Thursday, May 21, 2015


For the next few weeks I will also be using this blog to post about family subjects for one of my classes.

How does anger help our children to develop? That is something that has been on my mind this week as I was doing my school readings. We read about the different parenting styles and their successes and downfalls. Each one had downfalls. Anger was referenced often. So, I thought about it. I thought through the reasons that I usually see parents get upset and it came to two basic conclusions. [These aren't from a textbook, just my brain...roll with me]

Scenario #1: While eating diner, 3 year old Jimmy begins to kick the table leg with his foot. "Jimmy, stop kicking the table, we are eating dinner." The mother says. Jimmy stops for a minute or two and then, loosing focus begins again to kick the table. "Jimmy, I don't like it when you kick the table, please stop." Little Jimmy stops, but only momentarily..."JIMMY if I have to ask you one more time..." The kicking doesn't stop this time. "OKAY, That's IT!" *grabs at leg, maybe a little harder than intended.

The frustration isn't necessarily at the table being kicked, thought initially it might have been. When was the last time you had a disagreement where you ended up in tears and the reason you were in tears actually had nothing to do with why the disagreement started? (I'm so tired of you coming home late from forward....*crying* I just feel like you don't care about me like you used to) Is fighting with Jimmy for kicking the table any different? If Jimmy burst into tears, said "Im sorry mommy, I hope you still love me" and then ran to his bedroom, the mother would sigh, take a deep breath, and then go and find Jimmy. When she found him in his room, she would apologize for getting angry and say that she was upset because he didn't listen but she overreacted because she had had a hard day. Notice that none of her reasons had to do with Jimmy kicking the table. Mom was poised and ready to pounce because she hadn't finished the laundry and the neighbor had tracked mud into the entryway. Jimmy just triggered the lioness--he didn't cause it. It has nothing to do with the table.  

Scenario #2: While at a family gathering, Sue begins to steal cookies from the plate. Grandma notices and asks her to stop. Dad sees Grandma ask his child to stop doing something and feels a little embarrassed, but doesn't think much of it. Again, he sees Sue go towards the cookie plate and Great Aunt Mirna shakes her head and says no to Sue. Sue makes a face at Aunt Mirna. Dad, who is hoping Aunt Mirna doesn't say anything to him about that later, shakes off incident #2. A few minutes later, once again he sees Sue going for the cookie plate. He clears his throat loudly, so Grandma and Great Aunt Mirna can see him take charge. He says "Sue. That is enough. If you touch that plate one more time, you will get no dessert. Period." Sue smirks, grabs a cookie and shoves it in her mouth. With everyone watching, Dad says "SUE! No dessert for you! And since you were snotty, you will go sit in the corner until dinner is over, do you understand?" Sue giggles and goes over to the playroom with the other cousins. Angrily now, Dad picks Sue up and takes her to another room, where loud voices and lots of crying is overheard.

Why is Dad angry in scenario #2? Is it because he just can't believe that 5 year old Sue took another cookie? No. It is because he could not believe Sue would disrespect him in front of everyone. He was embarrassed. Notice that Sue didn't even disobey him. He said if she touched the plate, she couldn't have dessert. Maybe her decision was to eat a cookie right then and not have any later--that was the Dad's fault. Not hers. 

The main reasons I have seen parents "loose their cool" are when 1. The child triggers previous frustrations 2. Embarrassment and 3. The commonality between both examples, the parent feels like they are loosing control in the situation. 

As President Brigham Young puts it: "I have seen more parents who were unable to control themselves than I ever saw who were unable to control their children." 

Might I make clear that it is okay to not be calm all the time. We are human beings and sometimes we get angry. That does not by any means mean that we aren't good parents. It actually provides wonderful teaching moments to say to our kids "Hey, sometimes I get upset. Sometimes you get upset. But that doesn't mean we love each other any less."

But, to sum this all up: Im not even a parent, so what do I know!

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