Adoption, Faith, Mothering

Mothering: When We Want to Be Angry

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

A few years ago, one of the boys was having a hard time with his homework. We sat together, him working it through, me explaining as I could. It just so happened on this day that the other boy needed extra help with his math. Dinner needed cooking. And Hubs was out of the country.

I can manage all these things simultaneously . . . as long as everyone works with my plan. 

On this particular day, the first boy went to his room for a break before he dug into more homework. I waited the ten minutes I gave him. And then fifteen.

And then my frustration began to bubble. I asked the other boy to go get his brother. 

The other boy came to me, a little shaken. “Mom, he says he’s not coming out of his room, and he doesn’t care.”

All I remember is how that boy’s brazen disrespect of my time, my willingness to sit and help him . . .

His disregard of me as his mom . . . 

. . . pushed me past my boiling point.

I marched up every stair, making certain my footsteps were heard. I mentally rehearsed exactly what I would say to this disrespectful son. I was ready to blow.

On the second from the top step, the Lord stopped me. He imprinted in my thoughts that, before I spewed my anger all over this boy-man, I needed to ask why he wasn’t coming to complete his homework.

I took a deep breath, and quieted my steps to his room. 

I opened the door as God opened my heart. And I asked the question. “Why . . .?”

What followed was forty minutes of tirades, anger, hurt, and then transparency as this boy unburdened his aching heart. 

As I listened without interjecting, God gave me a glimpse into his heart, his thoughts. His soul. At first, it was hard to hear the accusations he hurled at me. The harsh words he had for his classmates. 

But, as my silence encouraged him to talk, God got to work. He gave me insights into some of the struggles this boy was dealing with. He may not have been seeing everything through an accurate perspective in the moment, but my remaining quiet rather than tossing out my two-cents created a safe place for him.

And, as I listened, God revealed things I needed to see so I could hear His voice and ask questions the boy needed to consider.

At the end of that time, this boy shared something about his adoption that I hadn’t realized he was thinking about. Struggling with. Trying to process through on his own.

Can I just be honest and say I am way too quick to anger with my kids? When other people trigger my anger, I can usually hold my peace. But for some reason, my emotions hiss out through my words and attitude in my interactions with my boys. 

Continually, the Lord reminds me that things are often not as they seem. Many times, my boys’ outer reaction is a fissure trying to release the deep emotion they’re holding inside. 

When I react with hurt, and then anger, to their words, I shut them down. God reminds us that man’s anger does not produce God’s righteousness.

I need to be willing to look beyond the hurt their words or actions have caused and ask the questions. I need to listen—just listen—to what they say. 

When I listen without judging or interjecting—and especially without correcting or seeming to condemn—they will feel safe enough to talk honestly about what’s inside. And many times, this starts them on the path to healing and understanding some of that stuff inside. And, it reminds them that there is a God—a heavenly Father—who loves them, anger and all.

As the boy and I finished talking, God showed me what I could share about his adoption that would give him a more accurate way of viewing things. He gave me words to share so our boy could better see God in the mix of his life. And He brushed peace over the hurts my son was wrestling with.

And yes, he did come downstairs and finish that homework.

What about you? How do you stop yourself from responding in anger to another person? When has God dissipated your anger and how did He do it?

Click to Tweet: God reminds us that man’s anger does not produce God’s righteousness.

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and #TellHisStory

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27 thoughts on “Mothering: When We Want to Be Angry”

  1. All I can really say is that these guys are blessed to have you as their Mom.

    I maybe get bent outa shape
    but baby, what’s the point
    in acting like a stripe-a**ed ape
    who needs to smoke a joint?
    Anger’s just a cup of acid
    prepared for whom I think
    has made me less than placid,
    but it’s all mine to drink.
    People have their a-hole days
    that sometimes last for years,
    but getting torqued plays
    to their hands, and I get the tears.
    Revenge is Mine, saith the Lord,
    and the anger that I can’t afford.

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    1. Andrew, again, another pointed poem. Your words are spot on. We all have those days when we act as less than we are created to be. And when others have those days, we have the choice of whether we will respond in anger—which leads nowhere good, or in grace—which can bring peace and restoration. And you’re right. anger is not something we can afford to live in. Thank you for your wisdom!

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  2. It’s definitely an area I have to be working on continually with my household. I try to stop and realize my tone even when I’m not upset I can come across that way. My goal is to try and respond to the Holy Spirit instead of reacting to them. It’s a dying daily struggle for sure. Visiting from #raralinkup

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    1. April, I get so frustrated with myself when I give into frustration and anger with my boys. God’s been helping me work on my tone of voice too, but I certainly still fall back into letting those harsh intonations come through. May we both grow in the area of responding to the SPirit’s prompting and not react when our kids heat us up. Thanks so much for visiting!

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  3. I love how God drew you to pause and, instead of responding out of anger, to ask a simple question that prompted such a great chat and allowed your son to open up. Listening is so powerful, and this is a great reminder to pause and consider that often when people annoy us or disrespect us there is so much more going on under the surface. And I agree with Andrew – your boys are blessed to have you!

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    1. Lesley, you’re sweet. I’m working to be consistent in pausing so I don’t respond in anger. I love how God opened the doors to my boy’s heart that day. He showed me so much, and watching him come out of that conversation with a light spirit. You know the Lord was there that afternoon! And you’re right, when people are speaking/acting disrespectfully toward us, or in anger toward us, there’s almost always something deeper driving that action. Now to remember that in the heat of the moment. 🙂

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  4. I think we all have said words in anger to our children that we wish we could take back. You have more patience and presence than most. You were able to stop yourself at the top of the stairs and count to 10. I can remember both scenarios from when my children were young – times I counted to 10 and times I didn’t. The times I counted always worked out better than the times I didn’t. I’m sure you are a fantastic mom. Blessings to you, Jeanne!

