How Did I Become So Angry?

Angry father

With more patience than most people, I never imagined anger getting the best of me.


After all, I wasn’t naïve. I knew parenting children with special needs was a 24/7 responsibility, in addition to my day job.

I’d also been thoroughly trained. I’d read everything possible to increase my understanding. And I had support.

Every now & then, however, the task was more than I could bear.

One night I reached my breaking point. After each of my children was fast asleep, I drove off – not sure I wanted to return. Well, I didn’t get very far – stopping just around the corner. Upon collecting my thoughts in the quiet darkness, I found the energy 30 minutes later to try again.

Holding onto my deep faith.

Remembering the importance of hope.

For months on end, I constantly reminded myself. Separate the children from their mental health conditions. Love them nonetheless.

That approach worked well initially yet over time lost some of its effectiveness. Many nights I dreamed of living with my family in the middle of nowhere – with few individuals to complicate our lives.

Because fighting for my children’s care everyday had grown exhausting. Emotional draining.

Although we were blessed with support from a handful of family members, a couple of neighbors, a few church friends, half a dozen teachers and one mental health professional, a greater number of individuals became adversaries – practically enemies.

Some simply didn’t get it.

Worse yet, they were quick to judge my children – and quicker to question me relentlessly. Never fully listening. Just casting blame. Some in my face. Others talking behind my back.

How easy. Problem solved. It’s the parent’s fault – not a brain disorder that requires intense collaboration from all sides.


Yes, the hours I spent educating others certainly helped the dilemma. But sadly those same efforts often fell on deaf ears, even though I knew my children best.

Some didn’t want to get it – no matter the level of my diplomacy.

Their ignorance, coupled with denial, affected me personally – with three people from different professions being the worst. Now I wasn’t sure whom to trust. What should I share about my children’s challenges? Am I telling too much? Could my words be used against me?

Raw emotions. Real life – not my imagination.

no-outletLike my children who had been traumatized early in life, the overwhelming stress eventually hit me. Not quite the same PTSD which rocked my oldest son’s and only daughter’s worlds, but an instant uneasiness that erupted within me two or three times a week – as I waited for the other shoe to drop.

Constantly fighting battles on the front line can consume anyone. And the symptoms of secondary trauma are nothing for a parent to take lightly.

I finally made a conscious choice.

Whenever possible, I would avoid contact with anyone who could marginalize me. Instead, I would surround myself with people who embraced my family and me.

I call it self-care around the clock.

That meant leaving our church. That meant identifying new mental health providers. That meant choosing different schools. That meant limiting time with certain family members. That meant discovering a new group of friends.

This new mentality was the only way to survive.

My only regret was waiting so long.  

What about you?  DCP


Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

To follow Craig’s progress in writing a book about raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

To follow his son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page. Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold


10 thoughts on “How Did I Become So Angry?

  1. So on the mark! These people, the interlopers they are, are harder to deal with than our daughter. Unfortunately most of them are family – hard to separate from them.

  2. Wow you hit the nail right on the head so many times .

    I am right there with you I to have adopted 6 special needs and yes I too am so angry I don’t recognise myself at times.

    Must like life on the edge because I am still here and still standing

  3. This is spot on – thanks for writing. So many either don’t get our kids or want to steer clear because of our kids – either way, its frustrating and lonely and only adds to the incredible challenge we as parents already face.

  4. My husband & I understand this. Our church slowly understood. The kids had volunteer jobs with the special needs kids more affected than they are. Some adults understood. Sadly, all of them are so busy, getting together is very hard. Husband & I have tried to manage the stress on our own but we can’t. Both of us are on meds for it too. Our kids are Easter Seals of Michigan child ambassadors this year. It’s fun but I hear comments about how the kids don’t look like they have any problems… No, they don’t use a wheel chair or crutches. I explain they have ‘invisible disabilities’. They experienced childhood trauma. I think husband & I are now experiencing adult adoption trauma. FAS, autism, ADHD, PTSD, extreme anxiety, depression, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and other diagnoses have taken their toll on us as well as the kids. Overall, it has made me more compassionate…when I am out & about & have had my meds! It isn’t the life I thought I would have but it is a good life & it’s what God blessed me with.

  5. Story abut may grandson Rocco was taken improperly fromDCF,from known them give the adoption to may ex husband when I divorce him for Domestic Valiance. I not things is the best for may grandson what I not get him,see him them not let me see hem seed over 2year way may ex husband not like he come to may home o me see hem he said Rocco never well come to my house way because the is problems visitation which the mom, me, he’s brother s ,sisters, Rocco not see them he can’t not have he’s dog pepe I have the dog please help me on this thanks

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