Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adding Fuel or Squelching Flames?

Two phrases come to mind as I analyze my reaction to my son Michael this morning.

1.  Fight fire with fire - An effective technique often used for combatting fires in wilderness areas but it does require more damage to be done to surrounding plant life in order for it to work.  However it can prevent the original fire from consuming much, much more than it would have.

2. Adding fuel to the fire - An ineffective idea if your goal is to put the fire out.  Adding fuel will just make it rage all the more and potentially allow it to get out of control.

Not much in life makes me angry.  I am pretty laid back.  But I do have a button and that button does get pushed.  When people act out, throw fits, and display anger in fierce and foolish ways, I don't handle it well. As a child, the only time I ever threatened to kick my brother's rear was when he would embarrass me in front of the neighborhood kids by throwing a fit.  Fast forward to this very morning and we have my son who felt very entitled this morning and got an answer from his mom that he didn't like.  The next ten minutes of commuting to school were me trying (at first calmly) to explain the reasons for our decision. But then he said these words with about as much attitude as a seven year old boy can muster:

"Well I'm just MAD.  I am SOOOO MAD!"

Button pushed.  Houston we have liftoff. I assure you that my reaction stayed within appropriate guidelines but that it was nonetheless impacting for Michael.  By the end of this diatribe he is not only over his entitlement issues but he's back into his reasonable, logical thinking mind.  Thankfully we both had time to calm down, express our apologies to one another for getting angry, and say a BIG "I love you" before he departed my vehicle for school.

I realize the great irony in getting mad at someone for being mad.  I also see immediate results that I don't seem to get with any other method.  It's literally like splashing cold water on a person that is sleep walking to wake them up and get them in their right mind.  Yet I never feel good about resorting to such a method and must believe there has to be a better way.

Those of you that have loved ones in your life that really struggle with emotional outbursts and frustration, please tell me how you handle it.  What works? What doesn't work?  Leave your thoughts in the comment section.