Single Parenting: Angry at Your Children?
Five Tips To Help Reduce Your Frustrations and Let Go of Your Anger
By CARL PICKHARDT
“My child gets me so mad!”
“My child makes me so angry!”
“My child made me lose my temper!”
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
How the child acts is up to the child. How the parent chooses to feel in response is up to the parent. When parents give up responsibility for their emotional state by blaming their child for causing it, they give that child far too much power. Believing that the child is in charge of their feelings, parents now get really angry with the child for “controlling” their emotions.
The law of psychological responsibility is simply this: Each individual (and no one else) decides how he or she is going to feel, think, and act. “So why would parents decide to feel angry?” The answer is in the question.
Anger is a feeling, and like all emotions it is functional. Emotions operate like an early awareness system. They catch and direct our attention to something important going on in our psychological world. Emotions are informants. Positively experienced emotions bring welcome news. Joy is about fulfillment. Pride is about accomplishment. Gratitude is about appreciation. Negatively experienced emotions bring undesirable news. Fear is about danger to our person. Frustration is about blockage of our efforts. And anger is about violations to our wellbeing.
What kind of violations?
“This is wrong!”
“This is unfair!”
“I shouldn’t be treated this way!”
At this point, having directed our attention to the violation, anger empowers an expressive, protective, or corrective response. “Don’t put me down with sarcasm by calling me a demeaning name. As your parent, it hurts me when you do. I don’t speak to you that way, and I don’t want to be spoken to that way again.”
So being able to feel anger and use anger to patrol personal wellbeing is important. People who can’t get angry often end up accepting violations to their costs. Many victims of family abuse simply adjust to verbal threat or physical violence and accept mistreatment as an unhappy fact of life. They learn to deny its emotional impact, to rationalize its harm, to shut about its occurrence, and to avoid upsetting the abuser.
Adults who learn these survival skills as children often end up marrying into abusive relationships not because they want to, but because unconsciously the role of the abused feels comfortably familiar.