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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Anger in Parenting...strikes again

So last night there was this episode:

We don't normally have drinks other than water.  But I decided to have a special juice mix and went to find a carton of peach nectar I had stashed in the fridge downstairs.  It had been there a month or so, unopened - chilling for the right moment.  And now it had come.  I open it.  *Gasp* It had been opened!  I smelled it.  Fermented.  Yuck.

Scene 2:  I call a particular child who is known to take liberties.  Did you open it?  Yes.  How long ago?  A while ago.  Do you know it is now ruined?  Yes.  What are the rules about this sort of thing?  Why didn't you ask me first?  Why didn't you tell me?

I expressed my honest frustration and exasperation at that moment.  I didn't, in fact, YELL.  I told him how disappointed I was that now it is wasted all on account of his failure to obey the rules.  I went on for a few minutes.  He slumped and mumbled a weak (and lame) 'sorry.'

Scene 3:  Supper is on and he doesn't eat.  He sulks.  He endures supper.  All evening he is glum.

Scene 4:  I come under attack from the other parental unit for my 'anger'.  How it is inappropriate.  How he has now spiralled downward the whole evening.  How all the books say anger is bad in parenting.  How we had sometime ago met with another couple to hash this out - this disagreement of ours - that anger is either appropriate at times or never appropriate in parenting.  And how, in his mind, I had 'agreed' that anger is wrong in parenting.  (I don't remember it being that nicely finalized!)

At this point, my anger - probably very sinful and wrong at this point - was deeply kindled.  The evening was over.  I was fuming.

So I toss it out to the broader public for your honest input.

We have an ongoing disagreement: I believe anger in justified, though not loss of self-control, at times in parenting.  That when children continue to willfully disobey, they should know that there are harmful repercussions from such actions.

The other parental unit believes that anger is not okay.  That it is hurtful.  I agree about the hurtful part.  I'm just not convinced on the 'harmful' part.  A lot of things hurt that are good for us.

Thanks for letting me get this bee partly out of my bonnet.  It's a hornet's nest in there.


4 comments:

  1. I think you are both right. I think it's OK to express honest frustration, but we are called to forgive. I think in this instance, a consequence is a better response than scolding. I received a lot of prolonged scolding, and because I didn't respond, I was wounded, the scolding went on. And on! It didn't help, and I had serious serious anger built up as well, underneath the wounding.

    I would advise that you have a standard grief response, "That really hurts!" Charlie Bit Me is a good example of this if you need a laugh and a good view of honest grief. "That really hurts, Charlie!"

    Then, I would agree with your spouse on consequences. In this case, it should "spill" out of the offense: the next treat the child doesn't get, or he has to buy you nectar, something like that. I have kids that repeat transgress; I also have kids with mental illness/brain epilepsy issues, and I know that they can't take a lot of scolding. I've also seen an autism child just crumple at my husband's expression of anger when he repeat-rode his bike on our yard. In this case my husband asked forgiveness, and this child learned to forgive. "I forgive you." This is important step in evangelism, by the way, it shows God's forgiveness when we humble ourselves, and our children will see it and forgive/come ask forgiveness, too.

    For better or for worse, kids are often fools, in that they repeat transgress and seem to not get it. We have to allow that the foolish need training. Express our anger without wounding them and choose a consequence.

    I've been working on full-scale repentance when I'm too angry for some time now, and I have a plan. I say, "Will you forgive me for losing my temper or sounding harsh at you just now? That was inappropriate. I'm disappointed that....my nectar was stolen, you're not helping, whatever the transgression is. But that doesn't excuse my lack of kindness. Will you forgive me?" By that time, the kid is usually repentant, and I kid you not, I'm gaining an edge on my temper, which has been considerable.

    I don't think anger is wrong, but I think your husband is probably seeing a blind spot of lack of self-control. I can say this because it is my issue, has been, finally getting control on it. Asking forgiveness (not just saying sorry, but asking them to forgive you) humbles us and makes the temptation less.

    In Jesus, Your friend Margaret

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    1. Thanks for your honest input. I can hear it better from you than from my spouse!!! :( Maybe you're his answer to prayer. :)

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  2. We are human, God make us this way. I think anger/frustration/disappointment is a human emotion. Feeling are what they are, neither right or wrong. Expressing you feelings is OK as long as it's done in a loving way. Kids need to learn that not following household rules, and not obeying parents has consequences. Parents are teachers, and this is a lesson to be taught. Otherwise there are no consequences at all? That doesn't seem right or effective.
    We all have rules, at home, work, traffic, moral rules. God Bless you~Susie Dirkx. .

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement - I need to hear it! Sometimes I forget to teach and just complain (which of course breaks my own rules! ha!).

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