is it OK to show anger to kids

5 Times Your Kids Need to See You Angry

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I looked at my wife and said, “I’m calling the principal.” I’m not normally that guy. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve called the principal the entire time my four children have been in school. But I couldn’t believe what my daughter was telling me. She was in film class, and the teacher insisted on showing a rape scene from a very famous film. No permission slips were sent home. There was no email to parents. My daughter was obviously disturbed by it. And I was angry.

I don’t get angry easily. I used to wonder, “Is it OK to show anger to kids?” However, over the years, I’ve come to believe that while most of what makes us angry shouldn’t, there are a few times that, not only is anger appropriate, it’s good for our kids to see. While we need to channel our anger constructively, and acting out in violence is never justified, our kids need to know that some things are just not OK. Here are 5 times your kids need to see you angry.

1. When Leaders Are Selfish

I believe this was the problem with this teacher. She decided she wanted to show this scene without thought of whether it was good for the students. When you’re a leader, you don’t get to act without thought of those you lead. When you do, people get hurt. A leader acting selfishly is dangerous. Is it OK to show anger to kids? Yes, if it’s in response to selfish leadership.

When you’re a leader, you don’t get to act without thought of those you lead.

2. When Someone Intentionally Hurts Them

Protecting our kids is one of the most important things we do. So when someone intentionally hurts them, whether emotionally or physically, responding in anger is not just appropriate but good. It shows how deeply we love our kids and how wrong it is for anyone to hurt them. Again, we don’t repay evil for evil. We don’t hurt someone who hurts our kids. However, we do everything in our power to ensure it doesn’t happen again and to communicate just how wrong it was.

3. When Someone Intentionally Hurts Their Mother

You need to be on your kids’ mom’s team 100%, and if you’re divorced, be on her team as best you can. Your kids need to see that. When someone purposefully hurts her, anger communicates that it’s inappropriate. Yes, she’s an adult, but she’s also your partner, and she’s your kids’ mom. They need to see that you don’t laugh it off when someone treats her poorly. Is it OK to show anger to kids? Yes, when someone hurts their mother.

4. When the Powerful Take Advantage of the Weak

Anger makes it clear when things are upside down. Anger is the right reaction when the powerful take advantage of the weak. Your kids need to know you’re not ambivalent to injustice. They need to see that compassionate people are moved by the plight of those who are hurting. And they need to see your anger channeled into working toward change.

5. When Something Is Clearly Evil

Sometimes “evil” is the best way to describe something that’s happening. Whether it’s school shootings or civilians being killed in senseless wars or any number of other things, there’s just no other way to talk about it. Anger is the right response to evil. Is it OK to show anger to kids in the face of evil? It’s not just OK—it’s good. Your anger contrasts what is with what should be. It makes clear to your children that evil is just that.

Sound off: Are there other times when you think it’s important to get angry in front of your kids?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is an appropriate way to express anger?”