There seems to be an understanding that this is because of how we were parented as children.......are we really sure about that? Or could it just be because we are lacking in family/tribal support and that actually parenting in the near isolation that western civilisation often means - is in fact beyond the call of duty and too much for all but the strongest and most placid of women?
If it is caused by our childhoods - then how? What's the connection iykwim, what process has occured to produce anger in us?
I feel that if I could understand fully *why* I get angry then I would be better equipped to learn how not to. I know mums who *never* get angry - irritated yes but not angry. If you're one of those mums, what do you think is different about you? Why don't you get angry?
For me it's not just about learning techniques - yes they're useful in the short term and better than nothing, but the moment the anger rises a child is aware of it and alarmed by it - and even if we manage to not spank, not shout, not walk away or whatever, it doesn't take away that scary moment for the child.
I want to understand my anger so I can stop it even happening in the first place, and I'm sure I can't do that until I understand what brought it into my personality.
Obviously anger is a valid emotion at times, but I'm talking about the times it isn't but still rises.
Some I know are excasserbated by diet. I've cut waaay down on caffeine and refined sugars/carbs - and that helps. But I tend to think, as you suggested, that not only are we not supported by our families/tribes - but in society as a whole. We're also a pretty pedigreed lot, with a lot of education and high expectations of our actions. We face a myriad of challenges. Also, for me, it is hard to have come from a place where I was "in charge" (my work life) and be in a family environment where I'm not.
I too have wondered about those moms who said, "oh, I could never hit my child." I don't hit, but I could easily do it - I'm just afraid it would become a downward spiral (like an alcoholic). I hear some moms who seems so calm and collected, even in the most stressful time, and wonder how they do it too.
edit: don't know how the frownie got there, must have hit it by mistake...
Societies expectations of women and children also affect how we parent and how we react. Society expects our children to be seen and not heard, in general people have a very low tolerance for normal childish behavior. So say if your kid is acting up at a restaurant, instead of the people at the table next to you turning and smiling or trying to help, they will quite often turn and give you a dirty look or whatever. This makes us feel like we must 'control' or teach our children to behave, when they ARE behaving just as a 2, 3, 4, or 5 ,year old should! Along with that comes the unnatural situations we put our kids in. Kids were not meant to sit in a carseat, strapped in, for 20-30 minutes at a time afew times a day. Kids were not meant to sit quietly for storytime at the library, or sit for 2+ hours at a restaurant and 'behave' like an adult. It's just not natural, and goes against what they can do developmentally. All this to say that because we are putting our children in situations that they will most likely fail, we are stressing our because of what others think or do, all this is contributing to anger and rage. On the days when I choose to do things simply, like take a meandering walk in the woods or swim with dd in the spring and go on a canoe ride, doing things at her pace ,where she is free to run and play without being inhibited or expected to sit still, I am virtually stress free. Things that bother me on a normal basis dont. After all, if we are outside and she spills her cup or water, who cares, right?
Many days, I wonder if, with all our modern day 'things', appliances, we really have it better or easier? Not true. Back in the day, families lived together for generations. Brothers, sisters, Aunts, Uncles, and grandparents shared housing. Everyone helped with the house chores. Cleaning was not like it is today. Dust was not taboo, and sanitation was not the goal. This day and age, I feel like I have to mop my floor everyday and dust 4 times a week and do laundry everyday just to keep our house decent. ANd *I* am the only one doing this! Plus cooking, going to the grocery, PO, and a million other errands. Plus I have to lug my not so cooperative toddler around, which makes me feel guilty, which wears on my emotions which makes me feel angry....
Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning is usually stem from something else, like fear. For me, I fear that "If dd does this, then she's going to grow up to be a spoiled brat and it will be MY fault because I wanted to do GD/AP methods instead of conventional methods of child rearing." alot. That runs through my head all the time. I feel like since I am the only one who really really wants this for dd, it lays on my shoulders to produce good children who turn into good adults, and any shortcomings are a sign of failur on my part. When I re read this I know it sounds silly, but there it is. To find the source of your anger, I would find the source of your fear. HTH
While my mood, available support, nutritional/sleep status, etc can all feed into that, at the base of it is the idea of an adult agenda. When I can let go of silly agendas, or find ways to cooperatively accomplish more important agendas, we're fine. When I stubbornly dig my heels in about an agenda because I'm the parent and I say so...doesn't go so well. Anger city.
