Masking Anger as Justice

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.

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62 thoughts on “Masking Anger as Justice

  1. I try not to be a punk or a stinker but I am on a regular basis. This morning when I thought my son’s disobedience of a simple instruction resulted in me thinking that the mommy hamster was taken out of the cage by a friend (and she still has nursing babies) and she went missing. I “let him know the full extent of his sin” against every law known to man by raising my voice so loud for everyone to hear. Shame on me. I later found her under her food bowel. It was an opportunity to point my son to the gospel and the forgiveness found there but that is a permanent memory, that as you have said will not yield the righteousness of God.

    Thank you for sharing what God laid on your heart…what an encouragement to be God fearing moms.

  2. When you lose your cool you also lose control of the situation. With children, you must maintain calm otherwise they win and you can’t think straight to react with the appropriate consequence or action… God doesn’t ever lose his cool with us and He always remains in control of the circumstance. For me as a mom I like to consider myself “in control” (ha, ha) so maintaining my calm is a great incentive.

  3. Just read this aloud to my husband – Oh. my. goodness. It’s like you’ve been in our house. I mean, hearts. And the last paragraph, about anger actually being re-directed – we think that’s going on here in our household. There’s a particularly distressing situation we’re facing and I think the anger (bitterness/brooding/fretting) from that is working out in our relationships with our children who are, after all, simply being CHILDREN more often than not. THANK YOU for saying these hard things. The Lord used your words in our home this morning.

  4. You’ve hit the nail right on the head with “But as a matter of fact we’re just being selfish little punks when we lose our temper at our children.” and “…and now you’re not going to have your calm moment to sit down and sip your tea and look at Pinterest.”

    I find that most often when I’m tempted lose my temper it is simply because I’m being selfish and feeling put-upon. Because *I* can’t do what I want to do right now! Accompanied with a big fat spiritual pout and some foot stamping thrown in. And suddenly I’m acting just like my 4-year-old.

    I’m learning how to be a cheerful servant, imitating Christ. Learning not to love myself more than my neighbours, who in this case are my children. Applying passages like Phil 2:1-11 not just to ‘other people out there’ but to me as I interact with my children.

    God is faithful!

  5. These are life changing words, Bekah, for anyone blessed enough to call themself mom or dad. Shout it from the roof tops (maybe not yours, as it is quite high off the ground :0)

  6. Any suggestions on what to do instead would be helpful. We all know it’s wrong. We don’t wake up in the morning and say “I’m going to be angry at my children today”. Some of us need help and pray about it, but are still struggling. So it’s good that this has awakened some, but how should we handle those situations. I have trouble telling my children that it’s okay that they didn’t listen and that everything will just be peachy every time they make a poor decision or disrespect someone. Thanks for any more insight…

  7. Having commented (twice) in the last post about this very issue I do have a few things to say. First, I want to say this is a good post, a very good post as a matter of fact, but I want to humbly point out a few things for the sake of sharpening (that’s one of the reasons people blog, right? If we all just comment “oh wow that’s great, thanks” where does that really get us?)

    Leaving aside all the other things that can be said about anger, here is the crux, which you aptly stated:

    “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.”

    That last part is key: “even if all your anger is directed at sin.” Again, setting aside all the other “stuff” we can say about the sin of anger for the moment, we have to see the complexities wrapped up in that one sentence. A lot of the time, I know for me personally when this sin had dominion over me, the anger was most certainly directed at sin. And because it was directed at sin it was difficult to see (because our sin blinds us) that the outburst of wrath was unjustified because what my mind was locking in on at the time is that we are indeed to be angry over sin. There’s much I can say about this, but let me move on…

    The second thing I wanted to point out is that there is a difference in kind and degree of anger. There are people whose stronghold sin is anger. Then there are people who get angry once in a while over something, but the sin of anger does not characterize them (probably something else since there is no one without sin). These people are not the ones talked about in Proverbs, they are not the ones “given to anger.” Helping someone who is struggling deeply with being an angry person is going to look different then rebuking and exhorting the brother or sister who sins in that way occasionally. This is why it’s crucial to not paint with a broad brush. One may need an irenic spirit, a steadfast commitment to prayer, and to be given the gospel consistently and with much grace and tenderness. Where the other may need to just be pulled aside and given a loving rebuke.

