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Anger: mum’s Enemy Number One
In my clinical practice, I meet many angry mothers. Some are angry with the father of their children for not doing more. Some are frustrated with being single parents. And some are angry with their children for not listening.

However, very few of these mothers come to me because they feel angry per se. In fact, many of the mothers I see don’t make the connection between their own anger and their children’s misbehaviour. To help these mums, I try to make them see this connection. In other words, I help the mother realise how her anger sabotages her parenting.

Some mothers are relieved that I have discovered the source of their trouble. Then there are others who turn their anger on me for making this connection. They’re mad that I’m focusing on them, when all they really wanted was for me to fix their children.


The purpose of this article is to make readers aware that there are two powerful emotions that can affect how a parent cares for her children. One is depression and the other is anger. As I have written about depression in a previous article, I’m now addressing anger.

Read what a 7-year-old boy has to say about his mother’s anger.

My mum is always angry. Lots of time she’s really grouchy. She tells me to leave her alone when she’s having a bad day, but every day is a bad day for my mum. I feel like she doesn’t love me anymore.”

Anger is not an uncommon emotion for parents to experience because parenting is not easy. muments of anger are normal. However, the kind of anger that persists day after day and week after week can spoil a parent’s relationship with his or her children. An angry parent is not a fun person to be around because that parent:

Lacks patience
Overreacts to minor problems
Yells more
Says things to the children in a nasty way
Is overly critical
Doesn’t plan enjoyable family experiences
Rarely give compliments
Is not nurturing

Children generally respond in two ways to a mother who is constantly angry.

  • They start copying her behaviour. They overreact, complain, talk nasty and have outbursts.

  • They stop listening to their mum and become defiant, because they think she’s mean.
As you can see, mum’s anger provokes children to act out against her, and this in turn gives mum more reason to be angry. Anger now becomes a vicious cycle in the home. Anger is indeed a mum’s worst enemy.


It’s OK to experience anger. It’s not OK to allow anger to spread into your relationships. So the first step you need to take is to observe yourself and determine if anger is sabotaging your parenting.

This may sound like a strange recommendation, but adults have the ability to examine their own behaviour. You simply remind yourself during the day to be aware of how you behave with your children. You might even want to keep notes and see how often you:

Yell or scream
Make threats
Lose your patience
Become sarcastic or nasty
Hug and kiss
Say, “I love you”

After observing yourself for a couple of days, ask yourself this question: “If I were a child again, would I want a mummy like me?”
If anger is affecting your interactions with your children, you can next rely on “self- talk” to modify your anger. By self-talk I mean that you silently remind yourself to control your anger with statements such as these:

I’m going to be less angry today.

It’s not fair to let my anger spill over onto my children.

I can’t let anger spoil things with my children.

The next step is to make two lists. On one list, write down the ways you wished your mother had treated you. On the other, write down what you liked about the way your mother treated you. Take a couple of days to complete these lists because your memory needs time to recall past events.

Once your lists are complete you will have a written plan of improving your own parenting. And once you incorporate this plan, you will find that as your anger intrudes less and less, your children cooperate more. You will have stopped the vicious cycle of anger breeding misbehaviour and creating more anger in you.

On top of it all, you’ll feel successful and at peace, which puts you in a great place to effectively parent—and enjoy—your children.

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist