Are You An Angry Mom?

Mouth (2)

I never really thought of myself as an angry mom.

Oh sure, back when I only had one child and that one child was so amazingly busy and curious and I was so amazingly inexperienced and uptight, there were nights I went to bed kicking myself for all the yelling and grouching I had aimed at that precious little boy sleeping peacefully in the room next door.  He exhausted me to the point of not wanting anymore children.

But, after God changed my heart on the matter of raising up little ones for His glory, I began to see it was my attitude, not my son’s, that had made my mothering so difficult. By that time, I had 2 children and my whole world changed for the better simply because I took Psalm 127 seriously when it says children are a BLESSING.

But then Emily died.

You would think a mother who had experienced such a loss would never, ever yell at her children because losing a child makes you realize just how precious these little lives surrounding you are.  Sadly, loss of this kind does not make you Super Mom, no matter how acutely aware of the brevity of life you may be.

I talk in my eDevotional for grieving families about not letting bitterness take root.  I speak from experience.

My bitterness took on a rather strange form.  I became critical.  Critical of everything and everybody.  That critical view on life bled over into my home life, where I would find myself upset by nearly everything the children did.  Rather than seeing their behavior as foolishness that needed my gentle guidance and correction, I began to take personal offense to what they did.

I was also highly critical of myself.  I never felt like anything was right.  Everything seemed out of control.  I was frustrated and depressed.

Even after I was able to let go of the bitterness, I still found myself angry and cynical and critical more often than I cared to admit.  It was so out of character for me, yet I subconsciously hung on to it until it nearly took over.

I’ve always told people losing my daughter did not steal my joy.  That was the truth.  Our family is a very fun-loving, close-knit family, but there was something deep within me that was not having fun.  I was living with a deep-seeded grouchiness. A grouchiness that only occasionally reared its head for all to see.  The rest of the time it manifested itself in gritted teeth and mournful sighs, quick words and barked orders.

Is it any wonder I started to see hints of sassyness in my children?  Should it have surprised me when I heard anger in my daughter’s voice or criticism of others in my son’s conversation?

I knew even the deepest recesses of my heart were somehow managing to penetrate the surface and affect my family despite my best attempts to suppress them. Yet, even my husband could not see it in me despite the fact he was able to feel the affects of it.  It was well hidden.

It was confusing to me at first.  How could I have conquered the outbursts of anger and still be seeing such anger in my children?  Wasn’t self-control enough?  How could I think I was not an angry mom, yet notice how my jaw hurt every night; most assuredly from holding it tense throughout the day?  How could I say I was joyful, yet feel so empty and depressed?

That’s why I decided to take an afternoon to listen to Dr. S.M. Davis’ sermon entitled Freedom from a Spirit of Anger.  (You can listen to this sermon here: http://media.sermonindex.net/19/SID19913.mp3 – this link seems to change a lot, so if it doesn’t work, do a search and you should be able to find it) This sermon blew me away!  It spoke right to my heart…THE heart of the matter.

It isn’t enough to control your outbursts of anger.  It isn’t enough to root out surface anger.  It isn’t enough to look the part.  You have to dig deeper.  You have to break free from a spirit of anger.  And this spirit doesn’t always look like anger.  Sometimes it looks like bitterness or cynicism, or criticism or just plain ole grumpiness.

It can rise to the surface as self-righteousness or depression or even sassyness.

So, what did I do to grab hold of this beast and toss it out of my life?

*I asked God to forgive me for allowing a spirit of anger to rule in my life for so long.

*I asked my family to forgive me for the way I had behaved in the past and pointed out and asked forgiveness for the continued behavior that resulted from this habit of anger.

*Even though my family said they were unable to readily see my reactions and retorts, they agreed to gently point them out to me.  This, in and of itself, helped ME to be more aware of how I was saying things.

*I began practicing joy. I tell my children quite often, “you become what you practice.”  It’s true for adults too!  In order to walk away from a spirit of anger, I had to practice a spirit of JOY!

I saw results almost immediately!  I saw where conversations that were usually steeped in negativity turned around to be more joyful.  I saw where my quick retorts and harshness when dealing with the children were replaced by gentleness and longsuffering.  I saw the funk I had been living in lifted and my jaw no longer ached and my day no longer felt insurmountable.

It is sad to wake up one day and realize you have set the tone in your household and it wasn’t the most melodious or God-honoring tone.  But REJOICE!  For that day is the very day God may use to turn things around.  Though you once were blind, you now can see, and He is faithful to lead you directly to the place you need to be to be more like Him.

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74 thoughts on “Are You An Angry Mom?

