Were you extremely angry at a parent as a teen?


#1

I have four teenage children who are EXTREMELY angry with me. They have not spoken to me in years, leave the room when I enter etc. My wife and have a difficult marriage, at best, but we are both very concerned about the situation with their anger. The problem is , that we both differ on how we should deal with it, and that of course, is even bringing more unwanted stress into the marriage and home. We have other children who do not have this anger, and are growing up seeing it all. I am very interested in getting thoughts from those who were once the angry teens themselves, particularly women, as three of the angry teens are girls.

We have tried counseling - for years now, and the situation with the children has only wosened.


#2

Work on your marriage, that should help a lot. My siblings and step siblings have had many anger issues toward my dad (rightfully so). I have always tried to have compassion toward my dad even when he was at his worst. My dad can’t say he’s sorry, can’t acknowledge anyone elses accomplishments, always puts down others (including his children), but he will be there if you need him for an emergency. He does not lend himself emotionally to anyone (I’ve tried for years) which causes a lot of strain. He has caused so much pain for everyone around him that I don’t blame my siblings for being angry, as for my dad, he thinks it’s all their faults.

The way you and your wife interact DOES affect your children. Your daughters, especially, may see you as not being a good husband toward their mother (your wife) and well, that is enough to cause any daughter to be angry. To them, you may not be trying enough to have a good relationship, so why should they?


#3

focus on your marriage, if that is not healthy, nothing in the family will be healthy.

if you are wrong, admit it, ask forgiveness from your wife and children. the source of anger in the children is almost always anger in one parent or anger between the parents. if you don’t tackle the problem at the root it won’t go away.

counselling for years? does that translate to being in denial for years, as is true for some people?


#4

Thanks, and yes, we both know that a better marriage would help. For whatever reason, that is not happening, and though we are both hanging in there, at this stage, it does not look like it is going to happen. Denial? we would both accuse each other of that, and we are stuck. stuck stuck stuck.

We have been down the road of good catholic counselors and priests so long that we both have an impressive list of experts who would see things our own ways. I have spent enough on counseling to have sent one of our kids through college by now. I am sick of the path we have been on, and though there is little in the way of arguments going on between us and we do live a generally peaceful life together, there is little love, trust or respect.

I once said that what we need rather than all this deep counselling is a wise old country woman to ask the important questions… “Does he beats ya? Does he drinks too much? Does he run around with other women?” I know now that it does go a little deeper than that, and that I needed the wise old county man myself, but am just looking for the common sense advice from those who have lived it.

What we are really looking for are insights from those who lived the anger themselves


#5

Have you tried kindness towards your wife?

I’m talking about making her a cup of coffee in the morning. I’m talking about complimenting her on what a good mother she is. I’m talking about just being nice. It’s not that hard.

Become a servant to her. Open her doors. Get the groceries out of the car. Put gas in her car for her. Help her with dishes, vacuuming, and other jobs around the house.

She will wonder what’s going on, and may make snide comments. Don’t let that stop you. Continue to be kind. Show her your respect even if she doesn’t yet respect you.

You will reap what you sow. Hopefully, she will come around. And in the meantime, you are setting a good example for your children.


#6

How odd. My sister just asked my yesterday why I do not have a good relationship with our mother. I’m not sure this will help because all situation are different, but here is my 2 cents.
My problems with my mother have a few layers, but I’ll give you the few I gave to my sister yesterday.
From the beginning my mother did not try to form a bond with me. She was no different then than she is now. She doesn’t read to children, play AT ALL, or even enjoy children except to pat them on the head, and receive the obligatory kiss on the cheek.
She tried to commit suicide when I was 3, and was basically a vegetable for three years following that, during which time I would’ve been in and out of day cares and such.
After that, I was in school. I had a HORRIBLE time in school, and somehow she was never able to help me, academically or socially. My situation grew steadily worse and by my teenage years I did hate her. She spent all of her time blaming my father for everything from her suicide attempt, to my troubles, to why we never went to church. Dad, OTOH, never said a negative word about my mother, and in fact, only spoke of her good qualities. I could never have articulated at that time why I was angry, and it has only been as an adult, with my own children and the grace of the Sacraments that I have been able to pray about and forgive her shortcomings. It has also taught me what kind of mother I want to be.
So without going into all of the details that seem to matter but probably don’t, I offer you this.
Do you and your wife talk about each other in front of or to them? Do you and did you (when they were younger) spend time with them just because you wanted to be in their company? Do they have school problems that continue to get worse? If any of this is the case then it may be similar to my own experience. Do not speak unkindly of one another, justified or not. Raise each other up in your childrens eyes, and if something isn’t getting done because a spouse isn’t helping, then that only means you have to work twice as hard. Spend time talking and being with your kids, doing something they’ll enjoy. For girls this could mean going to plays or musicals (this would’ve been great for me!), skiing, canoeing, or whatever. Even a few hands of cards or a board game a few times a week, just for fun.
If they have trouble in school, maybe you need to find another school, or homeschool them, so they can get a fresh start.
Obviously, my situation may have absolutely NO similarity to yours. If that is the case, sorry for taking up forum space:o
My prayers are with you.


