“If you don’t figure out a way to clean yourself up, you can find a way home by yourself!" the mother at the baseball field was yelling at her young daughter. The little girl made her way across a short field to a fountain and rinsed her barely dirty arms in the stream of water. “My car is nice and clean, you little piggy, and you can just find another way home!” the mother hissed to her child as she worked hard to quickly wash away the bits of sticky stand.
The water did the job, cleaning the skin, but I wondered what it would take to wash away the wounds unseen, surely taking up space in the little girl’s heart. The message that said, “If you don’t meet this standard, I will abandon you” keeps ringing in my ears, and I was only a bystander. How much more so it must haunt that child!
It was all I could do not to march over to the mother and put my hand over her mouth. My second impulse was to run over to the young girl and assist her in the cleanup and tell her she was loved, that messes are part of being a kid, and that I thought her pink shoes were super cute.
As adults, as parents, as believers especially, we have a responsibility to hold ourselves in check with the way we speak to our children. We sometimes think that because “we are in charge” or we are older, or our position is that of the parent that we have been given the license to speak harshly and unkindly to our kids. Being stern with them all the time does not make you a good parent. It makes you the parent whose kids will not respect what you say and will eventually turn to things and people who will make them feel loved, heard, and appreciated-and that could be a dangerous alternative.
The ultimate act of immaturity is losing your lid to the point of yelling at your child. Our kids are immature, we are not. Giving in to our emotions and casting aside self-control is not Godly.
I can't think of anything more harmful than a bully disguised as a mother.
I don't know the spiritual condition of the mother on the baseball field. As Christian parents, though, we are to be different from someone who is ruled by their passions and offended when our way is not being given to us. Yelling at our children is simply an adult tantrum-it's a sin issue that has a heavy price tag, both for you and for your children.
My oldest son knows the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. So you know what? He is my son, but he is also my brother in Christ. I am to treat him, to treat all my sons as I would any other Christian. Yes, I am still the Mom, and all those nuances of the parent-child relationship remain, but it’s not an excuse to dismiss the truth that they are also fragile young believers who need to see in me the attributes of grace and unconditional love played out as I use self-control over my tongue. How can I expect them to obey me when I model disobedience to God by sinning in my anger?
The Lord draws us in with loving-kindness. We would do well as parents to check ourselves continually to see if that is the tone with which we are treating our precious and impressionable children. Their hearts and minds are sponges absorbing our words, our body language, and our tone of voice. May it always, always, be a reflection of Jesus Christ:
The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3
If this is a struggle for you, it's time to ask yourself, "What is the root of my anger?" Most likely, it has very little to do with the fact that your child is disobeying you. I suspect that often, kids are simply targets for unresolved anger or frustration about some other area of our lives.
You may feel helpless to change, but that is a lie. You have three powerful means with which to turn your life around today.
Honestly. Fervently. On all occasions. Confess to the Lord, and to another believer, and expect God to work in your life regarding this area.
2. Memorize Scripture and concentrate on it.
This is how you go about changing your attitude and mind-allow the Holy Spirit to rule your heart as you plant Truth within. Start here:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. James 1:26
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:21
3. Don't become discouraged and quit.
God's mercies towards us are new every morning! He does not treat us as our sins deserve and He is full of hope on our behalf. I Corinthians tells us that love "perseveres" and that is exactly what we must do when we are trying to break a cycle in our lives. When you begin to feel an overwhelming guilt, take it to the foot of the cross and commit to the Lord to begin again, relying on His power to flow through you.
Whatever you do, don't let tomorrow be just another day where you pick up where you left off the day before.
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. That's not lip service. It's a radical, life-changing Truth. Having children is refining, I know. So let God have His way with you, with your heart of anger, and with your tongue. And when your children thrive under the life you give with your words, that will be something to shout about from the mountaintops.
YOUR TURN! Think about the root of your anger and take the time to pour it out to God. How about you-is this an area that needs work in your life? Have you seen the power of affirmation and breathing words of life into your kids?
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