Tears gushed out of her eyes as she made her painful admission:
"I was so angry that I wanted to scream. In fact, I did. I screamed at my three-year-old! I knew it was wrong… which made me feel even more out of control. I was so mad that I almost slapped her. Driving home from the store, I felt more and more guilty and afraid. ‘What if she makes me so mad that I really lose it?’ I wondered. ‘Maybe I don’t have what it takes to be a parent.’"
Have you ever found yourself in this spot? I have. Is there anything more humbling than raising kids? That’s why I often admit to my audiences, “I used to be a parenting expert. That is until I had children.”
Fortunately, there’s at least three pieces of good news for imperfect people like us trying to raise good kids:
It’s okay to delay the consequence… or even our reaction.
I often wonder how many cases of serious child abuse have been at least partially caused by parents hearing that “consequences must always come immediately.” Even parents with toddler-aged tykes have commented, “It’s such a relief to know that I can take some time to get calmed down before I deal with a situation.”
Does it take some pressure off to know that you can say the following?
Ohhhhhhhh, I’m going to have to do something about that but not now… later.
It’s okay to feel anger. It can remind us to be “sad rather than mad.”
The mom above shared how she learned a powerful mental tool for turning her anger into a helpful reminder.
From Love and Logic, I learned that I’m not crazy just because I sometimes get mad at my kids. I learned to use my thoughts and feelings of anger as a signal to say to myself, “sad rather than mad… sad rather than mad… sad rather than mad.” I still get angry sometimes, but I’m learning to more frequently come across with empathy instead of anger.
It’s okay to take care of ourselves by setting limits.
For at least three decades, a myth has pervaded the culture of American parenting: It’s a parent’s job to make sure their children are always comfortable and happy. Because of this lie, many well-meaning parents are trying to do the exhausting job of raising kids with an empty emotional gas tank. It really is okay to say to our kids:
I love you… and I’ll be willing to do_______________ when I see that you are acting sweet.
Thanks for reading! For more tips on this subject, listen to our audio,
Oh Great! What Do I Do Now?
Dr. Charles Fay