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Can therapy change your parenting?

(29 Posts)
glowfrog Fri 06-Nov-15 21:30:56

Hello all

I'm wondering whether to get some therapy to deal with my issues.

I have 3/nearly 4 year-old DD1 and a 7-month old DD2. I'm exhausted at the moment and pretty hormonal from breastfeeding BUT I don't think it completely explains or "excuses" my outbursts of anger towards my DD1.

It's not actually that I lose my temper but rather than I'm sometimes mean and petty when I do. I hate myself so much afterwards. I don't want to be like this. I remember my dad being like this sometimes - quite sarcastic towards me and my siblings - and I hated it. Whether it's nature or nurture, I want to be different.

Would therapy help? Has it helped anyone here?

megletthesecond Fri 06-Nov-15 21:35:02

I think so. I had 7 free much needed sessions a couple of years ago, I was a lot less anxious and stressed. Would love to be able to afford it every week for a year or so to resolve a few things.

CupofBoo Fri 06-Nov-15 21:35:50

Apparently one of the biggest things that can lead to issues with parenting is unresolved parental trauma. So therapy sounds like a great idea!

glowfrog Fri 06-Nov-15 22:16:37

How do you get free therapy??

Generation1979 Sat 07-Nov-15 09:14:10

Have a look at "parenting from the inside out" book to help you look at how you were parented.

Where I live there are anger management courses run by the organisation that does counselling locally. Maybe Google your local provision. Often listed on GP surgery websites ( try nearby surgery websites if your doesn't show anything)

ShebaShimmyShake Sat 07-Nov-15 09:33:44

Yes, as long as you honestly want to change and take the therapy as effectively a course in how to. It sounds as if you do.

applecatchers36 Sat 07-Nov-15 09:48:56

Parenting groups can help you to respond rather than react to your children. They can give you a valuable space to reflect and think about how you would like to do things differently.

Popular/ nationwide programmes often based on (Caroline)Webster -Stratton, her book 'the magical years' may give ideas. Also 'strengthening families' programme.

Another popular approach is the 'solihull approach' which has less emphasis on behavioural approaches & is more relational/ psychotherapeutic.

You can also have individualised therapy to focus on parenting, maybe explore patterns within families.

Whatever approach you take good luck x

applecatchers36 Sat 07-Nov-15 09:58:10

Therapy provision varies per trust/ locality area. But go to GP as first port of call or health visitor if you have baby, for appropriate referral.

In London we have access to primary care psychologists often in GP surgeries/ children's centres.

The parenting programmes mentioned in previous post are widely available.

Joysmum Sat 07-Nov-15 10:04:55


I used to volunteer at my local sure start centre that ran parenting groups. These certainly helped many people.

meiisme Sat 07-Nov-15 10:40:57

Yes, for what you're describing, therapy might be very helpful. As a PP said, ott anger and meanness are often relics from needs that you didn't get met when you were a child. Parenting can be a trigger for bringing that anger back to the forefront. Therapy can help you identify and work through those triggers, especially if you have an idea where in your past your anger and pettiness comes from. I recognise what you're saying and therapy has definitely made me a better parent. Parenting courses have helped me with practical solutions and management techniques that he me when I'm in the middl of an everyday struggle with the DC, but it's been therapy that have sorted out the emotions I used to bring into them a that would escalate rathe than calm down the situation.

megletthesecond Sat 07-Nov-15 12:34:20

glow sorry, I had some free sessions through work. (Employee support scheme).

LucySnow12 Sat 07-Nov-15 14:29:11

When my two were younger, I did lose the plot a few times and became a person I hardly recognised. I was ashamed after too. It does happen, you're not the only one. As you do seem to have unresolved childhood issues, then I would definitely get some counselling. Also I always make a point to apologise to my kids when I have acted wrongly toward them. I think it is very important.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Sat 07-Nov-15 16:25:06

yes, it can a great deal. But if you find that sometimes you are at a loss for a constructive way for handling a situation because you want to do things differently but arent sure exactly what you should do, then try Triple P parenting sheets or one of the better parenting books, specially one with info on handling conflict constructively.

