The Fine Line Between Anger And Fear

Bad things can happen quickly.

Three boys were playing in our pool – my son and two of his stepbrothers.  Splashing, laughing, and playing.  My son, not thinking, got out of the pool and dove right back in, headfirst, a few feet on the wrong side of where it drops off to the deep end.

Photo by author

Photo by author

I saw blood on his face when he came out of the pool, but could not see the injury.  He was shaken, but moving.  I quickly analyzed his condition:  made sure he did not have a concussion or a snapped neck.

I quietly thanked God he was alright.

Then my fear turned to anger.

“What where you thinking?  Why did you dive in where you shouldn’t have?  Don’t you know what could have happened to you?”

These were not words of comfort, but were a perfect combination of fear and anger.  Tears rolled down his face – partly from the pain of a one inch gash directly on the top of his head, and partly from the words he heard from me.

He called his mom on the way to getting the staples for his head and the CT scan to make sure the pain in his neck was nothing serious.  More tears flowed down his face as he told her what he had done, in spite of him knowing the rules.

I am grateful the CT scan came back normal and the wound on his head will heal right up.

But I am also glad he will wear a neck brace for 12 days until he is cleared by a neurosurgeon.  That he will have to tell the story of how he got his injury and is thankful he did not cause permanent damage or die.

What did I learn over these past few days?

  • Make every moment count.  You have no idea when life can take an unexpected turn.
  • It is OK (if not necessary) to show anger.  But it is necessary to provide context and explanation with the passage of time.  I have told my son, I will never get mad at him for telling me the truth and being honest even though there may be consequences.  But I have explained to him this was a different circumstance.  He was not telling me he tried smoking a cigarette, he demonstrated poor judgement and put himself into danger.  I do believe there is a difference between the two.
  • Being a dad comes with fear for your kids.  I know my son loves adventure and excitement, and I do not want to crush his spirit.  But I must redouble my efforts to teach him how to use common sense and self-control during fun and exciting activities.

I hope you never experience something like this with your kids.  I could have gone my entire life without the fear my son had been badly hurt or killed.  But, with this experience, I hope to both give him better guidance and make every moment count.

What experience have you had where fear quickly turned into anger?  What lessons did you learn?

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