Anger is an emotion that most of us have to deal with from time to time especially when our tweens and teens push our hot buttons. Typically when this happens our real desire is to just make the situation go away. “Why did you do that? How dare you speak to me that way! You are so in trouble, young man”, are all retorts to get out kid’s attention in the moment.
When our emotions are out of control our voice will escalate and a scowl will become our facial expression to let our teen know that they’ve crossed a line. In reality, the stance sometimes with hands on hips tells our teen we mean business. It is actually our attempt to control the situation we find ourselves in.
These type of responses are in essence a way of self-protection hoping to fix the problem that’s been thrust upon us. The truth is that some type of fear or feeling of not being in control has been triggered.
But the important question is “what message are we sending to our teens”?
When we get angry we are communicating to our teen that the problem or issue is more important than our relationship.
Many times our anger becomes a rant where our teens stop listening and begin planning their counter attack. If we escalate often, we’ve most likely lost them as soon as we raise our voice. Now the situation is about us and not them.
Anger is a natural response when we feel our teens are pushing the limits outside of our desires, but it isn’t the anger that is the problem as much as our lack of control of the anger.
Feelings are a natural God-given way to self-preserve. But do we exercise them in a way that puts our desires or need to control before the relationship?
Here’s what I mean by that. Perhaps the next time you find yourself yelling at your teen, try this.
Let’s assume Ralph has really upset you and you catch yourself yelling at him or maybe he says something like “Mom, you don’t have to get so upset.”
- Pause. Whisper a quick prayer–maybe just the words “help me, Lord”.
- Say something like “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be yelling at you like this. “
- Then in a calm controlled voice say “As you can tell, I’m really angry about this, but our relationship is more important. Let me start over.”
- Begin again in a calmer voice without blame and accusation. Something like “I noticed you didn’t ___________, and I’m sure you have a good explanation (giving them the benefit of the doubt). I’d like you to help me understand.”
because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
All of us have different levels of maturity in our ability to control our emotions. How we interact and respond to our kids is not only ingrained in us but has the potential to become part of who they are. It not only becomes ingrained in them but is seen as acceptable behavior as they interact with others.
I had a Christian mom who used to come to me after an altercation with her kids and laugh as she told me how she had “yelled” at her kids for something they did. There was no remorse on her part because she saw it as a normal parenting response. How sad.
If we want relationship with our kids in the future, we need to become more aware of our own parenting behaviors that are triggered by fear.
Dare you to let you tweens and teens know that you recognize this wrong behavior in your life and ask them to hold you accountable. Maybe they can give you a signal when they see your emotions starting to escalate. By doing so, you’ll forge a relationship that says we’re on the same team and anger won’t be controlling your home.
“Let go…and let God”,
Most of us have never paused long enough in our parenting to assess how we’re really doing. We’re busy reacting to the hustle and bustle that comes with the tween and teen years rather than looking at the legacy we want to have continue for generations to come. Working through With All Due Respect will give you perspective on where you are in the journey.
Why not grab a few friends and go through the book together?