It wasn’t like I was speaking another language. Why in the world was my son doing the exact opposite of what I asked him to do? I stood in the middle of my kitchen, exasperated. My husband worked long hours and I was doing my best to get dinner on the table without being delayed by my son’s disobedience.
I felt like my instructions were simple. Reasonable even.
“Please pick up the toys from the dinner table and put them away so I can set the table.” I called from sink.
“Son” I repeated. “I need you to clear the table for dinner.”
It was like talking to a wall. I could feel my frustration rise and my anger begin to fester. It was the moment of truth. I had two choices in this moment:
1.) Let my emotions take over and explode in a stern lecture and threats, resulting in tears and sighs of resentment.
2.) Show empathy for my son’s focused attention to his toy, recognizing his immaturity. Choose not to take it personally and make the clean up time fun and engaging as I coach him through the process in a loving manner. Follow up with a reasonable and thoughtful consequence if need be.
Angry punishments crush our children’s spirits, but loving consequences correct their hearts.
I love what Proverbs 29:11 says about our hasty reactions: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” It took me a while to reframe my way of dealing with my children so that option 2 became the habitual response to the triggers that made me upset. But it was an eternally valuable spiritual discipline.
When I first became a mom, I imagined that my kids were for my enjoyment. And I do enjoy them. But I didn’t consider that God had designed this chapter of my life for my refinement. It turns out that other moms were feeling as befuddled about this calling and their mixed feelings as I was.
Almost two years ago, I began to lead a private Facebook group called No More Angry MOBs. The group swelled to nearly 12,000 women and it’s growing every day. It turns out that mommy anger is a common and often hidden condition that women are desperate to quench. They just aren’t sure how.
My co-leader, Wendy Speake, and I realized that God was calling us to write a book, Triggers, Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses. That’s what we all wanted—and needed. Biblical and gentle truth to transform our hearts and practical methods for our most heated moments.
Our triggers—all31 of them that we cover in the book, like backtalk, disobedience, disrespect, video game addiction, generational habits, depression, stress, messy homes, etc.-- are opportunities for our own spiritual growth as moms to develop grace, self-control, and loving-kindness.
It’s less about changing them, and more about God changing us. Inevitably, that core heart transformation results in more peaceful homes, obedient kids, and thriving relationships too.
Every challenging moment with my child can be a victory for me, even if it is not for them.
My son didn’t respond to my instructions in the way I wanted him to. When our kids disobey, they miss out on blessing. The same goes for us as moms. But even though my boy required more training and reminders to make the table presentable, that moment of dinnertime conflict became a victory for me as I offered him a gracious and kind response to his resistance.
The next time your find yourself triggered by your son or daughter’s behavior and an angry argument is on the verge, consider that this moment is full of potential for both of you. Remember that it’s not about winning a battle but allowing God to breathe life into our hearts so that angry moments transform into victorious ones.
Amber Lia | A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 3 little boys under the age of 8. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights and join her No More Angry MOB Facebook Group Here.