In my last blog, I advised parents against beginning a confrontation with their child or adolescent in anger. Parents ask, “Does that mean I shouldn’t get mad at my child?” Not at all – you’re human, and that means you will most definitely get angry. It’s natural in every relationship to feel angry from time to time.
How we handle these hostile feelings is what builds or corrodes a relationship. Remembering that modeling is one of the strongest teachers means that how we model handling our anger can either promote or retard our parent-child relationship. It can do the same to our child’s development of responsibility for her own behavior.
We need to evaluate how we behave when we’re angry? Do we yell, make judgmental statements about our child, refuse to talk with our child, issue punishments haphazardly, ridicule, name call…?
Sometimes we have to postpone a discussion until we’ve calmed down. This was the case between one of my daughters and me when she “borrowed” my new car after I had told her she couldn’t. Wait, there’s more. As she attempted to back out of the driveway, she mistakenly put the gear in forward and slammed into the garage door. Then she consoled me with the information that this accident was no big deal because no one was hurt, and we had insurance.
Oh my, was I mad! I couldn’t even talk with her, so I told her I was angry, and I said it through clenched teeth, “I am so angry right now, there’s no way I can talk with you until I calm myself down.” And I walked away.
The next day we talked, and we worked through the incident. It took her a long time to pay off the deductible, and in the process she learned a great deal about life and insurance.
Yes, anger is natural, but let’s always be asking ourselves, “What is my own behavior teaching my kids about how to handle their anger?” and “Is that what I want them to be learning?”