Listen to your child and try to understand their heart in the matter. If they are angry (which is a natural part of the grieving process) don’t raise your voice at them (if their voice is raised) or rebuke them mid-way through their outburst. Allow them to say what they are saying then remind them of the parent-child relationship so that they don’t ignore boundaries. Alternatively, use it as an opportunity to set some ground rules if that has not been done before.
Do it calmly and lovingly so they can understand that, in their anger, they should still show respect. It is an opportunity to teach and you are called to train them up in the way they should go. Proverbs 22:6 says that you should ‘Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.’
It breaks my heart watching the lives of our next generation of leaders destroyed, while hearing mothers brag about being their child’s ‘mother and father’ and how well they turned out. It also breaks my heart when a child verbalizes their feelings and the response is, “I did the best I could,” or “I’m doing the best I can,” not recognising the emotional trauma their children face from not having a father in their lives nor acknowledging the part they played in contribution to that child’s pain.
It is heart-breaking to witness a child muster up the courage to say how they are feeling or how a parent’s absence is affecting or has affected them, and that child’s pain is not validated. To such a mother I say, it is not an opportunity to justify your actions or make excuses. It is an opportunity for education. Use it as an opportunity to gain understanding, on the matter at hand, and to do what is necessary in helping that child deal with the pain and eventually overcome.
It may mean answering a few questions on why you felt what you did was the best course of action. But let the child ask those questions and you provide the answers. It will help them to understand from your perspective and will give them an opportunity to start the healing process. When you try to justify your actions or make excuses, you are undermining your child’s pain. That will only prolong their pain, fuel their anger and deepen the resentment they feel towards you and/or their father.
DEALING WITH AN ANGRY CHILD