Posts Tagged ‘anger management’

Don’t Sniff Don’t Smell: When Kids Hate On Parents

October 26, 2011

How might thinking about Gaddafi’s lurid death help us to be better parents?

Collective rage and murder wrought upon a crazed dictator pulled from a sewage drain wearing gold pants and packing a solid gold gun, while bizarre on the one hand, also illustrates an important dynamic in human consciousness:  idealization and devaluation.

Whether plotting a coup or parenting a toddler or a teen, the relationship between idealization and devaluation is infallible:  idealization masks secret devaluation; devaluation masks secret idealization.

Teens, for example, often exhibit know-it-all contempt and pseudo-independence (if they are safe enough to swagger), but they eventually tame it down and transition from rebel-with-an-allowance to worker bee in the collective hive, that is if we have a hive worth working for.

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Relinquishing Resentment

October 5, 2011

While we’ve been attending to fear and how it inhibits parenting and lives well lived, it’s worth keeping in mind the relationship between fear and anger—and anger’s brooding distant cousin:  resentment.

When we feel scared we may run away, freeze up or go into fight mode.  This marks the workings of our primitive brain.  Thus fear and threat are generally the root causes of anger.

When we are scared of things that do not truly pose a dire threat to us (but make us feel, and react, as if our very lives are threatened), or when we are scared that things may happen which in truth have already happened (like being, or feeling like we were, abandoned as children and thus chronically fearing abandonment) we move into the more neurotic realms of functioning, or perhaps dysfunctioning.

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Shadow Work

September 7, 2011

I was in a rather good mood on the way to work after chatting with Nate about On The Road, deeply appreciating his take on “rootless soul-searching” and the “selfishness of Beats who couldn’t deal with intimate relationships.”  I opened the top of my car to see the sky.

I had dreamed of the bear the previous night—a recurring dream symbol that first leapt out of the blackness when I was four, and has shape-shifted in myriad forms and meanings over the years.  In the latest dream a mother bear challenged me, in a vacation home, where I was protecting my family—suddenly she was all teeth and claws and we were embraced in wild conflict as I awoke.  In waking I intuited that the problem was mine and not hers.  The Shadow brings us our power, and the illumination of our own dark places… unless we resist.

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Together and Apart

July 27, 2011

Given my year’s theme of working to increase consciousness in order to ameliorate fear, my take on this week’s zeitgeist is that there is much astir in the collective corridors of rage and despair—and perhaps some opportunities for compassion, growth and healing at the micro level—the level that perhaps counts most in the final and collective analysis.

A gunman in Norway, a human being, attacked what he perceived as his enemy—the human beings of the left-leaning labor party and particularly their children.

What might we make of such horror?  What keeps going so terribly and tragically wrong with us human beings?

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Paterfamilias’ Progress

June 20, 2010

Happy Father’s Day.

There were two guys playing golf and a terrible lightning storm came up and the first friend was ready to run for cover when the second friend walked up to his ball, lightning hitting all around them, and prepared to hit his next shot.  His terrified friend shouted, “What are you doing—you’re going to get killed!”  To which the more intrepid golfer of the two calmly replied, “Don’t worry, I’m using my two iron—even God can’t hit a two iron.”

As to whether God can or cannot hit a two iron… it’s just a joke.  But we can now be sure that “God” (or at least random lighting) can, and did, hit a six-story high “touchdown Jesus.” This Father’s Day I miss my father-in-law, Arthur, who in the end of life had Judaism to win and Catholicism to place in the horse race of religion, but I am not privy to that particular betting window and so I do not know if any of his bets paid off.

Meanwhile, a reader comment on that Touchdown Jesus breaking news item caught my eye; peppered between smug quotes from Exodus about not making graven images and counter-comments about the folly of religion was, “If lightning hits a statue of Zeus is it different?  Discuss.”

On this the week of Father’s Day, that comment got me thinking of the archetypal Father and His evolution.  Whether it’s Zeus hurling lightning bolts or Moses going ballistic and smashing the tablets, I wonder how many men suffer under the yoke of internalized paternalism.  In other words, how many hotheaded guys end up acting like dicks mostly because that’s what they’ve been taught—that this is the way that real men, particularly Fathers, behave?