  1. Amy,

    Thank you for being so candid and honest. You could have been talking about me…it’s all the things I recognise in myself. Thankfully God forgives us, even though we find it hard to forgive ourselves. And it hurts so much when others condemn us, like my sister did last night.
    God Bless You – we’re God’s work in progress.
    Primrose

  2. I definitely have room to grow in this area and I am seeing it bear out in the attitude of my 8 year-old daughter. Her attitude mimics mine and that scares the pants off of me! If I am disgusted with the world and my never-ending “duties”, I notice her taking on the same atittude. Right now, I am praying the prayer that you prayed….for GOd to take away my angry spirit adn teach my children through my actions to be joyful and accepting. Thank you for this post, Amy…this has been on my heart for quite some time.
    Nicki

  3. Oh how I can relate. I don’t have the grief of losing my baby. I still have the comfort of holding him. But I’ve had to navigate the valley of grief that comes when your child has a catastrophic diagnosis that completely changes the scope of your and his life. The weight of it is crushing at times. And, like you, I’ve looked around recently to my older children snapping, barking, fighting…only to hear my own voice echoing back angrily. And the sadness of this ugliness I’ve been nurturing has been eating me up this past week. Which is why I know that one of the Intended targets of today’s post…was me.

    Thank you for sharing your soul…

    …danielle

  4. Thank you so much! I needed this. I know it all to be true, but sometimes it’s hard to put such things into words. I appreciate the encouragement!

  5. Wow. Good stuff. Anger is a stage of grief. Problem is that we don’t want to STAY there. I will listen to the sermon later today when I have undivided time.
    I also downloaded your ebook. We’ve been through a huge loss. Not a death, but still similar in many ways. I look forward to seeing what God taught you through your time of pain.

  6. Wow. Thank you for this. Before having kids, I had anger issues that were much easier to see. But I don’t want to be an angry mom, and I never want them to see the ugliness of my sinful anger, so I have prided myself on the fact that I am rarely “angry”. I see reading this that I am just rarely angry in the way I used to be. I never scream and totally lose control of my tongue, but I definitely have struggled with losing joy and not being sure why, with feeling tense and frustrated and critical. Thank you for helping me to see that it is the same issue, just a different facet…

  7. Thank you.
    I really appreciate the action steps you outlined. When Mommy Grumpasoraus rears her head around here, I can see the children cringe. That makes me stop in my tracks and find something to giggle about.

  8. Amy…Thank you for your transparency on this subject, and for direction on seeking freedom from bitterness…I have work to do on bitterness (I printed the Bible study you linked to); I don’t know how it will look for me – I feel confused at the moment in how to proceed…but I’ve begun praying about it and I know the Lord will meet me. It will be good if I have the courage to do the work. *hugs*

  9. Ah, what a timely post, Amy.
    Thank you for honestly sharing your experience with the issue of anger. Unfortunately, you have described me and I have realized it for quite some time but didn’t really know how to work though these anger “issues”. We brought our children home from our local Christian school this year (7th, 5th & 2nd) and everything has felt incredibly overwhelming. My dream of what I thought home educating would look like is not the same reality. Even with a wonderfully supportive husband and HS support group, I find myself extremely discouraged and fustrated continuously. I do know that it is me that needs to change.
    I will listen to the sermon that you mentioned as soon as i am able.
    Be encouraged that you are helping other moms. Thank you.

    • Emily,
      I am so sorry you are feeling so discouraged right now. Have you looked over the Homeschooling Mother section of this blog? You might find some encouragement there. {HUGS} I think we are all where you are many, many times in our homeschooling careers.

  10. That’s a great article ~ I love Dr. S.M. Davis’s series on anger. We have it on DVD; I think I’ll watch it again this week for a refresher course.

    I clicked over from Money Saving Mom, and wow ~ I feel like I’ve found a twin, Amy! I am also the mother of six living kidlets plus a little girl, Karissa, in Heaven (and 2 more babies who were miscarried early). I had a lot of anger problems with my first little boy, too. I still have to *practice* joy on a daily basis.

    I am eager to browse your blog when I get time. For now… recess is about over, and we gotta get back to school work! ?

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really really needed this. My little boy is a very active child, and I find myself getting frustrated and angry with him a lot. Can you give me some examples of practicing joy?

    • Elena,
      Things like smiling more at your children, getting down on their level to listen to them, dancing through the house, singing more, playing with the children, and just in general, looking for ways to change your outlook on your life. :)
      Blessings,
      Amy

  12. Anger is the dirty little secret of so many Christian moms. I thank God that you have shared your struggle and your redemption, and that you are exhorting and encouraging other women. Such a good word. I love your blog and am so grateful for what you write here. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement, Katie! And you are so right…it truly is something no one wants to talk about, but seems nearly everyone NEEDS to talk about.