So yeah, I think a large part of it has to do with what I was shown when I was a child. It's hard to parent according to a different model when I was told explicitly that philosophies like Alfie Kohn's are permissive and wrong, and that the adults should "be in charge".
I personally don't blame it on my childhood, there's not a lot of things I connect to that although my childhood involved neglect and divorce.
For me I know it's confusion and social pressure.
Confusion, because there's so many different ways to parent, so many people I know have different styles and I am simply overwhelmed by the choices. I always feel like I have to make a choice and need a "label" to parent a certain way. Then I can't stick to it 100% and feel like a failure. The best times in my mother-children relationship are when I am relaxed, haven't had time to think about the next step and just go with my guts. But a lot of times I consciously make an effort to copy someone's parenting style becuase of a certain situation I was impressed with - how they handle their kids tantrums, how do they teach their kids certain things, how happy are their kids....but what works for them doesn't necessarily work for my kids, so them and me get angry.
I haven't read any parenting books in years, I am just so fed up with all the different advice, everyone seems to know better than you and I need to concentrate on how my kids are as individuals and stop trying to put them in a drawer.
Second the social pressure which is somewhat connected to the confusion theory. I don't want to give in to it, but it's hard not to. I get angry out of jealousy for example. I see how easy it is for some of my friends, when they get their night out cause they have family to help watch the kids or can afford a sitter. They have houses with a yard and when their kids get crazy, they just let them outside, while me and dh get a night out once a year and I have to take my kids to the park when they wanna run.
I get angry when I see how much farther ahead my friend's daughter is, academically. While I don't believe in teaching them how to read and do math at age 5 it still tickles me when ds's friend can write her name and he is more interested in rolling on the floor being a goofball. When she knew at 14 months what L and R is and knows to keep her elbows off the tabel while eating while my ds is stuffing as much food in his mouth as possible There's plenty of things my ds does better than her and in the end it's not about a contest and I have always stayed away from the whole "look, what MY child can do" thing but whether you want it or not, at some point you're gonna get sucked into it and I get mad at my kids for not going with the flow sometimes.
More social pressure: my mom who expects all kids to sit still and color when adults are having a coversation. My pedi who reads me that ridiculous growthchart and tells me their heads are big. MDC members who put a "non-AP" or "AP" sticker on anyone who posts. I could count thousands more.
I get angry when I am not strong enough to trust my instincts and expect too much of me and my kids. Lack of sleep, money trouble and all those things agrevate it but I have had plenty of times where we could pay the bills comfortably and I had 8 hrs of sleep and still had the most impatient days.
We all have different reasons for getting mad and the most important thing to me is that I have come to realize: I admire moms who are striking starts of GD, who have never raised their voice to their kids. I will never reach that level and I will yell at them the next time they color the walls or tear up a book. In my eyes there's nothing wrong with anger at certain times as long as it's justified. It shouldn't harm anyone but it is also a perfectly natural response to when things go wrong. My kids need to learn that side of me too. Anything in moderation, right
at their age, i think they still can be very unreasonable ...and honestly, they do things that have just ticked me off sometimes (like making concoctions on the porch and adding dog poop for fun -in my good cooking pans!!....or drawing all over the walls with sharpie markers). i have found myself feeling most angry when it was a power struggle of some sort, or an act of what i felt was deliberate disobedience.
having said that though, i really don't scream at my kids anymore. i think the key for me is knowing what emotions come before me fully losing it. for me it is irritability. when i find my children are "getting on my nerves" (like yesterday-and for NO reason really). in the morning, when my daughter was asking very simple questions, i found my patience was very thin and i was irritable. it's not her fault or problem though, it's mine and i really try to recognize that. i told her i was in a grumpy mood and i was sorry. i asked her to give me some extra space, and she totally understood. to help with my anger, i also have given up a lot of battles that i used to think were important. i don't fight with my kids about clothes anymore--they can wear what they please (i put winter clothes in the attic in the summer and vice versa). i also try to give choices whenever possible, and i also don't leave them unsupervised as much....obviously they would not have added poop to my pots and pans or colored the walls with sharpies, had their mommy been more aware: lastly, i have lowered my expectations of my children. i think i used to have unrealistic expectations of how my children should *be* and i was constantly frustrated because my sweeties could never measure up. we would go to a restaurant and i'd feel angry that they misbehaved....but it was crazy to think they actually should have behaved at all. anyway, i think ALL mamas get angry, and all mamas lose it at one time or another. it's been posted so many times, and i think it's so true how important it is to take care of ourselve (eat right, get rest, get alone time when possible...ha ha, which i never get) and use a lot of the techniques mentioned here to help stay calm. i think you can be very angry and still stay calm. anger is a god-given emotion, so to never get angry is unrealistic.
