real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

organic family life ~ part five ~ repenting of provoking our children to anger

mad vienna

A couple weeks ago while I was relaxing poolside, watching Grandpa Clay playing with the grandchildren in the water, I couldn’t help but hear and see an interesting interaction between a mom and her near teenage daughter.  While three younger siblings were splashing around and enjoying themselves, the oldest girl sat under a beach umbrella, sullen and pouting, her arms crossed and daggers coming from her eyes.  Someone had offended her and she was letting everyone know.

A few minutes later, her mom spoke up from the pool. “I can’t believe you scratched him like that.  Just look at the marks on his back,” she shouted.

I looked over at the younger brother who was swimming and joking around, oblivious to the scratches but obviously delighting in the dressing down his mom was giving to his sister. “But he kept trying to dunk me and wouldn’t stop pulling on me,” the girl replied.

“I don’t care,” said the mom, “You can just sit there until you can behave.”

At this point, the girl answered her, “I might as well go back to the room then.”

“No you won’t.  You will sit right where I have told you to sit.”

This conversation was louder with each retort and eventually the girl said nothing while the mother continued to let her know not only how she had misbehaved but how she had embarrassed her in front of everyone and that her whole attitude in life needed to change, etc.

I felt very uncomfortable and I was embarrassed for both of them.  This girl was just at that age, needing to feel approval and acceptance as an emerging young woman who feels unattractive and unsure about herself every day.  She may have been completely wrong in what she did, though in watching her brother’s glee, I was not so sure he didn’t get the desired affect he sought.  I suspect that this conversation was only one of many just like it that was shared in that home.

I was also embarrassed for this mom who needed to let everyone within ear shot know that she was in charge, her parental authority feeling challenged by a daughter who would soon be grown.  I knew that whatever the relationship was between the two of them, it had been damaged by the mom’s decision to admonish the daughter in public and in a manner that belittled her.  Though the daughter may have been absolutely wrong and her attitude was a problem, this mother was provoking her child to anger by public humiliation and it was her responsibility as the parent to set the example of proper relationship building.

I think that one of the greatest assets a mom can possess is the ability to empathize with her children, to be able to put herself in their shoes and actually try to look at situations from their vantage point.  In organic family life, this is perhaps the most essential ingredient to good communication.

We are exhorted to admonish one another, to confront each other in love when we see sin.  As parents, this is an important part of teaching and instructing our children.  But we must also be mindful that our words and actions hold much more significance in the lives of our kids than we realize.  Correction and reproof when done ought to be administered in privacy and with the goal of further building unity and trust.  Think of how you would want them to admonish or correct you.

As I thought of ways that I have failed in this area, things I have done that I have had to repent of because they caused my children to be provoked to anger, I began to make a list.  I cringed as I typed, the thoughts coming fast and furious.  I know from experience, either from my own life or from listening to what others have shared with me, that these are areas where we easily fail as parents.

Jumping to conclusions
Not trusting them
Talking about them to your friends
Not expecting the best of them
Not showing empathy
Trying to make them like the same things you like
Belittling them, especially in front of others
Failing to praise them or even reward them for the good things they do
Telling someone they will do something without asking them
Critically looking them up and down, examining their clothing choices, hairstyles, friends etc.
Being nitpicky; making mountains out of molehills
Not paying attention to the things that really matter to them; minimizing their hopes, dreams, beliefs, questions, concerns, convictions
Dissembling information to them; being hypocritical by “interpreting” the Bible to them in ways that only show your legalism rather than your dependence on the Word of God and the grace of Christ; calling things sin that the Bible doesn’t call sin in order to manipulate them
Refusing to give them increasing responsibilities all the time or giving them responsibilities but continuing to treat them as though they were younger
Assuming their time is your time and they can be interrupted at will to meet your needs
Ignoring the gifts God has given to them
Showing your preference for another sibling
Forgetting things they have told you
Yelling at and scolding them
Belittling, minimizing, or ignoring their doubts and faith struggles
Not protecting them enough
Being overly protective

Thankfully, by God’s grace we are promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)  We need to continually recognize what things provoke our children to anger and then to repent of this behavior, seeking forgiveness for doing these things to our children and purposing to not do them again. Relationships with our children depend on it.



  susan t wrote @

Excellent Karen!

Related to this… has anyone ever been able to lightly, graciously, perhaps humorously intervene in one of these public confrontations in such a way, that it stopped and/or conviction & forgiveness began?

  Mrs. Don wrote @

I think one of the biggest keys to successful parenting is repenting when we goof it up. My mom did not do everything perfectly, but as soon as she became aware of her sin she would come to us and apologize. I have her wonderful example to follow. As a parent now, I know how humbling that was for her, because I am the one repenting when I sin against my kiddos. Grace is a wonderful thing that we can offer to our children and they in turn can offer it to us when we are repentant.

  thatmom wrote @

Mrs. Don, I truly believe this is true. Moms need to have empathy with their children in order to understand when they have sinned against them and need to repent. How wonderful it is that your mom was such an example to you! I am so glad that you shared.

  Kathleen wrote @

Your list you created was very similar to mine:
… and more.

Thanks for being so transparent about these things, and an encouragement to the rest of us as parents.

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