Bad things happen to all parents on occasion. Some parents are
able to release emotions easily. Others find they are holding
onto feelings such as anger. When these unexpressed feelings
build up, they become resentment.

So much has been written and said about anger that sometimes
a parent may feel it is never okay to be angry. The truth is that
anger is a natural emotion. It is normal to feel angry sometimes.
It is also okay to express your anger. Expressing your anger at
the right time and in the right ways will prevent you from feeling
resentment. Resentment does not hurt the people you are
angry at. It only hurts you and those who care about you.
Letting resentment build up can eventually affect your physical
health. And it always affects your emotional health!

Expressing anger in the right way helps avoid feelings of
resentment. Here are some simple rules that will help:

  • address the current situation, not the whole history of
  • do not criticize or insult your child, even though the
    temptation exists when you're full of rage
  • never smack your child to express your anger, no matter
    what the cause
  • try to come up with helpful suggestions for the future
  • try to deal with your anger as soon as it is appropriate
  • express your anger in terms of how you feel

Suppose you made a mistake at work. One coworker might say:
You're stupid. You never do anything right. I hate you. You
always do this. You don't care about me. You'll never change.

Another coworker might say: "
I felt uneasy when you did it that
way. I'd feel better if we did it this way next time. I know that
we can work together to fix this problem.

Which would you rather hear?

What causes the unhappiness that underlies resentment?

Resentment is a mental process. With resentment, we
repeatedly replay a feeling - and the events leading up to that
feeling - that angers us. With resentment, we re-experience and
re-live events in ways that affect us mentally, emotionally,
physiologically and spiritually in destructive ways. For example:

  • What we feel our "problem child" did to us that was
    unnecessarily mean, hurtful, and thoughtless

  • What our child did not do for us that we feel he/she
    should have done

Here are some steps to letting go of resentment:

1. Approach resentment as the addictive state of mind it is.

2. Examine how your resentment may come from mentally
confusing people in your present life with people in your past.

3. Acknowledge that you cannot control those who have hurt

4. Recognize that your resentment only gives you illusions of
control and strength. Instead, highlight and validate your
strength and power.

5. Learn to identify the signals that provoke resentment.

6. Practice cognitive behavioral techniques to stop indulging in
resentment. Put a distracting thought or activity between your
feelings of resentment and indulging in ruminating about them.

7. Acknowledge your part in allowing the abuse to occur, forgive
yourself for that, and make a decision to not let it occur again.

8. Declare an amnesty - with your out-of-control child and with

9. Forgive when you can, and practice willful and deliberate
forgetfulness when you cannot, keeping in mind that these acts
are gifts to yourself rather than capitulation to your child.

Forgiveness Defined--

The fundamental misunderstanding of forgiveness is that we
think that forgiveness is something we do for our out-of-control
kids because we are superior to them or self-sacrificing and
magnanimous. We believe our kids have done us harm, but we,
being the morally superior one, the wiser one, and in our
magnanimous generosity, forgive them.

Forgiveness is not for the other person – it’s for you! We can
find the truth of this in the meaning of the word ‘resentment.’
Resentment means to feel again. As long as we hold resentment
we are feeling that hurt again and again and it keeps us from
living, growing and understanding. It puts a damper on our lives.
It saps our energy and clouds our perceptions.

The first time your child hurt you in some manner, it was his/her
responsibility and burden, but every time you allow that hurt to
come into your soul after that, you bear the responsibility and
burden for it.

Resentment is a knife one wields by the blade. Forgiveness is a
way for one to go on with one’s life and to avoid having that
other person’s wrong-doing on your mind, robbing you of
energy, robbing you of happiness, and continuing to yield the
same amount of hurt over and over again.

Forgiveness means that you have healed the hurt your child
inflicted on you; that it is no longer commandeering your
happiness; that you have taken back your power by
understanding the flawed humanity of your child and let him/her
go from your heart and open yourself to wishing him/her well.

