“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one”1 – Benjamin Franklin
Our parents’ divorce caused many changes. Some we liked. Many we didn’t. But most were beyond our control. Whether visitation stopped us from going to a party, or we moved from our home and were forced to change schools, or we found ourselves suddenly sharing a room with a step-stranger, choices were made that were beyond our control…and we were angry about it. Unfortunately, that anger is often carried into our adulthood. And anger is triggered in situations where we feel out of control.
Am I saying that our parents’ divorce is the cause of all of our anger? No. The combination of being self-centered and sinful beings with a world that throws us curves, is ripe for producing anger. However, research repeatedly confirms that unresolved anger is a major issue for children of divorce. And unresolved often means it accompanies us into our adult life.
Battling my Anger
It was no secret that I had anger issues. What I didn’t learn (until many years later) was my folk’s breakup seemed to be at the root. I blamed my job, my wife, my kids, my schedule, and everyone and everything else for why I was angry. However, I learned that a raging fear of inadequacy, losing cherished time with my dad, and the lack of control over anything (along with many other things), formed a strong foundation for my anger.
The many faces of anger
In the “Many Faces of Anger” blog we saw that anger is often like a hand-puppet. It has an angry face, but it is controlled by the hand. In the case of the adult child of divorce the hand can be:
- feelings of inadequacy
- the lack of control
- hurt or a trauma
- or learned from the parents
In regards to the last point, Proverbs 22: 24-25 says, “Keep away from angry, short-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” Unfortunately, the “angry, short tempered people” are often our divorced parents. And, being a child, getting away from them was problematic. Consequently, it was easy to absorb anger simply by being exposed to it all the time.
What to do about your anger
- Admit you have a problem I flunked this step for too long – If others say you have an anger problem, you have an anger problem!
- Confess it as a sin against God – “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”2
- Identify the causes. Review the list of anger-related books on our Resource page.
- Get help! – It is very difficult to get rid of anger on your own. Seek a church leader, Christian counselor, or a Christian ministry that can help you address your anger issues. However, finding help can be as big a challenge as addressing the anger. So we’ll look at that next time.
2James 1:20, NLT.