other people may have deep rooted anger issues from something else, and i guess they may need more than this....but this is how i deal with it....but i know i still have a lot of growing to do.
homeschooling mama to DD 10 & DS 7
I sort of feel that we are going against the system. The trial/family support is gone, but most people live in two income homes and the kids go to daycare. That is the new community: work and daycare.
A big part of my issue is how I was raised. I grew up in a home where rage and violence were the NORM. Screaming, screeching, breaking things, hitting, throwing things, calling each other and the kids names were the norm on a GOOD day. On a bad day, you can add punching, drunk parents, etc... So it is SOOOOOOO hard to fight that first instinct towards anger when my kids "misbehave," especially since years of abuse have completely warped what that natural instinct is.
Diet plays a big role for me, too. I drink WAY too much caffeine and need to cut down.
Also, I realize that my triggers are when the kids and I get into some sort of power struggle, or like a pp said when they do something that appears to be intentional defiance. Those are hard things for me to deal with, especially because of society's messages about kids should and should not do. I think I also get a little hurt by the intentional stuff, and am working on getting MY feelings out of the equation, at least long enough to discipline properly.
|More social pressure: my mom who expects all kids to sit still and color when adults are having a coversation. My pedi who reads me that ridiculous growthchart and tells me their heads are big. MDC members who put a "non-AP" or "AP" sticker on anyone who posts. I could count thousands more.|
I think that there is no one answer but I do think that environmental factors play a huge role. I find that when I am in a chaotic environment - loud, bright, polluted - I have a much shorter fuse. When I am in a calmer environment then I am able to be more mindful of what is going on within me.
Since I live in a big city I have found that I need to create that inner calm and mindfulness. Yoga has helped, as had bike riding and eating well. But by far the most helpful thing that I have ever done for myself is to mitigate stress instead of seek it out. I have learned to say "no" when I feel that something is going to be too much. I have learned to not care for material possessions so that I don't feel resentful if I don't have them. I make decisions carefully so that I don't take on more than I can handle. The other thing that I have done which has helped enormously is that I don't take things personally. This has been a challenging exercise but I do see that 99% of people's reactions to us have more to do with themselves than anything we are doing.
I also try to be understanding of people. If I'm driving and somebody cuts me off, I literally say to myself "they must be in a terrible rush - maybe they have to go pick their child up and they are late" or something along those lines. I try not to judge what others do with bad motives.
I got angry with my DD the other day because she did not want me to rinse the shampoo from her hair. I was almost done and she was screaming and resisting. I felt myself pushing against her to make her let me finish because I felt that she was being difficult for no reason. When I realized that I was pushing her, I let go and I felt ashamed. That is what my mother did to me. She used all sorts of control including pushing, dragging, and holding. It was all punishment for resisting. I was so frustrated that I yelled out my frustration "ARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!" Both my DC started crying. I had frightened them. I felt stupid.
Then the anger wasn't even important anymore. If I had channeled it instead of letting it get warped with guilt and hurt thinking about myself as a child, I might have thought of a song or some silly game to help us get through the hairwashing faster. So I sat down and took 20 sec to get it together and I was about to get them smiling and finish the hair in less than 5 mins. I apologized to them for losing my temper.
I also find it much easier to deal with every day stresses when there's other people around, other children, other mothers, family, etc.
I do have anger issues I've been dealing with pretty darn well until the last month or so of this pregnancy, which I think were related to my childhood, but I'm learned to let go of a lot.
There's a certain desperation in taking care of a kid and a house that for me personally can turn to anger. I have a *really* long fuse so that saves me a lot of the time but not always.