    Third, I wanted to point to these two sentences:

    “Stop pretending it’s justice. Stop pretending that you’re on a crusade for righteousness.”

    I’m not sure using the words “stop pretending” is helpful here. I can tell you as someone who for years wrestled with this sin there was no “pretending it’s justice” or any pretending for that matter. Locked and blinded into a stronghold sin is grievous. It is shattering to the soul, of the one who is sinning and of those around them. I think (I could be wrong and I’m certainly open to being corrected on this) that the way to truly be helpful to those caught in the grips of this or any other sin for that matter, is through the love, the grace, and the longsuffering of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Being told to “just stop it” or “stop pretending and just confess it” doesn’t reach the heart of the hurting. We the the sinful hurting need to be reminded of the gospel again and again, it is our life and our salvation. It is our only way out. Jesus saves us even from ourselves. I say this with utmost humility and kindness because I know that your heart is to help and to encourage.

    I could write a book on this but I’ll stop here. I appreciate all the Femina writers and always look forward to the thought provoking posts. Anyway, I hope this helps.

  8. ooooh, very good post. And very good response Luma. Although some scriptural back up for why we should be angry at sin would be good to hear. I *think* it’s there, but I’d like to just check that.

  9. Convicted, yes. Exhorted, yes. Helped, yes (also by Luma’s thoughtful comments).

    Now: Are you selling that “tattooed” paddle in the picture? I’d not only buy it, I’d hang it on my bathroom doorpost! 😉

  10. this was so good. thank you for sharing your heart. you ladies have such a great platform & the lord has used you in countless ways in our home since i first discovered your blog in aug.

    yes to the above post! i’d love to purchase one (or 3) of those paddles!!

  11. Such good thoughts here. Thanks for sharing. I also thought Luma made a terrific point that when we suffer from anger, as a problem, as a stronghold, there is no telling us to just stop it. I too struggled with anger for years. And I never knew it. It truly is His kindness that leads to repentance. And it was only a good, thorough washing in the nitty gritty gospel that started to open my eyes first and then calm me down second. This sermon by Tim Keller gave me words to explain what was happening.

  12. Wow, this was a timely message for me. The children and I had a little heart to heart meeting time this morning and I feel excited about the new start. It’s amazing how anger can creep in and mask itself…frustrated, irritated, annoyed, perplexed, confused, put-off, ignore…all these can be manifestations of anger. So, in the spirit of Femina, we came up with an analogy that anger is like a cameleon. It can camoflage itself and you can almost miss it, until you look a little closer and see that it has been sitting on your shoulder all along. Scary. I encouraged the children (after my apologies were done) to try to recognize in their own hearts when the cameleon anger was trying to sneak in. And we decided that we could use a code word of cameleon when a sibling was getting angry, and hopefully diffuse the situation. An opportunity came right away during math time…one sibling brought up only how many blocks he needed to build his own math problem instead of bringing up the whole box…sister got mad and angrily told him what she thought of his ‘selfish actions’…he said ‘cameleon!’, then sister stopped short and the tears came, so I helped her communicate without anger, he promptly said sorry, and ran down and got the blocks. I was able to handle the situation patiently, with a plan and a prayer, the children were able to diffuse the situation and learn to love…it was BEAUTIFUL!
    Much thanks! I am putting this verse up where I can see it all the time.

