Our daughter is getting married soon and as her parents we’re worried. She is nice and polite with other people, but within the family she often causes problems with her anger issues. She has a lot of attitude. We are worried that this could compromise the marriage. Our fear is that she will embarrass herself and our family. Can you help?
Preparing for a family wedding is stressful enough without these concerns. These feelings of apprehension and concern are common for parents preparing to see their offspring marry and two families unite. It can feel as though your sphere of influence on her personality, behaviour and actions will now be judged by all.
You don’t elaborate on how her anger and her general behaviour have affected your family, but I imagine her attitude has the capacity to start arguments and cause family tension. I also suspect you fear that, while interacting with her new family, her anger issues might affect her relationship with them also? And that you’re also anxious her behaviour will reflect badly on your own parenting?
Anger issues can be destructive and emotionally draining, but they can be tackled and brought under control. By acknowledging that your daughter has an issue with controlling her temper, you can work together to help her develop methods to curb and dissipate her oncoming rage.
Sit down with her, in a calm and collected manner, and talk through your feelings and explore hers. Calmly provide her with examples where her anger had a detrimental effect on family life, and you can also express how this anger made you feel, as parents.
Gently remind her that if replicated it could have wider consequences for her marriage and the family. Explore with her what specific things make her feel angry and why. The key word here though is ‘calm’.
By understanding the ‘trigger’ mechanisms of her anger, she can learn to manage her emotions and in turn her behaviour patterns.
You know your daughter better than anybody, therefore the process of effectively managing emotions must also include you – by remaining calm, measured and impassive when these negative feelings overcome her, you send out a clear message her own behaviour is unusual and not in keeping with your values.
Whereas in families where everyone rises angrily to bad behaviour and arguments flare up, it’s difficult to back down and deal with the issue in a composed fashion, as your calmness has already been lost.
I have learnt to understand the ‘management of emotions’. And, as emotions go, we do tend to think of anger as being an unwanted, or even an unnatural feeling – and something which is considered socially unacceptable. Anger is, of course, a completely natural reaction to feeling threatened or having our personal boundaries invaded. So, it isn’t always a bad thing – it can be a useful tool for self-expression when we are truly wronged. But being overly aggressive outside of this context can have detrimental social effects. Like so many issues it’s all about striking a balance. Of course, your daughter will still get angry, but the important thing is that she reserves her anger for the right reasons and only at the right time.
Bear in mind she could also be apprehensive over her future as a married woman. She understands the pressure and expectations to behave in an appropriate manner with her new in-laws, but this pressure, could in turn, be manifesting itself as anger and frustration at home. Once you have spoken to her and she acknowledges the issue and understands she’s supported, it’s unlikely she’ll do anything to embarrass you or jeopardise her own future happiness.
You mention the word ‘compromise’ in your question and I think that word is fitting in this context. After all, successful relationships must be built on a degree of compromise from all sides.
I’m confident that your daughter and her future husband, will go on to discover, that in marriage and in the new family relationships they build; will be, honour, prosperity and mutual respect for all.