#7

Yes, and I hope to bring her into this thread to confirm it and give her perspective. She will acknowledge all that. It is true that for many years I did not do any of the little things for her. My thought at the time was, “heck, I am doing the big things, and she is not supporting me in the little things or big things- heck with her for the little things” Yeah there was a lot of anger and hurt, and I caused a lot of it.

Like I said, though, we treat each other much more civilly now and have for quite some time. Most if not all the anger that is in our home now has to do with the specifics of how to work with the children. We do not have any rules or method for dealing with conflict over this, so since the girls will not deal with me, however my wife wants to handle things is by default how it is done. I am definitely building resentment about that. I am, however (and I think she is open to), insights from others who have lived it so that we can better understand them and be better guided in our approach to handling the problems. I am entirely open to the idea that the approach my wife wants to take is what they need and not the approach that I think they need, but I need to hear it from others, as I surely do not trust my wifes judgement any more than she trusts mine. I never was a teenage girl, so I haven’t a clue how they are thinking.


#8

hopefulldad, I have another idea, too.

How about you get all of your angry teenage children together with you and ask them to think about one thing you as a dad could do that would help make life better for them in your home. Tell them to take a couple days to think about it.

When you meet with them, go over each of their ideas and pick one that you actually think you can achieve. Ask them to help you. Maybe they can point out to you when you have crossed the line because sometimes we can’t see how we come across to others.

Now, you mentioned your daughters walk out of the room when you enter…what in the world have you done to cause this? Have you asked them why they hate you so much? If so, what do they say?


#9

How about family couseling and individual counseling for your daughters? Also, have you appologized to your daughters, even in a letter. Cried infront of them for the hurt that you may have caused? I know that I became softer toward my dad when he cried to me when I was pregnant saying/asking why I didn’t feel comfortable enough to tell him I was pregnant until I was 6 months along. Now, he doesn’t usually put up a fight too much when we disagree and is more willing to listen to what I have to contribute to a conversation.


#10

Can you stand one more idea from me??

Valentine’s day is coming…how about you buy your wife a large box of chocolates with a beautiful card…and buy each of your daughters a smaller box of chocolates with a little card telling them how much you love them.

It’s important to show your wife she is special, not on the same level as the girls. She always deserves the bigger, better gift. But if you can give a box of candy to each daughter, teens plus the younger ones, I think this would be a nice tradition to start.


#11

Well, first, family counseling - yes, we have tried that, and had the girls in counseling. No improvement. They hate their counselor, and do not open up to her.

Second, Getting them together to ask what they would like to see me change. Well they would, if they said anything, say they would like me to change residences.

In the past when asked why they are so angry, they would say that I am a bad father because I do not mow the lawn enough , because I eat too much, and I smell bad. Obviously there was something more than those things that they could not articulate, (though I admit to those charges as well!) The girls had been very friendly and affectionate with me until they were 10-12, but at some point in our troubles, they told Mom (who at this time was really on the “dad has got to shape up” track) that they had not felt comfortable with the way I cuddled with them. At the time she questioned them and they said that they did not like when I gave them back rubs and when I touched their stomachs while cuddling. Sometime later as our marriage was in it’s major downward spiral, mom , in counseling on her own, was advised to have them taken to a woman counsellor to look further into the matter. At that session, one told the counselor that I had touched her breasts once, the other siad I did so once a week for 2 years. It was reported to Social Services and police, investigated by both and immediately determined to be unfounded. Needless to say this was an unbelievably difficult time for our family. It was no fun hearing the police tell me that I had better make plans to live elsewhere by Christmas. I was allowed to stay in the home during the investigation only on the condition that I not be alone with the girls and that my wife would promise to enforce this.

