Help For the Parent Who Struggles with Anger

Have you ever had a Hulk Mom or Hulk Dad moment as a parent? Much like the fictional character the Incredible Hulk, Hulk Mom and Dad erupt with fiery anger from a place deep within us when we feel we've reached our limit of being patient and understanding with our children. Hulk like tempers tend to flare when siblings are squabbling nonstop or when children are brazenly ungrateful for the perfectly plated dinner set before them. In moments like these, we feel helpless to stop the full vent of our anger. Instead, we let our temper control all of our words and actions. And afterward, like Bruce Banner realizing the devastation his alter ego has caused, we're left with deep regret over the path of destruction our sharp words have left through our home.

I have had my share of Hulk Mom moments. In fact, I’ve had more than I’d like to admit. But by God’s incredible grace, I’m seeing Hulk Mom appear less and less in my home. I’d love to invite you into the journey God has taken me on to halt the Hulk in me. It all started with one single Bible verse and the simple, soul-freeing truth I found in it.

James 1:19 says, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” One day when I was reading this passage, probably desperately searching for a cure for my anger, instead of stopping at verse nineteen, I decided to read on. James 1:20 says, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness of God.”

I read it once, then immediately read it again. “Human anger does not produce the righteousness of God.” Suddenly, as though a light had been flipped on in a part of my soul that had been dark for as long as I could remember, I could see clearly the trigger behind my anger. Knowing the trigger helped me not to avoid transforming into Hulk mom.

In the moments I exploded at my kids, I was using my anger to produce obedience. I deeply desire for my children to be kind, selfless, thankful and compassionate people. I want my children to be righteous, to be people who abide by God’s rules. And when my calm demeanor failed to achieve this, my temper would flare and I would use anger to motivate my kids to be more Christlike.

James 1:20 says all I need to know about whether or not my anger was really getting the job done. Human anger can’t accomplish godly change in my children’s hearts. It just can’t. Not only was my anger not doing what I thought it was, but it was also producing another kind of fruit in my kids. In Proverbs 14 we read that anger produces foolishness, carelessness, and strife.

The thought of my words producing strife and foolishness in my home is enough to make my heart tremble within me! It makes me want to post a poignant reminder on my fridge, on the steering wheel in the car and especially at the dinner table:

ANGER PRODUCES NASTY ROTTENNESS.
ZIP IT AND NIP IT, DEAR MAMA!

My explosions weren’t doing what I thought they were. My children’s outward behavior might have been changing, but their hearts were only getting further from real God change.

As parents, our words have a tremendous impact on our homes. If we want to grow godly righteousness in our kids, we need to learn to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. We need to gently lead our children to righteousness through consistent, calm discipline not fiery fits of rage.

Would you be willing to trade your anger for slow reactions with me this week? It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

 This post first appeared on www.forthefamily.org.

Shelby Turner