Combination of the two might be helpful.

glowfrog Sat 07-Nov-15 21:49:58

Thanks everyone - so many great suggestions and I will look into both books and courses.

I do apologise to DD1 when I lose it. The other day I told her that even though I get angry, I would always love her - and ever since then, when she does something "wrong" she goes "I will always love you, Mummy!" It's very sweet but I wonder if I gave her the wrong message?!

holeinmyheart Sat 07-Nov-15 22:34:10

I think you are really brave OP.
It is really imperative you get help of some kind, as one way or the other you are going to regret your behaviour. You are essentially a good person as you recognise that how you are behaving now is non productive and damaging.

Every time we hold our tongues and are patient with our DCs we are helping them have a happy childhood. We are investing in their future.
We have all been there though and I certainly felt like throttling mine on occasion. However they are looking to us to show them the 'normal' way to behave. If you are shouty then she will think it is Ok for her to do the same. They are at our mercy and are very vulnerable.

Your DD1 is only a baby herself, she cannot articulate how she feels and so responds to her world with raw emotion. This can make her behaviour appear bad to an adult, but it isn't, it is a response. She is far too young to plot as in ' how can I make my Mummy cross today'

You also have a new baby and she has had to contend with the new situation, as have you. Couldn't she be struggling as well?

Apologising to her really isn't enough. She is too young to fully understand. Imagine watching a video of an adult shouting at a three year old. You would think it was awful.
But how to change?
The cheapest way to get counselling is to go on a counselling course at a local college. You get therapy as part of the course. You may also be able to go on a Mindful course which will help you relax and more able to cope.
Therapy helped me immeasurably. It changed my life and made me a better parent.
Hugs, as being a parent is damn hard.

ATruthUniversallyAcknowledged Sat 07-Nov-15 22:40:23

See your gp. Be honest about your irritability / quickness to anger. she may be able to refer you for cbt (mine did)

Good luck. You've already made a brave first step.

StrumpersPlunkett Sat 07-Nov-15 22:45:55

Good luck, I hope your GP can help, I had therapy for non parenting reasons but it has totally changed the way I parent.
It has changed my marriage, my role as a Mum and many other things.
Honestly if you get chance do it.
We also went on a pareting course when DS1 was little and it was amazing to be truly honest with other parents about how things were going. we all had different problems so sharing of tips and techniques was brilliant.

fusionconfusion Sat 07-Nov-15 22:47:21

I don't think it is actually a terrible thing for kids to see that you are human. Sometimes biting your tongue isn't the right response. Obviously verbal abuse isn't what you want either, but if you say something mean or sarcastic, the way to deal with it isn't to beat yourself up about it but to say openly and honestly, gosh, I was out of order, sorry, that must have hurt. It's about how you apologise and about a genuine commitment to change and reducing behaviours. It's about balance. Being a good enough parent, not a Mary Poppins who never has a bad moment or says the wrong thing... But you know yourself if it is out of balance.

There's theory and some research I believe which suggests that parents self-shaming and self-criticising is more damaging than shouting in the first place. Shame and self criticism are heavily implicated in negative interpersonal behaviour and poor mental well being. They actually drive the very brhaviour you want to reduce.

It sounds contrary to our western ears but the way to become a loving parent is to work bloody hard at modelling self care and kindness. That's ultimately what your kids pick up on. They watch your relationship with YOU far more than you realise. Anger often comes out of a lack of self care and/or self hatred. Therapy can help reduce this tremendously.

PowerPantsRule Sat 07-Nov-15 23:10:44

fusionconfusion - that was one of the best posts I have ever read on Mumsnet. Thank you.

holeinmyheart Sat 07-Nov-15 23:25:20

fusion I like your post too. It is the level of shouting and sarcasm really. Where does it tip over from being 'human', which is fine, to verbal abuse?
My DF was very sarcastic and mean and shouted.
I think he damaged all of his DCs and I was sarcastic until I had the counselling.
I was able to start loving and forgiving myself then but I needed help to do it.
At least the post isn't as blind as I was.