I have subsequently had many psychological tests none of them showed any pedophilic tendancies or sexual disorders of any sort. Please, for the sake of keeping this constructive, lets not go down the road of questioning if this stuff really happened. It did not, and I do not understand why these charges came up. I do believe at this stage, that they probably believe these things to be true. I took a long time to believe that they could really believe that, but after reading up on false memories, I do think that it is possible, and these children have never had a problem with lying. They are really good kids.

Now they may say that they are angry because I abused them, but that is not based in truth, so we are still grasping.
My wife says it is because I was so unempathetic in the past. (She , by the way, does not believe the alegations). I say that tmy lack of empathy is part of it, but her dealings with me since our problems became public in the family are now an equally iomportant part of it - even if not primary.


#12

This is for your wife, so please let her read it. Hopefulldad’s wife, please, please, please, for the healing of your family (and so that down the road your children don’t turn and resent you) appologize for all the things you have said negatively about your husband to and around your children. Also, if you have encouraged their negative attitude toward their father, please tell them to stop it now. They seem to be willing to listen to you at this point, you have all the control. As a daughter of a disfunctional family, trust me, your children who are now angry at your husband will eventually see all the truth and begin to be angry at you down the road. Let me tell you, it is more difficult to get over being angry at a mother than at a father. For your own benefit, please start healing the relations in your family, if not for your benefit, for your children’s benefit. Their anger is going to hurt them and as a mother who loves her children, do you really wish for your children to have a hurtful angry personality, unable to forgive an move on? Your husband is the head of the family, but you are the heart, you either make the family live or die.


#13

I’m willing to believe that these accusations are false, in fact, but that the problem is, indeed, that your girls believe they are true.
My oldest daughter is just 10, and I am sure that she will soon feel the awkwardness of “cuddling” with Daddy. This is an appropriate reaction to have, and it’s is devastating that these consequences have arisen from not seeing it before they did. Likely there were external sources telling them that an inappropriate touch may have happened. I believe between school programs and news stories filled with the most deviant sexual offenders, and how to beware of them, some innocent minds have been filled with lots of possibilities that truly do not exist. (not that they shouldn’t have some awareness)
How to solve this one is going to be really tough. I would strongly suggest beginning with daily Mass as often as you can, or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a regular basis. I’m not saying this will change them, but it will give you the strength you need to get through this.
Can you possibly sit them down to tell them that you understand why they believe that this happened? Tell them that you should have realized they were too old for Daddy cuddles? Let them know how learning this from them will keep you from making the same mistake with your younger children.
Do you have a home where you share a bathroom? Could you possibly give them their own? Even if you give up your master bedroom/bath (assuming you have one) so that they can have the privacy they need, and that might make them a bit more at ease? Proving to them that you are concerned about what they are concerned about, to the point of being willing to sacrifice something of yours for their peace might go a long way.


#14

I have to second what gmarie is saying. As I posted earlier, my mother spoke of all of my father’s faults whenever she had the opportunity. As adults we have seen how unfair this was, and how my mother is actually the one who lacked any virtue. Neither my sister nor I trust trust a word my mother says, and we both consciously do the exact opposite of what she did in our child-rearing practices.


#15

Yikes, hopefulldad…that’s quite the road you’ve been on.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse of what you’ve been through. It helps us when we talk to you.

I still think my advice above would be helpful… first just be kind to your wife. Mow the lawn. Take a shower and look nice for her. I hope you will get her a nice Valentine’s gift. Your girls will like seeing their mom treated well.

There is good advice from exiled in the post above this one…I like where she suggests you still talk to your daughters about what happened. Her separate bathroom advice is good, too, if that is possible. And of course, mass.

