Is Yelling a Sin? How to Fight Anger in Motherhood

My twin sons scooted close to one another at the breakfast table as I poured milk over their cereal. Bouncing off of each other, they bumped arms and laughed. My toddler banged her hands on the table, screaming for her sippy cup, while my older son demanded I locate his drawing from yesterday. One of my twins erupted, “Hey! Stop touching me! Stop sitting close to me! Mooomm!” At that moment, I could have asked myself, “Is yelling a sin?”

But, instead, my anger boiled over into a yell before we’d even finished the first bites of breakfast: “Guys, knock it off!” Guilt set in immediately. I’d done it again.

Is yelling a sin? I want to fight anger in motherhood.

My voice calmed as I tried to sort out the issues at hand. I felt exasperated with everyone’s behavior — especially my own. I wanted to enjoy a nice, conversational breakfast with my children. I wanted them to be considerate, reasonable, and self-sufficient. Was that too much to ask? (Yes. It was.)

While I wish it wasn’t the case, scenes like this play out at our house more often than I’d like. When we leave for school, when we clean up the house, when it’s bedtime, when it’s mealtime. Perhaps you can relate?

Here are a few principles that help me navigate anger in the little years.

Call It What It Is

Not all anger becomes sin (Eph. 4:26). When our hearts rise up against things that God hates — wicked, disobedient, unloving behavior — we model our righteous and just God. When our children complain about their circumstances or inflict pain on others, we are right to be upset. Anger over the right things for the right reasons can remind us of our vital job to teach our kids to hate wickedness, too. But this righteous anger is never an excuse to treat our children harshly.

Also, not all yelling is a sin. If our children run into a busy street, I’m going to yell their names as loudly and forcefully as I can. Screaming their names might save their lives. In this, we also reflect God, who gives us strong warnings when our lives hang in the balance (Rom. 6:23).

But on a daily basis, when we just haven’t had enough coffee and our kids are wrestling again, yelling as a parenting technique isn’t righteous (James 1:20). Allowing anger to burst forth without self-control, moving straight from offense to wrath, doesn’t reflect God’s character. Our Lord is “slow to anger and great in lovingkindness” (Ps. 145:8) showing perfect patience in Christ (1 Tim. 1:16).

When I seek to punish or control my kids with harsh words just because they aren’t behaving exactly the way I want, I need to call my response what it is. It’s not a bad day. It’s not a mom fail. It’s not a joke. It’s a sin.

I need to call my response what it is. It’s not a bad day. It’s not a mom fail. It’s not a joke. It’s sin.

And, like all sin, I need to confess it, apologize to my kids, hope in Christ, turn from it, walk forward in freedom from guilt, and enjoy a renewed desire for obedience (1 John 1:9).

Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler
Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler
Emily Jensen is the co-founder of the Risen Motherhood ministry, where she co-hosts the weekly podcast and serves as the Content Director. Her first book, Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments, co-written with Laura Wifler, releases in September 2019. Emily, her husband, and their five young children reside in central Iowa. You can find her on Instagram: @emily___jensen Laura Wifler is the co-founder of Risen Motherhood and currently serves as the executive director and co-host of the weekly podcast. Laura, her husband, and her three children reside in central Iowa. Her first book, co-written with Emily Jensen, titled Risen Motherhood, releases in September 2019.

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