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Child-Induced Parental Madness

October 29, 2013

So you are normally a calm, patient, and loving parent.  The day-to-day stresses of parenthood typically roll off your shoulders.  Then one day, your precious little girl, not yet 3 years old, bats her eyes at you, giggles, and literally hops away.  “Hop, Hop, Hop” she says merrily as she bounces out of the kitchen.  It’s the kind of thing a grandparent would melt over, an aunt would swoon for, and would generally cause people to declare “she is so cute!”

You on the other hand, fly into a rage.  You abruptly stand up, every motion you make exuding anger, and you chase down the merry toddler. You grab her, you yell “I AM DONE TELLING YOU TO EAT YOUR DAMN DINNER!!!!!”  You hit every D like a blacksmith flattening a sword.  You roughly put the child into a chair, declare loudly that she is in time out, and stomp away righteously, even while she calls to you through a vale of tears, “Daddy! Come Back.  Nooooo.  I sorry!!!”

Back into the kitchen you go, declaring to the remainder of the family that, “I am done with this not eating dinner bullshit! I’m sick and tired of it.  She can stay in that chair all damn night for all I care.”  Then you angrily thrust your fork into your food, and masticate it with all the fury you can muster.

Later, after she’s finally eaten, she sits happily upon your lap. She showers you with affection, handing out hugs and kisses, and sweetly declaring “I love you Daddy!” At that moment you think back to the maniac that just tore this precious little girl 2 new assholes and wonder…”WTF!  Seriously.  What…the…fuck?”  How could you possibly have lost your mind so completely with this tiny little person who worships you and brings you so much joy.  What is this evil that lives within?

The evil is called: Child-Induced Parental Madness…and it happens to most, if not all parents.  And its…OK.

What is Child-Induce Parental Madness (CIPM)?
There is the normal parenting mode which consists of various levels of discipline, maybe some yelling, and for some maybe some spanking.  This is all well and good as typically the parent is in complete control.

When the madness creeps in, however, control is lost to various degrees.  The parent gets angry and finds themselves justifying any number of actions that they normally wouldn’t undertake.  This can range from just raising your voice, to screaming, to locking your child in their room and declaring they will stay there until they go to college!

Once the madness subsides you typically find yourself thinking “who was that crazy person?”  There is also guilt.

What causes CIPM?
For me, its almost always time or obstruction.  I have something I really want to get done, the kids are preventing me from getting it done at every turn, then I realize time is running out, then the do that one last thing which sends me over the edge.  BOOM, madness.  Next thing I know I am trying to intimidate my children with evil glares, terrible tones, and even hurtful words. (I never hit).

For others it could be the shear inanity of children.  “I asked you TWENTY TIMES to put those Legos away! It takes 2 minutes.  You would have been done 20 minutes ago if you would JUST FREAKING DO IT ALREADY!!!!”  Then you would find yourself angrily slamming the legos into their box while the child bawls for forgiveness.  Then, you step on of those Legos, and after yelping in pain you angrily declare: “THAT’S IT.  I’ve had enough!  No more Legos for you until you hit puberty and if you say so much as ONE MORE WORD, they are going RIGHT in the trash!!!!”

Am I terrible horrible person for falling prey to CIPM?
I hope not, because by extension, many of us are terrible.  As long as the bouts of CIPM are infrequent and not the defacto standard way of dealing with your anger and their misbehavior.

One thing that should not happen during a bout of CIPM is hitting your children.  You should never hit your child out of anger.  Even those who are pro-spanking should have that rule.  I refuse to spank, so that never comes into the realm of possibility when I am having a freakout. I can easily imagine how someone who regularly uses spanking going overboard in a CIPM situation.

How do I avoid CIPM?

If I knew…I wouldn’t have forced my daughter to take a bite of her spaghetti before I’d give her a bandaid for the scratch she’d gotten when I accidentally closed the door over the top of her hand.

I do know my #1 trigger and that is trying to do something for myself and being blocked by children shenanigans.  Therefore, I try really hard to keep my expectations in line and try to do the stuff I want after they are in bed (like writing this blog post).

