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April 24, 2008


Emmie (Better Make It A Double)

I cannot even tell you how much this post spoke to me. I can identify with so much of it, especially the parts about instincts and anger. I struggle with this every single day. I also love the Jim Fay books, for the same reasons, though I hadn't quite realized why so thoroughly until just now. The Harriet book is well-worn at our house too.
Thank you, and I'm sorry you've also had to deal with the lasting repercussions of emotional abuse. Our kids will be better off for our efforts to be calm, fair, loving, and consistent.

Lisa C.

Yeah, I'm right there with you as well. I would have described myself before having a child as laid back. Now I know that I actually have a very strong need to be in control and that sometimes comes out VERY negatively in my parenting.

Like the time we were making cookies and I flinched (yes, physically twitched) every time the Moosh used a cookie cutter upside down. About halfway through the cookie cutting he actually APOLOGIZED to me because I was obviously so upset by his inabiility to accurately use cookie cutters. Then I died a lot inside. (I did apologize to him and let him finish cookie cutting by himself while I twitched in the other room, but damn! I never knew I could reach that level of absolute bitchery).

I get frustrated when I have to tell myself to calm down because he didn't put his clothes on/go to the bathroom/stop watching TV/whatever the first time I asked. I get extremely persnickety and potentially bitchy the more I have to repeat myself.

If my stress level is high, I am far more likely to freak out on him, but for the most part I really try to keep things on an even keel in my life so I don't overreact.

I do always make an effort to apologize to him when I get out of line. I may say something like, "I'm sorry I yelled at you. I was upset about X and I let my voice get too loud. I'll try not to do that again."

Oh well... pobody's nerfect, right? At least you are aware of your issued and are trying. I think that speaks for a lot.


Wow. I loved Moxie's post and all the comments and your post really resonates too. I grew up as an only child with a very strict mother. She was not emotionally abusive, but she did do things such as use silent treatment when I was in trouble, and frequently invalidate or criticise my feelings when they made her uncomfortable. It was so crushing.

I can also get SO angry towards the twins (11 months) - when one chooses to scream rather than sleep, when they refuse to let me feed them (a recent development), when one whinges. It takes all my self-control to not yell in those situations and sometimes I don't manage to avoid that. I need to work so hard on patience and consistency and self-control and I'm so sleep deprived (insomnia as well as a frequent waker) that I am really struggling.

I'm going to look at those Love & Logic books you mention.

We're all works in progress, eh ...


Nothing to say at the moment regarding issues, but it's great to see the books of Mem Fox, from here in sleepy Adelaide, Australia, are getting such great publicity over there. I had Mem as a lecturer at uni at one point, and she was quite inspirational.


Wow Linda, thanks for that post. I also have some issues with anger. My Mom was always yelling and screaming about everything no matter how small and I hated it. I catch myself doing that with my 2 year old more often than I want to admit. I am working hard to stop myself and remember I don't want him to grow up like that. I want to be firm, but not flip out over everything. I also think admitting we are not perfect to our kids is a big step in the right direction. I will have to check out the books you mentioned.


I think my issues sound similar to yours. It's hard to not snap, yell, or call the kids demeaning names because that's the example that was set for me. And I find apologizing and admitting my faults to be refreshing and I hope healing for the kids, too, when I make mistakes.

Today Wendy

I tried to comment on the Moxie post and just couldn't...there was too much to say. I totally know where you're coming from about the inconsistency in parenting though. That horrible feeling when something you've said has set off that awful reaction, and you have no idea why, so maybe next time it'll just be better to keep your mouth shut and not say anything at all. I don't think I had it nearly as bad as you did (for one, I'm still talking to my mom), but I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons I married my husband is that he's the most consistent person I know...and that makes me feel so safe.

