Isn't It Okay to Feel Angry At My Kid Sometimes?

We’ve spent a few weeks talking about some big picture stuff.  The next two weeks, we’ll get more practical: FAQs and Tips.  
 
I can’t always feel compassionate and curious toward my kid.  What about times when they really mess up and I should feel angry?

First of all, no human I know feels heart-led all the time.  In my own life, I shoot for feeling compassion toward my kids as much as possible, but it’s not realistic to feel that all the time.  I tell parents to shoot for 40-60%.  

The other part of this question is what about times when you, as a parent, should feel angry, anxious, confused, etc.?  And here, the answer is yes—you get to feel angry and scared and sad.  And there is a big difference between feeling some anger and being taken over by your anger.  In the former, you notice you’re angry, but you can feel some separation from your anger.  In the latter, you don’t even know you’re angry.  You are singularly focused on your kid and how they messed up.  My suggestion is that when your anger (or anxiety, sadness, etc.) is taking over, it’s not a good time to talk to your kid or make decisions, like consequences.  Take some time, go for a walk, and ask that part of you if it could give you some space so you can be with your child from your heart, instead of from that emotion. 
 
I tried being just open and curious with my kid, but they still just shut me out.  Why isn’t this working?

The older your child, the longer your patterns have been in place.  Over the course of years, your kid has learned how you typically respond, and has developed ways of responding back.  It is great that you’re trying a new way to approach your child, from your heart, but this approach might not get you immediate results.  And that’s not really what it’s about. 

Leading from the heart is about creating a long-term feeling of unconditional safety and acceptance that will help your child’s mental and emotional health for their entire life.  You will see a change in your kid’s behavior, just maybe not overnight.
 
I pride myself on almost always keeping a cool head with my family.   It’s very rare that I feel extremely angry or sad or anxious.  How is this helpful for me?

Us Minnesotans (especially us white men), pride ourselves on being stoic, on not showing extreme emotions, especially feelings like anger and sadness.  While there is value in this, there are a few ways that stoicism gets in the way of us connecting with our family. 

It’s important to say that leading from the heart does not mean being absent of emotion.  Actually, it’s the opposite.  It means leading from deep compassion and love. I work with many parents, especially dads, who talk with their kids from very stoic, analytical parts of their minds.   Kids often feel this as being cold and distant.  These dads love their kids very much, but the stoic parts of them get in the way of that love, leaving the child and parent feeling disconnected.

Have other questions?  Reply to this email.  
 
The parents I work with deeply love their kids and work really hard at parenting.  But they recognize they are human and that some brief work on their weak spots can go a long way for their family. Contact me directly for straight-forward parenting help a free 30-minute consultation.