Book recommendation for father-to-be with anger management issues from childhood

My husband and I are expecting. We have discussed child-raising and agree that we want to be understanding parents who do not hit or hurt our children. My husband, though, has a short fuse and loses his temper easily. I am worried about how he will control his temper to deal with children well. He had parents who were not there for him and basically raised himself. He is completely opposed to the idea of therapy. Do you have recommendations on any books he could read to try to resolve some of his childhood issues?

thanks! - Mom2Be

Dear Mom2Be,
How wise of you to be thinking about this issue now, and talking with your husband about the kind of parents you want to be.

The book I would recommend is: Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel & Mary Hartzell. This book "explores the extent to which our childhood experiences actually do shape the way that we parent. Drawing upon stunning new findings in neurobiology and attachment research, they explain how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of the brain, and offer parents a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of their own life stories that will help them raise compassionate and resilient children."

Another great book to help your husband understand why his ability to deal with emotions (his own and his child's) is so important is Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by Dr.John Gottman. Gottman is one of my heroes, and this book is particularly valuable in helping fathers see what a critical role they play in their kids' emotional development. Gottman focuses on how dads can be good parents, rather than on helping them process their emotional issues, but I think any parent who reads this book will find their parenting transformed.

Used copies of both of these books are available online. Also, here's a reference to an article about Dr. John Gottman's ideas that you and your husband might want to read, written by one of his colleagues, Dr. Carolyn Pirak. An excerpt from the article:

“Fathers are probably the most important predictors of emotional development for sons and daughters,” says Gottman, whose own research reinforces what most dads already know to be true: Dads have a pivotal role in their children's lives. Gottman's research shows that when dads act as an emotion coach, by valuing and encouraging emotions, children do better in school, handle moods better and recover from emotional events faster. According to Gottman and others, these positive outcomes are a result of a father's comfort with a child experiencing and expressing emotions..."

Finally, this website, AhaParenting.com, has a lot of articles that will be helpful to you and your husband, including How to Handle Your Own Anger, and For Parents: Healing Yourself, that you might want to print out for your husband. My book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting is now for sale as well. It contains some information from the website as well as new guidance about raising happy, healthy children.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, and I wish you, your husband and baby every blessing.
Dr. Laura

Hi- I wanted to respond to your post. I am a mother of a 6 year old and a 19 month old. I have anger management issues. I was physically abused by my father up until the age of 18. Please encourage your husband to get some help. You need a lot of patience with children. You have to learn to appropriately deal with your anger or else you can devastate your children, I don't just mean physically, but also emotionally,which can cause them problems later in THEIR lives. I have read tons of self help books on my issues, and have gotten therapy. I have a wonderful supportive husband also. But, if your husband does have a anger problem he needs to address it for your child and for your marriage and for HIMSELF. It is critical that you and your husband model good behavior and appropriate stress handling techniques for your child. They watch and pick up every move you make. Best of luck to you and your family.
-- Julie

Julie-
I just want to say thank you for writing and supporting Mom2Be. It takes a lot of courage to face the abuse from your own father and work through it. You have my admiration for going to therapy and doing this hard emotional work.

You are so right that children take enormous patience, and that we can devastate them with our anger if we don't manage it. Your kids are lucky to have you as their mom!
Dr. Laura

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