It is so hard when you know your instincts are all out of whack. I love the idea of being able to explain to your kids that you were wrong, you aren't perfect, but you're trying. I remember my mom apologizing to me for stuff when I was younger, and my only though was "it doesn't help that you're sorry, because you're just going to do it again next time", but I can see a big difference between a simple "I'm sorry I did x" with an underlying message of "I apologized and so now you're not allowed to be angry with me anymore" and "I'm sorry I did x, it happened because I was frustrated and I'm trying not to do it". I guess it lets the kids know that you are aware of the causes and that you're trying to have it not happen. And helps them to judge when you might be likely to have a bad reaction.

Anyway, thanks for writing about this stuff. It is so awesome for me to see all these ideas and how you're making them work. I think this sort of thing is making us all better parents, which makes it a better world for our kids...and us!


I have been thinking about all this for the past couple of days. I am trying to identify my triggers, as I, like you, have really bad rage issues. My mom would get so angry over whast seemed like nothing at the time, and you never knew when it was coming. Looking back, she and my Dad divorced, reconciled, and then separated more than once after that while I was a kid. So I think a lot of her anger was taken out on me and my sister. I really don't have an excuse like relationship problems, so I'm thinking it must be related to how I was dealt with as a child. I expect full compliance from my kids, which when I type it seems so ridiculous.

Also like you, I am able to own and apologise for my behavior when I get out of line. That's something that NEVER happened when I was a child. A step in the right direction? I hope so. I just want my kids to know and understand that parents screw up too...


I have worked at being consistent, but my real struggle is I was brought up to follow the rules without question. I'll spare you the details of what happened if I didn't. So now when my kids do something that makes it look like we aren't following the rules, e.g. turning something in late, I just lose it. And if they do something that makes me look stupid? It isn't pretty.


I absolutely know what you mean when you say "my motherly instincts are damaged." I watch super nanny, not because I agree with everything she does, but because I feel like I don't know what kind of authority it is ok to have. My parents were so confusing, and my response is to be conflict avoidant--even when it would really benefit me or a relationship. Being abused is awful, and it is adds a whole layer of work to parenting, or being married for that matter. You are doing such good work in working the abusive parenting out of your lineage.


I was always scared about doing academically bad.. and it was really horrible in middle school and high school.. I remember getting a C in algebra in 8th grade.. a 79.. and i remember thinking I needed to run away from home because I might just be killed (not that my parents were physically violent, but that before I never got anything below an A...)... once I got to college.. i just never sent the grades home, so it was okay to fail or do whatever as i was only accountable to me..

I think that in hindsight that my parents were strict, but that I did underestimate their understanding capacity.. once I understood that they will LISTEN and they will think about my reasons etc etc, they turned out to be very reasonable. I at this point can say that I do have a stubborn and quick temper (as I can see I get a little bit of that from my parents) but I do try to hold it in check and do find my self apologizing to my 2.5 year old... She does the same as E and L...

I think like people have commented before.. it's always a work in progress and as long as the kids know you love them... well that's number 1...

I am glad you shared.. i have more to say.. but didn't want to eat up all of your comments space... maybe I will have to blog about this on my own site :)


So interesting to hear you talk about rage. I used that very word just the other day to describe how my toddler sometimes makes me feel. She makes me angrier than I've ever been in my life. It's an awful, scary feeling. That's not something I hear many moms talking about though.

For what it's worth, I did not grow up in an abusive home and I was rarely yelled at as a child. So maybe the rage isn't all a product of past scars. Maybe part of it is just being human, and you can trust your instincts a little more than you think.


I grew up in a non-abusive, rage-free home (my parents have human flaws like anyone else, but frustration and anger don't seem to be among those flaws), and yet I struggle DAILY with inconsistent/disproportionate anger issues. I'm not sure what this means either for you or for me.


I've had a really hard time thinking about how to articulate my 'issues' since Moxie's initial post but I think I'm figuring them out.
My mother was a martyr. She was a great mom, but she made statements throughout our childhood about how she could never have anything nice because we always broke everything. Or she could never afford to buy herself nice clothes because WE always wanted brand name clothing. Even holidays, I remember her saying at the end of a long day "Well, I hope everyone enjoyed themselves because that was SO much work for me." On my birthdays she would remind me about her difficult labour with me- EVERY YEAR. So, as a child I didn't realize why I always felt bad and its strangely taken me a long time as an adult to figure out. I was raised with a lot of guilt about my mother's unhappiness.

