Anger is one of the most discouraging problems for parents. It creates fear, guilt, and even hopelessness. If it’s your struggle, confronting the lies you believe about anger is the first step in overcoming a problem with anger.
I’ll begin with a bonus lie: psychologists don’t struggle with parental anger. Not true. It was one of my biggest battles early on in my homeschooling. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those moms who can claim she no longer gets angry at her kids. But I can say that the improvement has been significant. I have yelled, been overly harsh, and even split my knuckle open after I smacked the counter in anger. I have said things I wish I could take back, made my kids cry, and have felt like an all-around awful parent as a result of my anger.
Right now I hope you aren’t regretting that you’re going to be getting advice from me on this issue! I do believe that every mistake I’ve made helps me to help you. I hope you agree. If you do, let’s get started.
First, anger is a normal human emotion. The feeling itself isn’t a sin, but the way we express it often is. Anger always begins in the mind with our thoughts. If our thoughts aren’t true and we act on them, anger will be a besetting sin — one that exercises power over us. So let’s examine what I think are the most common lies we believe and act on.
#1 They made me angry.
You probably recognize this one from your kids. “He made me mad, so I hit him.” You might have responded with, “We don’t hit, even if we’re angry.” But we have to address the lie, too. No one can make us angry. No matter how horrible junior behaves. No matter how awful the treatment, how big the disappointment, how outrageous the behavior.
No one, not even Satan, can make us angry. The only person who can bring about your sinful anger is you. Why? Because you’re the one who interprets what someone else does. Two days after my first baby was born, my mother-in-law told me I looked like I had another one in there. I did not get angry — even with the emotion of anger. I could have told myself that she was joking. I could have told myself that I did in fact look like I had another one in there. Both thoughts would have helped keep me from getting angry. I could have had thoughts that provoked me to anger, however. “She is trying to humiliate me,” for example. What I actually thought was, “She has Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t remember that it isn’t appropriate to say that. She loves me. I love her.”
People don’t make us angry. Our thoughts do.
#2 I can’t control my anger.
This lie is related to the first. Other people provoke me and I can’t help it. I relate so much to what Terri Maxwell said about this. She noted that she could be yelling at the kids one minute and sweetly answering the phone the next. If we couldn’t control our anger, we would be yelling at everyone — our friends, slow cart pushers at the grocery store, and even our pastor. But we don’t. We save our sinful expressions of anger for the people we love most.
Why is that? Because the people we love most tap into our greatest fears and frustrate our deepest desires. We don’t trust people outside of our home to forgive us our angry fits, but we do trust that we’ll be forgiven by our spouse and kids. Just because that’s usually true doesn’t mean we should continue to sin against our family with our anger.
The lie that we can’t control our anger stems from the lie that we can’t control our thoughts. Perhaps like anger, an initial thought cannot be controlled. With my mother-in-law I might have had an initial thought that she embarrassed me. But I wouldn’t have to hold on to that thought and add to it. The biggest lie in thinking that leads us to anger is that we know what someone else is thinking.My child is trying to make me miserable. He doesn’t care. They think I’m a slave. We do not know what our kids are thinking. Our kids don’t even know what they’re thinking. It’s pointless to ask why a child did something wrong because they honestly don’t know. Do you know why you do things you know you shouldn’t do?
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Obviously, we can control our thoughts. Colossians 3:8 reads, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Obviously, we can control our anger, too. Jesus is our example who gives us the power to control our anger. The New Living Translation of Isaiah 53:7 reads, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.”
#3 I have righteous anger.
This lie is usually justified by pointing to Jesus’ example in getting angry and overturning the temple merchants’ tables. The problem with this argument that we have righteous anger is that it must only be about how God is being dishonored. If we are honest, we will admit that our anger is about us. We have been kept from getting something we want; we’ve been humbled; we are feeling guilty; we are afraid. James 1:20 says that our anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. Even if we did have righteous anger, God frankly doesn’t need it. He has done a very good job of handling people who dishonor Him from the beginning.
We sometimes mean by righteous anger that we are justified in being angry or that anyone would be angry under the circumstances. That belief doesn’t mesh well with Matthew 5:22: But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Our anger is most likely not righteous anger.
#4 Anger is the only thing that works.
