I recently experienced something for the first time in my life: One of my videos went viral! Over 3.4 million people have viewed this 47-second clip. I shared about the importance of a dad dropping his anger…and it exploded! The clip came from a two-hour interview I did with my friend, Jim Ramos of Men in the Arena, when his team posted this snippet as we talked about the importance of a dad’s active role in the life of his daughter. Before going any further, here are the actual words I spoke in it:
Awhile back I met a dad with a 2 ½ year old daughter who said: Tell me what I need to know [as a #girldad] in 20 seconds. Go!
Without hesitating, I responded: I’ll do you one better. I’ll give you just three words:
DROP. YOUR. ANGER. You will do more damage to her heart through your anger than anything else.
Your anger crushes the core of who she is.
Your anger destroys her spirit.
Your anger shuts her down.
Your anger will make her stop trying.
Your anger will be internalized by her and she will believe she’s not worthy and that she’s unloveable.
So the best gift you can give your daughter is to make a commitment right now to set a foundation to never respond to her in anger.”
As you can imagine, hundreds of comments poured in, and the large majority of them broke my heart.
Here are some examples:
“My father was always mad. I honestly never saw him happy or content when I was a child. He would come home and scream and yell and punch the wall over trivial things. It was terrifying. He’d apologize sometimes but that just taught me to expect explosive anger. I never thought I could be good enough for someone. It’s funny that my father was extremely angry and my ex-husband treated me the same way he did.”
“As a woman who grew up with an angry dad, this is so on point … I surely shut down and ran away from my dad emotionally after a while… I could barely make eye contact with my dad … I always felt like he didn’t love me and I felt unlovable for years, by him and other men … It took God through prayer to show me that my dad was in his own pain and didn’t know how to love, and I began to approach him differently and I know now it wasn’t personal.”
These stories highlight that:
Scars and wounds from a dad’s anger are real…and they’re lasting.
We have an opportunity to move forward through forgiveness to heal from our father wounds.
The reason I believe this video went VIRAL is because it resonated with people’s stories regarding their father’s anger, and this validated their experiences.
Anger is our signal that we’ve been betrayed or violated. And if we don’t deal with those issues, we’ll spin around in anger and it will devour us while destroying relationships.
If you’re ready to begin looking at the roots of your anger to see what’s underneath, here are some suggestions about where to start:
When you notice your emotions intensifying, walk away to catch your breath and you’ll have a higher likelihood of responding later in a way that fits with your heart and love for those around you.
Realize that if you’re hitting an 8, 9 or 10 (on a 0 to 10 scale of intensity), it’s your own stuff that’s being activated, even if it feels like it’s the impact of what’s happening around you.
Ask yourself: When have I felt like this before? Go back to when you were young since it most likely started long ago. (For example: You may have a familiar feeling of being helpless, controlled, overpowered, or disrespected). The current intensity may be tied to something in your history.
Allow God to reveal to you any truths about who you are and what you need. (For example: I can ask for what I need now, I can leave and come back, I am worthy of being respected, loved, and valued, etc.).
Be willing to ask forgiveness and make amends with those you’ve hurt.
Meet with a trusted friend or mentor and share your story while receiving support through the process. (One other option is to schedule an appointment with me where we can meet over Zoom to explore your anger and move toward resolution).
Dad, here’s my final challenge to you: Take one step today to be a courageous dad who models to your kids what it looks like to own your stuff, drop your anger, make amends, and walk in new ways.
This is how you can become the dad you want to be…and your kids need you to be.
Portions of this post originally appeared on Dr. Michelle Watson-Canfield’s Blog.