Homeschool Mom’s Dirty Little Secret #3 – Anger

by Carletta on February 28, 2011

I started this series on dirty little secrets in order to address subjects that I know many homeschoolers struggle with, but are ashamed to mention. And it is with great shame that I broach this last topic – anger.

Over the years, I’ve read enough forum and blog posts about yelling moms and angry outbursts to know that anger can be a problem both inside and outside of the homeschool community.

To be clear, I am not talking about loud families. Volume isn’t the problem, emotions are. Frustration, resentment, fury, rage and wrath – ugly, ugly stuff that it’s high time we deal with.

There is No Valid Excuse for Acting Out in Anger

If a school teacher gave your child the tongue lashing you just gave him, would you be okay with it? Even if she had reason to feel frustrated? Even if it only happened every once in a while?

Would you sympathize with her for being stressed, tired and overwhelmed? Would you want to hear about her hormone imbalance and lack of support from the principal? Would she be fit to teach your child again just because she apologized?

I don’t think so.

Neither is it okay for us to excuse our angry outbursts and console ourselves by apologizing.

We can’t save our children from schoolyard bullies only to bully them in our own homes. If you wouldn’t let a school teacher say it to your children, don’t you say it either. If you wouldn’t behave that way in public, don’t behave that way behind closed doors.

Please know that I am not writing from some perch on high. I am writing from my experience of having done it wrong so often. And I am not trying to make those of you who feel guilty feel even worse. I am writing because it is time to move beyond guilt to action.

The Roots of Anger

In order to truly get rid of anger, you have to get it at the root.

For some, the root is quite simply exhaustion. If that’s you, you’re lucky. Stop blogging. Stop reading blogs. Close your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Drop out of co-op. Stop volunteering. Pare house and schoolwork down to the minimum. Do less, and get the rest your body needs.

For others – not me, and certainly not you – the problem is not so simple. Some of us have hearts so full of anger that it just can’t help spilling out and splashing all over those closest to us.

That kind of anger may be caused by one of the following:

Perfectionism – Children will be childish, messy, too loud, too slow and sometimes annoying. Friends and family will disappoint you. You will make mistakes. Lots of them. Your house will be a wreck at times, and you often won’t accomplish half as much as you would like to accomplish. Accept that life is never perfect, and embrace it as it is.

Challenging Behavior in Children – Sometimes concerns about our children’s behavior involve more than just childishness. I shared ideas for addressing those issues here. I also think it is important to realize that anger is of no use in improving a child’s behavior. “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires.” (James 1:20)

Misplaced Priorities – Are you a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom? Or are you a mommy blogger, Farmville Angry Birds champion, Reality TV expert, championship forum debater, homeschool support group queen or church lady extraordinaire? Make a choice. If you are a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, your kids are your main priority – they are not interruptions.

Unforgiveness – Chances are you’ve been hurt deeply at some point in your life. However, the Bible warns us against letting bitterness take root. (Hebrews 12:15) Forgiveness is a must. I’ll share more on that below.

Ungratefulness – Contrary to popular belief, we are not entitled to lots of me time, a housekeeper, a nanny, a spacious home, gourmet kitchen appliances, expensive decor, and exotic vacations. If you have those things, wonderful. If not, you still have no excuse for anger. Learn to be content in the state you’re in. (Philippians 4:12)

How to Get Rid of Anger

So we’ve examined common sources of anger, but how do we get rid of it? Here are some ideas:

Accountability – Be honest about your struggle, and have your spouse or a close friend hold you accountable. Write post-it-notes to yourself, post scripture in highly visible locations, place a special bracelet or rubber band around your wrist, or use some other physical cue to remind you that you are changing this area of your life.

In addition, hold your friends accountable. Instead of merely empathizing with friends who tell you they are struggling, ask, “What’s going on in your life that’s causing you to get so angry?” or “What can I do to help you?”