      • I’m so glad I could encourage you. I wanted to share this post, so I’ve linked to it in my most recent blog post. Hoping it will bless my mom friends as well.

  13. Amy, I just clicked over to your blog from MoneySavingMom and was so surprised to see the title of your most recent post…but then again, I wasn’t. God seems to have a habit of working on me in themes. In the past it’s been contentment, my marriage…but now, anger. My husband moved out three weeks ago, after 6 tumultuous years together and not together. I have gone from being a partly crazy SAHM to our three preschoolers, to a mad (in the crazy sense too) working single mom on my own. I want so badly to give up this anger that I know is wrongfully taken out on my innocent, confused babies. I am so completely aware of God’s perfect provision for me in everything, and I believe I have laid my marriage at His feet, but why not my rage? Even as I scream at my kids I know it’s completely wrong, but I have lost all compassion towards them. Oh yes, I love them, and I try to make our few precious hours together special, but one disobedient action, one whine, one fight, and I snap. Everything else is pretty good, but the most important, vulnerable people, my BLESSINGS, get this crazy person. Why? And why can’t I let it go? I will bookmark this page and come back to your links when I have some time. Thank you.

    • Allison,
      I am so sorry you are dealing with so much right now. It is terrible that in our grief, we have to deal with something so huge and overpowering as anger, but there is victory and there is purpose. I’ll be praying. {HUGS} to you.

  14. Amy,
    God is so good! His timing amazes me all the time. Your ebook on grieving became available less than 12 hours after we lost my husband’s grandma. Then, I find this post on anger while looking at the blogs I follow.
    I am so quilty of being angry, critical, cynical, etc. I can see these attitudes coming through in our children, and it breaks my heart. I know my attitude sets the tone of our home. I am praying that God will deliver me from this and show me how to work through these attitudes in my children.
    Thank you for letting God use you to speak to me.

    • {HUGS} to you, Charity. I pray you feel God’s presence as your family grieves. And isn’t it amazing how we moms can set the tone in our household? Humbling, to say the least.

  15. What a beautiful, humbling and heartfealt post! Thank you! I believe we all go through times like these; none of us are perfect. I love to hear stories like these, of honesty and struggles, and of triumph. No doubt, you will be challenged with this again and again, but you know you can conquer it now. :D

    Way to improve yourself, and way to inspire the rest of us to improve ourselves as well!!! :D
    Corine

  16. Sheesh. I needed this post. I thank God that he prompted you to write it when you did and post it when you did. Our family is feeling the effects of my teeth clenching lack of patience and my joy has been absent for who knows how long. My husband brought it to my attention recently and I have been examining my heart ever since. This seals the deal I know what God wants me to do and I thank you for typing it out for Him because I am just soooo stubborn to accept it in any other form. I will be reaching out, apologizing and becoming more joyful. :) Thanks.

  17. Amy,
    Thank you so much for this! I have struggled with anger for years. I go through periods where I feel like I have it licked only to have it resurface during stress. I repent of it daily, but your insights have been very refreshing and very helpful. I even told my ladies Bible study about this post. Thanks for being open and transparent. I’m so glad I found your blog! We’re also moving in 4 months to a new state to plant a church and I have been looking for advice on how to help my kiddos cope.

  18. Amy, I feel like this is me to a T. I have been struggling with criticism since our son passed away 2 1/2 years ago. We miss him so. I do not want to yell or scream either but the Lord is convicting me to stop. thank you for sharing.

    Julie

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  20. Oh. so. good. Girl, I am going through it right now. Perhaps I need to listen to that sermon? Thank you so much for sharing. I am fighting for joy–hence my blog “Joyful Mothering”. That seems to be the hardest place to find joy – and I know why. Because I’m not being as attentive as I should be. Oh that’s a whole other topic. I did write about it a bit on my blog. “Cutting Down on Frustrations.” Being where God wants me really makes a big difference [for me]. *Hugs*

  21. Bitterness does have strong roots and can lay dormant, making you think you have it under control, only to rear its ugly head and knock you down again. I need “open heart” surgery to remove the thorny roots.

  22. Amy, I listened to the sermon. It was so good. I really felt convicted for my anger, and I prayed and for forgiveness and that God free me from the spirit of anger. Thank-you for the link to this sermon. I will try the practical steps you described in your post.

  23. Wow, your story really hit home. I too lost my daughter and her name was Emily. When I was reading your post I totally thought I was reading about myself. I am desperate to get help for my anger and to make my home more harmonious. I see anger coming out in my children and it made me wake up and look in the mirror and realize that I have to fix myself before I can fix them. I need all the help I can get!! But it is refreshing to know I am not the only one and that I am really not a bad mom. Thanks for sharing your story.