When I was practicing as a psychologist, I heard this a lot. I still do. The only way I can get my kids to obey me is to yell, to get angry. Reb Bradley who did an interview with me for the Homeschool Sanity show said in essence that if that’s the only way you can get your children to obey, it’s because that’s what you’ve trained them to do. Kids know they don’t have to listen to you because there will be no consequence UNTIL you blow your top.
A quiet voice can work to discipline your child. So can consequences, positive and negative. But you have to use them consistently. For most parents, anger seems easier. I will explain in an upcoming episode how to make discipline easier so you don’t have to get angry.
#5 Venting is a good thing.
When I first began practicing, I believed this lie. We worked with patients who suffered abuse. We encouraged them to vent their anger. We had them scream and rip up old phone books or punch pillows. There is some wisdom in asking patients to stop denying their feelings. But the research and experience tell me that venting is not effective long-term. Patients who had a great venting session weren’t any better in the days that followed. In the hospital, venting didn’t hurt anyone. But in our homes, venting can hurt the people we love. In our selfish desire to get everything off our chest, we may leave family members unable to get our hurtful words out of their heads.
Don’t think that venting to other people about your family members is the thing to do. Have you ever had the experience of retelling what your spouse or child did that made you mad and you find yourself getting angry all over again? Venting this way not only keeps you angry but can tarnish other’s view of your family members. There is absolutely a way to ask for prayer and advice without venting or dishonoring your family members.
There is also a way of expressing our needs and feelings in a positive way. I’ll share more about how to do that in part 2 on anger. But I’ll leave you with this Scripture that should have taught me venting isn’t a good thing. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
#6 Anger is no big deal.
One of my favorite resources for dealing with anger is Dr. Davis’s Freedom from the Spirit of Anger. In this video. Dr. Davis describes a father who only loses his temper every couple months. Dr. Davis said that for his family that was like living next to a volcano that only erupts every couple of months. Anger is a serious problem that can lead to divorce, emotional problems in children, and even death. Anger may increase the risk of heart attack.
Freedom from the Spirit of Anger DVD
By Dr. S.M. DavisThe most destructive force in family life today is the anger of one or both parents. But rebellion in youth seldom goes away until parents deal, not just with anger, but with their spirit of anger. MANY PEOPLE WITH A SPIRIT OF ANGER DO NOT REALIZE THEY HAVE IT. James and John had such an intensive spirit of anger that they wanted to call down fire from heaven and destroy an entire village full of people. Yet they were deceived so that they didn’t know that their spirits were putting off such a spirit of anger.A spirit of anger is also very contagious. Proverbs 22:24-25 explains how fathers or preachers who are blind to their own angry spirits develop followers with the same spirit. Here is an explanation of why ALL of man’s anger is wrong. Here also are 10 STEPS TO FOLLOW TO GET FREEDOM FROM THE SPIRIT OF ANGER. One father testified, “All my life I had a problem with anger. I finally dealt with it when I heard the Spirit of Anger’ message. Three weeks later my wife pointed out to me that my little boy no longer had a problem with stuttering!” “Freedom from the Spirit of Anger”is the second of 5 Sermons in the “Anger Series.”
Anger leads first and foremost to anger. Angry parents tend to have angry kids. Anger from one spouse leads to anger in the other. Proverbs 22:24 says, “With an angry man do not go.” Angry people are dangerous. Short of that, they’re no fun to be around. God takes anger very seriously. Psalm 37:8-9 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.” Anger can lead to a multitude of evils. We want to overcome sinful anger through the power of the Holy Spirit.
One step to take now is to download a free printable of the truth about anger. You can meditate on these truths and accompanying Scripture each day to help you stop believing this lies about anger. This resource is made available free of charge to subscribers to Psychowith6. Click the image below to claim yours.
Which of these anger lies has been the biggest problem for you? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.
I’m a psychologist and you’d think I would know better than to make some of the mistakes I’m listing below, but the fact is I have made some. It’s only by the grace of God that I have stopped short of doing most of them with my kids.
I am writing, not out of a sense of superiority, but compassion for the parents and kids who will suffer greatly if changes aren’t made.
If you recognize yourself in many of these examples, know that it is NOT too late. Take the actions I share at the end of this post.
1. Never tell a toddler no.
Even if they kick you, bite you, or run from you.
2. Always give your preschooler what he wants.
Even if it means ignoring other people’s needs and your own.
