One of the common things I have heard other single parents comment on is the anger. Whether it is a short, intense phase that we move through in the midst of a separation, divorce, or immediately following and illness or death; or something that lasts for a good while or creeps up periodically to surprise us–wrestling with feelings of anger is a real issue for many single parents. It can be tough not to let our anger affect our parenting.
Anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was taught that anger is a good indication that other stuff is going on for a person emotionally and needs to be dealt with. Paying attention to our angry feelings is the first step in our being able to address issues and work through. First of all, we should never direct our anger toward our kids. It really isn’t their fault that there has been a crisis or a change in our family status and while they may seem like “safe” targets–one’s who won’t talk back or complain or call us on our behavior–it is completely inappropriate and unfair for us to dump our anger on our children. Instead, we can find healthy outlets for the anger–exercise, talk therapy, a weekend away with a friend, journal-writing, artistic or creative endeavors. There are so many ways that we can “go into” the anger and express it in order to work through it. Our anger deserves our attention and will keep cropping up until we deal with it.
Try not to judge yourself or think you are a “bad person” because you are feeling angry. Angry can be a healthy and very productive place–it can motivate us to make change, let us know that our boundaries have been violated, or force us to deal with other things in our lives that are unsatisfactory. The important thing is to acknowledge and address the anger and find ways to work through it–otherwise, we can get stuck in that “angry” place and not be able to move on, rebuild and enjoy our lives as they are now.