That being said, I believe that Child-Induced Parental Madness is just part of being a parent.  It’s embarrassing, it’s awful, and if done too often it can damage your relationship with your children…but we are just people after all and we can’t be perfect.

Am I alone?
I’ve done some relatively mean things when in the throws of madness, as is evidenced above.  Please tell me I am not alone!

I can’t be the only one to physically flop my kids in their beds, angrily stomp out of their rooms, while yelling back “I am DONE with the both of you today!”  Or send my stubborn toddler to bed without eating because I had that fight 50 too many times that week, just to have him throw up the next morning from eating too fast.  Or be completely numb to the cries of their forlorn children who just realized how bad they just screwed up and want nothing more than to make it better, but who can’t because their father just stormed out of their room.

All of these things may make it sound like I am a horrible person, but please realize that I rarely fall victim to CIPM.  Most episodes are short (a few minutes), relatively mild and probably happen once a quarter.  Most of the time we discipline via time outs with little emotion.  I am normally very patient.

I wrote this because I suspect this happens to a lot of us but its not something that gets talked about.  I am hoping we can talk about it, so we can better understand it, and hopefully avoid it as much as humanly possible.



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  1. You are not alone. You are most definitely not alone.

    My five year old can be soooooooooooooooo frustrating. And, like you, like most most people, I have the least patience when I need it the most. I am proud of myself when I can calmly tell her to go to timeout. It’s as much a timeout for me as for her. We both get to breathe a little.

    Great, funny, true post. We have ALL been there.

    • Thanks for sharing, I am very glad I am not alone. I feel like crap every time I do it, but after talking about it with a few other bloggers and realizing we all do it, I felt slightly better. I also found myself having more patience after getting that down on paper, sort of forcing myself to look at it. May you go CIPM free at least through Christmas!

  2. Crystal permalink

    You aren’t alone. Both my husband and I fall victim all too often. Our middle son has tested our patience a lot. In fact, I’d be lying if I didn’t say this has been the most difficult time of my life. I also would be lying if I said I didn’t end the majority of my days in tears on the floor. He is stubborn, violent, spent a good 2 years painting his room brown no matter the duct tape or backwards jammies. He’s destroyed so much of our things, every toy he gets is destroyed quickly. He bolts so our doors have several locks on each one.. and forget me going out alone with him for he will bolt or will throw the worst tantrum that I can’t deal with. I’ve felt like a prisoner in this parenting thing. The past 6 months have been better. But I thought school would help him (social time and structure), but he was expelled 3 weeks in to jk. Now, we are trying to sell our house and the stress is over the roof with all of us and we are all at each other’s throats per se. It’s awful. I never pictured parenting being this awful. I have an older boy and a younger girl who are worlds easier to parent. I don’t like CIPM for a moment and it ALWAYS carries an enormous amount of guilt with each blow up. I wish I could figure out a way to not go there at all…

    • Crystal, that sounds absolutely exhausting. With that kind of constant stress and worry, I can only imagine how difficult it would be to avoid CIPM. I imagine it bleeds over to the other kids as well, which would add to the guilt, not to mention the guilt over frequently being made at your middle child. And here I complain because my daughter won’t eat her dinner, hearing what you are going through really puts that into perspective.

      For my trivial frustrations I have found that taking one of the three kids out to do something special (even if its just going to the toy store to look at the toys) helps me reconnect with them as little people which seems to help me combat those moments of lost control. That and the occasional date night with my wife, but I imagine that has to be very difficult in your situation.

      My dad’s girlfriend’s son’s girlfriend’s son” (lol, sounds ridiculous but its true) exhibited that sort of behavior. He wasn’t allowed to go out to recess because he would bully all the other kids, would hit his mom, and other awful things. I just talked to my dad this week about it and apparenlty they finally put him on medication (riddilin) and he’s apparently improved enough that he wasn’t kicked out of school.

      I truly wish you luck and hope you and your husband find a way to help your son and good luck on selling your house.

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