I once received a call from a forty-seven year old distraught mother whose seventeen-year-old son Moti had changed his style of dress, wearing jeans and refusing to wear a hat. She explained that he had gone through a difficult time in school and was now hanging around the house instead of studying in yeshiva. He was also mixed up with the wrong crowd and was associating with at-risk teenagers late at night on the street. She was very concerned as she had an older son who had gone "off the path" and was worried that Moti was going in the same direction. She believed that Moti could be helped if he would be willing to talk with someone.
With Pesach behind us, what better time to take a closer look at the annual burst of intensity that propelled us, in the weeks and days leading to the yom tov, into a frenzy of cleaning? That sustained embrace of scrupulous cleaning offers insight into a subject that has lately received a great deal of attention in psycho-educational literature. The topic, OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, might be understood by comparing it with that exhausting endeavor from which many of us are just starting to recover.
In our rapidly changing world, the idea of control has begun to change quicker than anyone can imagine. A metamorphosis of unparalleled proportion is taking place and many parents feel that they are unequipped to deal with the challenges that it will demand.
Many years ago, I was meeting relatives at the airport when I ran into someone I knew whom I hadn't seen in a few years. Someone who was a very active homosexual. I asked him what he was doing at the airport and he told me he was there to pick up his wife and kids. "Oh," I said and, as if on cue, his wife appeared with two little kids in tow.
Ruth had just recently discovered (from another parent) that Toby had been secretly dating a boy for over a year. When she confronted Toby about her boyfriend, Toby had adamantly refused to admit that she was secretly seeing anyone. Ruth was extremely distraught to realize that her daughter would do something against her wishes and asked if I could help.
This is the fourth and final part on my series on anger, apersonal control and anger management. I believe there are several major beliefs one needs to appreciate when it comes to understanding anger, angry people and controlling anger and other emotions - let's call then the "secrets of anger." An important definition to remember before we discuss these secrets is that when something happens that causes us to have strong emotions, the thing happening is referred to as a trigger.
Two months into the school year, Shonnie's enthusiasm for school inexplicably took a nose dive. Her morning routines seemed to take her forever. The 7 year-old reacted to her mother's exasperation by turning sulky and tearful. With increasing frequency she missed the bus and needed to be driven to school.
In most homes, as women prepare to join the Seder (hopefully, somewhat rested), the anticipatory anxiety associated with the "P" word (pre-Pesach angst) is no longer. The cleaning, preparations, shopping and cooking are now a thing of the past. And finally, the Hagaddah's legacy of yetzias Mitzrayim (exodus from Egypt) takes front stage.
Referring back to our earlier case of Debbie’s body piercing, let’s see how using knowledge of Debbie’s inner world and the power of spending quality time together can help her parents connect to her.
In continuing our discussion on anger management, I would like to share some basic beliefs that one must understand in their journey to anger management (which I also referred to as personal control). As we have previously discussed, anger control is directly related to self-esteem and confidence. That is, the better the self-esteem, the more capable the person will be in controlling emotions. Also, related to this is the concept we refer to as "shame."
The fifth pillar of the inner world is what the eminent psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl called the “Will to Meaning.” This desire for meaning implies wanting to know the whys of life and not just the hows.
In Part I of this four-part series, I introduced you to Aaron and his extreme anger. I ended that article with, "I must say that as I was describing this theory, Aaron's mouth dropped open, his eyes grew wide and tears formed in his eyes as he moved closer in his chair. The only thing he could say was, "How did you know?" With that comment, Aaron and I started a remarkable relationship. With all the counselors he had been to over the years, Aaron said that no one really understood him. Here was the angry young man who didn't want to be there, fully engaged and ready to work, ready to share his pain, ready to begin a trusting relationship."
I want to make it clear that this article in no way is meant to blame any of the people involved in what appears, by all accounts, to have been a tragic accident when a Brooklyn school bus killed a 4-year-old boy in Boro Park on February 17. But as a father who knows the pain of burying his own children only too well, I believe that it is important to ask if there is any room for improvement in our school bus safety procedures.
As children move from infancy into middle and later childhood, they have a growing need for control over their environment. To meet this need, teenagers must be given reasonable power to make choices about what they eat, whom they play with, and what extracurricular activities they participate in.