Diffusing Parent Anger – A Raw Letter From Me To You About Anger, Parenting And Hope

Thank you for joining me in some collaborative parenting discussion.


Thank you for taking a few moments to read this raw letter from one parent to another. If you have any questions when you’re finished, please feel free to contact me.

For the first few years of my parenting experience I hurt myself and my family by trying to force my kids to cooperate and because I did not know how to effectively deal with my own anger. Although I loved my kids and wanted to do differently, I did not have the skills to do anything different. While I tried various parenting styles and tactics to increase cooperation and diffuse anger, such as counting to 10, nothing worked consistently. I lived in a precarious cycle of frustration-anger-yell-hurt-guilt-apologize-cry-temporary calm.

I was a loving, gentle mother most of the time – but even I wasn’t sure when I would hit the tipping point and react harshly again. As someone who had been on the receiving end of abuse at various points during my life, it was sickening to see the “abuser” pattern in myself. I could not accept that I would always experience myself in this way.

Can you relate? Maybe you’re thinking “I’m not an abuser, I just get a little upset and yell sometimes” or “I’m not sure what this has to do with me or why I’m reading this.” Either way, the resources on this site are shared to help you contribute positively to the lives of children. If you’d rather not read this letter – start with SAFE or Navigating Emotions for Parents.

Thankfully, misery led me to the path of radical honesty. I had to make a choice – continue down the bumpy path I was traveling or find another way to approach parenting and life. I decided to learn how to trade control for collaboration. The journey is not always easy or comfortable, but it is very healing. The past few years have been an interesting conglomeration of reconnecting spiritually, recognizing self-defeating patterns, making peace with childhood wounds, consciously choosing how to respond, and learning how to communicate respectfully.

During the process I uncovered three very dangerous parenting beliefs – that children are wrong for doing what they do at times, that they need to be immediately obedient, and if they are not they need to be reprimanded. If you trace parenting frustration to the roots you will likely find at least one of these ideas, which have led to child abuse and death on many occasions. The danger of these particular beliefs comes from a parent’s attachment to them – thinking they are absolutely right, viewing the adherence to them as more important than the parent-child relationship itself, and using control, force, or harm to “get cooperation”.

I noticed a host of harmful thoughts that erupted from these base beliefs. Thoughts like… “I’m a terrible mom. I’m supposed to make them cooperate. I am so tired of them disregarding what I say. They just will not listen. I hate this.” There was always a gnawing inside of me, though, with accompanying questions like… “Wait, doesn’t making someone cooperate defy the definition of cooperation? Wait, do I really want them to respond favorably when I am angry or do I want them to cooperate because it truly works for everyone in the family? Wait, I love my kids – how can I hate the experience of being a parent?”

As I investigated these beliefs I recognized the long history of punishment to get obedience that laces the consciousness of the planet. I thought back to slavery and other historic references, such as the use of the rod in the Bible (one example is Proverbs 23:13-14). Interestingly, it was a divinely organized friendship that brought me to realize how I had internalized these ideas. During a conversation about my son’s behavior the mother asked me if I had considered the teachings of a specific parenting author. My mind went back to the toddler years of my first child. Yes, I had read his book but I didn’t agree with his methods.

The author started the book with “Switch Your Kids” and proceeded to lay out a persuasive argument on why parents should train their children through the infliction of pain during late babyhood and spankings as they got older. Why? To produce happy, obedient children. Suffice it to say, that message is full of dangerous implications and there are other ways to nurture children while honoring the sanctity of their experience. As I finally realized the root of the ideas that had tormented my subconscious for years, I was able to consciously make the choice to approach parenting from a different, broader perspective.

The ever-deepening result… I choose to not act out of harshness. If I feel strong emotion I tend to it inside of myself through focusing on my breath and remembering the peace found in silence at times – while choosing how I communicate. I apologize if I come across harsh and speak what I will do differently the next time. I welcome feedback. I listen to my children.

I respect the minds, bodies, and spirits of my children – remembering and when necessary, reminding myself, that their need for peace is greater than any inclination to yell. I get space if I need it instead of blaming, lashing out, or brooding in negative thoughts. I am as curious about my inner reaction to another person’s behavior as I am about their behavior. I become aware of reactions to clearly choose my responses.

I’m actively cultivating an environment of trust, accountability, and responsibility through mutual respect, communicating reasonable boundaries, and the power and reality of choice. I facilitate peaceful conflict resolution through stopping, listening, and engaging in sometimes challenging discussions.  Most importantly - the anger I feel is my responsibility, not my child’s or my partner’s and I am willing to grow, learn, and start over as necessary. Now, is my house is always clean? No, but my conscience is vacuumed regularly and my relationships appreciate the commitment.