  13. Luma,

    I appreciate your comment, and taking the time to thoughtfully and respectfully write it out and I have a few responses. And please realize that this comes from someone who wrestles MOMENT by stinking moment to not be angry at my children for sinning. They are the seed of Adam, they, and I, will sin. But God doesn’t cast down fire and brimstone when I sin, for which I am less thoughful or thankful than I ought to be. Who am I, then, to allow my children to feel MY wrath? And *there*, I believe, is the crux. It is not entirely relevant that my anger is pointed towards something God Himself abhors (lies from my 3yr old, per se). But what is the entire point is that I am distributing MY wrath, as though God would place His stamp of approval at my glowering brow, tight lips and heavy spankin. If I am angry, I am not disciplining in love. I am hitting in anger. Each scenario will reap drastically different fruit, my heart must be *broken* over my children’s sin, not inflamed.

    Eph 4:26 – “Be angry and do not sin”…

    Also, God claims vengence as His own. And, Lord willing, He will not be taking vengence on my children in their day of judgement, but welcoming them as good and faithful servants. Just echoing the post, then, taking vengence on my children for their sins is in fact a sin of my own. (I don’t think you disagree 🙂

    As to the different degree of anger…I completely understand. I am definitely one of the latter. But sin is sin, regardless if it is our sin du’jour or a couple times a month gig. And sin requires a rebuke for repentence.

    For your final point, I completely agree, with a caveat. If it is my husband correcting me, I want roses, sweet words and encouragement. If it my fellow mamma friends in the trenches, I’ve found straight up, “Put on your big girl panties and start repenting for this sin” has born tremendous fruit. (Which, I’ll just point out here, is not biblical. I ought to love and appreciate my husband’s rebuke, sweet or otherwise, more seriously and gratefully than even a very Godly friend’s.) A couple years ago, I would have despaired over reading this blog, going “I KNOW I KNOW!! I am a horrible mommy and I can’t do anything to help or change. Woe is me!”…probably complete with champagne and black balloons. But God has graciously not left me in that spot, so a post like this makes me want to cry out for some heart fixing and spend all afternoon lavishily loving my kiddos and dying to self over all the little interruptions they present while I’m trying to get my big, important things done.

    Again, I loved your post and in no way think you were being contrarian. I believe that you, too, have a heart that was aiming to help and encourage. I hope you feel the same about my response.


  14. So good. And I love Luma and Monique’s comments that I want to toss in a third good thing: Keizer’s book “The Enigma of Anger” has been one of the most formative things in my life. He not only addresses this issue so well but also many other aspects that never would have occurred to me. Convicting read. I commend it to you all.

  15. Hi Luma!

    I’m not sure that I can tell where your disagreement is . . . maybe I’m not understanding you correctly?

    As far as just “telling people to stop it” goes – you’re totally right that everyone is different and every situation needs to be handled differently. However, I do think that Scripture frequently uses the “just stop doing that” approach . . . think of “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” That’s pretty much a “knock that off” kind of statement, and it doesn’t get too involved with worrying with the nuances of each and every situation. It just says to be done with all that.

    Some people already know that their anger is a problem, and they confess it whenever it happens. Those people already have the basics figured out . . . but I was referring to the school of thought (and there are LOTS of these people) who think that their anger is actually righteousness. And they’re the people who need to be told to stop lying to themselves – anger is not the same thing as righteousness. So that was the group I was talking about here . . . and honestly, I think that every time we get angry we are in some way falling into this trap. The question is just whether we recognize and confess what we’re actually doing.

  16. Hey All!

    Let me clarify a few things about my comment above:

    Rebekah, the only place I had disagreement with was with the “just stop it” type of thing. The other parts of my comment were simply to bring things to the table. This is one of the reasons why I’m always careful to put in writing that my tone comes with “kindness and humility.” Blog comments, emails and the like can be misunderstood very quickly, people can’t see your face, can’t hear your tone, etc. So…. I’ll give it another try and I’ll use smiley faces so a reader could see the demeanor it is coming from:

