Watch Out for Angry Momma (10 Ways to Handle Mommy Anger): ICM Wk 6

A wise woman I know said to me before having children, "just wait, you'll be shocked by how angry you will feel toward your kids sometimes."  I knew then she was wise, but I thought she had said a horrible thing.  I was pregnant with my first at the time and I couldn't imagine ever feeling angry with my baby.

Then I had my baby.  And I quickly learned that becoming a mother didn't make me a saint overnight. Bummer.

I suppose I wished I'd be instantly selfless - like some magic hormonal transformation would take place; a perk to joining the mother club.  Nope.  I was still the same messy soul the next day, and the next year, and the next.

For example (and please say "Amen" when one of the following applies to you - this will make me feel better):
  • When baby decided that "sleeping-through-the-night" was a big fat joke, and still had you up five times a night after he turned one year.
  • When baby rejects the food you made (from scratch, people, because we are tryin' so hard to be good mommas!) and flings it to the floor...for the 3rd time.
  • When your efforts to dress him in a hurry before church feels like dressing a wild badger (with rabies) ((Child!  We need to be on time to go praise the Lord!  NOW HOLD STILL!!))  
  • When it's 3AM for cryin' out loud and she still cries the instant you set her down.
  • When "Say hello to Mrs. so-and-so" sounds more like "Blaaaaaaaaah---Ptttttttttt!"  
  • And don't even get me talkin' about destroying my piles of folded laundry.
But seriously.  Hi, I'm Emily and sometimes I get angry.  There.  Now you can admit it too. 

Feel Angry.  Respond Calmly.

Anger is a real and normal emotion.  Unless you check out of reality, you probably won't be able to avoid feeling angry during your lifetime.  If we can't control the circumstances and the actions of others which trigger anger, then what can we control?

Our reactions.  Our responses.

You are in control of you, Momma.  You and I may not get to control everything on the exterior, but we can control our responses, and that gives us a chance to minister powerfully.  

We can choose to respond to sin with forgiveness.  

We can choose to respond to mistakes and mishaps with grace.  

We can choose to respond to folly with wisdom.  

We can choose to respond to chaos with peace.

We can choose to respond to pride with humility.

Well, I'm out of control, Emily - you may say.  I get that.  I've lamented many times over my lack of self-control despite the fact that my head knows I should keep my cool. 

I'm not a psychologist or an expert, and I haven't perfected this (in fact, I battle with this daily), but here are ten things that help me get to the source of my anger so that I can ask God to treat my heart problems, rather than putting a band-aid on my anger symptoms.  

This helps me to "get control," because He's in control.

Ten Ways to Handle Mommy Anger

1. Set Realistic Expectations.

While it is good to strive for excellence in many areas of our life, it is vital to our peacefulness that we release ourselves from the bondage of unrealistic expectations.  They only cause endless frustration, and it will manifest itself in our relationships, making us easily angered by others when those expectations aren't met.  

2. Get Rid of Entitlement.

I was told babies slept through the night after about 3-5 months, therefore when mine was still waking multiple times at 15 months, I was angry.  Why?  Because I felt entitled to a good night's sleep.  

Could it be that motherhood is about sacrifice?  Real, raw, ugly, heart-twisting sacrifice?  A sacrifice that is out-of-this-world, out-of-this-culture, need-help-from-a-living-God hard?

We aren't really entitled to anything.

If I ask myself "am I angry because I feel entitled?" it helps me to surrender it to God, asking Him to change my heart.

3.  Let God's Word be Louder than the Opinions of Others or Your Insecurities.

Maybe you've been that mom whose child is having a melt-down at the grocery store, or whose child is the unruly biter in the pre-school room, or whose child is the one who pulled the fire alarm (that one really happened to me).  

Your reaction may be much harsher than what your child deserved because you're embarrassed and worried about what others think.  

Many times I've felt unsure or insecure about how to handle a disciplinary situation.  This can really hurt when we have an audience (especially if the audience wants to offer commentary).  Bitterness can take root and we lash out later on.

When our image is compromised, or our insecurities laid bare, anger can get the best of us.  If we can recognize our insecurities, or that we are ensnared by the opinions of others, we can bring that to God in prayer and try to tackle that specific issue through the voice of His Word.

