Technically, no one can “make” you angry unless you give them that right. While it may seem as though the actions of another person are “making you angry”, in actuality it is your set of experiences, emotions, beliefs, and ideals that cause you to get angry. For instance, one person may become angry at being cut off while driving while another person may not even notice the action. The difference between the two people is one person took the action as a personal offense while the other person did not. The person cutting you off did not “make” you angry; rather you became angry because of how you perceived their action.
So while another person can’t “make” you angry, you can “make” your kid angry. Why the double standard? Because your kid is a child and you are an adult. With maturity comes the ability to temper or control your responses which is the idea of having “self-control”. But for a child, they have not reached this level of maturity and are unable to demonstrate self-control so they display immature behavior which is characterized by a lack of control over their responses. Literally, you can “make” a kid feel a certain way because they are not fully in control of their responses. Therefore, as the adult, you are responsible for “making” your kid angry. Ephesians 6:4a warns, “Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.” But just how are you “making” them angry?
Not listening. Easily hands down the number one complaint kids have about their parents is that they don’t listen to what they are saying. Too often as a parent, you are trying to get your point across and don’t stop long enough to make sure you understand your child’s point of view. Then, because they are a child, often they really don’t know what they are really thinking or how they are feeling, so they default to anger. No, they are not able to speak clearly, they are a child. No, they are not able to counteract you point by point, they are a child. But give them some time and soon as teenagers they will become more and more like you, not listening and counteracting you point by point.
Assuming the worst. Just to make things more complicated, kids don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say. While this is a nice lesson to teach them, assuming the worst motive or attitude about your child sends a subtle message that they are not valued or their opinion is not valued. This brings on anger in your child just as you get angry when someone assumes the worst about you. When you assume the worst about your child, they interprets this as “I am no good”, “I can never do anything right”, or “I am to blame for everything”. The negative consequences of a child learning this at a young age is that it will not leave them as an adult. For the rest of their lives, they will struggle with a positive self-image which you helped to foster.
Seeing yourself in them. When you see your child behaving and speaking just like you while making all the same mistakes you made, there is almost an immediate angry response on your part. It seems to come out of nowhere, one moment you are able to speak calmly and the next you are flying off the handle. There is no rhyme or reason except that you were triggered by a past event or mistake and watching your child suffer through the same mistakes you made is more than you can handle. The problem is that your child doesn’t understand your anger and they instead internalize it. They become angry with themselves for “making” you angry. In the moment, you child is not likely to respond badly but give them a couple of years and the resentment will build and turn to intense anger.
Ok, so you have made a few mistakes or more likely, made more than a few mistakes in “making” your child angry but it is not too late. You can stop “making” them angry by simply doing the opposite of what “made” them angry. You could listen to what they are really saying, you could assume the best about your child, and you could divorce your behavior from your child’s behavior. After all, they have their own journey to make based on their own decisions and it is not necessarily the same journey you have made in life. The decisions they will need to make in the future are made best when not heavily influenced by anger from their parents.
Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort. If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment. Or you can send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org.