Before I had children I can’t think of a time I was ever really angry or frustrated. Of course some things ticked me off, and I do live with the type of man that leaves wet towels laying around and the like so I may or may not have raised my voice a few times about that.
Nothing could prepare me though for the white hot, I-see-red overwhelming tide of anger my children can elicit from me from time to time. Like that time we saved for a year to lay new carpet before baby number 3 arrived, and babies 1 and 2 drew on it with LAUNDRY MARKER, within forty eight hours of it being laid.
Or all those afternoons when in frustration I honestly feel a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach is best, when all three children start crying together after a long day.
Being a parent can be stressful.
More than ever, after reading about the Cairns mother who was jailed for shaking her seven-week-old baby to death to stop him crying, do I want to talk about this.
See Also: Shaken Baby Syndrome
I think it’s safe to say there are times when all parents feel very angry or frustrated with their children or even don’t like their children (for a bit). For me, I am always talking to other parents about this issue. About never really feeling angry before kids. About how they know how to press my buttons. About feeling like losing my shit. About giving myself time outs. It helps me normalise my experiences and feelings, as they are just that – completely normal. Most parent will definitely experience this range of negative emotions from time to time.
When we as parents are under pressure, it is more difficult to take the time to work out what your child is trying to tell you. You may just end up reacting to the behaviour. For me personally, when I’m already having some other type of mini meltdown over the washing machine or other important day to day issue, my fuse is already lit. Unless I take steps to get my anger under control, pretty much the next person, no matter how tall they are, will be in the firing line. I often feel sorry for telemarketers who ring our place.
The 39 year old Cairns mother had told officers upon her arrest ‘you’re not like me. Sometimes you wish you could meet other parents who get angry and frustrated. It’s like a wave that comes over you.’
This quote from an obviously overwhelmed, unsupported mother sticks in my throat. It’s not very far removed from how I just described my own feelings of anger and frustration. All parents lose their shit but not to this level. What would drive a mother to do this? Drugs? Mental health issues? PND?
The mother was charged in January 2013 for murder, and her recent trial highlighted that the woman had eight other biological children, including the identical twin of the dead boy.
Her barrister Joshua Trevino said it was clear the woman was “ill-equipped for parenthood”.
He said at the time of the boy’s death, the woman was not in a relationship, and was looking after a two-year-old and the newborn twins alone.
He said a midwife paid a home visit and noticed the woman was stressed, feeling isolated and unsupported, the babies were crying and she was struggling to control the toddler.
“[My client’s] violent conduct was the result of uncontrolled feelings of frustration and anger that she had,” Mr Trevino said.
“She says she obviously didn’t have intentions to hurt or injure her child, it was just unthinking frustration that she was acting on. She acknowledges she has no excuse whatsoever for her behaviour.”
Full on. Let’s not forget in my house when all three are crying I am too.
Being a parent brings out a range of powerful emotions from exhilaration to despair. Feelings of love, happiness and pride may quickly turn to anger, hate or guilt, depending on the situation and the degree of support available to you. Again, these feelings are completely normal. But how we proceed from here is critical. Acting on or taking out anger or frustration on your child can harm them physically and psychologically.
Parenting is rewarding. But also really hard. Anger can come from a mix of things. Being depressed or powerless, feeling guilty, feeling disappointed, feeling frustrated, not feeling valued and useful, or just from plain tiredness.
What should we be taking away from this sad case? It is so important to recognise and manage your own negative feelings so that you can seek help when needed and enjoy parenting whilst maintaining a safe, happy home for you and your child.
Most children experience difficult times, and while most of the time we as parents handle it without completely losing it – if you find yourself feeling angry a lot of the time, you should definitely seek some support.
How do you manage your anger and frustration in front of the kids? Do you talk to other parents about being angry or frustrated with your kids?
Raising Kids Network
Better Health Channel