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Archive for the ‘Anger’ Category

Today, I had an opportunity that is far too rare in my experience. The story actually began Tuesday before break. I had two parents come in to meet with me. Their daughter had come to me in August about her habit of cutting and how her parents were trying to get her help. We had discussed the reasons she was cutting and the positive ways to deal with her emotions instead of cutting. I hadn’t really talked to her about it since. Her parents, however, started calling the school. Apparently, they had been trying to figure out who had been talking to their daughter. My name came up, so Tuesday, they came to talk to me.

In our meeting Tuesday, they had expressed their concerns for their daughter. They were hoping to understand what was causing her to cut and how to help her. I was deeply touched by their brokenness and loving concern for their daughter. I can’t imagine the humility it took for them to come to the school (the mom doesn’t speak English) and ask for help. I offered then to meet with them as a family and discuss the strategies to move forward. They gratefully accepted, and we set the meeting for today.

It was a complete surprise to the girl (not the way I would recommend, but how they chose to deal with it.) I set the ground rules of being honest, then asked the girl a series of questions about what the “triggers” for her cutting were. She explained the yelling in her house was a cause. I asked her dad about raising his voice. He explained that he had grown up in another country, very isolated, with little education. “I didn’t have experience in social situations. I don’t know how to communicate well.” I applauded him for his courage to come and admit he didn’t know and ask for help. We discussed ways to “slow down a discussion” and keep yourself calm. He and his wife were able to share with their daughter the things she does that trigger their anger, so we could talk through what each party needed from the other.

While I am not arrogant enough to think we solved everything in an hour, I think we made definite progress in each member of this family learning to communicate honestly and positively what they need from the other. I walked away from the meeting with a deep sense of gratitude for a set of parents who had the willingness to say, “My child is having problems, and I need help to know how to handle them.” I think so many parents have ignored the adage “It takes a village to raise a child,” and have seen the school as an enemy they have to fight instead of an ally with which to stand. I wish more parents were willing to ask for help–even just to find out they’re not alone in the struggle they face. It takes both humility and courage, but it can save a child’s future set the course for strong relationships in the future.

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Yesterday was a long day. I was supposed to go directly to help with Musical Theatre auditions, but ended up counselling 4 kids along the way.

It all started 8th hour when I had to break up a fight in the hallway. I finally got eye contact with the student I had grabbed (other students had helped with the other boy), and got him calmed down. I took him down to the office (frustrated because 8th hour is my most out of control, and I couldn’t imagine what they’d do without me in there…) On the way, he decided to punch the wall, splitting two knuckles and dripping blood down the wall. He was so mad, he cried in the office. The other kid had called a girl a “B” and when this kid had confronted him about it, he said, “B means girl.” So, the kid wanted to hit him. I explained that the instinct to protect a woman was noble, and I was proud of him, but fighting wasn’t the way to handle it.

When I returned to class (having wiped off his knuckles and the wall), they were all sitting in their seats (mostly quiet…) Miracles DO happen. I made it through the period, went to check on my kid in the office, and returned to class to get ready for auditions. Someone else was already there.

I’d forgotten I’d told a student he could talk to me after school. Sigh…He explained that he had feelings for a friend’s girlfriend (and she for him). He didn’t want to play his friend but really liked this girl. I explained to him how valuable he was and that he didn’t deserve to be anybody’s “What if something else’s better…” person. We discussed his future, and he gave me a hug, and said, “I love you. You totally made me feel better.” Now on to auditions…

Except there were two students in the hall. One just needed a notebook, but the other was dealing with trying to restore a relationship with his best friend who he’d ignored for weeks because of his girlfriend. His girlfriend had said they should stay friends, but now was mad that he was trying to restore the friendship. We talked for a bit, and he walked me down to auditions (for which I was now about 15 minutes late.) While I was telling him goodbye, another student walked up.

“Miss Brailey, can I talk to you?”

“Sure, what’s up?” (I’m expecting him to ask for help with English, since I’d told him I would help him on his work…)

“I need to figure out how to deal with my anger issues, so I don’t end up like my dad.”

Sigh–his dad’s in jail.

“Okay, come on in here.” I took him into the choir room (Which attaches to the stage where I could hear the auditions I was supposed to be helping judge faintly in the background…)

We sat down, and I explained to him that he has a choice. Patterns of behavior are repeated from parent to child unless someone deals with them. If he doesn’t deal with this, it will not only affect him, but his kids as well. He needs to say, “This stops now, and this pattern won’t be repeated in my family.”

Then, I explain that we become like what we focus on. I explain that always dwelling on what his dad has done makes him like that (angry.) I shared with him that he needed to forgive his dad–not that what his dad did was right–but acknowledge the wrong of it, and forgive him for it. I shared the example of Corrie Ten Boom and having to forgive the guard who killed her sister. Forgiveness releases us to not be held captive by another person. I gave him examples of how to forgive his dad. He said, “Wow, how can you know so much about me when I haven’t talked to you about this?”

I had the opportunity to pray with him, and he said, “Man, I feel so much better already. But, now what? What’s the next step?” I reminded him how to forgive and encouraged him to find men in his life who would pour into him, since manhood is bestowed by other men. He asked, “How will I know who’s the right kind of man?” I explained that he should look at the man’s wife and kids. How they respond to him is a good indicator of what kind of man he is. I also explained that he should pick a man he wants to be like and ask that man to spend time with him doing guy things. He had a coach in mind to talk to.

He said, “Man, you should be a therapist.”

“I am,” I replied. “I just don’t get paid the big bucks for it.”

He laughed and gave me a hug. I held his shoulders and looked him in the eye. “You are not your dad. You are not your brother. You are you. And that is enough.”

He thanked me and left. And I finally made it to auditions…45 minutes late, but with changed lives in the meantime.

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