A young male student sits across from me in my office. His eyes are fixed towards the floor in an icy-cold gaze. His lips are slightly puckered as he holds them firmly in place to inform me of his anger. The last place he wants to be is sitting in the School Counselor’s office to “deal” with his anger.
I am a School Counselor for kindergarten through eighth grade students at an urban school. The most common disruption to classroom teaching is ANGER. Most of the referrals I receive are for angry boys. There are not enough hours in the day to run the amount of anger management support groups truly needed to help these students. Why are they so angry?
I ask the student sitting across from me, “Tell me about your family. Who do you live with?” “My mom,” he says. I ask, “Do you ever see your dad?” His face turns red, as he is still staring at the floor. “I haven’t seen him in a long time. He’s in jail.” A tear wells up and rolls down his face. Following is a flood-gate of tears that have been pent up for a very long time. “It’s okay to cry,” I say.
This same scenario has played out time and time again in my office as I’m trying to help these angry boys. When the real issues come to light, the anger is no longer hiding in the darkness of the young man’s heart. Most often these boys do not realize what they are so angry about. They may be getting in a fight with another classmate, or are speaking disrespectfully to the teacher. They may display a defiant attitude and seem to care about nothing. But what these boys are really screaming is for someone to love them. It’s as if they are saying, “Love me. Hear me. Do you see I’m hurting? I won’t let anyone hurt me ever again, so I’ll hurt you back and then I won’t have to let you in. Then I won’t have to hurt anymore.”
I recently had a male student thank me for changing his life. I had only met with him three times for about 20 minutes. He had come to realize that he was acting out in his anger at school because he felt abandoned by his father. He was actually relieved and excited to finally understand where his anger was coming from. His behavior drastically improved at school and he even asked if he could help other students with similar issues.
Helping these boys to understand their abandonment is crucial. Once the deep-rooted issues are brought to light, the healing can begin. One mother I spoke to was so grateful to finally understand her son. She had not realized how much her son really did miss his father because he had hardly known him.
As a community, we can come together to address the issue of fatherless children. Get involved with local community agencies that provide mentoring for children through various organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. Abandonment and unresolved anger in children, only breeds angry teenagers and angry adults. We are all affected. Let us come together to love and understand these angry boys.