When Parents Get Angry

Most parents get angry with their children frequently, and when we do, we often feel badly about it. While unrestrained parental rage can be damaging to a child, in recent posts, (see here and here) I’ve been taking a look at the potential positive side of getting angry with our kids. While this might seem counter intuitive, it’s important to remember that our children learn about how to handle emotions in part through our...


The Lessons of Anger

Last week, I explored whether avoiding all anger at one’s children might be too much of a good thing. In essence, I argued that when children see us deal with our aggression, they learn to deal with theirs. Anger is most essentially a response to having one’s boundaries violated. When someone is angry at us, we get valuable feedback that we have crossed a line. In this way, we learn that we must adapt ourselves...


When is Anger at Children Healthy?

Burning with rage at our children is a nearly universal experience, and yet it is one that most moms feel great shame and remorse about. It is frightening to find ourselves capable of wrath and perhaps even violent impulses toward those whom we love so greatly. Could it be okay or possibly even important to feel fiery, hot anger toward our kids?

Jung’s concept of the archetype can be helpful in allowing us to come to terms...

Parenting Skills

Parenting in the Age of Polarization

My two kids have always had a competitive and contentious relationship. Now that they are teens, this friction often expresses itself as fierce disagreement on social and political issues. As the wider culture has grown increasingly polarized, so had our dinnertime conversation. Name any hotly debated topic – gun control, abortion, immigration – and one kid would be strongly on one side while the other kid took the opposite viewpoint. My dining table had become a...


Do Kids Have Too Much Power?

These days, there is a widespread tendency for children of all ages to have too much power relative to their parents. I realize it sounds a bit old-fashioned to say this, and in fact I believe this trend has developed in part as a reaction against overly authoritarian parenting styles that dominated earlier generations. However, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far.

Difficult Feelings

When Connecting with Kids Is Hard

Last week, I shared a fairy tale which explored a parent child relationship in which the parents are ashamed or embarrassed by their child. There is a similar tale that explores this – and darker themes.  A recently published book by Orna Dornath entitled Regretting Motherhood: A Study explores the difficult subject of mothers who regret having had children. You can read more about Dornath’s study in this short article.

Dornath is exploring maternal regret...

Difficult Feelings

When We Are Ashamed of Our Kids

What an uncomfortable feeling to become aware that we are disappointed with or ashamed of our child, even momentarily. I knew a mom who had one child who was bright, attractive, and well-liked. Her other daughter, however, was awkward and overweight, and was frequently teased as a result. This mother’s disappointment in this child was at times thinly veiled, as she tried many different “treatments” to help her child lose weight or be more attractive.

If we...

Difficult Feelings

Humble Gifts: On Knowing We’re Enough

I had a conversation with a mother in my practice this week that brought up something important. As usual, I tried to find a fairy tale that captured the essence of what this mother was struggling with. The right tale did come to mind – it’s a 12th century French legend – and it just so happens to have an association with Christmas, so consider this my holiday offering! The mother I was speaking with is going through something very difficult with one of her children. On the day that we spoke, she was feeling very badly about herself, and how she has been handling the challenges she is facing. She has seen other mothers who, she thinks, have managed similar difficulties much better. She was berating herself for not being as gentle, wise, and confident as she has seen other mothers be.

Difficult Feelings

What Happens When We Don’t Like Our Kids?

I am always a little surprised when a mother tells me with great shame and in great secrecy that she finds she doesn’t particularly like her child. Of course we don’t always like our children! It seems there is too much secrecy around this fact, and greater acceptance of the wide range of feelings that motherhood stirs up would reduce the shame and self-judgment that many mothers feel.

There are many reasons that a mother may find...

Fairy Tales

Gifts from Our Mothers

When my client Rose was around nine or ten years old, she and her family were camping. With her parents’ permission, Rose set off on a walk through to woods to join up with friends at the lake. Rose remembers being suddenly startled by a large black bear rearing up in front of her. Frozen in fear, she didn’t know what to do. Then she heard her mother from behind shouting at the bear. Her mother pelted it with stones, and rushed at it brandishing a stick. The bear soon retreated.