Abby: Frustrated mom takes out her anger on her kids

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I am the mother of four. My children are wonderful, but they really don’t listen. Instead of sitting down and talking to them, I scream and call them names. Then, after they go to sleep, I feel extremely guilty.

My 12-year-old girl struggles in school. I have tried to be calm and help her. But I become easily frustrated and give up. Then I start to scream and tell her she’ll never get it.

I’m afraid I am damaging my child in the long run. How can I control my anger so I can help her succeed?

Angry in El Paso

Dear Angry: While both involve anger, you are really asking me about separate issues. Let me first respond to the second one, your inability to help your 12-year-old academically.

As you may already know, not all people absorb information the same way. Some of us are visual learners, others are auditory learners, and some may have a learning disability that requires help from a trained professional. Your daughter may be one of these.

I’m willing to bet that when you scream at her, you are really screaming at yourself because of your frustration at being unable to get through to her. I have a booklet that may help you calm yourself before you get angry with your children. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus a check or money order for $7 in U.S. funds, to Dear Abby — Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

Most adults learn from childhood how to manage their anger. However, it is equally important to learn to express anger in ways that are not destructive. Being in touch enough with your emotions that you can say, “When you do that (or say that), it makes me angry,” can help you calm yourself before you explode, and it will also earn you the respect of others.

Dear Abby: I have two brothers and two sisters. We all earned a modest but comfortable living and made plans for our retirement — except for one. He blew his money on cars, vacations and gambling. He retired as early as possible, and because of it he doesn’t get much Social Security. Now he’s broke.

He thinks one of us should take him in and complains that we are a “bad family” because no one has offered to let him live with us. None of our retirement plans were made with provisions for him. He is selfish, irritating and untrustworthy. I don’t want to spend my retirement being miserable. What do I do?

Retired in Chicago

Dear Retired: If taking your irresponsible brother in would ensure your retirement would be miserable, you shouldn’t do it. Your brother lived his life the way he wanted, without consideration for consequences. If his retirement plan was gambling you and your siblings would support him for his poor choices, it appears he has lost that bet, too. As a kindness, direct your brother to resources for low-income seniors.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.