Tag Archives: anger

Anger revisited

Summer fun - aircon required

I have received another book by John Holt, Teach Your Own. It is a wonderfully refreshing look at children and how they can fit into our lives. He makes many points that I can identify with in how we communicate with children. One in particular were his comments on saying no.

I have been struggling with this. There are times that I have to say no. DS sometimes wants to do things that he can’t or that I would prefer he doesn’t do (like cut his own mango, draw on the floor with wax crayons, or empty the bath onto the bathroom floor cup by cup). I have found that when he is doing something that makes a whole lot of extra work for me, I get really irritated and manage to grit my teeth and keep my voice down while I say No, and Please don’t do that. But boy, am I irritated and having to work hard to control my urge to shout. Sometimes I do shout, and then feel awful. Like when DS put his glass of ‘cold coffee’ (coffee substitute with ice cubes) right on the edge of the table and it fell and spilt all over the floor. I have been repeatedly reminding DS that he needs to put his glass/cup *on* the table, not on the *edge* of the table.

Anyway, in these details, I have been aware of my experience being one where I resent my child for making a mess, and on some level blame him, as if he could have avoided it. I expect him to be able to predict the consequences of his actions with more accuracy than he can. And this attitude is not making for a happy home.

I have been working on reminding myself that he is still learning, and he is not deliberately trying to annoy me. It is my job to support him in his learning, not scare him into behaving how I need him to behave.

So, by moving away from the idea that he is deliberately annoying me, I have decided to see it as a learning opportunity. I can still say no, without shouting or feeling intense anger. He can understand the word no, without it being muttered, forced out through pursed lips or shouted. It is perfectly possible to say no in a supportive way. And it works. (So far)

I have had a rather intense way of ‘testing’ this theory. I have had to cut down on breastfeeding as it is physically unbelievably uncomfortable. I was feeling so guilty, that I would often tell DS in a very firm (but angry as I felt so guilty) way that it was enough now. He would react with crying and being really upset. As soon as I said that num nums are resting now (without feeling guilty, without resenting him for making demands on me that I cannot meet), and was still there to rub his back, snuggle etc he is much more accepting of this change. He doesn’t always like it, and DH is very much involved in supporting DS at the times where he is frustrated and angry and does not accept that the num nums are resting. However, for the most part, a key to us getting through this time, is me staying centered and not ‘loosing it’ inside as I rant in my head about how I just can’t do this anymore.

Having said all of this, I do not think it is necessary to never be angry. And I do not think it is dangerous for my child to see me get angry and then also get over it and life continues. I just do not want it to be every day that my son sees me getting angry or working really hard not to be angry.

I will no doubt post more on this, but anger is  a BIG deal for me. Coming from a home where anger was not expressed, (I have seen my father angry maybe 5-10 times in my life) or it exploded, I have had to find my own way of understanding what it means in my life, as it does not work for me to pretend I am not angry when I am. It just makes it worse.

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Why bother?

I certainly do not have many answers and I am very much on a journey trying to find how best to grow my family. I have to wonder if it is at all important what happened to me as a child? Am I just making myself more miserable remembering the harder parts? My parents cetainly followed that route. If something difficult is happening emotionally, just pretend it isn’t and distract self with activity and positive thoughts. And this is many ways is how I expected myself to live as an adult. Until I became a mother. But why bother wading through all those hard memories?

I think it does have significance. When my child will not sleep and I am at my wits ends I long for that illusion of control that would come if only I could intimidate him into going to sleep. After all that is how I treat myself…. I intimidate myself to ‘not go there’. It is the way I know.

Does that mean that I am making a better parenting choice when I try to look at why it is so important for me not to intimidate, shame or manipulate my son to do what I need him to do in that moment in order to cope? I think so. If I had more tools at my disposal to deal with frustration, I think I would be a better mother/better me.

Today I did stamp my foot and raise my voice after the umpteenth time that DS giggled and slid down off the bed when moments before he had been definitly falling asleep.  And he got scared. And I knew that in no way would I achieve anything good with this approach. I do not want my child to be scared of me.

I am sure there are those who would argue that it is not that bad if they are a little scared, as at least he would do things when it suited me. I am not yet ready to instill fear in my child for lack of my own coping skills. I do not know if I ever will be ready, but it does not feel right.

I am his world, and together with his father, his everything. It seems too cruel to take that away. And yet it seems such a daunting task to find the tools to deal with those moments of frustration and surrender to them. I keep relearning this lesson of surrender.

I am so aware in the moment of my frustration that I need a ‘fix’ and need to bring the situation back under my control. I know it is an illusion that by stamping my foot and shouting it’s all better. I know that it is a quick fix and one that I cannot rely on.

DS, I am so sorry you saw your mummy shouting and stamping her foot. I was having a very rough morning and am stressing out about all the family coming for a birthday meal and I want it to be perfect. It is not your fault that I got angry.

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Dear adults

I want to understand. I want the pain to stop. I want to be the best mother I can be. I want to be the best me that I can be.

I am so sure that CIO is not a choice I would make. I am so sure that DS will be snuggled, hugged and loved unless he chooses not to be. I see such a different reality for my family – a reality that I never had and one that I crave with all of my being. I know it is not a new idea, but in many ways I do feel like through my mothering of DS, I am in a way mothering myself when I was his age and thus making things better for myself.

The two memories I have that just gut me are sucking on my dolls arms every night to sleep and ruining them, and my mother would fix on new arms, rather than comfort me. I do not understand this. And I was left to cry almost every day after school for 3 years from the day I started school. No one wondered why I was crying almost every day and no one thought to try and understand and help me. When I wrote a letter to my teacher in grade two telling her how sad I was and no doubt hoping someone would help me, she formally asked my classmates to include me in their games, which left me mortified. I hid under her desk during break time.

And that I was having a tough time being accepted in my class I guess should not be a surprise when I had a foreign American accent and could not speak Afrikaans, and I was no doubt working through the burden of child sexual abuse in my childish way. I was just expected to deal with life and get on with life. And I did.

At a price. Today I have a really hard time when I feel I am not accepted or heard. I struggle to find my place in a group. I am very defensive and careful about how I present myself so as not to inspire ridicule. I fiercely protect myself and feel that I can only rely on myself, even when my DH has shown himself again and again to be my life partner in every aspect of life. I never let go of the feeling that when it comes down to it, I have to rely on only myself to make life happen.

I also have learnt to achieve what would be thought almost impossible – only to be stumped when I find myself in a group and I just do not understand what is happening around me on an emotional level.

Motherhood is  opening wounds and I am  experiencing great anger and disapointment in my parents. However, I also am healing deep wounds that matter in my life.

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