The choice is yours—to forgive effortlessly and easily when you
decide your peace of mind is more important than holding anger
and resentment. You can forgive immediately or later and
effortlessly and easily. Just do it. You deserve to live a healthier
life with peace of mind.
Letting Go of Resentment --
Instructional Video #13
Ask The Parent Coach—


Assignment #1 requires me to tell my child that I love her.
I used to do this every day, but can't do it now because it's
no longer true. I can't stand her. If I can't do this, is it worth
me going on with the rest of the exercises (you said "no
half measures")?



Hi D.,

What we’re talking about here is resentment. This is not
uncommon (i.e., parents not liking their out-of-control
children). In fact, I often have parents tell me (in my roll
as a probation officer) that they simply want their kid out
of the house (e.g.,
“Just get him out …take him and lock
him up!

I don’t think you hate your daughter – I think you hate her
behavior. In any event, if you cannot bring yourself to say
“I love you,” it is not going make a big difference in your
ability to effectively work the program.

The larger issue is resentment, which WILL get in the
way of successfully working the program. You’ll need to
work on that, and the best time is now!

Resentment will make it nearly impossible to stay
objective throughout the four-week program. And without
objectivity, you run the risk of getting emotionally tangled-
up in the day-to-day conflict that must be weathered with
a poker face.

Forgiveness is the cure for resentment. Let’s talk about
that for a minute:

In order to let go of resentment, we must first forgive!


  • is a way to let go of resentment.
  • means letting go of the past.
  • is for you, not your out-of-control child.  
  • is a gift you give yourself.
  • lets you get on with your life.
  • takes time. Maybe you’re not able to forgive yet.  
    Perhaps the pain is too fresh.  You don’t have to
  • is a process.  It doesn’t happen 100% overnight.
  • allows you to feel better about you.
  • is a choice.  It’s not something you do because
    you “should” forgive, or because someone tells
    you to.
  • allows you to heal old wounds so you can get on
    with the really important things in life.
  • gets you un-stuck.

Forgiveness does NOT mean:

  • forgetting.  You need to remember what
    happened so you can protect yourself.  
  • you’re letting anyone off the hook (except yourself).
  • you have to tell your out-of-control child that you
    have forgiven her.
  • you have to trust her again.  Trust is earned.  She
    will have to earn your trust back before you can
    trust her again.
  • you’re saying to the out-of-control child, “What you
    do and say to me is O.K."
  • you’re trying to alleviate her feelings of guilt.
  • you’re trying to make that out-of-control child feel
    better about herself.
  • you’re trying to make her feel better about you.

You will need to forgive yourself too. We can't  forgive
others until we forgive ourselves.

I offer you this exercise in forgiveness. With your hand on
your heart, take a deep breath and affirm:

“I completely forgive my child.  I know I have done the
best I could given the circumstances. If I had been in a
different state of mind, or if I had more information when
my child started acting out, I probably would have
parented her differently…

…I ask God to help me reach the place of forgiveness for
myself and for my child.  I love and accept myself with all
of my problems and perceived limitations. I am letting go
of resentment.  I am now able to replace it with
forgiveness and hope.”

Here is an email from one of the parents who read My Out-Of-Control Teen eBook:

“It hurt to accept that I made some significant parenting mistakes. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, foolish and guilty. But these feelings did not help me with my kid. Without beating up on myself, I had to admit my mistakes, accept them, and respond to them. This was difficult. I had to do this, both in my head, and in my gut…

…It was much harder to accept responsibility for my parenting mistakes than it was to merely admit to them. It was even harder to find an appropriate way to respond, which was to make amends for my mistakes. I could not just pick things up as they were, pretending that the mistakes did not happen. They did! I realized that there is no such a thing in life as a quick fix. I wanted to fix things up quickly. But I knew that was really a bit of trying to pretend that the mistakes did not happen and that my children were not hurt by some of my poor parenting choices.

I am committed to following the strategies in the parenting ebook. I have forgiven myself, and I have forgiven my child. We are starting over – and things are slowly, but surely, improving.”

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