How to Stop Being an Angry Parent

Angry Outbursts. “@#! I did again! I’m such a bad parent!”

Do you ever think this?

Forget that I asked.

I know you do.

We all do.

It’s part of being an adult human being with life experiences and histories that are a mix of good and not-so-great happenings.  But angry outbursts don’t have to keep happening – especially anger towards our little ones.

In fact, it is our responsibility to work at growing away from our anger explosions – whether we keep that anger securely contained or if it spills out all over the place and over the people that we love, including our little ones. That anger is harmful to the person who is angry and to those around them, but did you know that these occasions can actually be turned around and be come helpful to our kids – no matter what their age – as they are learning to deal with their own anger?

I took this picture recently during a walk to Fort Henry. I’m always fascinated by water, by the way it moves, how waves form and, in this picture, how the surface can reflect influences that can no longer be seen. This is not a great photo, but we can see activity that is caused by things that can’t be seen in this moment.

There is a wide swooping shape that was defined by a watercraft, I think. Here in Kingston, there is a ferry that traverses between the city and Wolfe Island on an hourly basis. It amazes me that, on a still day, the ferry leaves a path in its wake. In fact, one of the meanings of the word “wake” as defined by Google means “a trail of disturbed water or air left by the passage of a ship or aircraft.” Right below that is another definition, one that is the purpose of this writing. The word “wake” is also “used to refer to the aftermath or consequences of something“. In this picture, we can see change or disturbance on the surface of the water that is the result of something – past or present, boats or undercurrents – that at this moment we don’t see. But the effect is real.

How does this relate to parenting?

It is this: everything that we have lived and experienced, things remembered, and things forgotten, all contribute to who we are today, in this very moment.

Who we are in this very moment, informed and influenced by things remembered and things forgotten, makes us the parents that we are.

It is this inner being that tells the outer being how to respond and react. This is why we do things, in our role of being a parent (and all other roles for that matter!) that can surprise us. Sometimes, the surprises are good! We can find that we had substance in ways that we didn’t expect! And we didn’t know it up until now because nothing (well, almost nothing) tests us a completely and deeply as having a little person to care for.

The flipside of that, responses or reactions that cause us to feel distressed, can make us feel terrible – like we are not good parents. Don’t beat yourself up too much! This is a normal inner experience that surfaces in the face – or in the wake – of a small human whose demands know no borders, have no manners, and no sense of time (in the very young), and no end. The need is so intense, that it needs to be met now, especially with a very young baby.

At the very moment that they loudly make their needs known, your needs can also pop up and sometimes with equally strong feelings. Sometimes, we can contain these feelings and sometimes, the very thing that we want to contain is expressed just as loudly as our little one expresses theirs!

@#! I did again! I’m such a bad parent!”

How can you cope with this?

My parenting course, called Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting, addresses this very issue. We look at the many things that can influence our thoughts, our feelings, what we define as important or not, our very reactions, and don’t forget about those knee-jerk outbursts that are out of our mouths before we can blink.

With kindness and gentleness, this course guides you through a process that looks at the most significant areas of influence, both past and present and helps you to become the person that you like and respect, who can clearly define the path that you want to create and share with your child.

Here are some tips for for these moments – especially for new parents – to give you some help right now. If your child is older, you can upgrade the tips to make them fit for you!

Ask yourself, why is this emotion, feeling, reaction, situation, need, want important to me?

Do you have an unmet need that is crying as loudly as your baby? Probably! That’s normal!

Here are some predictable needs in parents with a new baby, and this list can be just a start!

  • Sleep – especially for the one who just gave birth – that’s like recovering from a marathon
    • sleep might be elusive but take every opportunity to just lie still – without going on your phone or laptop
  • Physical recovery in general
    • As above, try to eat well and drink lots!
  • Feeling too touched and needing some physical alone-ness – this does not mean you’re bad mom! You just gave birth and may be learning to breastfeed, and need some time with no one touching you. At all! Don’t feel badly for trying to make it happen.
    • If your baby needs to be held and there is someone around, ask them to take over for 30 min and go to bed!
  • Social isolation
    • A phone call to the right person can be a lifesaver!
  • Unsure of what’s normal – THAT in itself is NORMAL!
    • As above: call an experienced and gentle-spirited someone. They can reassure you that you are not alone! Most of these early days’ experiences are pretty universal.
  • Feeling incompetent
    • This is also so very normal. Your baby doesn’t know that you are new at this (and we can feel new, even with babies’ number 2 or 3!), they think you’re a pro, and expect that you know what to do.

Here are some other questions that we think about in the first half of Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting:

  • How do you want you child to experience you as a parent?
  • If you have a partner, how do you want your partner to experience you as a co-parent?
  • How can you work together with things that you can’t agree on?

This is just the first half of the course and I have no doubt that you will benefit tremendously! I invite you to have a look. Click here: Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting, and scroll down the module synopses to see what the course content.

The content in this course couldn’t be more relevant to parents today! I want everyone to know how to deal with those undercurrents, the ones that we see, and the ones that we hide. All of them define the shape of the surface of our lives – just like the water is defined by currents, wind, rocks, animals, and boats, and somethimes, long after the fact.

At the time of this posting – during Covid-19 social restrictions – I am offering 50% off this course to everyone! If you are isolated at home and want something to inspire and invigorate you as a parent, I think that you will find what you are looking for with this course!

Here it is again!  Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting and the 50% off coupon is: FRESHHOPE

Have fun, enjoy deeply, grow in confidence and relish the Fresh Hope!

With kind thoughts,


Please share on social with all of your friends who are parents! Help everyone to grow into being the best person and parent that they can be! Thanks!

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