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Kicking the Master in the balls

May 11, 2010

Never the joiner, today I jump into something Momalon cooked up:  five for ten.  I’m quite captivated by the idea of multiple bloggers concentrating on the same theme at the same time, a deliberate attempt to heighten some sort of shared consciousness.  Here goes for “courage”:

I was always the very shortest kid in my class growing up.  Sadly, Peter Wolf (the second shortest) claimed to be the very shortest one day in 7th grade so that he would get to be a team captain (since the coach said that the tallest and the shortest would be captains that day), and since Peter was more popular than me the other kids agreed that he was shorter once he wanted to be shorter.  Hah!

Somewhere around this time I took it upon myself to learn a martial art.  The only one available that knew how to get to by bus was Tae Kwan Do, and I became a diligent student for over a year.  Several days per week, in the rain, the snow or the sunny spring I rode down to the Dojo, which always smelled strangely sour and exotic, like the thick cotton of your uniform when you first bought it and tied it up with your plain white belt.

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Dr. Evil’s Guest Blog

April 1, 2010

Some readers have suggested that I can be a little too peace and love, a little unrealistic in all this “Isn’t life wonderful?  Aren’t kids beautiful?” talk.  And so while I like to think that I’ve somehow earned my optimism, even I feel like I might be starting to gag on it sometimes.

As T.S. Eliot suggests, “April is the cruelest month,” and so it seems a good time to invite my old Shadowy friend, and sometimes colleague, Dr. Evil to present today’s guest blog:


Hi, I’m Dr. Evil and I don’t much care to thank soft-spoken Bruce for bothering me with this stupid task for his pathetically crunchy readers, but since he asked, I’ll tell you what I really think, which is more than you get from most people, even from most villains, really.

These are my key parenting tips:

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A bullet-proof vest for the soul: psychological abuse in relationships

February 2, 2010

In a recent  NPR interview by Michele Norris, about psychological abuse in relationships, Dr Steven Stosny (Psychologist; Author, Love Without Hurt) spoke about the gender difference regarding the things that we are mean about when we systematically put our lovers down.  While Stosny acknowledges that we all say mean things sometimes, non-abusive relationships allow for apology (and hopefully a change in behavior moving forward) while abusers tend to be self-righteous in telling the other that they deserve the bad treatment or are at fault for “making me do it.”

Stosny claims that one in four relationships have some degree of psychological abuse, and that this abuse can be a precursor to physical abuse (in about 40% of cases); yet he points out that as wrong as physical abuse is, unless it results in disfigurement or overt maiming, it is the psychological abuse that causes more damage—making people feel lastingly unlovable and worthless (while physical abuse is easier to recognize as “wrong” and out of control—about that other person having issues).

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aggression within overprotection

January 19, 2010

I have an image of myself as a three-year-old: it’s summer and we’re at “Sleepy Hollow,” a vaguely depressing summer vacation place of cottages and “the dome”—where more socially adjusted kids happily participated in activities; I’m ready for my morning swim, wearing a life-preserver, water-wings and non-slip shoes of some dimly remembered rubber; I’m being placed in the kiddie pool where the water is barely past my knees; I don’t think I’m wearing a diving mask, but I feel like I see my mom’s over-concerned face, radiating the message, “This is very, very dangerous and you might drown at any second.”

I’m not sure what my first word was, but I feel like it might have been, “Careful!” since that’s the word I remember my parents blurting out most frequently toward me.  And still I was accident prone and despite many swimming lessons, still nearly drowned at summer camp when I was nine.

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I say yes, you say no: oppositionality in teens

January 14, 2010

As mentioned a few days back, I wanted to follow up on the issue of oppositionality in teens, particularly with regard to the inquiry that asked for feedback on how a mom can stay connected with her child, honor the need to individuate, but keep him safe as well (when grades are dropping, weed has been found in his room and all the kid wants to do is ride bikes with friends and play video games).

In keeping with the general spirit of this blog, my primary intention is to invite alternative ways of thinking about things, striving to deepen and broaden our parenting perspective—and in so doing, to empower parents to decide, and then act upon, whatever’s right for any given parent and their unique family situation.

In my experience, oppositionality and low self-esteem tend to go hand in hand.  It’s always good to keep in mind that everyone’s behavior makes sense… at least to himself or herself.  In parenting (and in life) relationship is everything; before we can help a person change, we have to reach them where they are.  With oppositional children we tend to end up feeling like we’re talking to a wall; we lecture and explain why they should change, and they do not change.

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