I’m probably not going to text my husband or friends every time I yell at the kids, but it’s important for me to consistently confess sinful expressions of anger to others (James 5:16). As I bring it to the forefront of conversations, others can ask me how it’s going and encourage me to repent, hope in Christ’s sufficiency, and obey (Heb. 10:24).
Living in community where others — parents, in-laws, college students, and friends — regularly see how I parent provides accountability. When I notice inconsistencies in my responses — being a “nice mom” when others are around and a harsh one when we’re alone — it’s time to let in the light (1 John 1:7).
Humble transparency also provides necessary safeguards against abusive behaviors. Anger left unchecked can spiral out of control. Any parent who is hurting her children needs to tell someone and get help immediately. A church community of mature Christians is an essential place to start.
Pray and Prepare
When I’m aware of my tendency to let anger give way to unkind parenting, I see patterns emerge. On mornings when I haven’t had enough sleep, the breakfast table feels more like a circus. On afternoons when my soul is parched, the drive home from school feels like I’m trapped in a van full of bears. But in all cases, especially when I’m weak, God provides a way out from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). I can arm myself with his Word and practical parenting strategies.
Although we can’t always control our circumstances (if only children and hormones did what we wanted!), we can turn to God for wisdom (James 1:5). An older mom once told me she had a lightbulb moment when she went from only asking God to change her children (“God, make them stop crying and whining!”) to asking for grace to endure with patience (“God, give me the strength, self-control, and words to parent them through this”).
When it comes to preventing outbursts of anger, we must remember that the Son of God absorbed the wrath of God in our place (Rom. 3:25). It’s the assurance of good news that motivates us to do good to our children. When I humbly remember the massive debt God forgave me in Christ, I’m far less likely to angrily demand restitution when my child loses a shoe. Before I erupted over sibling squabbles in the car or marker murals on the cabinets, he died for me (Rom. 5:8).
Tomorrow morning will arrive, and I already know we’re low on milk. The toddler will almost certainly melt down again, and the twins will inevitably knock some of their cereal onto the floor. Nothing about tomorrow will be different from any other day — except the fact that I’m determined to look to Christ amid the tears and squabbles. I’m sure I won’t handle it perfectly, but it will bring me to my knees, and that’s a good place for a mom to be.
This article originally appeared on the Gospel Coalition, published with permission.