Three Great Ways to Handle Drama

Three Great Ways to Handle Drama April 26, 2022

The man behind me at the grocery checkout was on his phone with his daughter—and clearly having a hard time getting a word in edgewise. “No, honey, I—” [pause as his daughter talks]. His voice rose slightly, as he tried to break in. “But I am listening, I just don’t think—” [another pause]. “Honey—” His voice rose even more, attracting the attention of others around us. He looked toward the cashier and me. “I’m sorry you’re upset, sweetheart, but I’m checking out at the grocery store, and I need to go.”

He ended the call, grinned slightly sheepishly at us, and nodded his head toward the phone. “She’s thirteen,” he said in explanation. “Drama queen.”

“Ah,” I said. “My daughter had plenty of those moments. It will get better.”

Suddenly his jokey manner slipped a bit. “I hope so. I have four girls.” He held up the phone. “She’s the oldest. And I have no idea how to handle all the drama.”

The female cashier finished my groceries and started on his, chiming in, “You don’t handle it! You just try to survive it!” The man bagging the groceries chuckled and threw in his two cents. “My solution? Man cave. My wife passed the drama gene on to our daughter. So when the tears start—with either of them—the only solution is to head downstairs and let the storm pass.”

I said goodbye and walked out to my car, wishing they knew that “just surviving” and withdrawing were not the only solutions—and that there were certain actions that would not only be much more loving, but would probably make them a hero to their loved ones.

So here are three things I wish I would have been able to say that day. These are from the research surveys for our books For Parents Only and For Men Only, among others, and are three super-simple steps that usually speak to the heart of a “dramatic,” upset person. (And because “drama” could be defined in lots of different ways, note what I’m tackling in this article is primarily how to handle the average child or adult who occasionally gets upset, weepy, angry, and so on, in a way that seems to be blowing things out of proportion and perhaps making things worse.)

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