Dear Grandparenting: I have one angry young man on my hands. That’s bad enough, but what really troubles me is I don’t know how to handle it when he goes off. For better or worse, I have not been exposed to very much anger during my life. It throws me off balance and I freeze up.
My daughter moved in with her son in 2018 to share expenses. That’s worked out fine, but the boy doesn’t give me the respect you would expect as a grandparent. He can get loud and profane.
I’m get afraid that I’ll do or say something to set him off. I don’t think my grandson is a bad person. Let’s just say he is more comfortable expressing his anger than anyone I’ve come to know. Help me work this out. The Redhead, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dear Redhead: The trick of course is learning to control thyself when the wheels come off. Grace under pressure is easier said than done, but absolutely essential. It only gets worse if you respond in kind and lose composure, and you’re setting a terrible example for conflict resolution.
The sexes tend to deal with anger differently. Granddaughters turn it inward on themselves whereas grandsons direct it outward, often as verbal or physical aggression. So don’t take his outbursts personally. It’s probably not about you.
To diffuse an angry grandson, first help him identify what’s going on and empathize. Younger ones can become overwhelmed by anger may need soothing before calming down. Just don’t let a grandchild get the idea that being soothing is the same as being permissive. Consequences must be set and acted on if needed, without delay or drama.
At its root, anger is a response to a perceived threat, a violation of one’s wellbeing. Tell him we are all entitled to feel whatever we want to feel, but can’t always do what we feel like doing. Patiently redirecting anger into a conversation about what matters in their life can help a grandchild make sense of their world and their place in it.
Grand remark of the week
Henry Tomlinson from Midlothian, Virginia was late getting grandson Tommy to a birthday party. As they drove along, Tommy suddenly unbuckled his seatbelt and scampered into the back seat.
Get back here!” said Henry as he pulled to the side of the road. “What now?” Tommy reappeared and buckled up.
“Sorry Granddad,” he said. “I was hurrying so fast I put my shorts on backwards. Mommy always says check to make sure the zipper is in front where it can do you some good.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.