In a previous article we looked at some of the reasons we get so angry with our children. Just by being aware of the things that trigger anger in us, it can help us to deal more effectively with our anger and act in right ways instead of taking it out on our kids. When I went through that year of chronic anger toward my kids, God really taught me many things as I struggled with those feelings of anger and all of the emotions that came with them. (confusion, guilt, worry, fear…) I wish I could write an article entitled “Solutions For This Problem” – but I really can’t. Since each of us is different and there are so many different variables involved in each mom’s situation, the best I can do is offer you some ideas for the growth process. As you look at these ideas, please keep in mind the fact that God wants you to go to Him for answers and for help and strength. He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you so much! God will guide you and help you know what you need to do as you work through the problem of dealing with anger toward your children.
· Get outside help, if needed. Please don’t be ashamed to get help from a doctor or counselor if you know that the problem is too much for you to handle. Your children are worth much more than your pride. I can remember once when I took the kids to the doctor for checkups. My mother-in-law happened to be with me, she took the kids to the waiting room, and then I confessed to our doctor that I felt so angry with Erin at times that I was afraid I might hurt her. I cried and felt so ashamed, but his response made me feel so much better. He said that that was a very normal emotion, and he didn’t think I was going crazy. He said that the parents he worries about are the ones who strike out at their kids and don’t feel badly about it at all. He gave me the name and phone number of a counselor I could contact if I needed to. Although I never used it, just having that number made me feel better. Going for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
· Learn how to discipline in right ways. Many of the problems I had with Erin were the result of discipline problems which I let get out of hand. For me, the worst time was bedtime. I was tired, and Erin (2 at the time) would not stay in her bed. I got more and more angry every time I put her back in bed, and there were many nights when she would get hysterical and I would be furious and close to losing control as I forced her to stay in her room. Another problem that triggered anger for me was when Erin would run the othe way when I called her. I can remember chasing her around Grandma and Grandpa’s house in town when I would pick her up after I went to a meeting or shopping. It was embarrassing to have a child who did not obey me and it made me angry! A good tool for learning how to discipline your children well is a class called Growing Kids God’s Way. It teaches you how to train your children to be motivated from the heart to act in right ways. When your children learn to obey you, it will greatly increase the level of peace in your home.
· Search the Bible and other resources for ideas that help and strengthen you. All during that angry year I would copy down Bible verses dealing with anger, taking care of our children, forgiveness; verses that convicted me of my problem or comforted me as I dealt with it. I read lots of books on dealing with anger. I listened to radio programs that inspired me. I have quite a thick file folder full of quotes and articles for dealing with anger. I must warn you of one danger, though. You can get so caught up in reading about your problem that you fail to actually practice the things you are learning. Keep working on the problem as you learn.
· Keep a journal. It can help to get those feelings out on paper and you can be more objective about it. It can also be encouraging to see your progress later when you go back and read your journal.
· Develop a right attitude. Keep things in perspective and decide to enjoy your children. Quite a few of the parenting books I read reminded me that my children would be small for only a season and that I needed to do all I could to enjoy them now. It’s easy to focus on all of the negative aspects of raising our small children, but if we can keep a right attitude during this busy time we’ll be able to look back on this season of life with joy and not regret.
· Talk to people you respect. (Not with everyone you meet or know) During this time I felt like I wanted to ask everyone I talked with: “Have you ever felt this way? Do you get really angry with your kids, too?” Since I didn’t want everyone to doubt my sanity, I chose to talk to friends who also were dealing with anger, and I met for a short period of time with two older women. One had kids who were still at home but older and she experienced her share of frustrations; the other had children who were grown up, but it helped to hear her talk about similar feelings when her kids were small and we studied what the Bible says about anger together.
· Talk with your spouse. This is so important! When I would try to deal with bedtime with Erin, many times I would start getting mad at her for not staying in bed, and I would get so frustrated that I was afraid I would hurt her. Then I got angry at Gary, because when all this started getting really bad he would go to bed. I would think “Can’t you see I need help? Can’t you see that I’m about to lose it?” I would be crying and mad at Erin, and mad at Gary. I would go to bed so angry that I couldn’t even sleep for a long time; I was so mad. When I finally talked to him about it, I found out that he did see that I was about to lose it, but he felt like it would be undermining my authority to step in and take over at that point. Once we talked about that and I realized that I could ask him to take over and that he would, the situation was better. Many times I could actually feel my anger and tension dissipate after Gary and I had a good talk. For the sake of your kids, keep the lines of communication open with your spouse.
Once again, I urge you to spend lots of time with God as you learn to deal with the anger you may be feeling toward your children. He deals with each of us individually, so there are no formulas you can follow as you work through different problems that come up in life. If you spend time reading the Bible, and if you keep your focus on God throughout the day, you will be amazed at the way He shows Himself to you. He may lead you to just the right Bible verse – one that you especially need to read today. He may surprise you with a special sign that He cares about you, through an unusual circumstance that occurs. Maybe, just maybe, as you focus on Him you will begin to feel more love for your family, and soon the problem of anger toward your children will be just a distant memory.
God bless you on your journey from anger back to joy!
© Robyn Mulder, November 5, 1998, therobynsnest.org