Love and Anger Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

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Parents often feel guilty for getting mad at their kids or for not always liking their kids. But there are really great reasons to get mad at kids. For one, parenting is hard and children aren’t always easy. For two, it’s really important for children to see us get angry, see us manage our anger appropriately (and that can mean blowing up, calming down, then making amends), and to love them anyway.

We want our children to grow up being in touch with their feelings and able to express them appropriately but we don’t always allow ourselves the same opportunity.

I remember a friend of mine telling me about a group of moms who met each month for support and encouragement. Her cousin attended the group and told her about one meeting when the topic was anger. The women took turns sharing how they worked hard to control their anger.

“I hold my hands in fists,” said one. “I hold them tight to remind myself to stay in control.”

“I bite my lip,” said another. “So that I won’t say something I’ll regret.”

When they got to my friend’s cousin she laughed.

“What do I do when I get angry?” she asked. “I yell. I yell and I yell and I yell and then I feel better and we all make up.”

I’m not advocating that you go screaming at your kids but if you’re a loud family, loud voices are OK. (Some families tolerate yelling more than others so your mileage may vary.) Certainly being angry is OK.

Parents are human, too. Humans are imperfect. Learning to be an imperfect human (versus trying to be a perfect one) is a lifelong process. Being imperfect is a gift we can give our kids, especially when we are honest (and loving) about our imperfections.

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