Confessions Of A Recovering Angry Mom: Two Critical Steps In My Journey Toward Gentle Parenting
I hung up the phone and sighed. My husband was working late again.
In the few moments I took to answer his call, I could hear toddler meltdowns happening in the living room. I turned toward the sound, longing for order and peace. Instead, I was met with sticky floors, unorganized toys, and three very needy little boys under the age of four. I was still in my pajamas--from yesterday. Sadly, yoga pants would have been a step up.
The never ending cycle of dishes and cooking and cleaning and parenting left we with more angst than I cared to admit and too often, I felt defeated and trapped in my frustrations. I loved my boys more than life itself, but I felt a surge of quiet anger and resentment with my circumstances. My sweet boys were full of toddler energy, and while they were mostly behaving in age-appropriate ways, my expectations were too high for them, furthering my frustration. I was too stern with them and easily exasperated by childish behavior.
After more than a year of reactionary parenting, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t living life to the full as God intended for me. I was living life on empty and I wanted more. The problem was that I had no idea where to begin.
The only relief I felt was if my boys all had a rare nap at the same time, and I sat on the couch to watch TV or have an uninterrupted cup of coffee.It was in one of these quiet moments that I cried out to God, asking Him to help me. It was a simple prayer but there was nothing simple about its power.
The first step in my journey away from angry parenting and toward gentle biblical responses was to pray:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV)
No one is more powerful, knowledgeable, compassionate, and willing to help us in our time of need, than The Lord. I knew this in my head, but I needed Him to begin the work of gentleness in my heart. It began with a prayer for help, a request to become a gentle mom, and a confession that I had both been reactionary and joyless in my parenting, trying to live my life in my own strength, instead of inviting the Holy Spirit to guide me, one hour at a time.
The second step in my journey toward gentle parenting was to take specific action:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8, ESV)
Instead of becoming overwhelmed with the many areas that I felt were problems, I focused on one thing for myself, and one thing for my children. If I was having trouble keeping up with housework, I made a simple daily schedule and attempted to do one thing each day--like mopping floors on Monday or grocery shopping every Wednesday. And while I took care of the house, I asked God to give me self-control. If my kids were struggling with sharing, I chose a verse about being generous to others and practiced it with my little boys every lunch hour and then set up daily exercises to teach, model and practice sharing. I viewed my role as mom more as a coach, and patiently trained them, day by day.
Keeping a long range perspective gave me short range patience.
Ten years later, I minister to thousands of parents who have also found hope in what God can do in their homes. My co-author, Wendy Speake and I have written several books together, full of specific things to do and say in order to help parents begin their own journey. We have even created a bundle of teaching videos for personal use or for small groups and churches. You can hear more about both of our transformations on this new two-day broadcast from Focus on the Family where I share one thing I say and do that stops my disobedient children in their tracks, gently and lovingly.
Living on autopilot, thinking that we or our children cannot change is simply a lie. It begins with these two steps but it leads to countless blessings. Jesus took my guilt away about those early years so my only regret is that I didn’t begin sooner.
Don’t waste another moment. Take these first two steps on your own journey away from angry reactions so that you too, can experience the blessed life that God longs to grant you.
All month long, we've been addressing anger and ways to conquer it together during our March Madness series.
You can also find more encouragement and joy in the journey of motherhood in our book, From Grouchy to Great, for a great price now!
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