My husband just preached on anger this last Sunday, so it’s been a topic of conversation around our house lately. And since it seems to be a bit of a topic in the comment sections here, I thought I’d weigh in with two small cents . . . on anger as it seems to manifest itself in wives and mothers.
Let’s just say (hypothetically of course) that you have just completely lost the bubble with your children. (That would never happen, right?) You got tweaked all the way out because they were being loud and rambunctious and they woke up the baby. And, (this is the vitally important part), you TOLD them not to be loud or they’d wake up the baby. You said it plainly and in English, and now they’ve gone and done it. This is clearly a flagrant disregard of your authority, of God’s law, of the ten commandments, of all the laws of nature, of house rules, of all human decency, and now you’re not going to have your calm moment to sit down and sip your tea and look at Pinterest. Or fold your laundry. Or get caught up on your email. Clearly (you tell yourself) you need to show the children the full weight of their offense. What better way to do this, than to pack all the punch you can into your frown, ramp up the tone of voice, raise the level of sarcasm to previously unscaled heights, and grab them (too tightly) by the shoulder and frog march them to the bathroom? All of this, you reason, is to show them how badly they have offended God – you are clearly obligated to show them how grievously they have transgressed.
If you don’t have a baby, then change the above scenario to the one where your daughter used up more minutes on her phone than she was allotted, or sent more texts than she was supposed to, or didn’t get her chores done. You draw yourself up, put your hands on your hips, and commence an outraged speech, littered with tasteful phrases like, “Why can’t you ever LISTEN TO ME???!!!”
You know how this goes, right? You tell yourself that you are training up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, showing them right from wrong. That you have a zeal for righteousness. That they need to understand the weight of judgement in order to comprehend the righteousness of God’s standards.
However, follow me closely here, you actually aren’t doing anything of the sort. You’re being a big stinker. Of all the pills in the house, you’re being the worst. In this little scenario, the prize for bad behavior goes to mom, with the loud children and phone offender coming in a distant second.
Now, am I saying that disobedience should be ignored? That we should forgo teaching our children to be righteous? Obviously not. I’m just saying that when you flip out at them and really haul up your slacks with outraged tirades, you’re actually only showing them that disobedience to God is something that is perfectly ok with you. Long story short, you’re teaching them hypocrisy. You get to ignore God’s rules whenever they don’t line up with your mood . . . so why shouldn’t your children be allowed that same privilege?
Here’s the trick. The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. If you are an angry parent, you will not produce righteousness in your children . . . even if all your anger is directed at sin. The wrath of man DOES NOT produce the righteousness of God. Tattoo it upon your paddle. Write it on the doorposts of your bathroom.
Or how about this one? Proverbs says, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.” You’re not supposed to even be friends with an angry man . . . so what exactly are your kids supposed to do if you’re an angry mom? How do they obey that proverb? We like to pretend that our anger is righteous, and that we’re in this for justice and truth. But as a matter of fact we’re just being selfish little punks when we lose our temper at our children.
We have been saved from the wrath of God through Christ. This means that the full weight of God’s wrath has been turned from us. Are we going to be like the unfaithful servant who, after being forgiven much went out and choked his fellow servant for a piddly little sum? You’ve been saved from God’s wrath . . . why would you feel like you need to pour the burning brimstone of your wrath out on your kids?
If you’re an angry mom, confess it. Stop pretending it’s justice. Stop pretending that you’re on a crusade for righteousness. Call it what it is, and confess your sin. Confess it to God, then confess it to your kids, and then confess it to anyone else that witnessed it. The confession should be as public as the sin was. And if you find that you’re shrieking at your kids all the time with very little apparent provocation, dig a little deeper and see if you actually have some anger issues with someone besides them. Are you mad at your husband over something? Are you angry at your parents? Are you angry at God for your situation in life? Do you feel wronged by someone from your past or present? If you’re hanging on to that and nursing it along in your heart, then your kids will be the unlucky recipients as you sub-consciously re-direct your pent up wrath. And even if you pretend that it’s justice, your kids will see right through it.