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    1. Laurie, I’m sure you’re right. We’ve all said angry things to our children. Any patience and presence I have is from the constant training the Lord has done with me, and it’s from remembering that when I express anger with my boys, their emotions escalate and that rarely ends well. God is helping me to develop the self-control to not go off on them, but to breathe deep and ask questions. Or sometimes, walk away until we’re both calmer. 🙂

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  5. There’s such wisdom in what you’ve shared here, Jeanne. Every situation is a learning opportunity for our kids AND us, isn’t it? Oh, for the grace to respond rather than react! I’m so glad you listened to that still small Voice that told you to hold back throughout that whole conversation with your son. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Lois. And yes, God has ways of using situations to teach both our children and us, if we’re teachable. May we both grow in responding with grace rather than reacting in anger. 🙂 Hugs, friend.

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  6. We as moms know what our children are capable of with effort and we get frustrated when the effort doesn’t seem to be there. We forget their frustrations in trying to go forward but you allowed God to take over and during that time a lot of air got cleared and new directions were formed. Taking time to let go and let God is something we all struggle with in a lot of different ways. Great job in listening and healing.

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    1. Anita, it can be so hard not to push our kids in one direction or another. We may see their potential, but they have to see on it before they can effectively act on it. God has continued to teach me the value of stepping back and letting Him work in their hearts…in His way, and in His timing. Thank you for sharing your insights here!

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  7. What a beautiful example of parenting. I love how God imprinted His voice in your heart before you reached that top step. I learned over the years of parenting my own sons that saying a quick prayer before a conversation makes all the difference. And God is good to provide the words you need.

    You are a wonderful mom and sharing parts of your own journey is beneficial to many. Sending you lots of hugs from one boy mom to another.

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    1. Mary, I love that we are boy-moms together. Of course, you’re a few years ahead of me on this particular journey. I’m getting better about saying that quick prayer before I engage in a heated situation. Now, if I could only remember to do that every single time. 😉 I’m thankful for friends like you who are a few years further down the road and know how to give encouragement. There are those days when I really need that. 🙂

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  8. Lovely post, Jeanne! Breathe. Just breathe and count to 10, was a tool I used to help when the heat of frustration and anger was reaching it’s boiling point. Sometimes it would still heat over though, I must admit! Underlying it all was fear. Fear if the children didn’t follow a certain way they’d end up never being able to sustain themselves! And then…well, things turned out the opposite actually and one is even doing better than I could have ever imagined!

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    1. Lynn, yes, fear can definitely drive our actions, and it’s never in a good direction, is it? Like I told Mary, I’m thankful for the friends like you who have lived through the hard and have come out on the other side of the more “in-your-face” struggles and can encourage the moms like me who are still in the thick of it some days. 🙂 I’m so glad your children are doing so well!

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  9. God has given you such insight into parenting, Jeanne. I’m so grateful the boys have you. I love how God stopped you and gave you patience and wisdom before you opened that door. And I love how God applied healing balm to your son’s heart through His grace and the gift He gave you to listen. Thank you for being honest about our weaknesses as moms. I am well past that stage, but there are still those If-only times. What comforts me is that God can more than make amends for our shortcomings with raising our kids. Love and blessings to you!

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    1. Awww, Trudy. You’re sweet. I’m so grateful we have these boys. They stretch me and teach me through the struggles and the joys. Our God is so faithful and good, isn’t He? And I’m grateful He fills in our gaps, because we all have them. Love and blessings back, sweet friend.

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    1. Lisa, I’m finding listening is one of the most important things we do with our kids. Someone once told me that our teens needs us even more than our toddlers. And it’s true. When we listen, we will all be better for it. Saying a prayer for you tonight s you walk this out season, friend.

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    1. Susan, this actually happened when my fifteen year old was about 12. But, he’s still going through stuff like this. Some days, it’s just plain hard. I’m saying a prayer for you tonight! We lean into God and press through, right? Hugs, friend.

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  10. Oh yeah, this –>’I marched up every stair, making certain my footsteps were heard.’

    Been there, done that.

    You’re in the trenches friend. It’s not an easy season. But over time this season morphs into the next. And you’ll be thankful for all the ways you mothered well … and your children will arise and call you blessed.

    One day at a time, one grace at a time.

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  11. I remember a while back when you told me this story. I was so proud of you then and what a wonderful mother you had became. I’m even more proud of you now. You are an amazing godly woman. I truly miss our friendship from way back in the days of me serving with you in LBS. I love you friend.

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    1. Sandy, you are a blessing in my life! I was just thinking about you a couple of days ago. I remember the day we met, and I had no idea what God was going to do. I thank God upon every remembrance of you, friend. And if you guys ever make it to Colorado, please let us know! Love you back!

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  12. Jeanne, thank you for being so honest and real. You gave him a safe place, your time, so much. And I don’t like anger, especially in myself. The last time something worthy of an angry response surfaced, a peace came over me and there ended up being no reason to be angry after all. I was so thankful I had kept calm. I don’t always keep calm, but I know God did that for me. For some reason in that circumstance. It all comes back to trust, it seems.

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    1. Shelli, Sorry it’s taken me days to respond. I don’t like anger in myself either. I’m so thankful that the Lord will help us when we want to be angry. I’m grateful He will help us to see things with His perspective, especially if we come to Him before we react in anger. Thanks for sharing your insights, my friend!

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