Why do I share all of this with you? Because I want you to have hope. If I can change my relationship with anger, so can you.

Anger is actually an opportunity, but it’s hard to see it that way when we’re immersed in it or find ourselves reacting harshly with people we care about. You have the power to work through anger, though, because it is happening inside of you. Whatever you are thinking and feeling right now can lead to a very empowering relationship with your emotions so you move from reacting to responding and from doubt to clear guidance with your children.

Presence Parenting was born out of the knowledge that people can change, parents can transform anger and aggression, kids respond to inner change on the part of the parent, and we hold inside the keys to our own freedom in the parent-child relationship and life.

The basis for the work is discovering who you really are inside of the thoughts and feelings you experience – something that no person or experience can take away. From there you get to determine how you parent your kids, relate to your partner and friends, and live your life.

If you are in the throes of doubt, anger, or simply want a different relationship with your kids I invite you to start by reading Navigating Emotions for Parents or joining the Sane Parenting Challenge - a six week journey to address the way you respond when parenting feels intense. Change starts with us.

Take gentle care,
Amy


Are you are struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something invaluable with you: hope. If you would like to change how you respond when parenting feels intense, I invite you to consider this challenge.

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8 Responses to Diffusing Parent Anger – A Raw Letter From Me To You About Anger, Parenting And Hope

  1. Crystal September 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    OOH ! Amy! Thank you so much! My oldest child never had a spanking, and I later let someone convince me that it was how to handle disobedience in a child…ooh my, what a trap..makes a vicious cycle of anger and misunderstanding in both parent and child. It has taken almost three years for my daughter and I to reconnect and for her to truly trust me. I am crushed when I hear parents talk of direct obedience and spanking. Do I want to choose the right decision out of fear or because I honestly from the heart want whats best? I hope it is the latter and pray more parents decide to teach their children this. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Amy Phoenix September 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    Thank you, Crystal. :)

    There’s work to be done, a teaching to be lived, and no one is exempt.
    - Richard Moss

    I will work to that end, sharing the truth. A trap is a trap. Thankfully, choice allows us to open the door. Love to you and yours…

  3. Jamil April 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Loved this. There is so much that is done in parenthood from an auto pilot perspective, that doesn’t change till we really observe what you’re talking about and grab the flight controls of self knowledge in a real manner…

    • Amy Phoenix April 22, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Absolutely, Jamil, thank you for doing your part. :)

  4. annemarie July 5, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    I am so glad I found your blog today. This was exactly what I need reminding of. Strangely, I have come this far (2 years) with my daughter without really seeing my inner demon, but lately it has be rearing it’s ugly head way too often. My daughter said to me today “Mama, take your hands off me, that’s hurtful for me.” I had not spanked her, but was physically restraining her from doing something I didn’t want her to do. and I was really angry! But what really got to me was her clear, direct way of telling me how she felt (did I mention she is only 2!?!). It was a real wake up call. I have worked so hard at building a foundation of trust, and I feel like in a matter of weeks I am destroying it. Thank you for your words and sharing your story, It is helpful for me to hear I am not the only person who held onto unnecessary parenting ideals. I am working on self forgiveness and going forward with happiness. for My sake, and hers. Thank you Amy

    • Amy Phoenix July 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

      Anne Marie, thank you. I am glad you made your way to the site and found it helpful. You are certainly not alone. Feel free to connect with me anytime!

      It also took me a couple of years into parenting my first child for unresolved anger and stuff to really surface, resulting in a sharp rift in our relationship. Thankfully, rifts can be healed, repaired with conscious effort. The past cannot be erased, but we can learn and choose what we bring forward. Again, please feel free to reach out anytime. That’s why I am here… :) Much love to you and yours.

  5. Gretchen July 5, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I just wanted to add, the Proverbs in the bible that refer to the ‘rod’ are not speaking of an actual stick…it was a symbol of authority. The word ‘beat’ when used in the verse about beating a child with a rod, was actually referring to the way the sun ‘beats’ down…a steady presence. The bible does not command us to spank. It’s been twisted in translation over the last century, but it is very opposite to what the Holy Spirit would want for us or our children. I just thought I would put that out there. Some good books that address this from a place of faith are Grace Based Parenting and Biblical Parenting. I hate to see God get a black eye from the ideas of punitive human minds.

    • Amy Phoenix July 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

      Thank you, Gretchen. I appreciate the clarification from your perspective.

      I have read many, many interpretations and certainly agree that a loving Creator would not instruct through the words of man or otherwise for us to harm children, in any way. Those are simply the twisting of understanding and inappropriate application of personal will, not Divine guidance.

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