Angry father, angry daughter

(Photo credit Comfort Compass)

I have been concerned that my oldest daughter also has issues with anger. She lashes out at her siblings in a frightening way. I have discussed this with other mom’s over the years, and told it was normal sibling rivalry. I no longer think this is true.

My head is so clear now, I see my purpose and accept it. I need to guide all these angry people in my life to healthier methods of dealing with stress.

My husband used to say my lack of anger is what caused my depression, that the anger turned inwards. Possibly some truth to that. So I shake my head as I consider my important jobs ahead of me now. But I can do it.

My daughter has been coming home from school visibly upset for a few days now. If anyone approaches her, she screams and rages and hides in her room, after slamming the door hard enough to wake the dead. I realized I used to be afraid of her anger. I was so stressed and on edge that I was unable to help her. Until today.

Today I did not back off and give up. I took the blanket off of her and kept asking her questions. “Did someone at school hurt your feelings?” “yes” “Did someone call you a name?” “no” “Did someone touch you in a way you did not like?” “No” “Is someone acting in a way you do not like?” “Yes” “Is it a friend or a grown-up?” “Well they used to be my friends”

Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere. After about 10 more minutes of yes-no questions, she finally relaxed and told me the whole story. A bunch of girls are not getting along at school. Not bullying, just arguments between friends that used to play nicely. She said she doesn’t know who to play with anymore as it makes person A angry if she chooses person B and she likes them both. I asked if any of the teachers know about the fighting, she said no. I asked her if she would be able to trust a teacher there to talk about this, or if she wants me to talk to a teacher. She said she would like to talk to a teacher first, because she doesn’t want those girls to get in trouble, just to be nice again.

Sigh. I know this is just the beginning. I remember way too many “mean girl” situations. I just had hoped it wouldn’t start in early elementary grades for her.

I explained to my daughter that she was feeling bad because she had a big heart and it was hurting for those girls hurting each other. I said that is how I feel when she fights with her brothers. I said it is good to have a big heart, but you have to know what to do with those  hurt feelings without causing more hurt. We discussed healthy ways to feel better without yelling and hitting. And then I hugged her. A huge hug, and said I was proud of her for caring about her friends.

It also came up that she was afraid I would not be happy with her, since she has heard me stop daddy from yelling. I said I’m helping daddy with that and I can help you too. Just keep talking to me. No matter how much you yell I will always love you. (as I said that, I wished it was true for my husband and had to look away from her)

But in just a few minutes she came down for her after school snack and seemed much better, calmer, settled. I’m so happy I got to share that moment with her. I’m so pleased I didn’t just leave her to stew in her own anger alone.

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15 thoughts on “Angry father, angry daughter

  1. I don’t know if she has anger problems. She may just need to understand anger and how to express it safely and appropriately. Anger isn’t bad, in itself. Actions can be. I love how you talked to her. You helped her express her anger, and her sadness, in a healthy way. Then problem solved.
    IMO, depression, anger, and anxiety are so closely related. Often anger unexpressed and not processed can turn to depression.

    • Yes, I did not mean she has anger problems, rather that she has problems expressing anger in a healthy way, as many kids do, but hers is more extreme than other kids her age I think from growing up with so much anger in this house for so long. I completely agree that all those strong emotions are related and can he detrimental to your health if not dealt with properly.

  2. What a good, intuitive mommy you are! You are changing the pattern once again by not being afraid and listening to your heart. You said the right words and she responded. She knows to trust you. Very proud of you.
    My internship is with a school social worker. We deal with this kind of friendship situation ALL THE TIME! We validate the child or group’s feelings. Each child gets heard. We discuss ways that would work to remedy the situation. The girls are able to each talk and then come up with solutions. They all agree. Even if someone still feels like they can’t be friends, they each know they are to still be kind and respectful. We teach the kids what to do instead of getting upset when someone says, “I don’t like you or I don’t want to be your friend or If you’re friends with so and so, I won’t be your friend”. We teach them to say in a kind voice, “I’m sorry you feel that way” and then walk away. Because the other person is expecting a reaction and wants to either create drama or keep the drama going, it catches them off guard. We also teach then to use “I” statements. I feel______when you_________because__________. It stops the accusatory…you, you, you. It really works for anyone! We remind the students that whatever was said in the room, stays there. They can tell their parents if they want. We remind them that they can practice what they learned and sometimes we role play scenarios with them.
    Because there is a social worker in this school, we are able to do many kinds of groups. The most common is the social skills/friendship groups. We do them for all ages- Kindergarten to high school. You could check with your school to see if there is such a thing. We also do individual sessions with kids for a variety of reasons. The teachers utilize the social worker very much.

    • Thank you so much Shelly. That is all so helpful! As a teacher, I saw many of these friendship battles, but never knew what to do. 10 years ago I did not have the strength to deal with emotional issues, as my own were too large. I feel so good I have some tools under my belt now. We do have a school counselor that comes in and talks about bullying and other sensitive topics, but I will have to check on the social worker. we are in a very small town. Which IMO, actually adds to the problems since some of these battles extend from the girls’ moms’ since they grew up here together. I’m still an outsider here, partially my fault, partially my choice too!

      Mainly, that talk with my daughter was seriously the first time in her 8 years of life that I felt like I was completely there for her. That was huge, and I think is just the beginning. I think I was so busy healing from abuse that I was unable to see my family needed me.

  3. “My head is so clear now, I see my purpose and accept it. I need to guide all these angry people in my life to healthier methods of dealing with stress.”
    You sound so calm, and objective, and determined. I look forward to hearing how it all works out for you. Wishing you the best and tryign to learn from your situation!

  4. I’ve been through a lot in the past two years, well me and my daughters have. One thing I used to do was, never let my kids see me cry if I was hurt. I thought it was weak. Unfortunately, I passed this onto my oldest. What she didn’t see was my other outlet for my pain, my writing. I would wait for them to go to sleep and either write my book or in my journal. So when she would have these little cat fights and disagreements at school, she didn’t know what to do.

    But because she’s seen me cry over the past two years, she is much more in touch with expressing and sharing her emotions. We talk with ease when she is going through some stuff. I don’t know if this will work with you, but try writing back and forth to each other. If I was mad or yelled at them, I would write her a simple letter of apology and tell her why I was angry and told her if she was ever angry and didn’t want to talk about it, she could just write me. The first time she wrote on a piece of paper, “I had a bad day at school and I am mad and hungry.” We ended up talking over dinner. Don’t know if it will work, but that became something special between just her and I. Now we just have our one on one talks that she really looks forward to.

    • Thank you for sharing that. I agree, I used to hide my tears too. Now I don’t share every tear with them, especially recently, but I don’t hide every one either now. I finally realized being mommy is helping them be humans, and is not about having them follow the rules. I need to show them that every emotion is valid, and how to deal with them. A tall order since I am quite new at dealing with anything in a healthy manner. But never too late, I am happy to share this life with my amazing kids, and we’ll learn together.

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