Why So Many Angry Parents?

parents-madHave 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?

Medications Can’t Fix Our Kids

medications-blogMedicine cannot fix our kids. Yes, it can help. When my kids are sick, they are much more likely to sin without medicine than with medicine. And they are not alone. They come from their Daddy and Mommy who a both more prone to get upset, angry, and annoyed when they feel bad. Our bodies and souls and interracially tied together. The one effects the other. And  when Medicine relieves us from physical pain, it is a beautiful thing. As physical problems diminish the amount of stress laid upon our souls often diminishes. I am very pro-medicine. Without it, my kids, my beautiful bride, and I would not be alive and our quality of life would be much less than it is now.

But medicine cannot heal all of our problems. Medicine cannot make our kids nicer or fix their personality problems. Medicine cannot get our kids closer to Jesus. No amount of drugs can fix anger, disobedience, and foolishness.  

Here’s why. Our attitude problems are heart problems. They are sin problems.

In Mark 7:14-23, Jesus directly and clearly tells his disciples that nothing that enters a child from “the outside can defile him since it enters not his heart but his stomach and is expelled” (v.18-19). We are not evil people because we have chemical imbalances in our brain. Nothing we eat, drink, or inject into our bodies or our kids’ bodies makes us evil, mean, and cranky. There is great relief in this truth. We don’t have to worry about losing our relationship to God because of a pill bottle or because of that shrimp on our plates. Nothing we ingest can reach our soul.

But this truth is also hard for us to swallow because Jesus is saying that our most noticeable and prevailing problem extends beyond our control. If our main problem is food or our environment we could change those things. We could eat this and avoid that and happily earn our salvation. But our ultimate problem is our hearts. Notice what Jesus says in Mark 7:21-23

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

Our sin, our kids’ sin, and the anger, the lies, the slander, and the sexual immorality that we encounter on a regular basis is not the fault of the medical community. One more pill, or just a slightly better therapy will not fix our kids or us. We are evil and we do bad things because we have bad hearts. Our very natures our corrupt beyond repair. We need divine intervention. As the Pastor and Biblical Counselor Heath Lambert wrote,

The only way God’s broken image can by fully restored in sinful people is through Jesus Christ, the perfect image bearer who came to conform us, by grace to resemble God as closely as he does.

So what does this mean for us?

 When our kids our sick, we need to point them to medicine. When our kids our overcome by sin, we need to point them to Christ. No combination of pills can change our kids hearts and make them love us, their siblings, and their teachers more. No medicine can cause a kid to repent of their angry heart.

To be a faithful parent, we cannot simply medicate our kids’ sin away. We must go after their hearts, calling them to repent. And we must plead with God to save and sanctify them. Trouble comes from within. And to help our kids change within we inject them with the gospel. Only God through his word is able to bring real change. Are we ready to deal with this divine reality? Are we ready to admit that our children’s biggest issue is their heart?

Should We Be Quick To Buy Things For Our Kids?

should we give our kids stuff blogMost every parent has been there. You are walking down the store aisle minding your buisness when your child spots a brightly colored new toy. You feel the tug at your heart strings. You love your little guy and can see that the yellow ball with an odd bumpy texture is bringing him unlimited joy. But at the same time, you had not planned to buy him anything. But then you look back into those little eyes, and his kindly, sheepish grin breakouts. What do we do?

Well if you grew up in a situation similar to my background and to my wife’ background, we simply tell him,  “N..O… no.” Our parents had no quandary when we asked for them stuff because they had no money. “We can’t afford that right now,” was a common mantra for both of us.

But what if we do have money, what if we can afford to buy our kids a new toy or video game when they ask? Should we do it?

On the one hand, God says it is good to give gifts.  And, we should seek to imitate our heavenly father by giving our kids good things (Matt. 7:11). We should seek to loving care for our children by sacrificing our wants for their needs.

But before we rush to the checkout line with our kid’s new ball, we also need to think about what our new purchase will teach our child. Often when our child becomes fascinated with a new ball, video game, or pair of shoes, she is coveting. She is seeking satisfaction in something other than Jesus. And when we buy our kid the latest copy of Madden or the new pair of Nike’s, we are helping him pursue his latest idol. We are enabling him for a brief moment to find his happiness and identity in something other than Jesus.

And of course our kids will love us when, we give them what they want. They will try to reward us with hugs, complements, and an occasional day of good behavior. They always like it when we help them achieve their idols.

But often giving our kids the things they want is not the most loving thing a parent can do. Satisfaction, happiness, and joy are only found in Jesus. As Psalm 73:25-26 says,

Whom have I in heaven but you?

    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

Consequently, we want to parent in such a way that our kids are taught to find their satisfaction in Christ. We should not throw money and time behind their every desire. We should rebuke a greedy, covetous heart and redirect it to Jesus.

And here is another thing to remember. Even if our kids get everything they want on earth, they will not be happy. Life is found is God and not in video games, shoes, or travel teams. Earthly things will eventually disappoint. Games will become outdate, shoes wear out, and travel ball eventually becomes boring. If you doubt me, just think about how many of your kids’ toys you’ve already gotten rid of.

Now I am not saying that you should never give your kid a gift. And I am not saying that we can always prevent our kids from misusing the things we give them. What I am trying to get at is this: the decision concerning whether or not to buy our kids something is bigger than the size of our budget. It goes to a heart issue. We should be willing to lovingly deny our kids things for the sake of the gospel. Love is not fulfilling our kids’ dreams. Love is pointing them to Jesus. Are we doing this?