As a mom, it’s so easy to lose your cool and let the rage take over you! You’re definitely not alone on that. But that’s surely something we don’t want to let be part of our daily lives. Today, my fellow blogger Audriana Smith is sharing 4 tips to keep your peace and say goodbye to mommy rage.
Audriana Smith is a blogger at her faith-based website, Planting Vineyards. She draws much of her inspiration from her three (soon-to-be four) children, the oldest of whom is five. When she’s not typing her thoughts or wrangling toddlers, she enjoys time with her husband, Chris. For more about her and her mission to weed out lies of the enemy and plant seeds of grace, visit Planting Vineyards. here.
There’s just something about the sound of kids screaming at each other in the morning. It’s been known to be one of my triggers. Others include trails of toys littering every room, the sound of elephant feet coming through the downstairs ceiling, and the way my words seem to evaporate into thin air the moment they leave my lips.
Don’t get me wrong; my kids are great. But they’re kids. They’ve only been training in the art of being human for a very short span of time. And sometimes their lack of know-how just gets me.
No matter how precious the child, we’re still human and have our moments where we can go from being Mary Poppins to the Incredible Hulk in three seconds flat.
My 4 Best Tips to Soothe the Inner “Monster Mom”
So how do we get past the anger that can come with mom life? I often logically understand that I shouldn’t do something, but until it gets down to my heart level, I can have a hard time implementing any real change in my behavior.
So instead of just trying our hardest to modify our emotions and the way we act on them, let’s look at the steps I’ve personally taken to bring around a change that will actually stick.
Spoiler alert: none of them can be successfully done without God!
#1. Fill Your Cup
Anyone who is running on E is bound to be more frustrated and short-tempered. So if we’re going to be able to pour into the little people (or anyone) in our lives, we’re going to have to take time for ourselves too.
Of course, we don’t always have the extra time or money for getting our nails done, splurging on a new outfit, or having a girls’ weekend. So if you’re in need of some inspiration that doesn’t require lots of cash, check out my other post on budget-friendly self-care ideas.
#2. Throw Out Legalism
Keeping ourselves filled up is important because it opens our heart to be able to deal with other areas.
Our next step? Searching our hearts for legalism and getting rid of it! This one may sound a little harsh but stick with me. I promise to make it quick like ripping off a band-aid. And there’s no condemnation. Ready?
Legalism in parenting is marked by:
- unnecessary rules
- “because I said so”
- no room for questions or teachable moments
Much like the Pharisees in the Word, legalistic parents are less concerned with the heart behind an action than they are with the outward appearance of the action. So when their child does something that’s wrong, (even if it’s a minor infraction of a rule that doesn’t make much sense anyway) they often pile on punishments.
Instead of wanting to teach their child why a behavior is wrong, their emphasis is just on the fact that it’s wrong. So they want to lay on as much hurt as possible, hoping their child will want to avoid the pain in the future.
Of course, no kid can live up to the high standard. And if their child questions them or the way they do things, it’s met with hostility. In the eyes of a legalistic parent, to keep control and order, there can be no questions.
You may be saying, “I don’t do that.” And chances are, you aren’t a full-blown legalist. But we all have times and areas where we can slip into these patterns.
I’ve noticed that we have rules in our home that just don’t make sense. It may have been appropriate for one occasion or a certain situation, but we’ve added it to the family culture instead of just using it once and moving on. And honestly, it’s exhausting to keep up with.
Best Course of Action?
Ask God to show you your own heart. Have you adopted any legalism into your parenting? Try not to feel condemnation if He starts to correct you. None of us are perfect, and it’s so easy to become rule and behavior-driven. Chances are, even if you have started adopting these methods, your heart is in the right place. We all want the best for our kids and for them to grow to be people who know right from wrong.
The important thing is that we stay open to hearing God’s heart on whatever we do.
A note: throwing out legalism also means extending that same mercy and grace to ourselves. If we’re living with mom guilt and feeling like failures, chances are, that’s going to seep into the way we parent. Being angry doesn’t make us mean moms. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids. It just means we’re imperfect and need a change of heart.
#3. Shift Your Parenting Focus
For a while, I had the wrong idea about parenting. But my strong-willed child gave me a wake-up call (completely unintentionally) when her actions caused me to seek God’s heart on how to handle parenting her. You can read more about what I learned concerning God’s parenting style here.
But I learned something extremely important about the difference between control and discipleship, too.
Discipleship is what God does with us. He leads us into truth and gently corrects us, but not before connecting with us first.
I don’t know about the way He teaches you because He parents us all a little differently, tailoring His methods to the way He created each of us to receive.
But the thing about God is that He never uses fear to control us.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18 (ESV)
Fear-Based Parenting and Control
The way I used to parent often stemmed from my own fears. And you may be doing it too. We worry about our kids becoming something we don’t want them to become. And instead of giving it to God, we take the matter into our own hands.
We can get so focused on them NOT becoming “that thing” that we’re always looking for it. And if we happen to see any little sign that they may be headed in the wrong direction, we try to overcompensate and stop that behavior in its tracks. If we see those behaviors enough, we get angry because we feel like we’ve failed and they’ve become that dreaded thing anyway. We label them with it in our minds, and we treat them differently because of it.
I get it because I’ve done it. One of my children sometimes exhibits behaviors that are very bossy and almost bully-like. Yikes! The last thing I want is for one of my kids to think that pushing other people around is okay.
After I noticed the bossiness the first time, I started looking for it. And let me tell ya, I found it. In fact, it seemed to get worse every time I scolded them for it.
That’s because fear-based parenting actually leads to the outcome we don’t want.
It puts what we’re afraid of at the forefront of our minds, the way we parent, and eventually, the way our kids see themselves. If we want to keep them from being x, y, z, we need to remove it far from our minds first.
Pray about it, and then leave it with God.
Let’s lead them based on who we DO want them to become instead of who we DON’T want them to become.
#4. Ask God to Show You Their Hearts
When a tough situation arises with our kids, the best thing for us to do is practice the pause and use our God-given discernment. Ask:
- What’s really causing this issue?
- What can I do to help correct it?
- How can I help him/her grow from this?
For example, if your little one starts telling tall tales, ask why. Are they avoiding whatever consequence comes if they tell the hard truth? Are they worried they’ll disappoint you?
If that’s the case, flying off the handle (though it can be tempting) won’t help the situation. It will only make them want to lie better the next time. So in a situation like this, it’s best for us to stay calm and speak to them about what really happened in a non-menacing way.
Then help them grow by leading them to understand the natural consequences of lying. For example, when we lie, people are less likely to trust and believe our word, which could make a future situation when we are telling the truth harder for us.
And you can still dole out your own consequences for the lie (or whatever the behavior) afterward. Just try to do it calmly and have the time fit the crime.
Bringing it All Together
Sure, momming can be tough. And our emotions don’t always mix well with those of our kids. But life doesn’t have to be a constant battle with suppressing our anger. That’s not what God wants for us at all. We can always go to Him with our raw, ugly human emotions (even the Hulk smash ones), and He’ll help us sort them out. Give it a whirl! You may be surprised at what He shows you.
What other ways do you find helpful to keep your cool with your little ones? I’d love to hear from you!