“Anger destroys the vessel that carries it.” ~ Dr. James Sutton, child and adolescent psychologist
This is an excellent article by Dr. James Sutton on how parents’ anger at their teenage children can markedly affect the quality of their relationship. I know there are a few parents out there who might benefit from reading it (smile).
“Managing Anger (OURS)”
Often, the difficulties that come between parents and their defiant children can be reduced by the parents if they will make the effort. One of these difficulties is anger, an emotion that throws up more road blocks to relationships than any other entity.
I receive a lot of email from parents. Anger at their children is a common theme. I’ve also seen it in my office. Anger is extremely counterproductive to the process of healing and the re-establishment of a working relationship. Anger verifies and often “feeds” defiant behavior, making it worse.
I understand the anger; I can identify with it as a parent. But anger is like a huge tree that has fallen onto a railroad track. It’s going to stop trains in both directions. All progress comes to a halt until someone gets the tree off the track.
Who’s going to move the tree? You can wait on your defiant youngster to move it. (Good luck on that one.)
Psychologist Dr. Hew Len teaches about “limits” that exist between individuals and serve to choke out the relationship. (Limits, and how to manage them, is a central theme in my new book, The Changing Behavior Book.) Staying angry is one huge limit. Here are three components of resolving anger (and other limits as well) I compiled after learning of Dr. Hew Len’s work:
- True peace and change begin with me. Anger ultimately destroys the vessel that carries it. Although anger has short-term benefits, it produces devastating long-term pain and difficulty. No one should wait for others to ease their anger.
- I cannot pass off in blame what is my responsibility to change. This takes a ton of courage and self-examination, but it’s so powerful.
- I must clear away (clean) the limits that exist between me and others. In other words, it takes more than recognizing the limits are there and that I created many of them; I must take the active step to remove as many of them as I can.
Reference: Vitale, J., Hew Len, I., Zero limits. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.
As a child and adolescent psychologist and former Special Education teacher, Dr. James Sutton has great compassion for young people, especially those who struggle. He is in demand for his expertise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters and his skill for speaking, writing and training on this subject. His monthly publication, the ODD Management Digest, is available at no cost through his website, www.DocSpeak.com.