Friday, September 18, 2015


Many of us have yelled at our child.  Or partner.   We can say we haven't, perhaps, because our memory of it is only that we spoke with controlled force, with repressed anger.  The truth, however, is that the damage is done unless it's caught and corrected quickly.

Yelling and finger pointing -- all it conveys is an attempt to subordinate and reshape another, to put them in their place and force them to behave as though they submit to us.  That's all.  That's all the information and memory carried away from the encounter.  Whatever the issue was that triggered the encounter remains unaddressed and unresolved.


Issues around which such tension might commonly rise include finance, schedule, and the kids.  It can spread to expectations, chores, to-do lists, promises made and forgotten, ad infinitum.  The common element in all is your anger.

There are some words that should never be spoken in anger, of course.  Beyond that simple constraint, there are also some things that should never be done.  Screaming at another in anger and perhaps frustration is equally if not more significant.  It conveys the willingness to do harm, to injure.

Escalation -- conversations and confrontations begin and ramp up.  That's the failure point.  Early on, the participants begin to add volume, facial expression, and gesture.  At this point, the relationship begins to weaken, to fracture.  And our target is wounded, much like in a fist fight.

If we immediately stop and apologize, genuinely confessing our error, we may be able to undo the harm.

If not, we build a wall behind which our target barricades their heart and soul.

We all have difficulty admitting our wrong thinking and actions, of course.  If there are issues, they should be resolved.  Confrontation is occasionally necessary whether problems are moral, ethical, or preferential.  It should in every case be gracious, bi-directionally open and informative, and reasonable.

And remember, the kids see and hear everything.  They read our non-verbal expression and body language as well.  That's how they learn.

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