I’ve noticed over the years that anger scares parents. Not only their child’s, but their own. I’m not sure why this is so – perhaps we have been afraid to repeat the mistakes our parents made, or that anger doesn’t have a place when you are hyper aware that your children are so small and innocent. Anger doesn’t seem to have a place for so many parents. It confuses us. Yet it is there.
My first encounter with parent anger was when my daughter, Sara, was about six weeks old. She developed colic and cried like she was breaking, for hours and hours every day. It did eventually subside, but it went on for weeks. I thought I would lose my mind. My therapist at the time gave me a valuable insight: I was angry at Sara. How could this be? We so much wanted this child and, of course, loved her even before she was born. She was so tiny and the definition of innocence. But once I let this enter my consciousness as a real possibility, I realized this was indeed what I was feeling underneath the distress and frustration of this “moment” that seemed to last forever. I could then let go (a little!) of my frustration and deal more subjectively with the task at hand – cutting certain things out of my diet for example (I was breast feeding). I’ve always felt that the worst feeling you can have while raising your child is when you cannot help them. Conversely, the best is when you can.