“My greatest challenge as a mother is losing my patience with my children.”
“I struggle to stay calm and not get anxious. I have a really hard time not getting angry when he is screaming.”
This year I’ve had the privilege of speaking to moms at MomsNext, MomSpot, Mops and home education conferences. Some of these moms are from metropolis’s, some from one of those small towns that seem to be tucked away in the corners of every state, but they all have one thing in common; they love their families.
The questions they ask all run to a common theme; “I feel overwhelmed and can’t control my emotions and that makes me feel like I’m failing.”
I offer my own advice here and would love other experienced mothers to chime in as well.
For the mother who gets frustrated with her children and then feels guilty for her lack of self-control; confess your sin of angry outbursts before God. Be cleansed. This is the best foundation from which to begin seeking a different way.
If your children can understand, confess to them what you have done wrong. Say something simple to them such as, “Mommy got very angry and yelled at you today. God tells me that I am supposed to get angry but not sin. I sinned. Would you forgive Mommy? I am asking God to help me with my temper.”
Children are sinners but so are parents. God has made a way for us to be cleansed. He does not expect us to be walking in complete holiness before we can begin asking our children to obey us. No, instead, He expects us to train up our children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” while we remembering that we, too, need His help.
Then, prayerfully, contemplate the root of the problem. Some mothers set an impossible standard for themselves, telling themselves that a good mom never raises her voice or shows emotions no matter how naughty a child is. Some moms mistakenly think that showing any kind of reaction to a disobedient child makes her more saintly so they calmly smile and turn away no matter how badly the child behaves. This is not godly parenting!
Learning to teach and discipline our children develops the character of those who are doing the teaching and disciplining! It takes time to mature as a parent and to grow in wisdom and knowledge about the best way to handle our children. God promises to give us wisdom if we ask Him for it.
Discipline is not a bad word. In fact, scripture tells us that “Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.” Love and discipline go hand and hand. There is an unbiblical and unloving way to administer discipline. We are to be self-controlled. If your temper is flaring, try to remove the unruly child from your presence (for example, put him in a crib), calm yourself and then discipline your child.
For those who have never known or seen biblical discipline, seek help through wise counsel from other parents who have proven themselves by showing good “fruit” in their children. Look around and observe people who have well behaved and joyful children. Ask them for their wisdom and their book recommendations.
Make sure your children are well nourished and well rested. Develop a routine in your household that creates security and boundaries so that your child is not surprised by expectations during the day.
Make sure you understand the developmental stage of your child. We have good friends from another country who truly believe that their little children up to the age of six should scream for what they want, rip up papers like a baby and, generally, act very out of control and delayed.
But, if you have ever seen a very young child suddenly turn off the tears of a tantrum and begin smiling when he is given what he wants, you know that even a small child can control their emotions to a certain degree. Sometimes, our expectations for a young child are too low.
Seek wisdom and knowledge. Pray for self control. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who gave you these eternal souls will lead you every step of the way.