When I am speaking on the topic of Mama Mad I begin by saying, “Raise your hands if you didn’t have much of a temper pre-kid.” Most of the hands go up. “Raise your hands if you discovered your temper post-kid.”
Laughter breaks out and all the hands go up. We passionately love our kiddos and sometimes that big emotion is the catalyst to a big bad mad.
We all have it. Some of us explode, some of us implode. One person will attack, another will withdraw. Neither approach is a good solution.
Anger is an excellent barometer, it lets us know something needs to be fixed. It acts as a great indicator, but it is an ineffective problem solver. Anger builds relational barriers and blows up the connection bridge. It separates us from the person we feel anger towards.
Since anger is one of our four basic emotions (sadness, happiness, fear, and anger) we must learn how to experience it and wield its power properly.
We can train ourselves and our kids to identify the signs that anger is rising. Recognize signals like clenched teeth, fisted hands, a faster pulse, or a sensation of heat.
Once we notice it we can own it. “I feel angry.” Anger is an emotion typically triggered by a softer emotion like: embarrassment, fear, betrayal, hurt, injustice, or frustration. Many times the primary emotion feels too vulnerable to admit. We don’t want to appear weak so we use anger to communicate an illusion of power. But it is really a defense and protective mechanism.
In order to use anger well, we need to first halt the mad and access the logical part of our brain: the place where problem solving occurs. Stop the mad by developing what I call a rage interrupter. For instance: repeat a verse of scripture, make up a little song, exhale, count to ten (really), close your eyes and picture your peaceful place. Find an interrupter that works for you in the heat of the moment.
Once the rage has been wrangled, it’s time to get to the solution side of the problem. When fixing a problem, it is best to begin with “I statements.” “I feel frustrated when you don’t pick up your toys when you are done playing with them. When you are done playing, pick up your things, and then we can do something else.”
Final Note: There are situations where anger, righteous anger, is a call to action. It may be appropriate to blow up the relational bridge or put up a defensive barrier if there are behaviors like: abuse, abandonment, or an affair. There are some things that can’t be fixed.
Anger, when expressed in a godly way, can be used for good. It can motivate us to solve problems and to stand up for others.
“In your anger do not sin” ~Ephesians 4:6
Parenting is Lori Wildenberg’s passion. She speaks nationally and has authored four soon to be five books. Those books include, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home and Raising Little Kids with BIG Love. Lori is the co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, a ministry for moms and dads. Her easily applicable, relevant, relatable, and cutting edge material is presented with warmth, humor, and transparency. She admits she is not the perfect mom and openly shares stories of parent fails and successes. Lori, a licensed parent and family educator, loves to coach parents to be the parents their kids need. The Wildenberg family resides in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her husband, five kids (four plus a daughter-in-love), and the family labradoodle, Murphy. You can find out more about Lori at www.loriwildenberg.com