Easier Said Than Done
“Be angry but do not sin” takes on a whole new meaning when you have children. When I am completely honest with myself, having children shows me sides of myself that really need continued work. I learn daily how I have to keep my anger in check and that I had some serious unresolved anger issues... which has nothing to do with my kids! They don’t care if I’m having a bad day or what happened to me as a child. They need me to show up... every day... without that baggage dictating my parenting.
Is this just me?? Let’s just be clear, kids unintentionally do their best to push every button you have. They will have ‘take the toys out’ parties in their room right after you’ve cleaned it; pull all your husband’s clothes out of the closet because it looks cool (true story); Make snakes out of charger cords and pop you in the eye trying to run from the snake they have created and are slinging around in the air (true story), try to flood the house by over flowing the sink when they are supposed to be brushing their teeth and washing their hands... I mean these are the little things they do that just knock away at every nerve you have. BUT they do none of this with malicious intent... well, depending on the kid. There are times when I swear they look at me laughing when they know they’ve crossed a line; yeah the baby too!! Just kidding.... but for real, savages. Kids have a way of getting under your skin some times, and it doesn’t mean you love them less. So how do we learn to be angry without 'sinning' (i.e. killing your kids and jeopardizing your status as parent in the house by loosing your lid... and their respect in the process)
Well, what I learned about my self, continue to learn about myself… and am sure you may be learning as a parent is that those angry moments ARE NOT ABOUT THE CHILDREN.... what, you didn’t know that?? Yeah, it’s a trick. Here’s my theory, children were sent here to test those of us who were crazy enough to go on this journey with them. We have two main jobs with them: 1.guide them and 2. learn from them. And sometimes that doesn’t mean literally learn from them, even though sometimes I see things from a different perspective just talking to my kids; in that way they are my teachers too. No, what I mean in this context is this: In my moments of anger when I am SURE that I am fuming about what they have done, there is a moment when I recognize a feeling. It is a familiar feeling that I have felt before and can range between a number of different feelings. Those feelings are based in experiences; far reaching past experiences or recent experiences, but from an experience none the less. In that moment, I am experiencing not a reaction to my children... but to that feeling. A feeling of being disrespected, ignored, misunderstood, taken advantage of, forgotten, unseen, overlooked, etc. It’s in the same way that we respond to more favorable feelings of nostalgia, happiness, excitement, gratitude, etc.
For identification sake we will call these feelings triggers; a sometimes overused concept, but important none the less. When I talk about triggers I’m NOT not talking about an ‘out’ for behaving inappropriately (i.e because I was triggered I couldn’t help myself and can therefore behave the way I impulsively would respond to that trigger). I’m talking about an awareness and greater understanding of why we respond to our children in a particular way. Then taking that awareness and going about the business of changing it if it’s not a response that serves our children’s growth. ‘Cause here’s the thing, if our jobs are, after all, to guide and to learn we can only do our jobs to the best of our ability everyday with a little bit of patience, a lot a bit of prayer, some finesse, some chill and some skill.
So from one triggered mom to the other, take a patience pill, think about what is really bothering you about your little one's behavior. Respond after you know that your discipline (no matter how you choose to discipline) is coming from a place of purpose and not the place where all your unresolved issues come from. Yikes, that was a hard one to hear... but someone had to tell you. You'll thank me later ;-)
P.S. It's ok if you lose your mind sometimes... it's normal, we have all been there, you are not alone. Take a deep breath, walk away, come back later when murder is no longer an option ;-)