Need help with "misplaced anger"

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by navineja, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. navineja

    navineja New Member

    I am just wondering how those of you with adopted difficult children have dealt with what seems to be misplaced anger toward Mom. N has been very defiant and quick to blow up at me, but can be told the exact same thing by husband and has no problem. I can't help but believe that she is expressing anger at bio-mom. We are using various techniques to calm her when she starts (count to 10, blow out the anger, etc), but I would like some advice on how to help her understand what is going on, why she is so angry, and how to express it without allowing her to be inappropriate with me. I have discussed with her that sometimes kids in her situation get angry over what has happened before and don't realize why they are mad, but I need more help. This is getting worse, to the point that in the last few weeks she has become physically aggressive to me (small stuff but still no fun) and I feel that we really need to get a handle on it before the physical stuff becomes a habit or turns into big stuff. TIA.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    there are a great many moms of adopted kids on the board that would be able to give you some support and suggestions.

    Though I can't help you through personal experience, I do understand that what you are saying and think you are on the right track in finding some answers right now. You don't want the aggression to intensify nor do you want misplaced anger to grow within herself.

    I would think she needs some therapy specifically designed to help adoptees. Hopefully some of our adoptive moms will be along soon to point you to some right directions.

  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wish I knew how to deal with this misplaced anger. I have been dealing with that for almost 17 years now. At the age of six your difficult child doesn't realize that she is taking her anger out on you because she is adopted. I'm not sure my difficult child realizes it at 16. She has been told by therapists that she has been spending her entire life being angry at us (me especially) for adopting her rather than being angry at her birthmother. For years we carefully avoided that topic until finally two years ago when I told her I was tired of her taking out her anger on me and it was not my fault that her birthmother could not parent her and that someday I hoped she would be able to get rid of that anger. I'm not suggesting you say anything like that, I just wanted you to know that I understand and so do many other adoptive moms.

    I have often heard some adoptive mom's say their children do not have adoption issues. That is what this misplaced anger really is. They don't understand that it has anything to do with their adoption but the mom's bear the brunt of it because they don't understand the role the dad has in it at all. My difficult child thought I took her and my husband away from her birthmom.

  4. navineja

    navineja New Member

    I think that I need to add a little more info on why she carries so much anger. It is more than just the fact of not being with bio-mom. L (bio-mom) was involved in the sexual abuse that the girls suffered. To what extent, we are not totally sure, due to the girls being so young when they came, but we do know for sure that L knew of the abuse and did nothing to protect them. She may even have told the girls to submit and possibly was even a perpetrator herself (based on statements that the girls have made). So the anger involves that one who should have protected didn't.
    Hope that this helps somewhat in understanding the situation.
  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    In that case I really do think you need professional help from someone who specializes in this area, like Sharon said.

    Timer lady(Linda) will be along shortly I'm sure to report her experiences in this area.

  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    My daughter had many of the same issues as yours and the anger to go with it. There is nothing I could have said or done to convince her I wasn't at fault. It took a lot of therapy and, sadly, a willingness to take a lot of abuse on my part. I still get some misplaced anger but not like when she was younger.

    As odd as this sounds, the anger was the easiest thing to deal with. At least I could understand it, even if she was angry at the wrong person. She couldn't be angry at her biomom for several reasons -- biomom was a victim, biomom was on a pedestal, biomom wasn't available. I could be yelled at, screamed at, hit -- I was strong, I was human and I was there.

    When she was younger, I would simply restrain her when she became violent. When she got older, I simply told her I would call the police and then did so when necessary. When she hit her mid teens, she raised her hand, I picked up the phone. The hand didn't connect and I didn't dial.

    Our little ones are in so much pain. I would give anything if I could have taken all the abuse and neglect mine suffered and put it on myself. She was an innocent. She had a right to be angry. She just needed to learn how to control it. There is no way she could have gone through the anger issues, etc. without a good therapist.

