Crank Down the Anger
We finally noticed a pattern. When one of our children got somewhere between nine and fourteen, they’d climb on an emotional rollercoaster and invite us all to join them. Wow, what a tough age to parent!
The first time we went through it, we questioned everything, “Is it us? Have we failed in parenting? Is it him? Is he rejecting everything we’ve taught him?” It was so hard. He seemed to blow up for no reason at all.
“I… Can’t… Stand… the Anger in Here!” one of our sons shouted in a family meeting.
We all looked around, completely bumfuzzled. “Son, there’s no one in here angry but you.”
After going through this seven times with our children and hearing how tons of other families dealt with it in our Boot Camp 9-12 webinars, we’ve realized that this is really a dangerous time in the parent-child relationship. It’s a time that a lot of those relationships are broken, making the next stage a huge challenge. On the other hand, it’s a time that if it’s handled well can lay the foundation for making the teen years great! Here’s what we’ve learned:
Prepare for battle. Sometime when they aren’t angry, explain to them what’s going on. Those hormones are flowing like crazy, preparing their bodies for adulthood, but sometimes it’s too much, then too little, then just enough, and it’s making their emotions go all over the place. Those emotions aren’t based on reality!
More anger doesn’t help. It’s hard when your child is horribly disrespectful, or even throwing around accusations, to keep your own temper, but it’s vital. Here’s our go-to memory verse for parenting these guys in this stage, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Sometimes I think I need it tattooed on my palm. Stay calm and carry on is pretty good advice.
Stop, drop (into a seat), and listen. This is tough when what they are saying makes no sense, but when the enemy is telling them, “Nobody cares,” you need to show them you do. Hear them out. It’ll mean a lot to them one day.
Calmly explain, or ask forgiveness, or talk it through. It’s your turn. If you need to repent, do. It’s a great example to them of what a Christian does when he’s wrong. Or explain to them why they’re wrong. Or help them to understand the situation. Just do it like an adult. Somebody’s got to be the adult around here – and it’s not going to be them.
Take them to the Word. Don’t beat them over the head with it, but while you’re talking it through, be sure to talk about what God says about it. His Word is way more effective than our words.
Show them affection. Generally by this point, they’re repentant. Be sure you show them how glad you are that they’re making it right. A manly hug is the ticket here.
Then, and only then, discipline if you need to. Sometimes their behavior is so egregious that you need to discipline them for the sake of the other children in the house. The funny thing is, that often by this point, they agree! “You’re right, mom. I understand.” That’s when you know you’ve really reached the heart. They are repentant. They’re headed the right direction. You can afford to show them some mercy even when you have to do discipline.
The payoff? When you are the rock, the safe haven, in this storm, you are building trust that will make the years to come so much easier. The preteen years are pretty tough around here, but the teens and twenties have been great!
Related Resource: Tuesday, we’re starting a new session of our LIVE webinar series, Boot Camp 9-12: Getting Geared Up for the Teen Years. It’s interactive, fun, and one of the most popular things we do. If you’re in this stage of parenting, join us for real, practical help and encouragement. And it’s recorded if you can’t make it live. Sign up here!
Yours in the battle,
Hal & Melanie