  24. Its been 2 years since we lost our sweet 3 month old baby boy. And though there have been pockets of time where I’ve seen joy in my life or felt real enjoyment for a time, I think my kids see me as the mom who’d rather stay busy working than have fun. And the things you mentioned…critical spirit, self righteousness, emptiness…I see this in myself. Its very convicting, and yet sometimes it feels like such a huge mountain to climb. I pray for His grace to teach me deep joy again.

  25. FYI… The sermon link has changed. It can now be found here: http://media.sermonindex.net/19/SID19913. Getting a ‘preview’ while I type this, will listen to complete sermon once kiddos are in bed.

    Since getting off of FB awhile ago (idols, idols for this camper), I’ve missed your posts. Was thrilled to see this page come up on my google search for angry Christian mom…kind of like meeting up with an old friend!

  26. Thank you. This really really hit home for me. I am going to watch the link you posted. I pray its something I can break the habit of. The way you described yourself was like describing me. :( It really breaks my heart. Please pray I can make the turn around you did. Thank you!

  27. Loved this article…guilty myself of all of this…however too late (now I have grandchildren!) Thankfully they survived all of my sins/mistakes & are great fathers to their children & have great wives…I will pass this along tho! I cried when I read about your little daughter, so sorry about her death…I have no idea how I could survive it, but only in God’s strength could we.

  28. Wow…this has brought tears to my eyes because I am living this… God revealed to me, last year I believe, that my bitterness and anger came from unfulfilled expectations. I’m a dreamer and I have very beautiful, flowery, romantic ideas of how things should be – only I’m an imperfect person living in a real, imperfect world with imperfect people. It’s a daily struggle. I see my attitudes and behaviors being reflected in my children and it leaves me disgusted. Through God, I’m seeing bright, positive moments more often, but I (we) have a long way to go. Thankfully, I can be “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you (me! us!) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
    ~Natasha

  29. I love this post, Amy. Speaks right to me. I am three months postpartum with my 5th and am finding myself in a place I do NOT like to be. You were honest, sayng what I needed to hear, however hard it was to read it. Thank you for what you do here!

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  31. Thank you for this article, and the link to the sermon, it was just what I needed! I realized letting my anger go was wrong, but was unaware of how to fix the problem. This sermon has helped me to gain victory! Thank you for being a tool in His hands!!!

  32. Wow! Thank u for this. I know anger overtakes me and i could never keep it in control. I think i expect too much from my 3 and 4 year olds. I want everything perfect. Im really looking forward to listening to this message. Yourblog alone made me cry and have hope. Thanks for the encouragement and openness with ur situation

  33. Thank you for posting this….amazing article with so much to digest. SM Davis is a wonderful preacher! Have you ever heard any of his other messages?

  34. God has been working in me on this very subject for over a year now. But it started the day I brought my baby girl home from the hospital. We have two kids, and because of my attitude and anger we decided not to have any more. I too asked my family to point out when I start acting out in anything but love. I don’t like hearing that my kids have nothing positive to say about me. It shows just how badly I need this change. Thank you for sharing so openly and for the encouragement to continue on in the quest for peace and joy!

  35. this is exactly what is going on with me, but I learned to do this also from my mother and I want to say thank you for pointing this out.amen. It can make you feel so defeated when you keep doing what you do not want to do and apologize only to five minutes later return it with full wrath. I would never physically harm them but the mouth and the tongue and hurt even more.this for me is a generational curse passed down, and I am so convicted by the Lord about it I shared with others that I had this problem and that I could not even begin to be a sunday school teacher until I dealt with this anger at my family, and its at them and not anyone else.But our sins will find us out and I decided this time to out myself so I could get help. Now it is loosing power over me because I outed my sins and confessed it and and I am seeking help.you hit this right on the nail.God bless

    • Hello Amy,
      I really like your website, in Holland we do not have many nice christian website to learn from.
      Only I am very interested in Dr. S.M. Davis’ sermon entitled Freedom from a Spirit of Anger. “(You can listen to this sermon here: http://media.sermonindex.net/19/SID19913.mp3 – this link seems to change a lot.” But I cannot open/find it.
      Maybe because I am in Holland?
      Lots of love,
      Christa

  36. Thank you, Amy for willing to be so honest and transparent. I did listen to the sermon and realized how so much turmoil is in my family because of anger. My mom’s anger frightened and controlled me greatly. My daughter has followed that pattern and there is a lot of damage and hurt there. I’m definatelyoing to ask God for wisdom andgrace in dealing with all of this. Just 3 day’s ago my 98yr old father finally met his great,great granddaughter , Kahllie, for the 1st time. I prayed for God and the Holy Spirit to go before us and make a way. The spirit of fear of the anger is what delayed this meeting for so long. Thank you for being obedient to the Lord and God bless you and your beautiful family. Aggie