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I’ve struggled with anger for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, I had a short fuse and little patience for crap. I’m dreading the day I have a child as stubborn as myself and my parents can laugh at the karma.
It may not have manifested itself the same way it might have in a boy. I mean, I never got in fights (apart from that one time I punched an ex-boyfriend in high school – but he was asking for it :)). I wasn’t “out of control”.
But I’m stubborn and short-tempered as hell. I can admit that.
When I was pregnant, however, it was on my mind a lot. I knew I wasn’t naturally a “kid person”, and I was terrified I was going to be a bad mom.
Granted, after a super long labor followed by a C-section, my first thought when I looked at him was, “I love you. You were worth every second, and I’d do it again if I had to.” So not 5 minutes into motherhood (well – not sure if it was 5 minutes, I was on a lot of drugs) I knew for sure I could make it – because I loved him so much even then.
That being said, it hasn’t been all roses. As my sweet little baby grows into a strong-willed and independent toddler, that anger raises its ugly head more often than I’d like to admit.
Whether it’s because he colored on the wall, because he hasn’t listened after I told him to do something at least 5 times, or he’s hitting me because, well, I don’t know why other than “he’s 2,” – in those situations, I feel like I don’t know what to do. Especially when I’ve exhausted all options for discipline and it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.
The cycle of anger, by the way, is the worst. I find myself losing it on him, feeling guilty and bad about myself, then having an even shorter fuse the next time he does something annoying, and so on and so forth. It’s not fun, and I wasn’t sure how to break out of it.
All I really knew is that I wasn’t being the kind of mom I wanted to be.
When I came across this book, I bought it immediately – because it looked like just the solution I needed.
And I’m so glad I did, because, boy, did I need this book.
I absolutely love it. Not in the cozy, comforting way I love, say, a good John Grisham novel 🙂 I love it because it challenges me to do better. I love it because it points to my flaws in a loving way and says, “You can do better.”
And best of all, it provides the tools with which to do so.
I’ve heard lots of advice on how to deal with anger in the past, but it always seemed pretty ineffective. Like the whole “count to 10” thing? In my mind, that’s not going to do anything about the irritation, besides delay it 10 seconds.
I needed actionable advice – a solid plan of attack for what to do when my temper threatens to boil over. And, in addition, I needed was to understand the root of the problem- and that’s what this book does. The Waynes talk about where anger comes from. When I read how anger can be related to the “fight or flight” instinct when you’re in pain, a lightbulb went off.
It made so much sense to me – and made me feel less “broken” in my anger. The knowledge that it was a totally normal response, even if it’s something I want to overcome, made me feel less ashamed of myself. It made me feel like it was possible to overcome the anger cycle.
And their caution about that was one that spoke to my heart. They talked about how easily that anger flows to other things. The example given in the book is a man whose wife asked him to fix something, then accidentally hits his thumb with a hammer. The initial anger trigger flows out until he’s angry at his wife for the pain, because she’s the one who asked him to do this in the first place.
One of the quotes that really hit home was an Indian proverb: “Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out when you are bumped.”
I started thinking about what spills when I’m bumped, and I definitely felt convicted. What spills when I’m bumped ain’t pretty – and that’s not good enough. I want to be filled with better things – things that don’t hurt my son (even if it’s only emotionally.)
And honestly, it’s so deep-rooted, it’s something I’m going to have to continually rely on God to fix.
Throughout reading this book, I’ve been brought to my knees time and time again in prayer. It made me realize the depth of my shortcomings, and helps me realize that they’re not a reason to despair – they’re just a reason to look up and seek God’s help. After all, he’s promised his power is strongest when we are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
I only read this book a few weeks ago, and it’s already had a huge impact on our family. Before I yell and lose my temper, I stop and think for a minute. I realize how ineffective yelling in, and worst of all, how it hurts my relationship with A. That’s what gets me to speak softly and implement consequences that actually change his behavior without making him resentful of me.
Because that’s what it’s all about – I want A to trust me and love me. I want him to respect me and listen to me, especially as he gets older and the things I want to teach him become even more important.
My efforts to become a more patient, less angry parent have also influenced my husband to do the same. So overall, our house is more peaceful and feels like more of a safe haven.
Is it all cupcakes and rainbows? Nope. I still slip up – but I feel much better equipped to handle my stress and my anger. And that’s an amazing start 🙂
I seriously love this book – so if you struggle with angry parenting, pick up a copy today.