I received this note from a female client, which I’d like to share with you (with her permission). I believe what she experienced is so helpful for parents.

These are her words, which I have edited:

Andrea, the most amazing thing just happened. As you know, I’ve been struggling with my oldest boy’s behaviour: so much defiance and backtalk. Its like the little sweet boy I raised has left and this angry, sour boy took his place. His face these days is so dark. He actually scowls and stomps around. I miss my friendly little guy so much!

Today when he was fighting with me about “just reading one more page,” of his book, which he does pretty much every time I say, “It’s time to eat/ go to basketball/ head up for bed,” I snapped. This time I didn’t snap by shouting—I snapped by collapsing onto the floor and sobbing. Like, ugly cry sobbing. I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t say anything.

At first he continued getting his lunch together, but then something remarkable happened. He stopped what he was doing, came beside me, putting his head close to mine and he just held me. We stayed there together for a while—I just couldn’t stop the tears. He quietly held me without moving. When I finally did stop crying, we both got up slowly. I softly said, “Thank you for that.”

He looked at me silently, then said, “Mom, I’m sorry I was mean to you this morning.” This absolutely floored me. I just stared at him.

His warmed lunch was sitting on the table so I whispered, “Would you like some company while you eat?”

“Yes, please,” he said while I got myself a glass of water and joined him.

He was suddenly a changed kid: he smiled and we chatted about the Blue Jays game that we were about to watch. I remembered you telling me that “anger is the icing, and moving through it means getting into the cake of the real feelings.” So I actually mentioned this to him and we talked about how when we are mad, we are probably really sad or scared. I could see his face lighten. Now we’re watching the game and he’s the happy kid I know he can be.


Anger is the icing on the cake and sometimes when we feel overwhelmed and cranky, we just need to let ourselves and our children cry it out. My children and I have had experiences like this mom’s, when in the middle of feeling really mad about a situation, I also feel like crying. I’ve learned that it can help to just let ourselves cry, and let our children see us doing that, and also to support our children when they cry. Dr. Laura Markham has this great quote: “Laughter releases the same tension as tears.” If we can’t laugh our way through it, maybe crying will help.


I encourage you to give yourself the space and permission to cry. Parenting can be really hard some days. I will say, too, that if you are experiencing overwhelming feelings, and crying often, I do recommend you seek the help of a trusted health care practitioner. We are all in this together.