AtSea1979 Sat 07-Nov-15 23:32:19

I was like this I had injections to cut off my hormones and the improvement was so good I had a hysterectomy. Now I'm much more rational.

glowfrog Sat 07-Nov-15 23:36:21

Thanks hole and fusion - as I said, it's not so much that I express anger or frustration (although that's not great) but how I express it...

I've been reading a lot of positive parenting stuff and it's been very helpful. It's just hard to apply sometimes because I'm so tired that my rational self is just not there. When I'n able to get some rest it's amazing the difference it makes.

fusion - what you said really resonates. I do feel a lot of shame over my behaviour. A lot. What worries me is that there may be a strong nature side to it - neither of my parents, as far as I recall, behaved towards me in the way I do, my father's sarcastic outbursts notwithstanding. At times this is all making me feel like I'm really not a great person. I do tend to be quite self-critical.

But first things first. I've ordered Parenting From The Inside Out and will see what that has to offer.

To be very honest, it will be hard to see my GP about this. I would rather skip to the therapist. I will look around and see if it's something I can afford to do privately.

glowfrog Sat 07-Nov-15 23:39:30

AtSea - wow. There's definitely a hormonal side to it (I had a tough time with DD1 when she was a baby, too) and I'm looking to put DD2 onto formula to try and improve that side of things.

But I know it's not ONLY that.

fusionconfusion Sun 08-Nov-15 13:43:44

Glowfrog, how you express it probably means there's an element of loss of this "rational self" in process.

Most of the research really highlights that you have to take care of the basics first. Sleep, food, exercise.. these are the basics of managing anger effectively. Then there are very effective anger management strategies.

But as this guy here, Russell Kolts says, anger management strategies have great evidence but people find them hard to use. Part of that relates to shame and a lack of self-compassion:

In terms of what you say about nature, we ALL share a genetic heritage that includes aggression and alienation. It's our "reptilian" brain. When we feel under threat in some way, or we are struggling to self soothe, our "reason" can go out the window, and we can make bad choices.

When life is good and people are rested and well nourished, have purpose in their life and have people around them who support them, people have more resources for not acting out when they feel uncomfortable or difficult feelings.

Anger - or indeed any pain - is telling something to you. Because part of what’s going on is that there's a sense something is not as you want it or not as it should be and it stirs up all this difficulty.. and underneath that if you can flip it over there’s yearning for something.

So maybe your father's sarcastic outburst made you feel inadequate in ways that show up when your child does things that annoy you. Or maybe you're just tired. Or maybe you're being a bit mean because you feel weak and it feels a bit powerful. Or maybe all of the above.. or none of the above.

But whatever it is, it's not just you. Lots of other people have been through this, do this, go through this. What's important is the genuine desire and intention to commit to relating to your daughter in ways that reflect the person you want to be as a parent.

And hole, I hear you. My parents were at times extremely emotionally abusive - my father is an alcoholic and my mother was very anxious and depressed and would fly into rages over minor things probably because she had very little power in her marriage.

So for me it's not a matter of condoning or validating behaviour that's damaging, just recognising that the only power any of us have in any given moment is in that moment - and at those times, if you're trying to apply, say, a positive parenting strategy and failing because you're knackered and feel crap about yourself, shame and self criticism are going to make you shout louder and even, for some people, make them hit out. It just doesn't work well as a behaviour change strategy.

On a moment to moment basis, committing to what's important - I want to be a caring parent - is more pragmatically useful and supports people to make positive changes better, often, than focusing on how they've hurt or damaged someone with their anger.

glowfrog Sun 08-Nov-15 18:46:03

fusion thank you so much again - such a helpful post and once more, much resonates. Although my parents were never anywhere what yours were like, there was still plenty of dysfunctionality going around - a lot of things happened and were not talked about (including some sexual abuse I didn't tell them about)...

So yes, there's probably a lot going on and I suspect tiredness has popped the lid on quite a bit of it. I suspect I have control issues!

I will watch that video as soon as I can.

Thanks again, and to hole, and everyone else.

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