You may have seen the 1957 film titled 12 Angry Men. There are also some remakes, but I believe the original is the most powerful.

The plot to this film is surrounds a jury who has gone into the jury room in a capital murder case concerning an 18-year-old boy accused of murder. It appears to be an open and shut case. In the first round of votes 11 out of 12 jurors vote the teen guilty. The 12th juror will not agree with the other 11. What unfolds is an expose in prejudices, the influence of our past experiences, biases, assumptions, and preconceptions.

In 12 Angry Men anger is the emotion up for most of the jurors. Their anger in fueled or informed by other emotions that eventually come to light as the film progresses.

As parents it will serve you and those you love if you can uncover your biases, assumptions, preconceptions, and prejudices. It will also help your children if you can help them to uncover theirs.

I like to look at our emotions in much the same way as primary and secondary colors. There are primary colors such as red, blue, and yellow. Secondary colors are made from mixing of the primary colors or by the addition of black or white.

Emotions are much the same. The primary emotions are anger, sadness, love, fear, and joy. The other emotions are based on the mixing of the primary emotions or by the addition of extremes such as we find when there are challenging life events.

Anger is a sentinel emotion. It is often sent out to do the work of the other emotions. It is big, often loud, and can be intimidating. Sometimes people pull out their big guns first. Anger has its place in life, but it is not to be confused with rage or being mean in the delivery of anger.

Anger isn’t our only emotion, but is is an emotion used in place of other emotions that might fit better. I often find that the flip side of anger is fear. The fear may be so great that the owner of that emotion thinks the fear will not communicate itself well enough. So anger is sent in to do the work.

Teenagers are children in the process of becoming adults. They are learning the subtle nuances of many things including emotions and how to use them. Sometimes anger is used more often because the teen doesn’t understand their own fear or they haven’t learned yet about what to do with fear.

Children also learn from what is taking place in their world. They may use parents or other relatives as role models. They may use teachers or other professionals as role models. They often use their peers as models. Teens also see what is going on in the world and it is hard for many of them to find an acceptable emotional model to emulate.

Teens will be angry. They will often let anger be their primary and most used emotion. If this is happening with your child think about the movie, 12 Angry Men. Most anger is based on another emotion that has not yet been given voice. These other emotions caretake our prior life events, our hurts, the times we were alone without support, and our sensitive memories often kept secret even from our self.