As I got older, I was always trying to help her. She's struggled with a weight problem and depression and I am always trying to offer her suggestions to improve her life, which makes her bitter and angry and asks me now why I am always trying to fix her.

As a result, I think I can be selfish as a mother. I think its important to make myself happy and sometimes I satisfy my own needs before my childrens needs. I have a very inaccurate gauge of appropriate things to say to my kids about being grateful. I don't want them to feel guilty like I did for receiving things or having a nice little life.
I remember when you did a post around Christmas about giving gifts and I got strangely defensive about giving/receiving gifts. I think when you talked about not getting gifts for yourself and giving to others it brought up my own guilt issues- AGAIN.

Very interesting topic, I feel better now too.


I only have a minute to post, but I just wanted to say that I can 100% relate to what you wrote today.

Also? English muffins with butter for dinner tonight. We're out of peanut butter. I need to go shopping....

((hugs)) You are such a rock star.


Oh I have my own issues and I will come back one day and share.

Wow Linda you are a great woman and a great momma. To break the cycle of abuse is an incredibly challenging thing to do but your girls are so lucky to have a mom that realizes what was wrong in her life growing up and not repeat it on them.


Awesome post. I'm bookmarking it to think about some more. I have to work on my anger and my need for control and obedience, because I think my expectations for the kids are sometimes unreasonable. It's hard work to think before I speak and act, all the time...


So much to say, so little time to say it. So a couple of quick things:

One of the reasons I like reading your blog is you come across as such a great, patient, honest mom to your girls. Knowing you struggle to be that way makes me feel better about my own struggles.

My own mother is a Piece of Work. I spent I ost of my 20s and early 30s struggling with my feelings about how I was treated. Being a mom myself has healed a lot of that because I can understand her a little better while at the same time realizing I am different. It''s interesting to watch her "grandparent" my daughter, who is a lot like me. I think she's almost thinking of it as her chance to do it again, the right way (and my husband who has his MSW in counseling verbalized that before I did, so I think I am right :-) ).

I just finished the No-Cry Discipline Solution and loved it. It talks about perfectionism in parenting and basically said if you are "getting it right" 70 percent of the time, you are awesome. Most of us expect perfection in our parenting and that's an impossible goal. That was very freeing for me, especially since many of the techniques they talk about in the book are my natural instincts. There's also a large section on anger and ways to control it. I can highly recommend it -- I think our parenting styles and struggles are pretty similar so I think you'd like it.

And finally--I am writing for Strollerderby and have to do a Playdate every week (mentioning blogs I like). I think I am going to talk about the Moxie posts -- lemme know if I can link you too (I have to write it right now but can go back in an add a link).


Thank you so much for this post. Sometimes, even as a grown up, it is good to know I am not alone in dealing with life. I struggle with this everyday. Thank you again.


I thought about this post all day yesterday. I struggle with the anger and inconsistent reactions, too, without any obvious trigger for it in my own growing up. What you've written here really hits me with how important it is to be consistent, to protect my kids from the anger I sometimes feel.


I have no patience and I have a short attention span. Prior to her arrival, I thought my big problem was going to be the patience. But, somehow that's arrived, and what I don't have, I can usually fake. I figure my anger issues will kick in later. But the short attention span is the bane of my parenting existence. I feel like I spend all day trying to multi-task. Trying to read while nursing, blog while playing, cook while slinging, because I just can't seem to NOT. And then I feel like a horrid person b/c I can't just bask in my baby's presence, and I'm not enjoying her enough. Also, in those brief minutes while my eyes are multitasking she often manages to do something impossibly cute or eat something weird. I'm sadder about not catching the cute.

Rayne of Terror

From the first night we were home from the hospital rage has been my parental burden. I'm getting better though and hopefully if there is a #2 my expectations will be more appropriate.

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