‘Why Is Dad So Mad?’ Veteran Writes Book to Explain His PTSD to His Daughter
Quote from the video transcript…
“In “Why Is Dad So Mad?” a family of lions — representing the Kastle family — is battling to overcome the father lion’s PTSD. In the book’s colorful pages, the father lion is shown with a raging fire inside his chest. That image, and its message, made an impact on Kastle’s 6-year-old daughter, Raegan.”
“No matter what, when they’re mad or sad at you, they still love you,” explained Raegan, admiring her father’s book in her playroom. “There’s always a fire in his heart, but no matter what, I know there’s love.”
When my buddy Byron called me to share his discovery of this new children’s book, I was excited! Most books are written for adults, like my own non fiction publication, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story… For the first time since the 1950’s, during the most challenging times as a military child growing up with a father who suffered from the horrors and WWII and Korean War, I remembered vividly the question we all asked daily, “why is dad so mad and angry all the time?”
We never got an answer to that question while growing up. But I remember asking the question out loud to my mother, brothers and sister just about every day and with self talk. If I had known back then that Dad had a “fire in his chest” caused by exposure to the trauma of war, it would no doubt have been a blessing for the entire Sparks family. But we did not know how to talk about it without being pushed back and asked to mind our own business. Sometimes just asking the question made our parents even more anxious with angry outbursts and sometimes beatings to suggest it what wrong for us to ask questions. I know we persisted and very much wanted to understand as children about the toxic circumstances in our home. It was not until later in life that I took a leap of faith and started to find out on my own through research and writing my own book for adults to help us heal.
A book for children is a critical step in the right direction. It is tough to talk about the subject of PTS/PTSD among ourselves as adults, let alone figuring out how to discuss this emotional subject with kids. Just listening to the video of the child’s interaction with her father, reinforces the value of writing illustrated books for children on the subject of post trauma symptoms and treatment. I can’t wait to get the book in my hands and start a campaign to write more books for kids that help see that parents who suffer from post trauma symptoms of anger and other scary behaviors still love their children and it is not the child’s fault. I left home at age 17 with the perception that all the troubles in our home while growing up fell on my shoulders…a heavy burden of emotional baggage to carry forward…
It is so important to figure out creative ways to help kids understand that parental anger and rage is most often not the fault of children. If we don’t make them aware consistently of this critical fact, they will certainly grow up believing that for some reason that the angry behaviors and outbursts, including physical and mental abuse, was a result of something the child perpetrated.
If children do not understand the roots of parental toxic behavior, especially if it is related to moral injury from hard combat experience or other traumatic life events, they will surely take the emotional baggage into adult life and potentially affect the lives of loved ones, including their own children. The intergenerational effects of PTS/PTSD are very real. I live with the symptoms of PTS every day of my life, but now have peace of mind after discovering the roots of my own family’s troubled post WWII circumstances of life after war.
Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.