My anger as a mother is something I am deeply ashamed of. I'm objective enough to know that I am a good mother to these children.
But sometimes - where does it come from? - from within me erupt these raging, explosive, barking words. I know the second the words leave my mouth that I'm sorry. That - no matter how just my cause - I have lost my temper. Again.
The scary thing to me is how uncontrollable it feels. Like an addict, I keep returning to behaviors I hate, before I even realize what's happened. For this reason, my anger is something that draws me to my knees. I know that I know that I know that I need the Lord, and that without Him intervening in my heart and mind, I am capable of truly shameful and destructive behavior.
But there’s more. I feel like God, along with His spirit, grants us his wisdom.
I understand things today about my anger that I didn't seven years ago, before I became a mother.
One thing I have realized is that when I have unjust, destructive anger at my children, I am nearly always also angry at something else.
Of course there are the normal life stresses and worries that take a toll on my emotional strength, but it's not just that.
Usually, I am angry at myself, because I really have no clue how to deal with the discipline problems I am facing.
When my children are bouncing off the walls (again), not obeying my commands to stop, and at each other’s throats (again), the anger that wells up, if could talk, would say something like this:
“I am so frustrated, and I have no clue how to handle this. I feel confused, and discouraged. I have no plan for how to deal with these behaviors, and I’m scared they're just going to get worse.”
Without a plan, buildings fall, and mothers get angry.
I know this is true, because the times when I come into the day armed with a plan for shepherding my children’s hearts, I am calm, I am measured, and I am infinitely more patient.
Of course this is not a foolproof guarantee for no yelling if I discover that someone has written their name in Sharpee on my cabinets, but it is a drastic improvement.
Dear Mom who needs a discipline plan, I have some tips.
First, arm yourself with wise, practical counselors. Find an older friend with grown children. And read anything from Dr. James Dobson you can get your hands on.
Second, reconcile in your head that your children actually WANT you to discipline them (in the right way), and that YOU ARE THE BOSS. (Read this if you need some confidence.) Do not fear discipline, but march confidently right into it. They need this, and you've got this.
Third, narrow in a very select few behaviors to work on. The three I always go back to are obeying Mom and Dad, showing respect to Mom and Dad, and treating others kindly. Then for a while you hammer down on these specific ones, and ignore as much of the other behaviors as you can.
Finally, develop very specific consequences. When I am angry, I scream because I don't know what else to do. But the times that I have in my head the very specific consequences that my children will have, I can calmly address then during misbehaviors. In this recent parenting post, I talk about the steps we take when we're disciplining. It's helpful to remind yourself what your goal is, and the very specific steps you will take to get there!
So, what do you think? Does having a discipline plan seem to help you with your anger?