    I love Ephesians 4:31 (the verse you quoted above), I used to cling to it and beg the Lord for the grace to free me from the bondage of those sins. (And he has! Praise be to God!) But look at the verse right after it: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) This whole section of scripture, including the one Monique quoted above is all about putting off the old man and putting on the new man. So I’ve never seen these types of verses from Paul as “just knock it off would you.” Paul of all people understood that putting on the new man is the work of the Holy Spirit brought about through the pure grace of God and that it took a lifetime (progressive sanctification). He was the one who towards the end of his ministry would cry out “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24 As a matter of fact, I am currently studying the book of Ephesians using Wendy Horger Alsup’s book, “By His Wounds You Are Healed, how the message of Ephesians transforms a woman’s identity.” Anyway, that’s where I was coming from in my comment above. And it’s okay to just disagree on that. 🙂 One of the reasons God’s Kingdom has different ministries is because different people need different ways to be ministered to. We’re not cookie-cutter saints. 🙂

    And yes, I agree wholeheartedly that sinful anger is NOT righteousness. Pastor Tullian Tchividjian has an excellent chapter entitled “An Angry Community” in his book “Unfashionable.” One of the things he does is discuss the difference between self-centered anger and God-centered anger. God-centered anger is a grieving anger (See Mark 3:1-5) Tchividjian writes: “God’s anger is a grieving anger. It grieves because it sees the devastation that sin has on human life.” Earlier he says regarding the Ephesians 4:26-27 passage,”Anger can be God-centered or self-centered. God-centered anger is when you get angry because God has been dishonored (note: he’s probably not thinking of the 3 year old lying, kind of example given above)and his ways have been maligned. Self-centered anger is when you’re angry because YOU have been dishonored or Your ways have been maligned.”

    So what I was trying to do, is actually agree with you and just amplify above (the paragraph about the “even if all your anger is directed at sin” statement) that we’re so busy concentrating on someone else’s sin, we’re blinded. We neglect to see that our anger which as you have rightly stated we call “righteous anger” is actually a sinful self-centered anger. “If other people’s sin angers you more than your own, you can be sure you’re guilty of self-centered anger.” (From “Unfashionable” page 126) As your mom and dad have both said before so wisely “we’re to hate what God hates and love what God loves. We’re to think God’s thoughts after him.” And indeed he does hate self-righteous anger!

    Hope that clarifies things, Rebekah! 🙂

    Monique, I hope I’ve answered some of your concerns too. Yes, a straight up rebuke is required sometimes, but within context and within a relationship. As Paul says in Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

    I hope I didn’t miss anything… God be with you all.

  17. To Rebekah’s addition: the original did feel like a browbeating, but after the sting wore off it was helpful for me specifically b/c I haven’t ever consciously justified my anger. It’s so ugly and awful and hateful, why would I want to defend it? I want to be rid of it! But is that attitude what’s behind my anger? Yikes. It may be. And so far in the last 24 hours, when someone whacks someone else on the head, or grabs from brother, or ignores a command, it’s been really helpful to take a second to tell myself “being angry at this sin won’t stop them from sinning. It will show them how to sin in different ways.”

  18. It might be helpful to keep in mind that Rebekah is preaching to herself as much as anyone and since she is a mother, I can guarantee she is speaking from personal experience of her own sin. I think that might help keep things in perspective. 🙂

  19. I love the “just knock it off” approach. It helps me to know that I have a choice to make. This is something I can decide to do. If I lose my cool with my kiddos then they learn so much more about my anger than their sin. I try to keep in mind “What do I want them to learn from this?”

  20. What a great post!!!! I think I am going to write those things in my bathroom and on the paddle and maybe tattoo it on my forehead and bind them around my neck! I need to be reminded of such grace all the time! Thanks for the reminder and the kick in the pants!!!!

