I have been helping my friend, Susan, with a book she is working on about Christian moms and dealing with anger. Out of these conversations, I realized overcoming our own issues in managing our tempers, can also give us a blueprint to help our kids. My goal? To one day not start my confession with, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been a few weeks since my last confession and, oh my goodness, my temper …”
We can demonstrate to our kids — by our own management of anger — how to manage theirs.
Preach It: Help your child to find a scripture passage to pray that encourages them. Perhaps the anger they are dealing with is really rooted in fear or anxiety. “Be not afraid” appears in Sacred Scripture 365 times; let them know that they can pray this to themselves to overcome fear. “______, don’t be afraid.” Let your kids hear you do the same. I can often be heard saying, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) A good reminder for me, to act in love and self-control rather than anger.
Teach It: We can also use language and tools to help them be proactive rather than reactive. I used to ask my kids, “What color is your anger?” If parents defuse the situation and then provide an outlet (for example, have them draw what they feel) they will learn that anger is not wrong; it just needs to be managed well.
Model It: Express our own anger in words rather than actions: “I feel so angry when someone steals my parking space, but I remember to breathe and (reframe my thinking) remind myself that I am blessed to own a car that requires a parking space.”
Explain and Act on It: Even Jesus got upset and angry at injustice (flipping over the tables in the Temple). There are reasons to be angry; however, we must use that righteous anger to move us to work for good. The injustice of abortion is a great example. We can use that emotion to participate in 40 days for prayer against abortion or the March for Life.
If we look at overcoming these strong emotions as a way to strengthen our faith and help our kids, maybe we can be a little more forgiving of ourselves in the process. Meanwhile, I’m running off to Confession, because I need a little more grace.
Copyright 2018 Mary Lou Rosien