Are you an angry parent?

A friend texted me today to see if I know anything about post-natal rage.  Rage, a step up from anger and a powerful emotion. Not a helpful one, but a powerful one.

My response was yes, I do know about it.  Being a mum of 3, I’ve experienced emotions I never know I had since becoming a Mum. Or perhaps they were always there, but because there was no one to see them they didn’t matter so much.

Post-natal isn’t just the time immediately after we have a baby. It can be any of the time after, days, weeks, months and years.  Having a child changes parents.  And this change is difficult for everyone and depends on so many things; on how much help they get, the birth story, parents past, life circumstances and how much self-care a parent creates.

Rage is all about not feeling in control. Anger and rage and BIG emotions, useful for keeping people away from us. But what’s behind the control? Not feeling in control. So what does rage need to become less powerful? A curious, non-judgemental mind to help figure out what it’s fears are – not feeling good enough? Tiredness? Complete exhaustion? Lack of support?

Most important of all, learning to talk to that self-critical voice with understanding, warmth, kindness and a motivation to make changes.  This self-critical voice is something we learn as we are growing up – all our failures, flaws, things we didn’t achieve – and when we become a parent they can come to the foreground in our lives. And this is beyond hard.

Of course parents loose their minds. Who could ever explain how much of yourself you have to give. If a parent wants to be able to give, there has to be something to give.

So work out where in your day you can stimulate your self-soothing, self-care system. A full cup of tea? Reading a book, a magazine, phoning a pal, being alone, taking a breath.

Here’s a link to some exercises to try.

The great news is that change is yours for the making. And like all things, it takes practice and courage.  Sometimes therapy is needed to work through the deeper issues but an immediate place to start is when you feel rage coming on, protect yourself and those around you by removing yourself from the situation.  Shouting at kids doesn’t help, figuring out what you can do for yourself does. 

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