Friday, December 28, 2012

Leading Without Tantrums

Where does my anger come from? I'm trying to figure it out. Where does the frustration turn into anger? How can I stop it before I lose all control?

I say things I don't truly mean. I throw tantrums like a child. It's as if I don't know how to express my emotions like a big girl --I don't know how to use my words.

It's harder when I'm communicating with children. I try to use my words, but they refuse to use theirs. It's a disaster, really.

I've read Love and Logic. I don't necessarily agree with all of it. Life isn't as cut/dry as they make it sound. There's entirely too much grey.

I've let my standards drop significantly. It hasn't helped; sometimes it feels we're worse off. So, I raise them again, but the kids aren't ready for it, and then we forget to use our words, and the tantrums begin.

Where is that line? Between letting my children be children and teaching them responsibility? Work is important, but childhood comes but once. Enabling is not something I agree with, but how important is it that the house be spotless in the face of childhood dreaming?

I've struggled with this concept for years. I've rewritten chore charts a million times (or at least 8 times) and I tell my kids that my job is to teach them how to be hard workers, to teach them how to be responsible so they can live on their own. But three year olds do not understand this idea --if anything, it causes consternation because he doesn't want to live on his own!

I feel myself struggling because it's not so much that I have a conflict of interest with the kids (which, of course, I do), but because I feel so alone in doing it. I could blame my husband, but I won't. Yes, he travels for work a lot. Yes, he volunteers to serve others a lot. Yes, he is tired when he is home and true, he was raised VERY differently than I was when it comes to gender roles. But he does his best. He supports me and stands up for me, he helps me when he is home. He runs errands for me so I don't have to traipse out in the world with all the kids. But see, the hardest part is that the bulk of the cleaning/living/daily grinding occurs when he's at the office, working his tail off to provide for us. Thus the lonely struggle.

Yes, I'm still on my medication. Yes, I still use the things I've learned in therapy. Yes, we're going to have more children. Yes, I pray a lot. I'm just trying to figure out how I can control my inner tantrum-thrower and lead my small brood with some decorum and resolve.

How do you do it? Those of you who are prone to anger or depression or desperation --how do you lead with grace? How do you stand firm with kindness? How do you show a good example without resorting to tantrum-throwing? If you could help me, I would really appreciate it. I'm feeling embarrassed at my lack of self-control. :(


Julie P said...

Love you. A lot. It's hard. I still am prone to anger AND depression AND anxiety AND desperation (which usually comes from my anxiety). I think as a mom I've improved a lot, though I'm far from perfect. For me the change came from desperately wanting to break a cycle of parenting - the way my mom reacted in anger, tantrums like you talked about, sarcasm, etc. - just as her mom did. I don't know about how my great grandma parented. I couldn't put my children through the type of momming I lived through. Honestly, I sometimes revert to yelling. I sometimes get angry and say things I shouldn't. And then after I calm down I try to be quick to apologize and ask for forgiveness (as I know you do), something my mom never did with us. I think it's a huge change of heart that has to happen - and I totally think you're better than you think you are. Shame and discouragement is a tool of Satan. You know that. This comment is entirely too long. I have been dealing with shame and discouragement in a few areas, lately and mainly in our issues with dear #2. I bought the book Daring Greatly (about how being vulnerable can transform our lives - parenting is one huge issue she hits on in the book) by Brene Brown when it came out. For some reason, I've been nervous to read it, but I have to. I know it will be life changing. Just an idea for you.

Raisin4Cookies said...

I read this in the Ensign a while back, and it has really stuck with me:

I grew up with an angry, abusive father, and my parents split when I was 12. Anger erupts from me, sometimes without warning, and often without any control.

This quote really stuck out at me the most:

"We are also given unique challenges to overcome. Heavenly Father knows my challenges. When I turn to Him, He helps me see that I am not a bad parent because I struggle with the same behaviors that my parents and other family members display. He loves me for fighting against those behaviors. Unlike the adversary, who teaches me that my family’s dysfunction both defines and eternally limits me, my loving Heavenly Father reveals to me the beautiful miracle of a life emerging from the ashes of sin."

Additionally, I've experienced great healing and change through meditation, specifically Kundalini Yoga. I know it's not for everyone, but I thought I'd mention it.

Continue relying on the Lord, and apply the Atonement to your life. You *will* get there.

Unknown said...

