What to Do if You're an Abusive Parent & You Know It

headacheEvery time we come across another tragic story of child abuse, I think the same thing: This parent must have been in crisis. Yes, there are parents who are careless, irresponsible, selfish. But there are also parents who feel helpless and out of control, and they don't know where to turn. One parent reached out to the Reddit community with a desperate plea for help. She feels like she's emotionally abusive to her daughter. She wants to stop, but she doesn't know how


My daughter is 7. I love her dearly but I am a bad mother. I yell at her sometimes and am not patient all the time. I have guilt tripped her when she hasn't done what I asked her to. I am super controlling and I nit pick her. My behavior is out of control. She is a good smart kid but my shitty parenting has made her quite anxious. I feel like I confuse her because most times I am very nice and loving but sometimes I just... I don't even know... I am in therapy and have started medications to help too but how can I repair what years of this has done to her.

It's hard enough to find support and resources for an emotionally disturbed child. What if you're the one who's out of control? Getting therapy and possibly going on meds will help. But besides that, where do you turn? What are your resources?

Local Support Groups: In many communities you'll find support groups for parents. In Brooklyn, for example, there's Parents Helping Parents and The Family Center. Your therapist or your child's pediatrician may know of some in your area. Or check your school bulletin boards or your YMCA or even church groups.

Cognative Behavioral Therapy: There are different kinds of therapy. Most therapists do a combination of techniques. But one in particular focuses on changing your behavior -- cognitive behavioral therapy. Most of the time, this therapy goes beyond talking (because you already know what you're doing is wrong) and delving into your past and focuses more on your triggers and doing the active work of change. 

Meditation: It's hard to find the time! But meditation is an exercise you do every day that helps you cope better with your life when you're NOT meditating. You can try it out with the app Headspace, which starts you on short, 10-minute daily meditation sessions. And I recommend the books of Pema Chodron

Be honest with your child: You don't need to get into detail and burden your child with too much information. But your child should know that they are not the one at fault. You have a problem, and you are working on it. Most of all, you love them. 

Do you know of other resources and support for parents who feel out of control?


Image via Sarah/Flickr

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