4. Remember Your Children are Sinners.  Remember that You are Too.

A woman recently said, "Ya know, I don't know why it always catches me off guard that my kids are sinners just like all the rest of humanity," and I could totally relate.  

When we recognize that our children need grace and forgiveness just like we do, it helps us yield to God's mercy, rather than yielding to rage.  

5.  Imagine You're Being Recorded.

Because you are.  Not only because we are going to be judged for every careless word we speak, but because those little minds are in recording mode.

If my friend were in the room, if my pastor were in the room, if Jesus were in the room (oh, yeah) would that affect my words toward my children when they make a mistake, or talk back, or throw a tantrum, or disobey?

6. Pray Pray, Right Away

It seems like from the moment your child woke you (way too early) from the little sleep you had last night, about a hundred little things are not going your way today, and it's all building pressure until you're about to explode.  When you really feel that urge to scream...when you feel like you could throw a dish at the wall...when you want to slam doors...

pause.  it only takes a split second.

Take that energy and funnel it into prayer.  It doesn't have to be pretty.  Real life just isn't always pretty and God knows that - you don't have to pretend.

God, help me.  Please help me.  I feel so angry.  I want to scream and I don't think I can handle one more second of this.  Please give me grace.  Please give me wisdom.  Please help me respond in a way that honors you.  Help.

This is real.  This is where it's at.  This is where the battle takes place.  Pray, Momma.  Pray.

7.  Deal with Stress.  Deal with Worry.  Step Around Triggers.

Stress and worry will definitely take their toll on our relationship with our children.  When we are consumed with stress and worry, we are like a minefield, just ready to be set off by the smallest step.

Fellow blogger Trina Holden points out in part of her "freedom from anger" series that she has learned to identify her anger "triggers," and avoids them - as if fleeing from temptation - whenever possible.

My pastor would probably add to this point, "get enough sleep."  Wise indeed.

8.  Make "Sorry" and "I Forgive You" Part of Your Daily Vocabulary.

Something that has really bonded my son and I is my regular, natural use of "I'm sorry," and "I forgive you."  It was completely liberating when I gave myself permission to be less than perfect, and to ask my 2-year-old to forgive me when I'd messed up, rather than loathing myself for the rest of the day.

Here's what it looks like at our house: "Hey, Ian, we've talked about this now and I want you to know that I forgive you.  Even though what you did wasn't okay, I shouldn't have used such angry words and I'm really sorry.  Please forgive me too.  Let's pray and ask God to forgive us and then let's just start over." 

Fresh starts.  Fresh hearts.

9.  Remember You are a Steward.

Something that helped me tremendously to watch my words and my actions with my kids was to keep in mind that they ultimately belong to God.  

They are not mine to control - though I would never audibly claim that, it is sometimes sadly reflected in my actions.  They are not my property.  I didn't create them.  God placed them in my womb - knitted them with His creative hands - and He placed them in my care.  

And what a glorious privilege that is!  It should be a responsibility received with fear and trembling. 

The holy God of the universe has entrusted these delicate souls into my hands and I am a steward for this small window of time in the scope of eternity.  Shall I spew my childish wrath on these children?  God forbid.

God these children are yours.  Give me grace.  Give me wisdom to discipline and guide.  Give me loving and gentle words.  Give me Christ-like responses.  Help me be a good steward.

And Most Importantly...

10.  Be Controlled By the Spirit

All of the above must be under the umbrella of depending on God.  It's all in vain if we try to manage our anger by our own efforts and in our own power.  

Will you say it with me today?  Each day?  God, only you can change me - my heart.  I surrender my emotions to you and declare that YOU are more powerful than my hormones.  YOU are more powerful than my circumstances.  YOU are more powerful than my stress.  May You be my only master...not anger, not rage, not bitterness or hate.

We can choose to be controlled by the Spirit of Christ...not by anger.

So go on, Momma, today you have a choice.  You can bring peace into your home.  Will you?


My list comes from my experiences, from wisdom in the Bible, from heart-to-heart conversations with friends and other moms, and from some fellow bloggers (like Lysa TerKeurst and Trina Holden). 


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