  21. Maybe I’ll go by Janine B? 🙂 In answer to some questions about what to do instead: here are some things that helped at our house. HAVE A PLAN. AHEAD OF TIME. They are children. They will behave as children. If carelessness or child-likeness is the issue, training in “no, instead do this” is the cure. More time with mommy or daddy, (maybe I expected more than they were capable of? Maybe I didn’t give enough instruction/help?) more help in cleaning up the mess, more matter-of-factness in the solution, not so much “why” over the mess. If it is disobedience, IMMIDIATE chastisement in the letter of the PLAN is the cure. It means stopping, getting up, walking over and dealing with the disobedience however you and your husband have decided it’s to occur. Calmly. I can be calm if it is an equation: This action= this response from mommy. Much of my ‘frustration’ came from not having a plan, letting little things slide, not wanting to stop what I was doing, or being too lazy to really train the right way to begin with. On that note, husbands are invaluable here: I needed mine to give me a plan for each “class” of infraction- he’s a terribly creative guy! And many times can cut to the heart of the disobedience and what will “cost” the child enough to stop much better than I can. Pam Forster’s book “For Instruction in Righteousness” is WONDERFUL. It brings scripture to bear on actions and attitudes and points out what should happen, according to God, for that particular sin.

    And if all this brings a wail of “are you kidding?! I’ll never get anything done!” Hear me: That’s a lie from the pit of hell. Yes, the laundry monster may still be raging, yes, the kitchen may look like a cyclone hit it, yes, dinner may be PB&J but you will have done your task: raising godly seed. You are accomplishing much. Yes, it’s work, but I’ve heard here the phrase: It’s good work. 😉 Hope this helps. It completely changed this Mom’s life and the tenor of our home.

  22. I keep seeing posts about how anger is a sin….YOU ARE MISTAKEN….How you REACT to your anger is what may or may not be the sin.

    Jesus was angered when he walked into His Father’s house and all the money changers were working inside. He overturned the tables and told them to leave because He refused to let anyone defile His Father’s house.

  23. This is an amazing reminder. I’ve been struggling a lot with this emotion we call “anger”, in all its spiritual, social, relational, and internal emotion complexities.

    In my house growing up, it seemed that, in general, my dad was the only one who was ever allowed to get mad. I guess my mom did once in a while, but it was Dad who was “The Great Disciplinarian” …. you know, the stereotypical, “Wait.till.your.father.gets.home.” This was complicated by the fact that my mom is a sweet, sensitive, cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, 5 foot barely one inch woman, and my dad is a large, stern 6 foot two inch man. When you’re a kid, guess who’s more intimidating, even if he doesn’t necessarily mean to be?

    We are also very stereotypically stoic, New England, WASP-y, don’t-show-too-much-emotion, get-the-whiners-belowdecks kind of family. Positive emotions are polite, and encouraged. Negative emotions, like anger, or sadness, aren’t to be shared in public.

    Because of this upbringing, I just held in my anger. For years. Denied it, pretended I didn’t feel it. Nice girls don’t get angry. ESPECIALLY nice Christian girls. We’re supposed to be kind to, and show love to, everyone.

    In college, after a major bout with depression, my first counselor told me that, often, anger turned inward becomes depression.

    In later years, as an adult, I’ve been trying to get in touch with my anger … because anger is a normal, human emotion. I think we need to be AWARE of our feelings, all of our feelings. Only then can we truthfully, honestly respond to them from a true place of love — self-love, and love for others.

    However, in “getting in touch” with my “negative” feelings, like anger, sometimes it spouts out like crazy. And I love to “channel” it toward some “righteous” cause … like against those idiots who drive and talk on their cell phones, or my husband when he always leaves the garbage for me to pick up and take out, or the kids who come to our bookstore and tuck empty candy wrappers behind the books OR anything I happen to be upset about at the moment. It’s too easy to paint ourselves as the “righteous” ones…. thanks for the reminder that our anger, while human and normal, is not “righteous”, nor does it “fix” a situation the way God would.

