Why So Many Angry Parents?
Have you ever wanted to throw your kid through the window? If you are a parent (or at the very least a dad), I think most of us would have to say that at some point we’ve had that thought.
We like to portray parenting as a never ending series of Instagram moments filled with cuteness and joy. And a many times, our parenting calendar is full of these days.
But there are also all those moments when your son head-butts you for the umpteenth time, or pees on the floor, or talks about candy for hours on end. When those moments come, I find it easy to think, “I’m over it! Out he goes!”
Now for the sake of full disclosure, let me emphatically state: “I have never thrown any of my children or anyone else child out a window. Nor, have I ever come close to doing so.” However, I have felt the frustration, the anger, that is common to all of us parents. Parenting is tough stuff that challenges our very souls.
Understandably, we don’t like our anger. The Bible commands be angry and to not sin (Eph. 4:26). Moreover, the sinful anger that we are prone to disrupts our life, the life of our kids, and often turns an already bad day into and even worse day. Our anger at its best does nothing to advance God’s agenda (James 1:20). So, we don’t like it. And we shouldn’t. But we keep getting mad. What gives?
Well it’s our desires. Notice what James 4:2-3 says:
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
We get mad at our kids because they frustrate our desires. We want to take a nap, we want to eat without having to get up 20 times, and we want to read three pages (just three pages mind you) without being interrupted. And when our kids keep us awake, when they force us to get up, and when they smash into our head without warning, we lose it. Why? We are angry because we did not get the peace and quiet, we wanted. We did not get our idol. And so, we lash out at the person who just interrupted our worship with an angry tirade of “If I have to tell you one more time….” (You fill in the blank.) Instead of our longed for peace, we find ourselves battling sin with sin. And Instead of our longed for tranquility with now have a home filled with fighting and quarreling.
Now some of you might be more spiritual than me. You might actually confess the whole situation to God saying, “Please give me a moment of peace from my kid (s).” And yet, your house still explodes three seconds after you crack open your book. What went wrong?
Well, you prayed and you implored God to work for the wrong reasons. Perhaps, you wanted peace so that you will not be embarrassed with Aunt Jane comes over. Perhaps you wanted peace because you were tired of parenting. Perhaps you wanted peace so that you could be more influential in your church. Regardless, you wanted peace so that others would think more of you and so that you could spend some time worshiping yourself. In that moment, you are not crying out for help; you are crying out for God to vindicate your idols. God does not do that. Hence, you wind up frustrated and angry all over again. (I’ve been here over and over again.)
The solution? Change our desires. Instead of getting mad at our kids, we need to confess to God that we want things, honors, and earthly pleasures that God has not called us to. We must confess that we have taken nice good things and transformed them into our god. We have to refocus our hearts on our calling as parents. We must realize that parenting is not an imposition to our well-being and happiness. We have to realize it is our calling. Through parenting, God shapes us, matures us, and sanctifies us. Instead seeking to make our name great through parenting, we should implore God to give us the wisdom and patience that we need to parent well, trusting Him to show up! If we will confess our sinful desires, and replace them with a desire to see God glorified, we will find rest from our anger and peace.
Parenting is tough. Soon and very soon, our kids will put our faith to the test once again. But as we encounter our kids’ sin and prepare to correct them, we must remember that our kids are not responsible for our sin. Our kids do not make us angry, impatient, or unkind. Our hearts do that all on their own. As James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” Are you ready to deal with your angry heart?