ever, when we say goodbye we always say to each other I LOVE YOU… because the last thing i want my dad to remember about me is that i told him that i love him and that is the last thing i want my dad to say to me. i’m crying now because i know that time is not on our side but i hope that today’s dad will take the time to be with there kids, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring you or if you will even see tomorrow, so don’t miss your chance.. as for me, i can’t be a father and i married a woman that can’t have kids so i will never be a father or a dad… yea there is a diffrence.. if you don’t know the diffrence… keep that condom on until you do…i’ll leave you with these words
    I love you, yes you, all the dads, i love you, for the fathers out there that are not dads, i love you too, now go saying to your kids, start today…Thank you

  13. My husband! Best dad ever. I have a 4 yr old boy and a 10 month old daughter. I love watching from the sidelines the relationship that my husband has with my kids. Most recently I have loved watching my husband teaching my son how to ice skate. When the two of them are out on the ice it is as if they are the only 2 out there. My husband falls on purpose in all sorts of crazy manners just to make our little boy laugh. I am sure some people are wondering what he is doing or thinking he is crazy but my husband doesn’t even notice. He is so totally focused on making him happy and helping him to feel relaxed and have fun so that he can learn to skate. That is just a small example. He loves him and expresses love to him. He teaches him and leads him with example. He helps me and gets up with the baby in the middle of the night. I could gush and gush but I totally struck gold with my husband.

  14. Touching article. I agree 100%. I was blessed to have the most amazing daddy any girl could ask for. He was my rock, he was my stability, he was my encouragement, he was everything to me. When I was 14 he became paralyzed from the neck down. His life was obviously miserable because he was such an active man. He also lived in so much pain that some days he prayed that the good Lord would take him home. For 8 years my daddy fought to stay with me to continue watching me grow up. He made it to my 22nd birthday and a few months later he was very sick in the hospital. It was then in that hospital that I realized my daddy had shown me something I had never seen before, he had shown me what it was like to love unconditionally. I decided it was my turn to show him unconditional love and allowed him to go home to our Father.

    To this day, I see things my daddy taught me that I never realized at the time and pitty those poor fools that take children for granted. Although my time was short with my dad before he got paralyzed, I was so blessed to have that man as my father. I miss him so much and life has definitely been a much greater challenge without him. Thank you for your article, it touched me.

  15. Malachi 4 v 6 says.” He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

  16. My boyfriend is a great example of how to parent positvely. In all situations he encourages and points out only the best of his 5 children and my 4, never does he point out the negative or dwell on it. Thank you Kurt for bieng a better dad to my kids then their own.

  17. Thank you for your post. I need to read things like this every once in a while to keep myself inline. Parenting is a joy and the best thing I will ever do with my life, bit it’s HARD! I’m a SAHM and when I am at the end of my rope and my patience is short, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture~I’ll admit, in my family I’m the one more likely to cause emotional damage (though I try my best not to). My son is incredibly fortunate to have a father that knows how to step in and give me a “time out” when it’s necessary. And my husband’s face does in deed light up when he sees our son~sometimes enough to make me just a tinge jealous, but I love him all the more for it! So again, I say “Thank you!” for your post. Perspective needs adjusting constantly in the world of parenting and we all need to remember just how precious and tender these little ones are!

  18. First of all, screw saying something to the dad in Costco. This post can be penance for not saying something to that little boy. (or even better, you should have bought him an ice cream) Odds are a quick word of encouragement to him would have gone a lot farther than anything you could have said to his father. Kudos to you for noticing though. Maybe that little boy’s mom is reading your post :)
    I know lots of great Dads. Not perfect dads but great ones. I am married to one! As I write this, he is behind me playing with his two daughters (and missing both march madness and his favorite TV show) because he knows that these moments are precious (and that ESPN and our DVR will catch him up on the less important things later.)
    I know another great dad and I think this is just the kind of story you need. My brother is married to a fantastic woman. They have three kids. Their oldest is from a previous marriage and had two dads, her biological father and my brother. Her biological father left something to be desired in the dad arena when my brother entered into the picture. He inconsistently picked his daughter up for weekend visits, didn’t pay child support, and missed special occasions. for the sake of my story, we will call him Rick. Rick him rock bottom shortly after my brother married my sister in law and was left homeless. My brother could stand for his “daughters” dad to be out on the streets so he opened the door of his home and allowed Rick to live with them until he could get back on his feet. IT was a rocky road but slowly Rick started to get it together. Then one night Rick’s past caught up with him and he was arrested for outstanding speeding tickets and put in jail. Rick called my brother to tell him why he wouldn’t be home and my brother went and bailed him out of jail. Rick told my brother that he couldn’t repay him and my brother said “oh yes you can. You can be a father to that beautiful little girl. The kind of father she deserves.” This was about 7 years ago. Today Rick is a great father. He picks up his daughter on weekends and weeknights too. He remembers special occasions. He is at school performances. He cares and his daughter knows it. Rick saw the light. He changed for the better. Maybe the man at costco will run into someone in his life that will show him there is a better way. One can only hope!

  19. I had a long conversation with my dad Friday night. The first thing he said to me was, “I just spent the morning catching up on your blog. You’re a really good writer! You should write a book and get rich!”

    After a week of a nasty cold and a migraine, it was the best thing I had ever heard.

    I love my dad, who never said anything unkind to me.

  20. Tears. Many, many tears. I think I’m a good Mom, but, I get stressed too easily. I’ve recently started reading how to better diffuse frustrations, anger, stress, etc. I spend a lot of time explaining to my son that I don’t always handle situations the right way, that if I raise my voice, it’s really a bad way for me to handle my feelings. I tell him every day a billion times that I love him, but also that even when I’m angry, I still will always love him. Thank you. Thank you for your post. I do hope people, lots and lots of people, read it, and absorb it. Even if we’re good parents, we have to remember, our children are just that, children. They seek attention, be it good or bad, they seek attention most from the ones they love the most.
    Thank you. Thank you for being a good dad, and for encouraging everyone to step it up. We can all ALWAYS step it up! :-)

  21. My son is a superdad. He spent every nite at the hospital for almost a year plus working when his 4month old son was diagnosied with cancer. He came so close to losing that little boy. He is the most precious thing in his life. He tells him every day he loves him and gives him lots of kisses and hugs.

  22. I am SOOOO blessed to have a husband who is a GREAT dad to his 4 kids and we are together teaching them to love, to have joy, and to BE!
    My heart breaks for this little guy, and my heart rejoices for your own son … would that more fathers understood how very, very important their role is in their child’s lives.

  23. I find it appalling to see so many people who think this warranted a call to the authorities. What is wrong with this world? We think we can glimpse five a few small moments into this child’s life and think it necessary to pull him from his family? Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?

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