3. Always make excuses for your child’s bad behavior.
And make sure she hears you say she was just tired or hungry.
4. Always give in to whining and begging.
Say no until they make a scene or bargain with you.
5. Let your child call you names without consequence.
Do not demand the respect of being called Mom or Dad.
6. Let your child disrespect your spouse and other authorities without consequence.
Always take your child’s side.
7. Ignore bad behavior until you explode.
Hit or yell at your child and give them more reason not to respect you.
8. Put your child in so many activities that you never have to spend time with her.
When she complains, tell her that you’re doing it all for her.
9. Never require your child to do chores.
Complain about picking up after them instead.
10. Don’t supervise your child.
Let him use the Internet without guidance and leave home without telling you where he’s going.
11. Give your child expensive gifts to make up for your lack of attention.
Brag about what you bought her to your friends within her hearing.
12. Curse at your child and call him names.
Tell yourself that you are motivating him.
13. Laugh about the idea of your child having sex or using drugs and alcohol at an early age because “kids will be kids.”
Serve alcohol at teen parties and let them go on unchaperoned co-ed trips.
14. Don’t require your teen to work.
Pay for everything he wants.
15. Pay for college even though your child refuses to study.
Keep threatening to make her pay for it, but never follow through.
16. Allow your adult child to live with you rent-free, though they refuse to go to school or get a job.
Blame this behavior on your spouse.
What to Do if You’re Afraid You’re Raising a Spoiled Brat
I love writing these posts. I feel like I’m having lunch with my friend, Deb, and updating you on what’s been going on. At least I’m writing to you and not talking at warp speed like I do with her. You can scroll at your own pace! I’d really love to hear about you, too. I don’t want to hog the whole conversation. (Well, actually I do, but I will restrain myself.)
August was the best month ever for this blog with page views up 28% from the previous high in May. I am so blessed by that. It just isn’t as fun to write when only your mother is reading (not that I don’t appreciate you, Mom).
In August, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – this still makes me laugh, not because it’s a humorous piece, but because I had read that if a pin doesn’t go anywhere in the first 30 minutes, it’s sunk. This pin went absolutely nowhere the first month and now has been read thousands of times. It’s not “viral” by any means, but it demonstrates the power of Pinterest to keep content alive.
The sequel to the above post, this is another pin that didn’t do much at first. Now all of a sudden it’s taking off. Pinning on Pinterest is a lot like putting notes in helium balloons. You never know where they’ll end up!
My favorite post of the month was 5 Lessons Our Foreign Exchange Student Taught Me. If you missed it, I think you will enjoy it. Saying good-bye to Lucas was really hard, but we are so blessed to have established a friendship with his family. Elaina now has his sisters as her Spanish pen pals!
Sadly, I am having to let The Inspired Day go for now
I have some other projects that I feel led to pursue (one of which I will tell you about below). If you don’t subscribe to that blog, I would love for you to read The Last Blog Post. I think it communicates the essence of what I wanted to share there.
#2 The Homeschool Sanity Show Podcast
I am super excited to be hosting a podcast as part of the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network that will be launching September 19th. I have to wait to give you more details until the website is up and running, but I think you’re going to love it. I’ve been a guest on radio programs for two decades, but I’ll get to be the interviewer now. Please like the network page on Facebook and be watching this blog for details about the show. Have I mentioned I’m excited? 🙂
Every year is a better school year. I’m delighted with how things are going. I’ll explain one reason our schedule is so much more functional in my productivity post at the end of the week. I love our curriculum choices for the year, too. I’m planning to share more curriculum reviews with you because my homeschool readers seem to love them.
I’ll admit it. When I started homeschooling, I dreamed of being one of those families that had all the kids playing a different instrument so they could perform together. That idea was dead very quickly. With as busy as I was having babies, homeschooling, writing, and speaking, music education took a back seat. My three oldest took piano lessons for a while, but quit. Then Caleb took it up again a few years ago with a vengeance. I started to wonder why I had wanted him to play? Then last fall, Sam started guitar lessons. This past Sunday both boys played as part of our youth praise band at church. That on top of Andy starting drum lessons, and giving the youngest three piano and voice lessons at home is making me wonder if we’ll be one of those families after all. (More on the curriculum I’m using later.)
