Below is a chapter from Rule #2: Don’t Be an Asshat: An Official Handbook for Raising Parents and Children. Over time we will be posting most of the book, though, should this inspire you to buy a copy, we would not be offended 🙂 Posted chapters can be found in the Table of Contents.

Rule #80: Be grumpy (Dad)

I know that sometimes we have wanted you to just be happy or at least act like you were. For the times that we were unfair in our expectations, we are sorry.

One of the things that you have taught us is that it is OK to be grumpy. While we frown on being rude, allowing yourself to be less than cheery and letting us know that is not a bad thing—in fact, it’s healthy. Far too many people put a happy face on everything. They do so because they don’t want to burden others with their problems, because they are overwhelmed by feeling down so they overcompensate, or because they see not being happy as a negative reflection on their lives.

Being grumpy is not a weakness to be ignored. In fact, for most of us, it’s a daily occurrence that we must learn to recognize and regulate. For some, bad moods are brought on by a lack of food—ma.k.a., being “hangry”— while for others of us, it can be stress at work or tension in a relationship; still others have physical things going on that have yet to be addressed or even discovered. Whatever the reason, working through times of grumpiness, bad moods, and even depression means having the courage to admit that happiness is not a constant state of being and that that is OK. Then find the resources, tactics, and practices to help you move through those times.

Hate to tell you, but being grumpy will be a lifelong occurrence, so embrace it, understand where it comes from, and then allow yourself to get to the other side of it.

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