Saturday, April 30, 2011

Parenting class night five: anger

This past week in parenting class we thoroughly discussed the issue of anger. Not only anger in our children, but also (or especially) anger in us as parents.

There are definitely times for me where my anger has absolutely gotten the better of me. I've screamed at my girls in a way that scared me and scared them. I've grabbed them in a manner that was far too rough and made them hurt or scared. I have felt absolutely enraged by my girls' behavior more times than I can easily recall.

Thankfully these instances have gotten fewer and further between as time moves on. A couple of weeks ago in class we were all given anger logs to fill in. I took one, thinking it might help me, but when I looked at it something clicked in my head. I realized I was really stubborn and that I didn't want to fill out an anger log. What that meant for me was that I wasn't going to get angry with my girls so that I didn't have anything to write down.

Or rather, let me clarify: I wasn't going to get angry with my girls in a way that wasn't healthy or safe. I could get angry and walk away, but I couldn't get angry and scream so loudly that my voice became hoarse. I could get angry and count to ten, but I couldn't grab their arms and force them to do something. I could get angry and send us all in to a "time out" but I couldn't belittle or shame anyone for their behavior.

My stubbornness paid off. I didn't have anything to write that week. Or the following week. I am making it through. Last time in class our teacher relayed some stories about things that have occurred in her parenting journey. She told stories of things she had done in anger and then shared with us a rule she subsequently made: she vowed to herself she would never again touch her children while she was angry. I mean, it sounds so simple and obvious, right? However, the beauty of making these kinds of agreements with yourself is that you make the decision far before you ever find yourself in the situation. Therefor, harming your children in anger is no longer on the table, no longer one of your tools, whether you ever intended for it to be or not.

My brain tends to operate this way: something is either right or wrong. You either do it or you don't. Therefor this idea spoke volumes to me.

We talked quite a bit about anger in the family, including taming our family's "dragon" (in Iris's therapy they call the dragon the "angry monster"), learning calming techniques and setting ground rules for arguments.

I felt like that what the class boiled down to for me is that I wanted my children to always feel safe. That they never had to be afraid that I was going to do something or say something that was going to scare them or make them question that I loved them and I cared for them. I want to be able to model for them that I can be mad as hell and handle it in the same way I would expect them to. There were several times where I used my strong, serious voice to let them know I was getting really frustrated, or downright angry, but it wasn't scary. At least, I didn't read from their reactions that it was scary. It was serious, it was direct, it let them know I meant business, but it wasn't scary.

There is quite a lot of freedom in knowing that you don't have to be a victim of your emotions, especially when it comes to people you love more than anything in the world.


  1. Personal growth is a wonderful thing! You going to keep the anger log?

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I even had Allan read it and I think it rang very true for both of us. Good job recognizing and moving away from the undesireable behavior. We're working on it here, too.

  3. Thank you Tara and Jorje. I am glad that this post might have helped someone else.
    I still have the logs in my binder but I do not expect I will need to use them.


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