The way you talk to your kids is they way they will talk to themselves.
Your voice will become their inner voice.
Your inner voice came from your parents. (Mine did too.)
And I've had 20 years since escaping my parents' house to overlay other voices and wisdom and experience on that core inner voice. To become more and better.
And sometimes that works.
But sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes I'm tired and frustrated and stressed and the kids are being A LOT and I'm down to the bone and my father comes through. I'm speaking, but it's his voice.
Not me at all. Not the "me" I want my children to remember at least.
And I recoil from myself and apologize to whoever was there and make my way into quiet room to fix myself.
It doesn't happen nearly as much as it did, but it's still the subpar default I fall back to if I'm not working my ass off to be the father my children deserve. There is no floating. Only sinking or swimming for me.
But that's how cycles break. It's not sexy work, but it's noble and it's worthy.
We fight tooth and nail to deny our natures so we don't pass on that toxic, deflating voice to our own children. We fight to pass on the best parts of us by bringing our best when they bring their worst. Every damn time.
Because the way we show up for our children is the way they will show up both for themselves and for their own children. So we do the work.
So when I see how strong and kind my children are, that's my proof of work.
When I feel how safe they feel, that's how I know I'm winning the fight.