#5 New Recipes
I did manage to get some new recipes made this month. It helped that I publicly committed to making this one on Facebook. It’s from Set Your Fat on Fire Fitness. I really, really loved this. In fact, I ate a LOT of it. The rest of the family, not so much. If you love avocados, you’ll love this, too. If you don’t, scroll down quickly.
Avocado and Tomato Salad
4 cups avocados, diced medium
2 cups grape tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups cucumbers, peeled and diced medium
1 cup red onion, diced small
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh black pepper
Lettuce (if you want)
Toss all ingredients in a bowl and top on a bed of lettuce (if desired)
Makes 8 servings
Calories 201.9 Total Fat 17.9 g Sodium 10.2 mg Total Carbohydrate 11.6 g Dietary Fiber 5.8 g Sugars 1.8 g
When I think of coffee cake, I think of my grandma. Every time we went to her house, we got to have coffee cake. With those warm fuzzies in mind, all I had to hear was “chocolate” in connection with coffee cake, and I was sold. This recipe is easy and a hit with my whole family. I made it without the nuts and used light sour cream.
HEAT oven to 375°F. Coat 8 or 9-inch square pan with no-stick cooking spray.
COMBINE pancake mix, 1/3 cup sugar and chocolate chips in medium bowl. Add water, sour cream and vanilla. Blend well. Using an ice cream scoop, shape dough into sixteen 2-inch dough balls. Place in 4 rows of 4 each in prepared pan. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, walnuts and cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle over dough.
BAKE 24 to 26 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
To use Hungry Jack® Original Pancake & Waffle Mix (Add Milk, Oil & Eggs), replace 1/2 cup water with 2 large eggs and 2 tablespoons milk. Proceed as above.
High Altitude: add 1/4 cup flour to dry pancake mix. Bake as directed above.
Prep Time: 12 min
Cook Time: 24 min
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Serving Size (1/8 2 rolls), Calories 290 (Calories from Fat 90), Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 620mg, Total Carbohydrate 47g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 19g), Protein 5g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 6%, Iron 10%.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
#6 School or Office Supply Organizer
I am so proud of myself. I actually made something really useful from Pinterest. I shared this idea in one of my What’s Hot in Homeschooling posts and got to work. I had no idea how popular these things are until I searched “Teacher Toolbox” on Pinterest. Wow! I spray painted mine brown. The one thing you need to know is that you can’t fit full-size pencils in it. Mechanical pencils and many pens work great, however. Filling this up was a trip down memory lane. I have office supplies I bought 20 years ago and never used. If any of you locals need some gold brads, please don’t buy any. I have enough for several elementary schools.
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or have your kids tell my kids. That’s always an interesting way to get news.
It’s not been a very hot July, so I should really share cool news. I just visited my mom so she probably isn’t reading this month. Hopefully I can entice the rest of you to read with the recipe reviews at the end. This is what’s been happening with the Psycho family:
July’s page views were up 1,000 from the previous month.
I am excited that my new iPhone case is emblazoned with my blog graphic. I’m really happy with the price and quality and recommend it to other bloggers.
#2 Other Writing
I have been spending time working on two book projects–just not as much time as I would like. When I can share details with you, I will!
Many of you are following my Christian Inspiration board on Pinterest. I’m excited about that, because not only will you find links to short posts from the Inspired Day, but from several superb Christian bloggers. Comment below if you’d like to be added to the board with the email address you use on Pinterest.
#3 Our International Guest
This photo makes this 16yo boy from Spain look like he has been lounging around on his visit, but that is not the case. He is the son of a friend’s friend and he has been a delight. He has been visiting to experience American culture and improve his English. My son, Sam, has been enjoying the process of improving his Spanish, too. My boys have been taking advantage of our guest’s graciousness to demand that he do everything with them! It’s a challenge for me to tell them to stop because he is giving me a break. We will certainly miss him when he goes home.
#4 Our New Driver
You may recall my terror at having a Permit Driver. Now you can share my fear as Caleb takes to the road with his license. I would be even more thrilled not to have to drive everywhere with him due to his busy social life, but Sam will be getting his permit any day now.
It’s hard to believe that Caleb has just one more year of high school and then he’ll be heading off to college. He has many factors to consider like rankings, research opportunities, distance from home, study abroad programs, money. He’ll be busy making some decisions about where to apply in the coming weeks.
