How good are you at controlling your anger when your kids push your buttons or do something to set you off?
As a parent, there were too many times when I handled some situations in this order: React, and then reflect.
Typically, when that happened, it would often be followed by regret because I may have been rushing to judgement or not thinking about what my child needed most in that moment.
I remember one night when my son was a senior in high school and after his football game, he didn’t come home, and he wasn’t answering his phone or any texts. It got later and later and I went from anger to worry to absolutely getting no sleep. We spent the night calling his friends and my husband went driving to look for him. My common sense told me there was a perfectly good explanation because he was not normally an irresponsible child. But my mom’s mind was going in every direction and I was ready to really let him have it when I finally did get in touch with him.
We knew he had to be at work at 8 am, so after 1.5 hours of sleep, I woke up and called him at work, figuring if he was not there, then we’d probably have to call the police.
When he answered the phone, something inside me broke and I was so relieved that my anger melted and I proceeded to tell him how worried we’d been all night.
His explanation was simple: he’d gone to spend the night with a friend who lived in a country area and there was no cell phone service. AND, he informed me, he’d told me about his plans a couple of days ago.
Knowing those factors, my anger at him would not have been justified, although I did tell him to text me the info so that I had it in writing next time!
If I’d immediately blown up at him, instead of hearing his side of the story, I would have been reacting first, and probably reflected later.
In that moment, I didn’t react in a way that would later require an apology or that would fill me with regret. I wish I could say that I did that all the time and that I never reacted in ways that forced me later to say “I’m sorry”.
But kids have a knack for setting parents off and as good as our three kids were, they still managed to make me lose my cool and say things I wished I could take back, especially when I hadn’t taken time to get the whole story or think through the ramifications.
A Different Pattern
That experience and many more along the way have taught me to strive to follow a different pattern that looks like this: reflect, respond, rest.
Reflect on what you face.
Respond to it with intention and confidence.
Rest in the aftermath knowing you did all you could do–and then move on.
Something so simple as that new pattern can help you navigate out of seemingly complex situations.
Your kids are going to make you angry, that’s a given. But if you choose to reflect, respond, and
This article was inspired by the book Own the Moment by Carl Lentz.