What to Do When Parenting Anger Flares on Summer Break

It’s summer break, and with everyone underfoot ALL the time, it’s easy for tempers to be short and parenting anger to hot.

Today, my girls and I went to the grocery store, which would be easy to view as an innocent errand… but that would be an incorrect assumption.

The girls fought about who would steer the cart, who would pick out the fruit, who would put the sticker on the fruit, and who would put the fruit in the cart. Four fights and we hadn’t even gotten to the vegetables yet. Grrrr.

This summer, my kids are driving me crazy.

And my crazy is turning to anger.

Anger is an emotional indicator of the state of our soul.

“Anger is an important signal that something is wrong,“ writes Harriet Lerner in The Dance of Connection.”It always deserves our attention and respect.”

Anger is a protective emotion, and like an onion, it’s multi-layered. “Anger comes from a hurt which comes from an expectation which comes from a need,” writes Adam McHugh in The Listening Life.

In the case of the grocery store, my anger came from the hurt that I’m clearly not as good of a parent as I thought, which comes from my expectation that I’m to parent perfectly at all times, which comes from my need to be perfect and in control.

Whew.

That’s a lot to come out of one crazy, summertime trip to the grocery store.

So what can we do to deal with our anger this summer?

Remember that our anger isn’t bigger than our Jesus.

I’m a master of marinating in my lack of perfection. It’s far easier for me to think about all the ways that I’m failing, making them mountains in my mind. But this anger-mountain is obstructing my view of Jesus because it’s all I talk about and see.

In his sermon Goliath Must Fall, based on the story of David and Goliath, pastor Louie Giglio shares that even though we’re in Christ, and therefore victorious, we still have giants in our lives to battle.

This summer, my battle is with anger that’s left me demoralized, Look Jill, you screamed at the girls again, and good moms don’t yell at their kids.

I’ve failed to understand how big, powerful, and authoritative my God is. Who in the world can defeat my anger?

Jesus.

In fact, Jesus has already defeated it. But here’s the deal: it doesn’t seem that way because every summer I go crazy and get angry. So what do we do? Giglio offers these tips:

  1. Focus on Jesus and remember to lift our eyes higher than our issue.
  2. Worship because, when we worship, we see things at God’s level and we’re reminded of how big, majestic and all-powerful He is.

Remember that discord is a tactic of the enemy.

Anger isn’t a tactic of the enemy—it’s a God-given emotion. But discord is, and it grows in the soil of unresolved anger.

God instructs His people to live in unity, encourage and love each other, and forebear with one another. When the girls start fighting and my anger propels me like a torpedo into the situation, I know that this friction isn’t God-approved. Discord stems from anger because our enemy doesn’t want a peaceable and unified family. He much prefers one at odds.

I’ve started the habit of saying, “Devil, you have no place here—get out,” before I rush in to break up the one millionth fight about who puts fruit in the basket. When I take the split second to understand that my people aren’t the issue and that we, as a family, are under attack, my view of the situation changes drastically.

And lastly, we can circumvent anger by addressing the patterns that bring it up.

When we see patterns of what sets us off, it’s prudent to mitigate those causes as best we can.

Start looking for patterns that typically bring out anger, and come up with amicable solutions in advance when tempers aren’t flaring and brains aren’t incapable of logic.

For us, it means setting a schedule for who will push the cart each week and spreading the knowledge that mom’s in charge of selecting fruit, labeling it, and putting it in the cart…easy peasy lemon squeezey.

We’ll go to the grocery store countless times this summer, and I have a choice:

Feel the anger but focus on Jesus OR…
Feel the anger and let it take over, decimating the little hearts in its path.

Summer doesn’t have to make us crazy, and our crazy doesn’t have to turn to anger. I can choose to believe my people are the problem or that the enemy is on the prowl. I can choose to come up with solutions or walk into the same situation repeatedly with no game plan.

Next time you see me in the produce aisle, the goal is that you’ll see a worshiping mama, one daughter vying for the cart, and the three of us anger-free.

***

This article originally appeared at JillEMcCormick.com.

Jill McCormick
Jill McCormick is the writer behind "An Achiever Goes Rogue," a blog designed to help high-achieving women lean less on self and more on the God of amazing grace. Jill grew up in the suburbs of Houston with awesome parents and brother. She graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Her first job out of college was working for the Houston Astros Baseball Club, a job she held for six baseball seasons. Her husband’s job moved them out of state where she worked for the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith then ABF Freight then Mercy (health care). After a move back to Texas, Jill stayed at home to care for their two little ones. After a few years at home, she went back to work in children’s ministry at their church. And now, Jill is writing on the internet at JillEMcCormick.com.

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