    If you haven't read it, I recommend "Parenting the Hurt Child" by Keck. It helped me a lot.
  7. navineja

    navineja New Member

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement so far. I will look for that book.
    We do have a wonderful therapist (been going for 3 years now), but I think that some of the best advice comes from those who have personally experienced situations. Their therapist is very helpful, but she is limited in that she has not personally dealt with this in her home. She can and does give good advice, but "being in the trenches" often leads parents to creative and unique ways of dealing with issues that therapists haven't thought of. So keep the ideas coming please!
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Has she been in therapy specific to sexual abuse? Unfortunately, I know first hand that THIS is such a severe issue and you need specialists who understand it to get the right sort of help, adopted or not adopted (I did adopt four kids). If you don't want them to act out the sexual abuse later on, you should probably look into that sort of specific treatment now. I suspect the abuse is a much bigger issue than the birthmother issue, although it's common for kids to be angry at any adult who allows abuse to them to happen, and this is whether they are adopted or not!
  9. navineja

    navineja New Member

    Yes, in fact, that is the main reason that I started taking them to a therapist. I suspected sexual abuse, so I found a center that specializes in sexual abuse treatment of children. We have stayed with them the entire time, with the same therapist (except when she was on maternity leave). The therapist has addressed the abuse issues as well as the ADHD, ODD, and attachment issues as time has gone on.
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Our difficult child is adopted and some of what you are describing is familiar. Much of this was addressed in her therapy. She started this when she was in elementary school and still goes today.
  11. navineja

    navineja New Member

    I guess what I am asking is for some of your ideas and techniques on handling the problem at home. What ways have different ones here used that they have had success with to curb the anger and aggression toward Mom and help little one understand why she is so easily angered by Mom?
  12. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Misplaced anger in some adopted children is the norm. My very traumatized twins were placed with husband & I at the age of 6. We had very little background (much to our surprise & dismay) given to us even though we were assured all background info had been given to us. :grrr:

    Beyond that, the tweedles came to us very hurt, very emotionally battered children. The anger directed at me was & is misplaced!

    The biggest lesson I've learned over the last 7 years is to be proactive instead of reactive to this anger (or any other antic) thrown my way. I've learned to read kt's moods & many of her triggers (that aren't trauma related). When I see kt in a certain mindset I redirect kt.

    Nowadays it's fashion magazines (I keep a few new ones hidden away for this), making earrings or doing our nails. Mostly, doing kt's nails. Makeup lessons, styling hair & fashion shows. Many times our PCAs will take kt to the nearest Goodwill store & kt will spend hours trying on clothes.

    One of kt's favorite ways to self calm (many times I suggest it) is to shower. When she was younger it was taking a long bath with her favorite toys. I also kept a box filled with rice & many types of beans & such. We would put our hands into that box & start sorting the beans. kt loved the sensory feelings & still does. Sometimes, I would pick kt up & start singing & dancing with her - her favorite song was "Dancing Cheek to Cheek". Again, another sensory feeling for her. It was like rocking her (which she resisited) but dancing is okay.

    We had less success with wm with these techniques. He raged & we were seldom able to catch him before he blew. When we could redirect wm, it was outside on the swingset or in the sand box. He loved his bed tent (would spend hours inside it playing with his action figures). He always said he felt safe in his bed tent - I was dismayed when wm outgrew it.

    In the midst of the anger do not react. The best I would/do give kt or wm when they is "thank you for sharing your feelings" & that is said in a very soft voice. Simply for my edification. kt or wm seldom heard anything I had to say. It's difficult to remain stone faced & not react to that level of emotion, however when I did react it just fed into that anger. I let my exhausted spirit for later when in the shower or in the privacy of my bedroom.

    I've learned the above just by hit & miss. The 2 books I used & still do is Parenting with Love & Logic and Parenting the Hurt Child. The Explosive Child is used on my line in the sand items. The 2 Books by Keck (Parenting & Adopting the Hurt Child) offer many ways to connect with your child through sensory ways. I never agreed with restraining or holding therapy for my children because of the level of abuse/trauma they suffered. It would re-traumatize them.

    I hope this helps. It doesn't work every time nor did I expect it to. I can offer you other info on therapy for PTSD & attachment issues/disorder. However, when I came to this board I was well aware of the therapies & was looking for down to earth, common sense things I could use in the home. I was drowning & needed a life jacket. All the therapists gave me was the whys & wherefores - not the day to day survival.

    And having said all that, my children are survivors. We are doing all we can think of to give them a healthy life. I am humbled daily by what they have survived but have to keep my eye on the goal, to look forward not back & to be healthy, law abiding adults & to function to the highest of their capabilities.

    If you made it this far, I'd like to offer one other suggestion. Find time for you - find someone else to take on the anger while you get away if at all possible. I'm blessed to have the service of respite. It has been our one saving grace in this home.

    One more thing....your little one will not understand her anger for quite some time yet. It's just now (the tweedles are 13) that kt & wm are beginning to process this anger, the abuse they have survived. I think that it's just too much for a young one to take in or understand at the age of 6.