The Angry Parent

By Greg Baer M.D.

January 12, 2023

Do you find yourself saying stuff like this?

  • I am so tired of the kids acting like this.
  • Are these kids deaf? Can they really not hear the stuff I’ve told them a thousand times?
  • Why does bedtime have to turn into a circus every night?
  • Why does everything I tell them to do turn into a debate or whining?
  • Every single time we have to go somewhere together, why is it like herding cats? Why are we always late?
  • Sometimes I just want to go back to being single!

There is NO JOB on earth more difficult than raising children, and yet we get the least training—read that as NO training—for the job. Aargh! We’re frustrated and angry, and we don’t know what to do.

Listen slowly. There is a solution. It’s not the kids. It’s not society or the Internet. It’s US, the parents, who are the problem. It’s YOU. But don’t get discouraged. Once you identify the problem, you can begin to do something about it. Hallelujah!

If you eliminate just ONE behavior in yourself, you’ll begin to see resolution of all the problems you see in children. What’s the grand secret? The elimination of YOUR ANGER. Not less anger. No, Zero Anger. Impossible? Nah, keep reading.

Why Am I an Angry Parent?

Sometimes you can see that your anger is very destructive to your children and to the adults in your world. Then you feel bad and wonder what is WRONG with you. You ask, “WHY do I keep doing this? Over and over, I have promised myself not to get angry, but then I do it again. Help!!”

We all believe that we get angry because of what OTHER PEOPLE do. We think, after all, I was doing just fine, and then that kid spilled a drink all over the floor—AGAIN—or that driver cut in front of me, and only THEN was I angry. OF COURSE my anger is caused by them. You believe that you only get angry at your kids because they’re resistant or difficult or blablabla. But NO.

And here is where you change everything. We don’t get angry because of what our kids or others DO. We get angry because of what WE DON’T HAVE. What is that? What do we not have?

Many, many studies have proven that what we all need more than anything is to feel LOVED. Love is THE ingredient necessary for happiness, and without it we suffer. We’re in pain. We feel small and helpless, and we HATE those feelings.

Eventually we erupt into anger. In those moments of anger, we feel less helpless. We feel stronger—even though it’s superficial and fleeting—as we vomit our feelings. Sometimes we just feel a relief. Other times we succeed in getting people to do what we want.

Briefly, we feel better. But oh my, the price we pay. After the temporary power of anger, we feel stupid, isolated, and ashamed as we see that we look foolish and we hurt the people around us.

Where Anger Comes From

Everybody needs love. Ah, but WHAT KIND of love? We’ve all seen how fleeting it can be to “fall in love” or to “love chocolate.” That’s not the kind of love we’re looking for.

What we all needed as children was UNCONDITIONAL love, or Real Love®. Right now you might be thinking, “But I DID get love as a child.” Yes, our parents and others did love us as well as they could, but they didn’t know how to give us Real Love. They just didn’t get it themselves, and they were not taught how to give it to us.

What is this mysterious Real Love®? Real Love is caring about another person without any thought for anything in return. It is completely without disappointment or irritation. We angry parents DID NOT GET that kind of love.

Think. Remember in your childhood how many times:

  • your parents or others rolled their eyes at your mistakes.
  • they criticized your performance, especially with a “tone.”
  • they told you they were disappointed in you—with their words, their facial expression.
  • you just needed to talk to someone, but there was no one there.

Every time we were not unconditionally loved—whether aggressively or by simple neglect—we FELT the message, “I don’t love you.” Really. It was like being poked with a sharp stick. Early on, we put up with that. We even complied with adults in order to avoid the “I don’t love you” message.”

But the message hurt us badly, and uncounted studies—with animals and people—have proven that after enough pain, we WILL respond with behaviors to protect ourselves. One of the first behaviors is ANGER.

So why do you get angry now? Because you carry with you all the “I don’t love you” wounds of your entire childhood, so now when someone—your children, another driver—ignores you or does something inconsiderate, you are triggered and respond to all the pain of a lifetime.

You are suffering from a kind of PTSD. Yes, really. Your anger is almost beyond your control, which is why you keep doing it, over and over, despite the negative consequences.

Take the first step right now. Say out loud these words: “I am an angry parent because I was not unconditionally loved enough as a child. So now I get angry at even little things in the present, and it’s just a REACTION to pain, not a conscious choice to be a jerk.”

There, you’ve begun. And now we’ll learn even more about what you can do.

Can Parents Cause Anger Issues

So now you realize why you’re an angry parent. Do not feel GUILT, because now you know that your anger is just a reaction to past pain.

But a child does NOT CARE why you are angry at them. All they know is that their parent—you, the most important person in their life—is not giving them what they need most in all the world.

Children are very simple emotionally: they know that either they ARE getting unconditionally loved, OR they are NOT. If they do feel loved, they are happy, cooperative, and responsible. I have seen this consistently over three decades of work in this field.

But if children are not being unconditionally loved—whether from criticism, yelling, intimidation, abuse, or simple and often unremarkable emotional neglect—they are always in pain. Guaranteed.

Children CANNOT live in pain. They WILL do something to diminish their feelings of being alone, worthless, and helpless. And ANGER is one thing that works consistently.

Do you think the “terrible two’s” just magically appear at that age? No, age two—sometimes younger or older—is simply when they discover that stomping their feet and shouting NO! is very effective in getting what they want. They discover the power of anger. And WE caused it by not giving them Real Love.

What irony. WE cause the very behavior that bothers us in our children.

How Does an Angry Parent Affect a Child

None of us can stand pain for long. If I stab you in the leg with a fork, you WILL do something. You’ll move, or scream, or defend yourself in some way.

And so it is with children enduring the pain of not feeling sufficiently loved in an unconditional way.

We’ve discussed that our children’s anger is caused by their emotional pain. But some children don’t choose anger as their survival tool. Others addictively use

  • Their phones
  • Porn
  • Withdrawal
  • Cutting
  • Video games
  • Bullying
  • Whining, complaining
  • Endless behaviors that hurt them and annoy us.

If you have a child who is behaving in ways that are hurtful to himself or others, that child is in pain and needs to feel unconditionally loved.

What Can I do About My Anger? What Can I Do About My Child’s Anger?

Love is the answer. In the Ridiculously Effective Parenting Training, you will learn how you can completely eliminate anger from your life. In Chapter Two, you learn how to find this Real Love you need, and in Chapter Five, you learn how to eliminate anger from your home.

Your problem—and your child’s problems—were created over many years. How fortunate it is that solving these problems doesn’t have to take nearly that long.

Change takes focus and practice, but loving is certainly not more difficult than the way you’re living now, with anger and all the other behaviors driving you crazy.

As you learn to be loving, you will feel so much happier yourself.

You will enjoy the privilege of watching your children naturally and freely abandon the behaviors that are now hurting them and annoying you.

You will experience the peace of a loving home, the confidence of a loving parent, and the joy of raising loving children.

What could possibly be better?

Want to learn more?

Eliminate confusion and conflict with your children.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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