I'm a blog stalker and I actually clicked away from your page after reading what you wrote - then felt a twinge because I thought - here is someone pleading for help and I just clicked away. I have 5 children, married 20 years. I like what the previous comment said about quickly apologizing. My husband is gone 4-5 days a week every week. I parent alone as well. He is supportive, but I'm still alone for the battle scene. I keep re-dedicating myself to scripture and prayer. I've also noticed that saying a prayer before, during and after a "blow-up" can help divert, calm down or humble myself. I don't have specific ideas for you - I believe Heavenly Father is our greatest resource for ideas. I believe m spouse is another. And I also believe that I can't be at my best ALL the time and that it is important for my kids to know that I mess up, parenting is hard and rewarding, but that I am always dedicated to them and trying to do better each and everyday. If I can forgive them for my imperfections, then they can also practice forgiving Mom. Good luck :)

Cheryl said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. All of your words are so helpful. I appreciate it so much!

sariqd said...

I have a lot of anger too... some of it was from how I was raised, some of it was from feeling frustrated with not being able to go anywhere. Some of it is because my husband is gone a good portion of the day and so I feel like I'm single-parenting and that is not what I signed up for. Oh, and the new dog. Argh. Anyway, for me? I think I'm in a grieving cycle as a result of all that I've listed (and more not listed.) Hence, I'm stuck on the anger bit of the process.

Anyway - I came across another blog yesterday that talked about how she had an epiphany in that she needed to stop praying for patience. Rather, a change of heart towards her kids. That was an epiphany for me as well.
Read it at:

The Wright Family said...

I love that you are always trying to do better. But don't you think that some of this will resolve as you get more sleep, have a more regular schedule with the kids back in school (it always throws my littles when the kids are home all day for Christmas break), when you aren't fighting and recovering from illness, when your husband is home a little more? You are doing SO MUCH right now! Sometimes it is hard to see how much extra pressure is on you until someone else points it out. All that pressure (add in Christmas giving and schedules, budgeting, cooking for many, and all the day to day pressure) really add up. Cut yourself some slack, sit down and take some deep breaths, and know that you are doing really, REALLY, well. I'm always extra edgy right after a baby is born and I'm not sleeping enough. Small things seem big and I'm prone to overreact. Knowing why I feel that way helps me keep it in perspective.

Good luck!


Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

For me, I think it's about realizing that I can't change things like that myself; that it's God's job to change me. It's just my job to keep trying and to learn more how to let Him in.

Anger to me is a symptom, not a root problem. So when I'm feeling anger welling up in me, I try to take a step back and ask myself, "What am I really feeling?" Sometimes it is just tiredness, but often it's inadequacy, or overwhelmedness, or resentment (different from anger, imo), or pride, or fear, or something. To me, part of allowing God to change us is getting to the roots of what it is that we need His help with. I've taken to journaling what beliefs are driving the times I lose it, and what truths can replace those beliefs that keep feeding my irrational behavior.

The healing doesn't come by just stopping the yelling, it comes from healing and wholeness that comes only through the Atonement, the Spirit -- unpeeling layers at the roots of what the yelling has been used to cope with deeper down.

I was a yelling mom when my kids were little. A lot of that part of me has been taken away simply through the process of them growing up and me growing up and change in my heart that can come with the simple passage of time, by simply just not giving up. But I'm feeling even more healing as I look more specifically for what it is that I still need God's help with deep down. I try to look at any anger now as a blessing because it can remind me to seek insight into myself with God's help, and to seek the Spirit's help to replace whatever fears/beliefs/whatever are driving me with truth. (e.g., "If I figure this out right now, then my kids will be ruined for life!" (it's a bit of an overstatement, but not really because usually when I'm all bent out of shape, something pretty visceral and irrational is often pressing at my heart and mind). I feel pressure to do it all for my kids, fear that if I miss something or mess up somewhere that they'll be in therapy forever and it will be MY FAULT. When I can let the Spirit in, the message is much different. Much more along the lines of the reality that God is there, the Atonement is real, the plan includes kids being raised by imperfect parents, I'm not supposed to be able to do it all, truth can help set me free.

Lastly, if I could go back to my younger mom self, I'd be a lot more gentle with myself. It's not to excuse behavior you know you want to change, it's because I can look back and see myself with compassion and that I was doing the best I could with the tools and knowledge and abilities and situation I had. Whenever I focused on my anger, I just felt shame, which only increased the chance I would lose control, only left me feeling more hopeless and afraid and unworthy of being their mom. God is wise. He knew the whole picture when He sent you these kids. Let Him do His part, rather than thinking you have to do it all. Truth is a lot more gentle than we anxious mothers are with ourselves. God knows your heart. Trust Him. Focus less on the behavior of yelling and more on what is underneath the surface and ask for His help and insight with *that.*

That's what's helping me, anyway! Sorry for the long comment.

Eleanor Andersen said...

A little late, but this article in the Wall Street Journal had some more scientific thoughts and approaches to parenting:

Good luck!