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Parenting Page Session Three
I Have Feelings Too! 

This week's goal:
To help children understand that divorce is a tough thing and it's okay that they have feelings about it too.  Their feelings are real, need to be validated and it's important to help them understand what to do with them. It is also important to teach them how to manage the anger they are feeling as well.  

What the experts say:
Children may need to be reassured they are safe and that you will be there to take care of them. Children need to realize that it is a normal reaction to feel mad and angry about their family breaking up.  Very often, they will not know how to express their anger and they might need permission to say "I feel angry or mad" without their parent becoming defensive when they open up.  Even though you are going through the divorce yourself, it is essential that you make an effort to set aside your pain and anger in order to help your child.  

Children need physical activity anyway, but especially children who are angry, can gain great benefits from it by giving them a physical release to let go of some of the tension and emotions inside of them . You need to explain to them them it is never okay to hurt others when they are mad.  Make sure your children are getting enough physical activity and have helpful tools to help them deal with their emotions and anger during this very difficult time. 

One family's story:

Christi was a mom of 3 rambunctious and energetic boys.  Her middle son was especially angry since his father had left. He was getting into fights at school and becoming more aggressive. He played soccer but his mother felt she needed to do something a little more to help him get some of his anger out and learn more control. His mom knew it was important to help him and his brothers get their aggression and anger out in a healthy way so she signed them up for Tae Kwon Do and joined with them.  It was a time for them to do something as a family but also a way to put the anger into a more productive space.  She saw great improvement in her middle son and his confidence grew as he learned more and more and was able to discipline himself and control his anger. It was a great experience immense help to all 3 boys.  To help the boys turn things around positively, their mom would also have them tell her about three good things that happened that day when they sat down to dinner.  This helped the boys look for the positive and good things in their lives rather than all the negative. 

Proverbs 15: 1: 

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

At your next family meeting, decide to do something fun that involves physical activity. It could be going on a walk or hike, skating together or playing a sport together. Whatever you decide to do, promise each other that you are going to set aside all the frustration and anger and just have fun together. Children need to know that it's okay to express their anger, but they also need to take a break from grieving the divorce and have fun.


Lesson: Anger is a feeling inside that comes out in our voice, on our face or in our heart. Can you show me an angry face? Do you ever feel angry? What makes you angry? Anger is a real feeling, but we must learn to control our anger so that it doesn't  make us hurt ourselves or anyone else. It is never ok to hit or push others when we are angry. It is not ok to yell and shout when we are angry. We need to be careful about how we act when we get upset. List some ways you can calm down and try to control your anger.

Share the story "Never Alone," from the Friend.

Never Alone
By Ann Michelle Nielsen

(Based on a true incident)
Dearest children, God is near you, Watching o'er you day and night (Hymns, no. 96).

Ann Michelle Nielsen, "Never Alone," Friend. Feb. 1999, 12
I yanked the middle drawer right out of my dresser and rifled through it, hurling all the rejected clothing to the floor. It was "Bulldogs Wear Blue" day at school, I was late, and I still couldn't find my Bulldogs sweatshirt. Finally recognizing a blue sleeve poking up out of the bottom drawer, I grabbed the wadded sweatshirt. Giving it a good stretch to try to pull out the wrinkles, I threw it over my head and rushed to the front door.

" 'Bye, Mom," I said, smearing a kiss on her cheek and racing down the driveway toward the bus stop. From the sidewalk, I could see the last child boarding the bus.

"Here comes Michelle," someone called to the driver. Then everyone on the bus turned to watch as I ran to it. Red-faced from running and from embarrassment, I slunk into the first available seat without ever looking up.

At school, I was halfway through the Pledge of Allegiance when I glanced at the chalkboard and realized that I had forgotten my homework. Last night I had struggled through a math story problem four times before I figured it out, and now I had left it home, where it would do me no good at all! When a day starts like this, it's guaranteed to be rough. By the time the bell rang at three o'clock, I was miserable.

I trudged home from the bus stop, rehearsing my troubles of the day. Maybe Mom made some of her delicious peanut-butter cookies, I thought. The chewy ones with the crisscross marks on the top. Warm. With milk. I couldn't wait!

My happy thoughts quickly disappeared when I walked into the kitchen. My little brother-not my mother-had been busy in the kitchen! There was a white powder trail from the flour bin to the middle of the floor, where he sat with a big mixing bowl full of slimy goo. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm making bread just like Mom," he answered, throwing a handful onto the floor and "kneading" it into the linoleum.