I tend to show anger more around those that I know best and my husband and my daughter are closest to me right now. That scares me and I try to remind myself often that she can't defend herself against me and that I need to not turn anything out on her. Reading this forum and several parenting books has helped me in identifying triggers and avoiding situations where I'm more likely to lose it.
But what I wanted to say is that I think that anger is a natural human reaction to the situations we're in with children.
I mean really, they upset the whole applecart - things we used to be able to take for granted, we can't any more. Things we used to be able to do, we can't.
Added to that, children are always going to get the brunt because they are usually the most sensitive and vulnerable around in the crowd.
I do think our current lifestyles could add to that - if you've had children around you your whole life, and are already used to being responsible for/taking care of them, then you've already adjusted somewhat. But as much as extended family can be a huge help in that area, as we are all aware, they can also be a huge problem. The idea of the whole family being so much closer and able to help each other may sound better than it really would be, KWIM?
I think it is our inability to DEAL with our anger that is the problem. I think anger is a natural reaction to most of the situations and changes we are going through; but we've got to have a way of dealing with it that doesn't involve inflicting it on others. KWIM? Easier said than done, probably.
I think in the past, with a much closer-knit and extended family, children were much more vulnerable to a family member who was unable to control his/her temper, or molested, or what have you. We have a lot more control over that nowadays. So I'm not sure that's totally the answer.
I am so going to watch this thread and learn, learn, learn!
Thanks for the support!
My mom is an alcoholic, she became an alcoholic when I was three. She used to smack me, and grab me and shake me so that my head would snap back and forth. Then she would apologize and tell me that she was sorry that she hurt me, but she couldn't help herself because I had made her so angry. She is currently sober and claims that she never yelled at me or hurt me as a child.
I have had to fight these urges to hurt my child the way my mother hurt me, and I was not even drunk at the time. I can get angry about stupid stuff, I mean, come on, DD is just a toddler! Luckily, I have a loving caring DH who is an excellent parent and steps in when he can see me getting irritated. And yeah, I have been in therapy for over a year now (actually just got a break from it because I have been doing so much better).
But what I wanted to say is that I think that anger is a natural human reaction to the situations we're in with children..
We're all going about our day, trying to get things accomplished, and here are these little people who make it their mission in life to make everything in the universe come to a halt so that all of the focus is on them. It's a set up for frustration.
I'd be exponentially more pissed off if an adult was getting in my way all the time like that.
makes us feel like we must 'control' or teach our children to behave, when they ARE behaving just as a 2, 3, 4, or 5 ,year old should! ....because we are putting our children in situations that they will most likely fail, we are stressing our because of what others think or do, all this is contributing to anger and rage......Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning is usually stem from something else, like fear.
For me, I fear that "If dd does this, then she's going to grow up to be a spoiled brat and it will be MY fault because I wanted to do GD/AP methods instead of conventional methods of child rearing." alot. That runs through my head all the time. I feel like since I am the only one who really really wants this for dd, it lays on my shoulders to produce good children who turn into good adults, and any shortcomings are a sign of failur on my part. When I re read this I know it sounds silly, but there it is.
I agree also with this thing of expecting too much from our children developmentally, it's sooo easy to forget and start doing that. And our society is just NOT child friendly.
A lot of the triggers mentioned are the same for me, lack of sleep, lack of time for myself, lack of the right environment, not flowing with dd and her pace. But isn't this all just about management, getting it all right in the first place so that there's nothing to get angry about anyway? I'd like to feel confident that *whatever* the day (or my dd ) might throw at me, I will be able to handle it with grace and humour.
I'm interested in anger being a secondary emotion, I need to ponder that some more. Is it always from fear do you think? As much as I am preoccupied with my parenting technique I don't really feel *afraid* of being judged on it, I'm far too arrogant for that I may well be in denial here though.....hmm.
The thing I'm actually struggling with, is not to get angry with dd's biting and extreme clinginess (both of which started during the hospital stay I mentioned above). 99% of the time I can stay calm, but just occasionally, and as it's gone on longer, my temper is now starting to rise, which of course makes it all just worse - I don't act on my temper but dd knows it's there. If an adult behaved like dd it would be *appropriate* for me to get angry, I think whats happening in these moments is that I am expecting adult behaviour from my dd. I *know* she's been through a lot, and is only trying to deal with it.....but I get as angry as if she *were* an adult, and after it's stopped I'm miserable and I almost expect her to apologise and explain to me why she did it. She can't talk yet
Hey, I feel I'm getting somewhere here
*walks away muttering....she's only a baby, you're the adult, she's only a baby.....*
I try and think about compassion when i feel the signs of angry. Compassion for myself, compassion for DD. I also tell myself that it's okay if we're late/it's raining/I can't stand the whining/whatever.
