I swore I’d never be that mom. You know the one…
The mom who doesn’t have to say a word, but if looks could kill…
The one screaming at her kids in the middle of the grocery store…
That mom that gets all snarky at her kids when they look at her cross-eyed…
And I’d certainly never be the mom who tells her kids what a mess they are.
I’d be the controlled, encouraging, loving mom.
That’s the mom I knew I’d be…before I had kids! Ah, the best laid plans…
Unfortunately, since starting this mothering gig, I’ve had to relearn over and over…and over, that every time I freak out on my kids it’s both hypocritical and ineffective.
Take the 5-Question Quiz
Anger is pretty good at identifying problems. It’s terrible at solving them.
Anger comes in many shapes and sizes—even among Christian parents. Identify which kind of angry mom you are with this short quiz.
1. You’ve told your 4-year-old not to get the milk out of the fridge on her own several times, but after you step out of the room, she pulls a stool over to the fridge, opens the door, grabs the milk and drops it. Everywhere.
A. You scream, “How many times have I told you not to do that?! Do you see what happens when you don’t listen?”
B. You groan, give her a sour look, and begin wiping up the mess. As the morning goes on, you refuse to give her so much as a smile so she understands she’s not on your good side.
C. You begin cleaning up the mess, and when she asks for breakfast, you tell her, “I would have had time to get you breakfast, but I’m cleaning up your mess right now. Looks like you have to wait.“
D. You stare at her and say, “Look what you did. Why can’t you just listen for once?“
2. You tell your 8-year-old you have an important call to make, that he should play on his own and not interrupt you. Three minutes into your call, he bursts into your bedroom asking for a snack.
A. You mute the phone and growl, “I told you not to come in here. Get out! Now!“
B. As he touches you on the arm, you jerk your arm away, shoot him a nasty look, and turn your back on him to continue with your phone call.
C. Dismayed, you tell the person on the other end of the line, “Sorry. Of course my kid’s in here right after I told him not to,” as you shoo him out the door.
D. You muffle the phone and say, “Why can’t you be more considerate? I just needed 10 minutes, and you can’t even give me that.“
3. You can hear the shouting from across the house. The kids are at it again—this time over some dumb toy they both want to play with. You walk towards the commotion and…
A. You yell, “Don’t make me come over there! I can’t even hear myself think.“
B. You grab the toy from them and reply, “That takes care of that.“
C. You enter the room, saying, “I must not be raising you very well to hear this kind of fighting.“
D. You shout, “Stop being such brats! You kids are always fighting about something.“
4. You announce to the kids that it’s family movie night and a movie is chosen—except for your little party pooper who wants another movie. He whines, “You never let me do anything fun!”
A. You reply, “Look. I’m sick and tired of your complaining.”
B. You give you child a cold look, ignore the comment, and stew as he sits in the corner of the room sulking during the movie.
C. You comment, “Oh, you’re right. Movies aren’t any fun at all. I guess you can spend the evening in your room while us boring people watch our boring movie.”
D. You say, “You know, it’s just like you to say something like that. You are so ungrateful.”
5. You tell your 12-year-old to take out the garbage and they pitch a fit. Finally they begin to nab trash bags from around the house, dragging their feet the whole time and sulking about how life isn’t fair.
A. You shout, “That’s it! I’m sick of it! Just keep your mouth shut.”
B. You reply, “Fine, don’t bother,” as you grab the trash do it yourself.
C. You calmly reply, “Do you realize how many times I’ve cleaned up after you in your life? Seriously, are you really upset about taking the trash out?“
D. You shake your head and say, “You’re so lazy. This isn’t that hard.”
If you answered mostly A‘s you are…
Let’s just say, “Slow to speak,” isn’t in your repertoire. You’re a shouter and you know it. Your quick-tempered outbursts feel like they come out of nowhere sometimes. Your kids often annoy you more than you care to admit (because, you know— kids can be annoying), and you often vent your frustration through screaming and threats.
If you answered mostly B‘s you are…
Life just sort of ticks you off sometimes. In the morning, when you hear your kids running around like wild banshees, you think, “Here we go again.” You kind of expect to irritated by your kids these days. It usually comes out more through your facial expressions, negative attitude, and cold shoulders than your words.
If you answered mostly C‘s you are…
You’re probably mad at your kids, but you may not notice at first. When you get mad you’d rather not explode and vent it right away. Instead you depend on the 3 S’s: sarcasm, subtle insults, or self-pity (and if you want a 4th S, you could throw in “snark,” but its a lot like sarcasm). “Fine,” “Whatever” might be some of your favorite phrases. You may think you’re masking your anger well, but like all kids, yours are good anger barometers and they can see through it all.
If you answered mostly D‘s you are…
You love words like “always” and “never” and phrases that begin with “you are…” Whether you realize it or not, your kids know they’re not just doing something wrong—they are a walking mess. You say things like that because you really wants your kids to see how terrible their bad habits are, but it doesn’t really seem to be changing anything.
Getting to the Root of Anger
Whether you’re Yelling Yvonne, Sullen Sophia, Passive Paige, Name-Calling Nicole, or a Frankenstein amalgamation of all of them, Scripture speaks to all of us.
- To the yellers out there, the Bible teaches us not to give full vent to our spirit but quietly hold it back (Proverbs 29:11).
- To the sullen, the Bible teaches us to put away all bitterness and be tenderhearted like Christ is to us (Ephesians 4:31-32).
- To the passive-aggressive moms, the Bible tells us to speak works that are good for building up, not tearing down (Ephesians 4:29).
- To the name-callers, the Scriptures remind us that a harsh word only stirs up anger in others (Proverbs 15:1).
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get all that. The million dollar question is the HOW. Ungodly anger just seems to be part of who we are (because it is), so HOW does God give us the wisdom and power to overcome our anger and treat our kids differently?
You can count to 10 and take deep breaths all day long, but in the end, God wants us to get to the root of our anger—no matter how we express it.
Check out my husband’s book, Losing It: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Overcoming Anger.