I’m starting to like my daughter again. I know it’s not very parental to dislike your own children, nor is it probably very Christian-like, but there’s the truth of it.
Sometimes I don’t like my kid.
Sorry for that pause. Had to deal with my daughter.
What was I saying?
Oh right. I like my kid again.
Oops. Be right back.
Last week I–
So, I’d like to point out how calm I am, despite all these interruptions. Did you notice that? Did you notice how my blood pressure didn’t spike? How I didn’t type in all caps or go out for a smoke?
Thank you, Lou Priolo.
The Heart of Anger was an amazing read for me. And Priolo’s not kidding when he says you should read the book twice – once for yourself and once for your kid. This is not just a book about dealing with an angry kid, it’s also a book about taking responsibility for your angry kid.
I realized quickly that I’ve developed some bad parenting habits that needed to change – habits that were provoking her to anger.
— Issue #1 —
I tend to “answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4). Though, I kinda knew this already. We all know this about me. When my kid sasses me, I tend to respond more like a 14 year old than a grownup, and we end up getting into a YES YOU DID/NO I DIDN’T/YES YOU DID situation.
Priolo describes in great detail how Jesus responds to all the fools in his life, and never once does he 1) justify himself to a fool, or 2) bark orders at a fool. What Jesus does do, is show a fool his own foolishness.
My child acts foolish often, and by responding “according to her folly,” I create a dysfunctional dynamic between us. Basically, I’ve trained her to only take me seriously when I’m yelling. But as soon as I quit answering “according to her folly,” I began to see immediate change in Ruthie.
In fact, the first time Bryan saw me in action he was all, “Whoa. When did you become the Bitch Whisperer?”
— Issue #2 —
I allow myself to get caught up into an emotional tangle of manipulation and guilt. Priolo starts off chapter nine by giving a test “to determine just how manipulative a child might be.”
A score of 90 or better means “you are probably quite adept at preventing manipulation by your child.” A score of 75-90 means you’re probably being manipulated “to a small degree.” A score below 75 means “it’s likely you’re being manipulated to a great extent.”
My total added up to 17.
Perhaps one might freak out by the number 17, but this was actually a great relief to me. In fact, I heaved great big ugly sobs of relief because I’M NOT FUCKING CRAZY.
Somehow the number 17 was like that lazer thing Luke Skywalker fired into the exhaust vent of the Death Star. With great precision, it found a very exacting path to my guilt and blew it to pieces.
A friend asked me if Bryan would have scored the manipulation test differently.
(Do you have a friend who pokes you like this? I have many. They are annoying.)
To be honest, yes. He would have scored it a little differently because he’s less likely to be manipulated. But not all the questions were subjective, so we would have agreed on many answers.
What I loved about the book is that it doesn’t allow me as a parent to walk away blaming my kid for being angry and manipulative. The responsibility is mine to improve my parenting skills, and the responsibility is mine to mentor Ruthie through her anger responses.