Allowing our kids to be angry with us
I’m not going to lie. It can suck when our kids are angry with us.
Because our identity as a parent is so deep and complex, their criticism and rejection can easily trigger shame, guilt and a feeling of failure.
I’ve been going through this recently. I recently moved into a new house and as I was packing up my son’s video games (already in a box) I decided on a whim that a particular game was old and unnecessary, so I threw it away.
I assumed it had no meaning for my son only to discover later that it was very meaningful to him and he became very angry with me for tossing it.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that I’ve thrown something away without asking first. I err on the side of purging, and this habit has gotten me in trouble before.
So he really lashed out and said some mean things to me.
I could have chosen to take offense and defend myself. But I understood the deeper context of his anger and disappointment because I’d made this mistake before.
I did call him out for being rude, but then I did not engage in continuing the fight. We’re typically very close, so it’s hard to tolerate his criticism and rejection.
But by allowing him to be angry, the drama came to a halt. And I allowed myself to feel sad and disappointed. Yet, I was an emotional adult and didn’t try to influence his attitude so that I could feel better.
I modeled maturity and accountability by not taking it personally and indulging in self-pity.
The next morning, I treated him kindly. No resentment, no silent treatment. My son is smart and perceptive. He can evaluate his behavior. He’s entitled to feel intense emotion if I’ve let him down. And as he matures further, I’m confident he’ll be able to manage it better.
Letting our kids be angry with us can be a great teaching moment. How we handle it makes all the difference.