Are you scared that you are ruining your child?
Do you worry that your monster mama moments have caused irreparable damage to your kids? (Read more here about Monster mama: How to avoid the hidden epidemic of parental rage (greatparentingsimplified.com)
I get it. I used to rage at my kids and then be terrified that I would cause them to turn out horribly or not want to have anything to do with me as adults.
One of the most devastating things for parents is encountering our own unexpected and seemingly uncontrollable rage. But it’s a classic chicken and egg situation; the more stressed we are, the more we rage, and the more we rage, the worse we feel about ourselves, therefore the more stressed we are.
Unfortunately, the same negative cycle is happening to our children. Our stress and anger affect them, and their stress and anger affect us. Is there a way out of this downward spiral and the negative mental and emotional outcomes that come with it?
I want to shine a bright beam of light onto this seemingly hopeless situation. From my experience as a parenting educator for over 20 years, as well as from having struggled a lot with this issue myself, I’m here to tell you that your children can not only turn out well, but can even benefit from how hard a struggle you are having as a parent right now. Sound wild? Read on!
The potential gifts of mommy rage are not obvious. Having a parent who every once in a while loses it can be a terrible experience for kids. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If we are able to model having the grit and perseverance necessary to learn how to control our anger and learn from it, our children will benefit immensely from the most powerful teacher of all, our example.
Our kids need to see a model of people doing hard things and overcoming internal barriers.
Before I go further, I want to explain to you why you are struggling with anger. It is NOT because there is something wrong with you. In fact, it speaks to how much you care, and to how hard you are trying. This is the hardest time ever to be a parent. Today’s parents are faced with increasing stresses and demands but decreasing, or non-existent, support from their village and/or extended family.
The formula for mommy rage:
Hardest time to parent ever = high stress in parents
High stress in parents + impact of stress on parenting = mommy rage
Research shows that our stress levels as parents directly affect our children’s likelihood to have mental health challenges, like anxiety, depression and acting out or engaging in risky behaviors, etc.
Yet knowing that your child is facing an uncertain and challenging world, is yet another fact that dramatically adds to your stress. It drives parents to try harder, to spend more time researching on the internet in your spare moments. Then when you are unable to apply what you have been learning, you feel like a failure which heaps on more stress! That very stress is one of the reasons why you aren’t able to apply the great tips you are discovering.
Worse yet, what gets sacrificed when you add yet another thing to your already overloaded plate? YOU. You quit caring for yourself and doing the things that would reduce your stress!
Add in a healthy dose of self-condemnation for being such a mess as a parent, along with worry about other people’s judgments, and you have a perfect recipe for mommy RAGE!
The next time you have a few minutes, try one of these things to get on the road towards reducing your stress and showing your children that change is possible:
1. Take a step towards growing your village of support.
Maybe right now it feels like a ghost town. What’s one way you could get some help, even if it’s 5 minutes so that you can go to the bathroom alone? Could someone read a story to your child by video? Can you think of one new person who could help you with your kids – the senior who walks her dog past your house, the teen who lives across the street, another mom you could trade childcare with? In time, small steps I made a small wording change help.
Knowing help is out there can lower the pressure on you (and your co-parenting partner if you have one) so you can have more patience with your child. We need support so we can focus less on managing our emotions about our unmet needs and more on being the parent we want to be. Support also gives us the opportunity for vital self-care.
2. Do 1 thing that makes you smile.
Kids could use some benign neglect. That means that they might not get the exact outing they were hoping for because you want to go on a hike or to an art gallery instead. Maybe they have to find a way to overcome their boredom while you read a book or journal. Put your oxygen mask on first, breathe deeply from the life-giving air, and if someone’s needs have to be second, make sure it’s not always yours.
3. Aim for B’s.
Even just for today, lower your expectations. A big part of our stress comes from the unrealistic expectations society is putting on us, which we in turn put on ourselves – and our kids. What’s one thing that you can let go for now? The ironic thing is that when we lower our expectations, and relax the pressure, we often improve our ability to meet our goals, while enjoying what we’re doing so much more.
Despite what you see on social media, you don’t need to be perfect EVER! And if that drive to be perfect is harming you and your kids, it’s not really perfect after all. So, what if the house is messy? No one wants their kids to remember a clean house where they didn’t feel safe to be kids, right?
Whatever you do, be gentle on yourself. You are doing the best that you can. You are parenting in a crazy pressure cooker. The way out has to include finding ways to reduce your stress so that you can model for your kids that change is possible.
For more ideas on how to reduce your stress and get on the path to saner, simpler, happier parenting, join me for a webinar on Thursday, October 21 at 10am PT: Get your kid’s cooperation without losing your cool! More information sign up to get our newsletter!