Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Teenage Son Makes Mother Furious
Josephine’s heart sank. Yesterday morning her son had thanked her for the ride to school. Now that flash of gratitude and respect she received seemed like a mirage. Her hopes were dashed when she heard his abusive voice demanding a new cell phone after she had just bought him skiing lessons and the necessary equipment. Disappointment turned to rage as Josephine realized that her sixteen year old son Morgan had successfully manipulated her. He was intimately acquainted with her weak spot, and went for it with impunity.
Mother Left The Door Open and Got Robbed
For a brief moment Josephine had allowed herself to believe that all the talks and explanations she had given her sixteen year old son were paying off. Her hard work on setting limits was bearing fruit. It had taken her a long time to say “no” and stick to her guns. Now it all seemed worthwhile. Morgan had changed. Her wish came true and she dared to believe it was going to last. That’s when she left the door open, and got robbed.
Seduced by his politeness, Josephine asked if he’d like to have friends over for his favorite dinner. He saw the green light and lurched forward insisting on a new cell phone.
Mother Wants To Give Up
Frustrated and angry that her efforts had not brought lasting results, Josephine didn’t want to bother to try anymore. It was exhausting. It seemed as if it would take forever to get Morgan to change on a permanent basis. She felt like a bad mother who had failed her son.
How Did Josephine Get Into This Mess?
Morgan had always been a demanding kid. He created an almighty fuss if he didn’t get his way. She reasoned with him, cajoled him, bribed him and made deals with him. He paid lip service to her pleas and conditions. Josephine got more and more desperate.Her friends and family threw their hands up in horror leaving her alone with this greedy insatiable monster. Josephine felt vulnerable and fearful of how her son might show her up next. Her fear was so great that she was blind to the fact that she was feeding the monster. Inadvertently Josephine made him grow larger and more powerful. The larger he got the more hungry he became. Josephine was trapped in a vicious cycle of shame, appeasement and guilt.
Morgan’s outbursts were like a million spotlights all beaming down on her, showing the world how badly she had failed. It was so shameful that Josephine had given into Morgan most of the time. It pacified him for a while, and took her off the hook. This business of one step forward and two steps backwards was too unrewarding a prospect to have to live through for goodness knows how long. Better to just swallow Morgan’s attitude of entitlement and get some instant peace.
Why did Josephine Let Her Guard Down?
Josephine was relieved and joyful that Morgan was acting like a well brought up thoughtful son, making her look good and feel good. She wanted to reward him. In that soft place she took her eye off the ball, didn’t protect herself and got taken advantage of. She made the mistake of believing that one instance of politeness meant her son had turned into an angel.
Josephine’s joy cut her off from the memories of anger, fear and dread she felt whenever her son acted in a selfish manner. She forgot all those millions of times he had tortured her with his tongue lashes and shamed her in public. She lost touch with those innumerable episodes of feeling like his puppet just to get a minute of peace. Disconnected from those memories meant that she didn’t anticipate danger, and allowed the Trojan horse to enter her unguarded sanctuary.
Josephine’s Wires Got Disconnected
When Josephine rewarded Morgan spontaneously, her emotional brain acted unilaterally. It didn’t stop to consult with her logical and rational brain. The wires were cut and she suffered the consequences.
1.She didn’t give herself the opportunity to consider her motivation for making an extra offer to her son when she had already given him so much in the last few days.
2.That robbed her of a chance to predict the outcome given what she already knew about her son.
3.It also deprived her of the room she needed to reflect on whether she needed to spend more time and energy to ‘buy’ her son’s responsible behavior.
How Can Josephine Be a Good Parent and Enjoy it?
A.Josephine’s most important job is to take care of herself. She must make herself a priority.
- Giving herself good things instead of buying her son’s obedience will send a message of self-worth that can’t be trampled on.
- Increased self-esteem will elicit respectful encounters with her son. Morgan will not be able to manipulate her so easily because she has beefed up that once weak spot. She will send a message loud and clear that she deserves to be loved and cared for because she is a caring parent, not because she gives into his increasingly outrageous demands.
B. Josephine’s second task is to set up a conference call with all parts of herself so she gets the maximum benefit of her brain power.
- That includes her intelligence, her fears, doubts, hopes, logic and predictive skills. All her bases will be covered.
- Instead of being hijacked by ‘feel good’ moments, she will act from a place that uses past experiences to protect her, and future expectations that guide her in a measured way. With practice Joseph solid and available at all times.
- Being consistent and saying “no” will seem like a piece of cake.
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