  24. Very helpful post, I can relate. I have found myself apologizing and yelling at the same time trying to get control of my anger. I can just sense how ugly and un-Christlike I am when I, “pack all the punch you can into your frown, ramp up the tone of voice, raise the level of sarcasm to previously unscaled heights.” When I lose control, I end up apologizing after I calm down. This was extremely hard for me to START doing. Once I started apologizing for SCREAMING at my kids it got easier to maintain self-control when I am angry and for the times when I do still lose it, it has become easier/quicker for me to apologize to my kids. I try to keep in mind that I want them to grow up to LOVE the Lord, not always feeling like they can’t please Him (me.) (I could go on about this but it’s a blog post comment, not a dissertation, right?!?)
    Regardless how it all went down, after the discipline and crying and whatever is all done, I have made it a point to have sweet restoration with them. I want them to know Lord’s forgiveness is indeed sweet, awesome, lovely, bright and the relationship is whole and complete. There are apologies, smiles, I hold them tight and confess the sins of the kids and my own to the Lord in a short prayer. When we are done, I tell them God says if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness and God can’t lie; AND that He tell us He removes our sin as far as east is from the west and remembers our sin no more. We are off and running with a sweet start to the rest of the day.
    My two cents worth… !)

  25. this is a great post, all of it. great fellowshipping, great encouragement, great honesty.

    in regards to Alison’s and Jocelyn’s questions about “ok so what DO i do?”, when there is outright disobedience involved, Janine’s comments above are wise, careful, and astute.
    but when the children are just being children and just forget about how quiet “quiet” really needs to be in order to promote another baby’s napping, or even just mama’s tea, as i was raising my own, i liked as much as possible to remember the train*ING* part of “child-training” (as in, knowledge that it’s a process, not an event) and therefore tie the consequence to the action/offense as much as creatively possible.
    for the “infraction” of being too noisy when being adequately cautioned about the decibel need and the length of time needed, i would, perhaps, have imposed a house-wide “we all whisper for 30 minutes” consequence. a lot of times a “discipline” technique such as this would actually end in giggles between us all as we would ALL make full-out-attempts to whisper from one end of the house to the next that it was dinner time, or whatever. in any case, when we all had to do it, a twinkle in the eye of nearly everyone involved was almost always a by-product, as well as the knowledge that every one had been encouraged to actually think about how impulsive decibel levels can become… and the child (and mama) training was another day down.

  26. Would love for you to take this one step farther and talk about practical application. So, when those situations arise, we know what the wrong response is… But what is a Godly response? When the kids wake the sleeping baby, how do we respond in a way that shows we are not void of emotion, but doesn’t give way to sin?

  27. Appropriate expectations for yourself in regards to what is normal for kids’ behavior. It may be inconvenient to you for them to wake the baby but, the world is not going to end and the day will go on – much more smoothly if mama can get a grip and get over herself and her schedule. When my daughter was born she didn’t sleep longer than 45 minutes at a time, day or night. When she was 18 months old she dropped naps entirely. I was so angry. Then the Holy Spirit showed me that when she did nap, I spent the whole morning just waiting for her to nap. Then I spent her entire nap just dreading when she would wake up. Then I was angry and resentful when she did. He showed me it was ok for her to not nap, and to just adjust my expectations to her development, and my disappointment disappeared and there was much less opportunity to be offended (by a baby!!) because she was being inconvenient to me.

    I never, ever do this, but if you don’t mind I’m going to link to an article I recently wrote about laying our burdens down and the life and love and strength we find to be mothers when we do:

  28. An excellent, excellent post, by the way, sorry I forgot to say that! Such great perspective in your words, thank you for sharing this!

  29. Thank you, Bekah! This has helped me twice in the past couple of days. Yesterday, I reached for my white spoon, nearly identical to the one in your picture, and could visualize the words on yours, and stopped until I was no longer angry about the offence and could discipline completely for the benefit of my son. Today I faced the exact same scenario you described with my older kiddos waking up the baby, and your insightful words once again rang through my head until I chose a more appropriate response.

