Common Challenges

Student with earbuds
Common challenges

Talking with loved ones about important matters can be emotional and difficult. This is true whether the conversation is about alcohol, drugs, or other new college experiences, such as managing finances, attending class, or balancing academics with social activities. Below are some typical responses parents get from their sons and daughters when talking about difficult subjects. If you notice your student (or even yourself) reverting to any of these, collect yourself and stay on topic.

The Outburst

The person feeling anger responds with short, highly charged, emotional explosions, usually blaming the other person. Afterward, there is calmness, and the person who displayed the outburst hopes all is forgiven. He or she would have you believe the outburst is simply a way of letting off steam and that it’s nothing personal.

The Silent Treatment

The angry person turns cold and punishes the “transgressor” through silence and obvious rejection.

Bringing Up the Past

The angry person brings up past events that were hurtful and directs attention away from the current issues to that of rehashing the past. The issue causing the anger is lost as attention turns to past injustices.

Social Aggression

This angry person does not state why he or she is angry but rather turns the anger into aggressive actions, making hurtful or cynical remarks, oftentimes in social settings. When asked what is wrong, the response is usually, “Nothing”. The other person has no idea why he or she is under attack.

Using Minor Irritations

The angry person repeatedly starts fights and arguments over minor irritations (e.g. forgetting to turn the lights off, forgetting to close doors). Minor problems are the cause of constant criticism. The real issue causing the anger is masked.

Collecting Social Allies

An angry person mobilizes support for their side and talks about how victimized they are by other people. This person is very good at getting other people involved and putting them in the middle of the conflict. This can also be evidenced through a quick sentence during a conversation such as, “Well, Jason doesn’t think so. His parents don’t seem to care.”