“Love And Anger: The Parental Dilemma” Chapter One

So we are embarking on our new chapter by chapter book today:  “Love and Anger:  The Parental Dilemma” by Nancy Samalin with Catherine Whitney.  You can read about the introduction to this book, with a link as to where to purchase it here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/03/25/love-and-anger-the-parental-dilemma-introduction/

This first chapter opens up with a quote from a father ( that I am sure many of us have said or have heard a parent say):  “I was the perfect father until my son was born.”

The scenario opening this chapter regards a working mother and her seven year old son who was prone to making a huge mess in their apartment:  “By the time Sharon walked in the door, she had already built up such an anger that she started yelling before she could stop herself.  Now she stood towering over the chaos in her living room, hands planted on her hips and face contorted in rage."  The mother later recounts in a parenting workshop that she cannot believe where her anger went.  How many of us have ever felt that way?

The author writes on page 4, “The subject of anger almost always comes up when parents gather, and it’s a subject that troubles them a great deal.  They believe that good parents don’t yell, much less shriek, loving parents don’t seethe with resentment, mature adults never give in to uncontrolled rage.  They look to me {the author} for ways to exorcise these uncomfortable feeling, hoping that I’ll offer them a solution, like a magic elixir, so they won’t feel angry with their children anymore.”

The author goes on to say that anger is normal, both on the part of the parent and the child, and points out the ultimate parenting paradox:   that often the greater our love, the greater too our capacity for feeling a troubling range of emotions including anger, resentment, rage. What we need to do is to teach OURSELVES and our children how to express anger, rage, those troubling emotions without attacking our children and in a way that may actually be helpful.

The author mentions that for many families their homes are battlegrounds filled with sarcasm, bickering, shouting, power struggles.   There can be many points of irritation, many hot buttons that trigger parents’ anger.  Here is a small sampling of the things parents listed as anger-provoking from a very long list on page 5:   “When they won’t do what I say”  “When they won’t take no for an answer.”  “When they defy me.”  “When they give me that attitude.”    “When they talk back and say things that hurt or insult me.” 

However, anger and rage can be downright scary; both for ourselves and our children.  It can fill us with self-loathing, guilt and other things that do not more our family lives forward. 

We must learn to separate our actions from our feelings.  All feelings are okay, not all actions are.  I am sure many of you have heard that before, but it is important to be able to deal with anger without hurting, insulting, demeaning our children.  I personally think the ability to  be firm and  hold boundaries in a loving way takes practice.  There will always be conflict between your needs and wants and what your child needs and wants.  Add in multiple children and it just gets more complex from there.   Our children will not always be happy about the boundaries that we set, yet those boundaries are there to help them  mature and grow.  Boundaries are not mean; they look toward the future when the things your children will do as adults may cost in big ways – in their jobs, their marriages, their own parenting of your grandchildren. 

And to do that we need to be able to accept all the emotions that come with being human, but to develop the will to stay the course that will benefit our children the most.  Only can we take responsibility for our own feelings and attitudes, our own actions, and yes, our own mistakes, can we move forward and truly be free.

I hope you will join along in reading this book with me.

Many blessings and much love,

Carrie

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5 thoughts on ““Love And Anger: The Parental Dilemma” Chapter One

  1. This topic sounds great and timely. I have often been quite frustrated with myself feeling such conflict between my natural impulses and inclinations to get upset and power struggle with my toddler based on the models I was raised with which is so very much at odds with the parent I aspire to be: calm, gentle, understanding, patient, and filled and guided by pure love. I’m certainly a much better parent when I can be present and filled with grace. Certainly something I struggle with.

  2. I can’t tell you how many of your posts have helped me. I signed up to get all of your posts by email, so that I don’t miss one. I have also trawled through your older posts and found so many that I want (and need) to read. I am off to buy this book because this is what I really need right now. I am struggling with PND and my anger causes me so much shame and guilt. I need to learn a way to express my anger safely and without directing at my girl. Until I learn to do this, I cannot help her to do this. She emulates me and it is frightening to see how little control I must display when I am angry. Thanks for being here and for being you.

  3. I bought this book to read along with you. I guess I’ve learned a lot from it already. When my little 3 year old’s bedtime started falling apart tonight, as I was trying to get her 5 month old brother to sleep as well, I suddenly had these new tools at hand from Love and Anger. I acknowledged my daughter’s feelings and helped her fantasize about how things would look if it all went exactly her way. Before I knew it, she was quiet, then asleep on her pillow! There have been a lot of meltdowns here, especially since the arrival of our new baby, and there has been too much anger, too much yelling in our house. Tonight, the storm passed with no raised voices, and I didn’t feel helpless when I saw it coming. I’m glad to say that, so far, this book has actually helped! I look forward to discussing it, in detail. Thanks for bringing the book to my attention.

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