Handling anger – ours and theirs

Handling anger - ours and theirs

Proverbs 29: 11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

I’m going to take a wild guess and assume anger is a concept all parents are familiar with due to the recent events in the world over the past year and a half. We can have anger about issues in our lives, and then we can have anger about our children’s actions.

To complicate things, anger from our lives can turn into added anger towards our children and anger from our children can interfere with our lives. This is something that I can certainly connect with, so I see great value in addressing the issue.

The important thing I want to share today is that being angry is ok. That’s right. It’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to be cranky. It’s ok to be upset. It’s ok to be angry.

What matters most is your reaction or response to your anger. Here are 4 tips that I think can help us all deal with our anger as parents:

1. Be self-aware

James 1: 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
What has helped me is understanding my mind and body during stages of anger. I also know that I need distance from my children when I get upset. If I get closer to them when I am angry or upset I can raise my voice and it feels like the momentum of my anger is on a collision course for something bad. The little character ‘Anger’ from Inside Out is a perfect illustration of how our body can feel when we are upset. So I have to actively make sure if the children have done something that makes my blood boil, my mind is actively working on engaging in safe choices. The other night one of my children was refusing to sleep during the middle of the night. I was so tired and frustrated I had to have the conversation with them from the other side of the room. God does not want us to parent with anger or rule by fear, we should be seeking to support our children through healthy relationships, predictability and positive modelling

2. Be open with your children

Proverbs 19: 11 A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
 Communicating your hurt or anger is a good way to let children into your thinking and to help them develop some empathy. They all know what it’s like to be upset, but often they don’t realise we get hurt too. Although I am very open with my children about my emotions and I think I’m normally a pretty sensitive/emotional type of guy, when I told my son Nate “Oh yeah I cried when that happened to me once” he was in shock. “You’ve cried?!” So now I regularly communicate how I feel to my kids. They often want me to read a story at the end of the day, but sometimes my mind is just not in the best place to do that. I will let them know that “Daddy’s really tired right now, I can’t read another book so you can have some quiet time to yourselves. I need a rest.” Rather than getting angry at our children if they won’t settle down or if their excitement is becoming out of control, it is healthier to be honest and put a little distance between you. Rather than push myself through a situation where I might take out my anger on my children, I am transparent and remove myself from that situation altogether.

3. Be solution based

Proverbs 15: 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
A big part of anger can be dealing with the unknown. The lockdown culture that has been created during the Covid Pandemic has probably caused us all to deal with ongoing drama with episodes of disappointment, anger and resentment. What is really important for our mental health and that of our children is sticking to facts and what’s in our circle of control. If you are struggling with your children at home, find some new ways to entertain them. Being active and leading a healthy lifestyle is really important for your children right now. If you are angry, what do you need to address. If you wish the kids would get out of the house for a bit each day, why not set up some fun in the backyard? If you are feeling that the entire family is complaining about the meals you serve up, why not sit down and do a family menu with everyone’s input. I strongly advocated for a meal planner consisting simply of pizza and donuts but it was rejected by my wife! But you can see the point, if things are causing you anger, try and explore ways to reduce the issue or resolve it completely. Rather than responding to situations with anger, why not use a simple question like “ok then, what could we do differently?”

4. Be graceful

Ephesians 4: 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

This one is what has helped me time and time again as a parent. We often question our children’s behaviour or actions with our rational, mature brains. If we can view their actions through the lens of grace we can start to parent them in a way that is centred on LOVE. At the end of the day, they are children and often they are not fully aware of their actions. When I am frustrated with my children I often get thinking back to my childhood. How did my parents feel about me? What did my parents do when I was this age? Why didn’t I see my parent’s frustrations? In the wise words of my great friend King Mufasa from The Lion King once said, “we are all connected in the great circle of life.” We’ve ALL been given a second, third, fourth chance etc. after losing our cool or overreacting. I feel like I am given grace several times a day by my family. So I believe it’s vital we deal with our children’s behaviour with grace. Finish the day the best you can, start the day the best you can and hopefully there are some positive experiences during the day. If not, go to sleep and try again tomorrow. If you are a parent, you are SUPER lucky to be able to call yourself one. So a bad time or week with your child can be frustrating, but we have the gift of seeing another day with them in our lives. It’s completely worth wiping the slate clean and trying again if you have to.

Until next time, all the best with your parenting choices and keep these 4 tips in mind. You won’t get it right all the time, but as long as you keep trying and learning it’s all that matters!