And I've let go of my anger towards my parents. I finally realised it wasn't going to disappear of it's own accord, I had to just force myself to move on. I think of myself as having grown up a lot. But it's taken a hard 3 years to get here.
I recently had a brief chat with a hospital therapist because my dd was in hospital, and I tried to explain my parenting style for her. One aspect is that I'm a firm believer in modelling, that my dd will behave the way she sees me behave. She very astutely said "but thats very hard on you isn't it - if your daughter ever 'misbehaves' or 'does the wrong thing', then it's entirely down to you and *your* behaviour". I agreed with her completely lol, it's what I believe, but it did make me see how much pressure I was putting on myself - and also how in a way I was denying my dd the right to be an individual and - say - be grumpy and badly behaved if thats how she feels today
Very true about society. Was on the bus yesterday with parents and a 3 year old, who was kicking the seat in front of him, acting up, you know. He has a newborn sib so that was probably why. Anyway, could see the parents were getting so stressed out by his behaviour (and the judgemental silence of people on the bus) so I finally said I had a 3 yaer old too, how I was empathising with them, and they just completely relaxed and started smiling.
Mom to my little super hero (02/06) and our super hero-in-training (11/11).
Like, dangerous situations in our history used to involve serious predators. So if our young wandered off into a situation where they were being preyed upon, we would likely need to fend off the predator in a pretty aggressive manner. All that adrenaline would be have a useful direction--a recipient, if you will, who we could lash out at and, in turn, protect our offspring.
Now, we're still trying to protect our offspring from dangers, but where is that fear/anger/adrenaline channeled? There's no saber tooth tiger to scream at and chase away until we're spent, you know? But, that fear of injury and death is still pretty real--toddler wandering toward the road, playing with an outlet, etc. Maybe we unleash on the kid b/c s/he's the only thing right there. Yelling at the outlet and throwing the lamp across the room would seem pretty silly.
I don't know....just another thought.
I definitely think the isolation and intense mama-on-kid(s) thing is waaaaay new and stressful and a HUGE part of the equation.
And how many of us were taught (or not) to deal with big emotions.
I absolutely agree with the OP: back in the day, families came together to raise children. Nowdays, it doesn't usually work out that way. Too much is on the shoulders of parents... especially in this fast pace world when we're suppose to have "superkids" and such.
I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that many of us set aside the things that are stress-relievers. We sacrifice the things that calm us down, the time, the book, the bath, the hair styling, whatever it is...
And therefore we keep going and going without taking time for ourselves.
Christian Texan Mama to Merika (5/2005), Nolyn (1/2007), Keagan (UC baby 9/2007), Four miscarried lovelies, and sweet Evangeline Rose who arrived 9/7/2010 (home/water birth). Expecting our fifth blessing March 2012! Viva la Vegan Pregnancy, my friends!
My trigger is 100% violence. When Dd hauls off and hits me or her brother or her father...it makes me see double. I yelled at DD so badly today...b/c she threw her toy stroller at me then pushed her brother to the ground.
I have spoken to her over and over about how to handle her anger. she is allowed to stomp off to her room and yell and slam the door but she can not hit another person...
Yet she continues to do it...sometimes I see her make the deliberate decision to do it and my head spins.
I think my anger stems from perfectionism...which is from my mother. we had to be perfect little girls my sister and I. anything that wasn't perfect was hidden.
My sister fought against it..being the rebel. I was the "good girl".
after reading Alice ****** I do believe I have to reconcile my past...
I don't really now how to do that though.
I wish I lived in neighborhood with kids. I get lonely and wish for a friend to pop over with her kids and have coffee with me while the kids play.
As it is I live in an apartment complex with mostly old people and the young couples move out to raise families.
The only friend with kids my kids ages lives 40 minutes away and she does come over about every other week..for coffee
I feel pressure to do everything right b/c I am bucking the system...I get so scared sometimes.