On another day, I might have thought it was funny. But not today-I was angry! I wanted to be greeted by warm cookies, not a little brother making a big mess!

Just then Mom walked in and saw the disaster. "What's going on?" she asked. "Michelle, why are you just watching him make such a mess?" Her voice rose a notch. "And your room is a disaster! Go to your room and don't come out until it's clean."

I slammed the door to my room and flopped onto the bed. It isn't fair! I didn't make a mess in the kitchen. Why am I in trouble? I'm the one having a bad day. Nobody cares. I sat up and wiped the angry tears from my eyes. I could hear the twins crying. My slammed door must have woken them from their naps.

I looked around my room. It really was a disaster! There was a drawer on the floor, and I had scattered clothes everywhere that morning while looking for my Bulldogs sweatshirt. And during the day, my would-be-baker brother must have invaded my toys, because they were scattered around the room, too. It was a mess. And it wasn't fair! That brother of mine was a problem. Why can't he stay out of my stuff? I wondered. I decided to rearrange my room so that he couldn't reach my toys anymore.

I pulled everything off all the shelves and out of my desk drawers-toys, papers, crayons, everything! Everything of any interest to a little brother was going to be moved out of reach. As I rummaged through my closet, looking for toys that would need to be protected, I found my Tyrannosaurus Terror Drawing Kit.

Meanwhile, Mom had gone to the twins' room to settle them down again. Then she had returned to the kitchen and found my brother trying to clean up his mess. Dragging a wet towel in the dough, he had smeared paste from the middle of the room to the sink and all around!

After Mom finally got the kitchen under control, she came to my room, where she found me sitting on an even bigger pile of stuff, playing with my dinosaur drawing kit. I knew right away that I was in big trouble. Her eyes widened and she opened her mouth to say something (or maybe yell something). Instead, she just turned around and left crying,
looking totally defeated.

I felt awful. Everything had gone wrong-my sweatshirt, the bus, my homework, my little brother-and Mom was upset with me. I felt all alone. Not knowing what else to do, I knelt and prayed. "Heavenly Father, please help me. Help me so everything is OK. Help my mom be happy. Help her to love me even though I have a messy room. Please, Heavenly Father, please help me." Still kneeling beside my bed, I buried my face in my pillow and sobbed.

Shortly, I heard Mom in the hall. I jerked up and grabbed a shirt to act like I was putting it away. I didn't want to get in trouble again for not working.

When Mom came into my room, her eyes were red and swollen worse than mine. She quietly asked if I had been praying. I hesitated because I knew I was supposed to be cleaning, but I nodded yes.

Mom cleared a spot beside me, sat down, and put her arms around me. "I love you," she said. "I'm sorry I was upset with you. I'm sorry you're not having a very good day. I've had a hard day myself, and I was praying for help when the Spirit whispered that you were praying for me, too."

"Really?" I asked. "Heavenly Father heard my prayer, and the Holy Ghost told you?"

"That's right," Mom said, smiling.

I started to cry again, but this time it was because I knew that somebody cared. Heavenly Father had watched my awful day, and He understood that 1needed love more than I needed a clean room. And even though I didn't get warm peanut-butter cookies, I felt a real warmth inside, a comforting knowledge that I am never alone.

Sing the song: A Child's Prayer
Tell them that this song will help them when they feel angry and need Heavenly Father to listen and hear what is making them sad or mad. Heavenly Father understands how we feel. He will help us overcome anger. Let the children make their lists of ideas on how to control anger and what activities they can do that will cheer them up.

Conclusion: We all have feelings and it is okay to feel hurt, sad, or mad. Talk about your feelings. Write about your feeling and most of all pray to Heavenly Father and let him know your feelings and pray for peace and understanding. Heavenly Father will help you and will always be there for you. Remember that when we start to help others and serve others our anger can go away. For a closing song sing or play the Primary song "When We're Helping, We're Happy." Remind them that you care about them and love them even though they may be going through a tough time and have anger too. Remind them that it is never ok to hit or get physical when they are angry and if anyone ever hurts them in anger they need to tell another adult they trust. 

Tip: It might be helpful to make a chart of different mood faces and help your child to identify how they are feeling that day.  This can help you gage where they are at.  Along with this you and your children can come up with solutions for what they can do when they are feeling down or angry and what a good way to deal with them would be.  

* Even though you may be angry at your former spouse, please don't ever bring a child into the middle of that situation or vent your angry feelings about your spouse to them. It makes them feel torn and in more turmoil and they already have plenty of emotions they are already dealing with in their world.