After considering Sam’s future, we have decided to enroll him in College Plus Prep–the same program Caleb went through. We want to determine if independent study is the best way for him to earn his college degree.
#6 New Recipes
I seriously considered doing a weekly post of new things I’ve tried from Pinterest, but the last thing I need is another obligation. Instead, I’ll include my reviews in this monthly wrap-up when I can.
I want recipes that are whole-grain, low fat, and reduced sugar. So I tried this zucchini bread. Our rating? Too healthy tasting. My friend made a recipe that is a little less healthy and a lot more tasty. When I get her to write it down for me, I’ll post it for you.
I ended up having to tell my husband how to make this over the phone, only to discover we had no lemons. When life hands you no lemons, you make lime garlic chicken. Our Rating? It’s a winner. Makes for very moist, tasty chicken and it’s easy.
So it’s abundantly clear that I’m not into food photography, especially here. The truth is I was in a huge hurry when I made these. This recipe was very popular when I pinned it to my Lunch Recipes to Try board. I tried rolling and cutting the dough and discovered that just using two crescent rolls together (and smooshing the perforations which I did very poorly) was the quickest method and made large enough empanadas for my teens. I used low-fat crescent rolls and canned chicken. I combined the chicken with BBQ sauce until it was coated. I sprinkled each with cheese, closed the dough with a fork, and baked. The average rating was an 8. I’d say that’s a winner!
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. My birthday is coming up, so you’re buying. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading. You made my day.
My blogging buddy Tom Dixon does a review of the month on his blog where he shares statistics and news. I so enjoy these posts, that I decided to do one of my own.
What that means is that everyone but my mom can stop reading now. So, Mom, here’s what’s been going on with me:
I merged multiple blogs into this one in October of 2012. (If you don’t know why, read this.) In June, my page views were up 1200% since launch. (Keep in mind that I’ve studied advanced statistics and can make them say anything I want them to.) I am thrilled to have a growing readership, not that you don’t mean the world to me, Mom!
The most popular posts since beginning this blog are:
The Once-and-for-All Meal Plan Ebook has been downloaded over 2,300 times. Because I don’t have that many email subscribers, my guess is people are sharing the link. I don’t mind, but soon the link will change because the book will be revised. I’m excited about the changes I’ll be making because the plan will be much easier to implement. You’ll be the first to know, Mom!
#3 My Health
I have mentioned in several posts that my health has been poor. The good news is my energy is back to normal. The bad news is I am not symptom-free and I don’t have an easy-to-treat diagnosis. But I can already see how God is using it for good in my life. One way in which that is true is that I am more committed to eating well and serving healthy food. I would dearly love your prayers that I would be well enough to do what God has called me to do and that I would trust Him completely.
#4 My Marriage
I remember a veteran homeschooler sharing at a group meeting many years ago that what she liked most about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around to help out with the kids. And what she liked least about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around…I laughed very loudly because my husband is also self-employed. What’s more is that he has much of the summer off. We’ve learned to deal with our differences, though, and I can honestly say that I love him more than ever after the way he has supported me through my health challenges. We celebrate 21 years of fireworks this week as we were married on the fourth of July.
#5 The Kids
This was a big month for my oldest who has been driving everywhere in our newly purchased used automobile with me in the passenger seat. If you’ve read Permit Driver, you know that I’ve been a bit anxious about him driving. I’m really proud of myself because I’ve made several trips without screaming in terror. I think he just needed that extra time to mature, because he’s really doing great. Mostly.
He also got his first job working for our church. I was so touched when one of the office staff stopped by our house to deliver a cupcake to him on his birthday. Not many employers would do that!
Andy got braces and the youngest kids have been losing teeth like crazy and losing faith in the Tooth Fairy, too. My daughter asked why when she woke up there was no money, but when she went back to make her bed there was. Hm.
Once again, I’ve sworn an oath to do more school in the summer and once again I haven’t kept it. We have done some reviewing, continued with history, and a bit of workbook stuff, but not much else. Here’s part of the problem. The neighbor kids show up at my door and my children look at me as though they haven’t seen them in years and how could I even think of asking them to do school? I’m weak. All my nerve was used up riding around with the permit driver.
I have been using the time to prepare for the fall, however.
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. 🙂 Sure, you too, Mom!