“Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma”–Chapter Two

This chapter is entitled, “Everyday Madness” and opens by talking about the anger that can occur in parents over everyday, ordinary things such as children not brushing their teeth or cleaning their rooms, whining, dawdling, fighting with siblings and how guilty parents feel about feeling that way.

But why do parents feel so guilty about this?  From page 25:  “Having skills in the way we respond can make a difference and make us feel less at the mercy of our impulses.  Most parents think they should be able to handle the every day stuff automatically, but why should they think that, since no one ever taught them how?  On the contrary, I can imagine that most of us were raised in households where the dynamics were very similar to the ones described here, in which we were told repeatedly that the things we wanted were not worth making a fuss over.”

The author talks about her experiment regarding leaving a “tape recorder on during breakfast or dinner, to record what you say and how you say it.  When my children were younger, I tried it, and I got a terrible shock…”

What would your tone sound like to your children if you did that experiment in your household?  If it would not be what you would want to hear, how could you change this?

The authors talk about changing our parenting language, something I have written frequently about on this blog.  The follow-up to this, for older children, is to have them take responsibility for themselves.

The authors say on page 28:  “When, after these well-meaning reminders, our children fail to respond or continue to be forgetful anyway, we’re angry:  “I reminded you!  How could you forget?  Are you deaf?  Stupid?  Trying to drive me crazy?”  But often after we have vented our disgust and anger, we may then rush to bail them out, so that they won’t have to suffer or be unhappy for having been forgetful, irresponsible, or careless.  We want our children to become more responsible, but how often do we really give them the chance?  We forget that the best way children learn is by experiencing the consequences of their actions.”

Part of what we need to do as parents with our older children is to not blame or attack,  but to be gracious and kind without bailing the child out.  The child may be angry or wail or cry, but that is really okay.  All feelings are okay!  And children come to us with their own destinies, their own work, and sometimes they have to rise up and do this work without you getting in the way.

This chapter also points out scenarios where the parents were proactive and set the rule in their home – see the scenario on page 33 for an example.  If we don’t set down the rules, the children will not know.  You cannot get angry at your children for not knowing!  Rhythm is your most powerful ally in this regard.  Rhythm is strength and helps with discipline!

The authors also point out normal developmental stages – see page 34 – where between ages three and six, children do interrupt and whine, seven and eight year olds daydream and don’t do chores, etc.  The point is NOT that this is acceptable, but it is normal.  If you know what is developmentally appropriate, that can be the first point in planning what you will do when this behavior will inevitably occur. 

And most of dealing with normal developmental challenges is LESS WORDS, MORE DOING. Help your child move away from a sibling that is putting their feet in their face before they start hitting each other.  Hand your child a sponge to clean  up the milk he spilled.  State rules clearly and impartially:  “This is what happens” for older children; for younger children it should all be part of the daily rhythm.  Use verses, rhymes, singing and movement whilst you are singing to get the job done.  Humor can go a long way!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter if you have the book.

Many blessings,
Carrie

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8 thoughts on ““Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma”–Chapter Two

  1. I think the key is at the end of the chapter – the point about beig proactive and intervening before it happens, and also using less words. Getting angry about stuff like, say teeth brushing happens when/if there isn’t a regular routine to it (ours do theirs immediately after breakfast, every day, without fail, so it just happens, no questions, no arguments we all just know it will happen) and when/if the parent isn’t being fully present to realise either that the child needs more support in the activity because they aren’t developmentally there, or more support on that day because of circumstances (tired, hungry, unwell, other emotional issues). Anger at the chidl is 9 times out of 10 parents anger at themselves because they know they are not fully performing/have unrealistic expectations etc.

    Another great book study Carrie, am looking forward to reviewing the next chapters.

  2. So true! Sometimes my son repeats my words and tone verbatim and I am shocked to listen how I sound! Thank you very much, Carrie, for all that you share.

  3. Dear Carrie
    I have been reading your posts regularly for almost an year now, and Imust admit they have helped me immensely. The issue of anger is really bothering me at present, so as soon as you suggested the book, I ordered the copy. I am on chapter 2 now, ‘who’s the boss?’. I am also finding the suggestion of registering my angry thoughts in a journal for 40 days imensely helpfull, I am on day 8 and am already seeing a pattern to my anger. thanks for suggesting it! What was really alarming was, that though initially, when I just became a mother, I was very sensitive and concerned about showing anger towards my children, but I guess I am slowly hardening up, yell almost all the time, say nasty things at slightest provocation and even hit them. My son is 3, daughter is 2, and am partially responsible for 2 nieces, aged 6 and 4. I find it too much to handle at times, and I am worse if I don’t get any ‘me time’.Using fantasy, dramatization and other suggestions have helped me, but most of all, it is the ‘spilled anger’ from other stress sorces, spilled on the kids. On bad days, i even feel like i really don’t care, and that is what is bothering me the most.

    • Zigma,
      Four children, especially having two that are those more challenging ages of four and six (and they are not yours) could be challenging! If you are at the point where you feel like you don’t care about the anger (but you DO, because you are writing to me :)) then I would say that is the best warning sign that you are overloaded. Do you have to care for your nieces? And if that situation cannot change, how will you rise up to meet it? I know you can rise up and meet it! Use rhythm as your friend, and simplicity. With those ages, just keeping everyone fed, safe, warm IS your rhythm of the day. You can this!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  4. After seeing this book on the blog, I skipped over to Amazon right away to get my copy. It’s something I have struggled with even before my sone was born three years ago.

    So far, I have learned much from the book. Being a parent involves introspection and self-control. Only by changing myself, through thoughts and actions can I change the situation. Not taking things personally helps too!

    I would love to learn more practical applications for this learning, specific actions to take or words that I could use when these situations arise. Can you offer any?

    • Victoria — Try the “Keep Calm and Carry On” series on this blog and also put anger into the search box on this blog and about a million posts will come up. :) Also try the post on the 10 X 7 rule.
      Thank you for reading, if you have specific situations you can also email me. My email is at the bottom of the about page.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  5. Thanks a lot for your kind words, Carrie. I really needed to hear something like that. I think I will have to find the strength to “rise up and meet” the situation I am in, as you said. Although the rhythm and simplicity formula is doing wonders, anger from “other sources” spilling on children (especially my own children) is still a problem for me. I also know that if somehow I can work this one out, I will really grow as a parent and as a person. Anyways, as I am going through the book, I see people go through a lot worse situations than me, and it has given me some prespective on my life. can;t thank you enough for suggesting the book ‘love and anger’.
    Take care. bye

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