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I’ll admit: this is going to be a hard post for me to write. That’s because there’s going to be a lot of open acknowledgment of many, many of my shortcomings. But I hope in doing so, I can help anyone else who’s dealing with the same thing.
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). I wasn’t “out of control”. But I’m stubborn, short-tempered, and I remember many times where I was just plain mean to others because they irritated me.
When I was pregnant, that struggle was on my mind a lot. I was terrified I’d be a bad mom because I didn’t naturally have patience with kids. 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.” That’s the moment when I was sure I was up to this whole mothering thing.
That being said, it hasn’t been all roses. I’ve felt the anger bubbling up in so many situations as a mom: when he’s been up all night and just won’t sleep. When he doesn’t want to be put down and I have a million things to do.
It’s only gotten worse as he’s grown into a little toddler. Now that he’s more independent and more prone to boundary-testing, I can feel that short-fusedness seriously affecting my parenting.
More often than I’d like to admit, I get really angry with him. I yell at him when he doesn’t listen after the twentieth time I’ve told him something. I lose my temper, then I feel awful, which only makes it more likely that I’ll lose my temper again.
It was a vicious cycle, and I didn’t know how to break out of it. All I knew is that a yelling, angry mother is not the mother I want him to remember… so when I came across this book, I bought it immediately.
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.
What I’ve always needed is 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.
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 – with God’s help, I plan to change that.
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.
I seriously love this book – so if you struggle with angry parenting, pick up a copy today.
I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.
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