  30. My kids are grown now, but such a memory I have to share! We had just arrived at our new military base in the dead of winter. I had two children, almost 2 and 1 and I was lonely with a huge case of cabin fever. We finally made our first friends and they were coming to dinner. I was still in the stage where I cleaned like crazy for company (like under the vegetable drawer in the fridge!).

    I had been convicted about getting angry with the kids and was touched by James Dobson’s radio broadcast on the topic the morning of my special dinner. I repented and promised the Lord that I’d get a grip. That afternoon around 3:00, the kids were bathed and dressed to impress. The dinner was roasting in the oven and the house sparkled and smelled great. I put the kids down for a nap and took a relaxing bath…until I got out of the bathroom and smelled something seriously wrong. To my horror, I discovered my 2-year-old decided for the first time to take the contents of her diaper and paint with it…all over her toys and little sister! I was so angry I’m sure I set off the nuclear alerts on base as I plopped them in the tub followed by their clothes and all the affected toys. As I stood there bellowing a litany of all Rebekah describes. My little sinner started to laugh. When asked what was so funny, she said, “How do you do that with your face Mommy?” My prayer that morning came back to me. I dropped to the floor next to the tub; we all couldn’t stop laughing. The kicker was that my new friend who I wanted to impress was playing with her one-year-old that evening, lifting him above her head, making him laugh. Right as she was laughing – mouth wide open – he spit up his milk straight into her mouth! I had to confess my day’s events to her. We immediately bonded and to this day we are best friends. That day was a turning point for me. The Lord (not I) cleaned up my secret places and freed me from having to clean my house’s secret places every time company came. He is faithful and has such a rich sense of humor.

  31. Thank You! These words speak to my biggest struggle as a mom, especially with my middle child. A great reminder that anger is not only ineffective in parenting, but also displeasing to God.

  32. You just described my mother perfectly. Moms, please take note, what the author states is true. Children can see through the hypocrisy. You are fooling no one. To this day, my mother wrings her hands and laments. She was such a “good” mom, where did her daughter go wrong? She doesn’t understand that anger is the only thing she ever passed on. I left home during college. I never spoke to her again. I hate her and her so-called god.

  33. Dear Jane,
    Sorry your comment took so long to clear. I’ve been traveling and I didn’t want to clear it without a follow-up comment to you.
    Your mother’s anger, even if you walk away, can stick to your shoes and you’ll track it into every relationship. Be the first to break the pattern. Turn to the living God and He can deal with all those effects of your mom’s sin as well as your own. If your mom was a poor example of Christ, and you know her to be so, then turn to the real Christ. He is slow to anger and abounding in love and forgiveness.

  34. Love the knock it off approach, actually. It gives so much hope! My husband often preaches that if our problem is sin, that’s great news – there is forgiveness and freedom available! If the problem is something else, we’re in big trouble. Thanks for the post, and if you could get over the PR mess, you’d make a killing on those spankers. 🙂

  35. Well said. This is the very issue God has been convicting and pruning me of lately. Thank you for sharing the truth, even when it’s not popular. 🙂

  36. Like so many, this hit the nail on the head for me. I am working on dealing with it, but also like so many other comments I have NO IDEA sometimes what the better response would be!
    Any thoughts?

  37. We are all products of our pasts. What is triggering your anger? Is it a natural reflex? Are you mirroring how your mother dealt with you?

    I am not pointing fingers. I come from a dysfunctional family. I have learnt a lot from a great counsellor.

    When you get angry, reflect back on what has angered you. Interestingly enough our anger is often the exact opposite of what we need. We often need a hug. We lash out in anger to get attention – but the attention we really need is empathy.

  38. I totally agree with the fact that we all as moms have lost our temper and patience with our children. We do respond to our angry feelings in a wrong way. The only thing that I don’t agree with is that anger is sin. It says ‘be angry and sin not’. I think it’s ok to feel angry but it’s how we respond/deal with those feelings/ situation that turns our anger into a sinful behavior.

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