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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Monday March 17, 2003
07:11 AM

Parenting books

[ #11064 ]
(non-parents probably shouldn't read this--it's not funny, and is probably rather scary to someone without kids)

I think the hardest thing for me to get used to as a parent is the anger that I sometimes feel towards my wife and my kids. It's not that I walk around constantly in a fug of rage and spite, it's that my sanity has been worn away from lack of sleep and the unceasing responsibility of responding to and taking care of two small children.

For example, nine times out of then when William puts his hand on Raley's back, and we say "No, William, don't push your sister", and he takes his hand away, then shoves her really hard, we rhetorically ask "why don't you listen!" after telling him off. But on the tenth time something snaps and I'm consumed by rage and all I want to do pick him up and shake him. Which, fortunately, I resist doing.

This, as I said, is something I just wasn't expecting. I blow up one in a million times in real life--it has to be a really bad day and a really big frustration for me to lose it. But since having kids, I've been so tired and so permanently on, that cracks appear more often. And nobody warned me that I'd feel this way towards the kids that I love, love more than anything in the world, kids that I couldn't, wouldn't, dare imagine hurting.

Apparently this isn't uncommon, it's just not talked about. One of the few books that promises to break the silence is The Bitch in the House. I loved the NPR review of the book and the interview with its authors, but the book itself disappointed. Every woman seemed to be from New York City, and none of their prime stressors seemed to really mesh with ours, even the one whose story had seemed so convincing on NPR.

Even more disappointing is that the book didn't talk about how to deal with it. Walking away is really the only thing we've found that helps. If you feel the rubber band tightening and your fingers are starting to reach for their throats, they're winding you up. Just say "sorry kids, I have to take a break" and leave the room. This doesn't help when the snappage comes out of the blue, but it's definitely made life easier for us. Knowing you don't have to deal well with every situation, only most of them, takes away a lot of the sense that we're failing our kids if we bow out. (How irrational is this sense--like staying with them and erupting is better for them!)

So if you're a parent and wondering whether you're the only freak who loves his or her kids but sometimes feels so unhinged that you, you who has never approved of spanking or any form of corporal punishment, you just want to slam them in a door, you're not alone.

Thank you for listening. Yes, there were some times of stress over this weekend :-)


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  • thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jouke (587) <> on 2003.03.17 7:26 (#17980) Homepage Journal
    Thanks for sharing and indeed, you are certainly not the only one. I thought I was for a long time and since my divorce I *know* the main reason is the constant stress and lack of sleep. Now that my children -unfortunately- live with their mother and I don't see them as often as I want to, I hardly ever feel the way you describe anymore.

    Indeed, you said it right: it has nothing to do with how much you love them. Every sane father loves his children. I could never think I could really hurt them, but the rage you feel makes you wonder some times, doesn't it?

  • I have to say that a baby child crying all night does not help keeping yourself sane.

    I know it can get very hard and sometimes, when it is almost time to get up to go to work and you are still carrying around your child trying to get it to sleep, is very stressfull ...

    And indeed, sometimes you really feel like you could loose all sanity ...

    But then again, I always say to my wife: "Ahh, never mind, over 30 years we will have some time again for each other" ...
  • New book (Score:3, Funny)

    by Matts (1087) on 2003.03.17 16:17 (#18000) Journal
    Parenting in a Nutshell :-)
    • Re:New book (Score:2, Insightful)

      They grow out of the nutshell too quickly! Ouch, that's even worse than the bunghole theory of parenting. (Keep your kids in a barrel, feed them through the bunghole. At 18, hammer in the bung.)

      Mind you, there've been times when I was tempted - having a son who is severely ADD leads to frequent instances of that rage and after it's over I feel extra guilty knowing that he has very limited control over the actions that prompted the rage.

  • I am relatively new to parenting, but I've been married for some time. I am unlike you, though; I have always had "anger management" issues. And while those issues don't go away, with me they are not unexpected, and I already know how to deal with them myself, because I've had a lot of practice. :)

    Even at Riley's young age, I already can feel some anger as you've mentioned. And it is only going to get worse. But I basically have learned, as I've gotten older, how to "count to 10," though usually what I
    • I think another thing that has really helped me is realizing the benefits of calming down. When I calm down, I get to enjoy my family instead of being mad at them, or them being mad at me. You can't beat that sort of reward.

      That is so true! I got infinitely more pleasure this morning out of explaining to William how to get his sister to put her crayon into the bag that he was holding, than I did in yelling at him for grabbing the crayon from her, which only resulted in both of them crying.

      We avoided

  • I've foster parented, and I've got one of my own (he's 10 now). The feelings you have aren't unique at all.

    I deal with it by getting away. Once the kids are in school (or daycare, etc..) and out of your hands for a while that's a great help. *Enjoy* the time away from them. In really bad weeks, I'll leave my kid at latchkey for an extra few minutes after work and get the grocery shopping out of the way or something.

    That's great when you can leave them, but when you're trapped in the house with kids

  • One thing to bear in mind with kids, is that if they are continually getting told off for doing things they shouldn't, more often then not they just do what they want and accept the fact they are going to get told off.

    The key is distraction and praise. Not always easy but it does pay off. Whenever DanDan is doing something he shouldn't, rather tell him NOT to do something, we try and tell him what he can do, or get him to do something completely unrelated (like can you see the squirrels in the garden?). W