By Dr. James Dobson
Children inevitably become angry with their parents from time to time. Should they be allowed to express that emotion, and if so, precisely how?
If a child is prohibited from expressing his or her negative frustrations toward mother or father, that individual will often vent those feelings through what psychologists call “passive aggression.” Maybe he’ll pout or wet the bed or get bad grades in school. Perhaps she’ll become depressed or eat too much. Usually children aren’t aware that these behaviors are being fueled by anger. The behaviors are simply unconscious ways of expressing accumulated hostility toward parents.
It is important, therefore, to allow children to vent anger when it is intense. On the other hand, I ﬁrmly believe that they should also be taught to be respectful to their parents. It is not appropriate to permit name-calling, back talk, or sassiness and disrespect. Instead, children should be assured that they can say anything to their parents, including very negative feelings, as long as it’s expressed in a respectful manner.
For example, “You embarrassed me in front of my friends,” or, “I don’t think I got my fair share,” or, “Sometimes I think you love Billy more than me.” Those are appropriate responses. “I hate you” and “You are so stupid!” are not acceptable retorts.
By following this general guideline, we’re teaching children how to deal with anger in appropriate ways. That skill might come in handy with a future husband or wife.
From the book Dr. Dobson’s Handbook of Family Advice. Request your copy today, HERE.
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Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.” He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn’t Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.
Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years and on the attending staff of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for 17 years. He has been active in governmental affairs and has advised three U.S. presidents on family matters. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development. He holds 17 honorary doctoral degrees, and was inducted in 2008 into The National Radio Hall of Fame. Dr. Dobson recently received the “Great American Award” from The Awakening.
Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and they have two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and two grandchildren. The Dobsons reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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