Inside everyone of us is a frightened child. Most of us don’t show that part of us to the world, only a glimpse is shown to our life partners and our kids. The frightened child makes an appearance when we are feeling threatened. At the thought of losing someone or something very dear to us, that part of us, hidden deep down inside, creeps out and we cannot control it or hide it.
The Family Court System exacerbates any fear we have. When you are threatened with the safety and well being of your children or the fear of losing your children to a non-sensical custody battle, the frightened child inside screams in fear all the time. Often court authorities label parents as mentally ill or angry, but I see it more as hurt. Maybe, the court authorities themselves should try an anger management program so that they could learn that anger masks hurt, fear, frustration. People don’t get angry for the sake of being angry; People get angry because there are underlying emotions. Whether real or imagined fears or perceived slights, they are very real feelings experienced by those going through a time of pain and anguish. The Family Court System likes to wave their magic wand, send you to anger management and live in their own non-reality that court ordering you into a program will fix everything.
Anger management, therapy, parenting programs will only help those who can admit they need help and who want help. When a parent, who has always been looked upon as a good parent in the past, is told that they need parenting classes, they feel very offended and judged. How can the courts misunderstand the situation so badly? I often think, these are people who survived for x amount of years as a parent without court intervention. No one had been concerned enough about the parenting skills to send in social services before. Now suddenly, in this deeply personal, incredibly stressful time in life, now they “need help”?
Just the other day I was talking to a client about my own anger management program. I explained how helpful it was for me and how much I learned about myself. I have come a long way since then. If I had it to do over again, not only would I do it, but I would not have waited so long.
It has been about 8 years since my anger management experience and I am better able to ask for what I need. I have weeded out all the users and abusers from my life and am more assertive when need be so that I am not treated like a door mat. Even though anger management was a life changing experience for me, I am not perfect. Anger management doesn’t make anyone perfect or fix everything that is wrong with their life. That scared little girl still comes out from time to time and I do my best to re assure her that it is ok, I can handle whatever stress I am experiencing at the time. She surfaces less and less now, but I never want her to go away completely. She is what makes me human.
If you go through anger management, you will learn what your triggers are. It may be money. It may be fatigue. It may be that you are triggered when you feel that someone is lying to you. In those times of reaction, you are not using your logical, problem solving front brain, but rather your reactive, infantile, survivalist back brain. It’s ok to go there, but with practice you can learn to move yourself out of the back brain and into the front.
You might also learn to embrace the little girl or boy inside you because they are a reflection of your life experience up until now. You might also want to embrace the little child inside others that you are close to or have an on-going relationship with. If you are coparenting with someone who lives in their back brain, maybe you can try to learn why they spend so much time back there and have compassion about the life experiences that resulted in that little child they live with. They may not understand their own behavior, but you can try to acknowledge that everyone has a frightened child deep down inside of them. Their triggers may be more prevalent than yours.
Understanding breeds cooperation and good will. Try not to react every time someone is acting like a scared little child. Not every childish action requires a response from you. Try first to chalk it up to the person having a bad day. They may be lashing out at you, but it may have nothing to do with you. If you and your ex get into a heated exchange, get back to your front brain, even if they cannot change their behavior. Explain to them that the conflict is not helpful, you are going to stop the conversation and try it again in a day or two. hopefully by then, everything will be better, tempers will have cooled. These skills not only help with an adult whose inner child is lashing out, but they will help you with real children when they are lashing out.