So, at Katie’s soccer practice, I’m sitting in my van, reading, and I see this mother of 4 boys walking to her van. Two school age, one in the preschool soccer, and a baby. She started screeching at the 2nd one, probably 5 years old or so, to not get dirty. She just berated him. It was really beyond scolding. Her tone was grating and mean. He was dressed neater than the others, so maybe he was going somewhere else afterwards and shouldn’t have gotten dirt on his clothes, shoes, or hands. Of course, I don’t know her circumstances. I don’t know her children. I don’t know what her day has been like. Is her husband deployed or working a late shift? She didn’t speak to her other 3 as far as I knew while loading the baby into his carseat and packing up the stroller. I felt sorry for her eldest. He glanced at me and I smiled forlornly at him. He didn’t return my smile. If she talks to those boys like this in public, what must it be like at home? They’re just little boys. My heart broke.
I know I’ve spoken harshly to my kids. I regret it. I’m sure there have been times I didn’t even apologize. My expectations might be misguided or I might not take into consideration their circumstances or my own. Is she hungry or tired? Does he just need some water? Does she need some alone time away from her siblings to recharge? I know I’m more snappish when I’m tired or hungry or hormonal. I’m a poor example to expect them to always be cheerfully obedient when I am not. I’m a poor example when I snap at my husband (whether or not they witness it). It’s the failures we all remember more than the successes. The niceties and pleasant days are too easily forgotten and the contempt, condescension, sarcasm, and other childishness is always remembered and comes back to haunt us in every argument.
I’m sure the devil loves these little phenomena. He’s laughing his horns off that we Christians struggle as much or more in our marriages and parenting than non-Christians. Why is that? The world makes it so easy to get caught up in unimportant activities and events that hinder our testimony. We may attend church and do all the “right” things, but where is our heart? We struggle with resentments and human frailties. But we are so, so blessed.
Don’t push each other away in your pain. Lean closer and accept the love.
Corrie ten Boom understood this so well:
Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then, of course, part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.
People lash out when they’re hurting.
I don’t want to lash out at my children.
They deserve better.
The director of Christian education at our church recently approached me to ask if Aaron and I would teach an adult Sunday school class on marriage and parenting. She also mentioned to me that most of the kids who attend our church regularly never pray or see a Bible except during our Sunday school classes. That tells me so much about our “Christian” families. She then told me that she “knows we’re doing it right” since the girls tell her all about the Bible study we do. Way to put on the pressure! I’ll tell ya: it’s often a struggle to fit it all in. Isn’t it as important or even more so than math, science, grammar? Bible study with the kids every morning, quiet time on my own (almost) every night, devotionals with my eldest daughter once a week, reviewing her Bible history studies…they’re starting to really get it now, though, at ages 5, 6, 11…they see Christ in so much! It is humbling to me.
So, having all this responsibility just makes it so worse when I snap at my kids or husband. Shouldn’t I do better? Shouldn’t I have it more under control than that poor woman with her four boys? Shouldn’t I be a better example? I fail and I fail and I fail at that which I long to do better. Just like Paul.
I recently taught the kids about anger when I realized Katie needed some coping strategies, but I think we all benefited. We’re working through it together. Hopefully, they will grow up having learned sooner rather than later.
Do you struggle with anger issues?
Here are some sites that may help:
Mommy Anger Management Series from Meet Penny
Parenting and Anger Series from Creative with Kids, which is a safe haven community to discuss anger issues.