Hang in there. God can heal your family.


#16

Thanks , exiled, As far as my wife telling the children bad things about that, I don’t think that happened, at least not intentionally. The negative views they have are for the most part gained from their watching me in my dealings with my wife. There have been some serious issues that I hold resentment for, that we have not resolved yet. For example, my wife, after quite some time came to the conclusion that I did not think that I molested the girls, but when questioned by one of them, told her that she believed the allegations! She said there was no way that she was going to call this child a liar. She also shared with our oldest child that she desired a separation, this got around to the others, and by the year after the police were suggesting I leave, 4 of my children and my wife were all demanding that I leave. She does say that she always told them that her desire was for a temporary separation with the goal of healing our marriage and reuniting.

My concern is are there ways that she is showing empathy for their feelings of anger, or ways that I am showing impatience with her about our situation, that are making things worse. What kind of guidelines can we have for dealing with these terribly angry children.

One thought was to send them off to boarding school so that they can be away from the stress. I resist this, feeling that that will sort of just lock in time their anger, and almost give assent to the idea that dad makes the home so miserable that they must be sent off. Though I do desperately want a home with less stress for them.

As for a separate bathroom, we actually have a different problem. Our house is pretty large. A couple of years ago, I sent Mom and one of the angry girls off to europe on a vacation, and I built a room with it’s own bath in our attic. We have enough space in the house now that they can always find (and always do find) a place to be where I am not.


#17

hopefulldad…I think your wife had a very difficult situation to deal with and maybe she didn’t handle it as well as she could have. And maybe she still isn’t handling the girls the best possible way.

It would be helpful if you forgave your wife…not to her face, but in your heart. You will still feel anger and pain, but it is the first step to healing. You need to forgive her for being weak, forgive her for betraying you, and for causing you to resent her. This is the price you need to pay to get your family back. Forgiveness will help you become the husband and dad your family needs and desires.

And let her show empathy for your girls’ anger even if you don’t think it is in their best interest. Let it go. Don’t look at your wife’s behavior, let’s look at yours. Let’s look at your impatience…that’s something you can do something about. That’s something you can change. Start there.

Also, I agree your decision NOT to send anyone away to boarding school. I respect that you are brave enough to weather this storm in your family where you are basically hated, and yet you haven’t abandoned them. Good job. You are a strong man, hopefulldad. You love your family in the midst of this hell. That’s rather impressive.


#18

Your wife needs to understand that there is a huge difference between calling your daughter “a liar”, and guiding her through what seems to be a terribly unfortunate misunderstanding and chain of events.
Now, I know you are in a very sensitive situation, and I may be all wrong about this, but the next thing I’m thinking is this.
Are you tolerating as much disrespect as it sounds like you are? It takes prayer and work, but even in this situation there is a line that it seems your daughters have stepped over.
Can you possibly tell them that, yes, you understand that they think something inappropriate happened, and you are willing to grant them certain emotions that mitigate some behaviours. But, at the same time, it is your assertion that nothing did happen, and therefore, since the facts are in dispute, you will still demand some respect and civility as their father. Is enforcement of such something your wife will support?


#19

There it is. How to define the line. And, harder yet, how to have Mom and Dad agree on the line.

One girl will answer with a yes or no if she has been forced by situations to be with me - like needing a ride somewhere. The other physically turns her head whenever in sight of me and will not answer. They will not eat when forced to be at the dinner table, they will go hungry rather than prepare food in a kitchen where I might be. They will walk WAY around the back of the car if they must ride with me, so as not to come in my line of sight. They will never ask me for permission to do something (this is one that I thought they should do, as when they ask for little permissions, Mom naturally answers, and when they ask for bigger permission, Mom brings the issue to me for discussion, rather than having us all talk about it.)

How do you draw a line that respects their emotions but does not encourage them in their path of division?


#20

The behavior you describe speaks to more trauma than accidentally touching your girls during preadolescent years.

Here’s something I’ve noticed in counseling: girls often attribute their pain and hate towards a stand-in figure.

Have you considered that your girls were abused by someone else, a stranger, care provider, teacher or family member? And now they are using you as the scapegoat?

And have you apologized and sought forgiveness for any perceived accidental touches?


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