Self-Control – If you can control yourself in public, you can control yourself in private. The first step is to simply keep your mouth closed. Do not allow yourself to utter a single word. Then, do something to calm yourself down. Take a deep breath, count to ten, pray, recite a scripture or affirmation, stretch, walk or go sit in the bathroom. Break the habit of allowing tension to build up and explode.

Don’t Vent – The Bible says only a fool gives full vent to his anger (Proverbs 29:11), and over the years I’ve come to see the harm that comes from venting. When we fall into the habit of ranting about pet peeves and petty grievances, our minds become tuned to seeing things that upset us. Learn to overlook offense (Proverbs 19:11), and spend less time around friends who have a tendency to vent and complain (Proverbs 22:24-25).

Forgive – Some of us have been wronged, and have reason to be angry. But wrongs unforgiven are seeds that grow into bitterness. You can’t be a joyful, loving mom while harboring unforgiveness. No matter who did it, how bad it was, or how many times it has happened, let it go so you can be a better mother to your children. Let the person who hurt you off the hook, and trust the Lord take care of anything that needs repaying (Romans 12:19).

Guard Your Thoughts – I’ve found that whenever I’ve become angry with my children, I have been meditating on things that I am upset about, and the just kids happened to interrupt my train of thought. The Bible says that, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Cancel the pity party. Stop watching television and listening to talk radio. Stop trying to prove others wrong, and agree to disagree.

Memorize scripture, recite positive affirmations, listen to uplifting music and think about good things. (Philippians 4:8) Live a life of wonder and beauty, being ever grateful for the precious souls that have been left in your care.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Musings of a Housewife February 28, 2011 at 8:20 am

Carletta, I’m not a homeschooling mom, but I struggle with anger, especially with one child in particular. Putting the term “bullying” on it is breaking my heart, but I know that is exactly what it is. Thank you for putting this out there today. You are so right about how we should be prioritizing our lives. Even though my kids are at school, much of this is applicable to me.

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 4:48 am

I think this applies to many moms – homeschooling, sahm and working. It is really hard to think about it in terms of bullying. When the reality of it first hit me, I felt awful about it.

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Terri G. February 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

Good Morning: Fantastic post! Your point about misplaced priorities really hit home. Just because we can do it all doesn’t mean we should. I find the less outside distractions I have, the less frazzled I am. Which means less angry episodes. Also dwelling on things definitely feeds the monster. Love this site, I’ll be back.

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 4:52 am

Thanks, Terri! I’ve found the same about being frazzled. When I allow myself to become over scheduled and stressed, it filters down to the children and that is unfair.

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Shannon {Discipline Project} February 28, 2011 at 8:29 am

Wonderful, powerful post. I’m dealing with anger and have made a commitment to change — and I’m blogging it all. Thanks for the words of wisdom, I’m off to write a post to follow-up on this one.

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 4:52 am

Can’t wait to read it!

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Stef - Layton Family Joy February 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

Carletta – I love this post! I am terribly guilty of shouting at my son when I am frustrated because *MY* plans are put off, or *MY* quiet time is interrupted or I can’t get what *I* want done! VERY SELFISH to take it out on the boy when it is completely out of selfishness that I allow myself to get frustrated, shout, and eventually blow up in the house. Bottom line – it is bullying. =(

Many thanks for sharing this subject many of us struggle with!!
Stef

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 4:57 am

It really is selfish, isn’t it? It is hard to put names like that on it, but it helped me move from feeling like a victim (I never get any time to myself, etc.) to realizing that I was more worried about myself and my free time than I was about my kids. Finally figured out that I needed to grow up and accept my responsibility as a mom.

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Courtney Bowers February 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

This is excellent! Thank you so much for putting this into writing so I too can see the reality of my actions. I definitely struggle with the perfectionism. It is refreshing to take a step back and see, we won’t cover it all, the kids will be messy and noisy, we won’t have the kind of home school I dreamt about when we began. But best of all is that of that is OK!!! I am definitely going to add some scriptures around the house where I can read them easily and be reminded that He is here with me, and I can do this, minus the anger. THANK YOU!!

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 5:02 am

It really is okay! I let go of perfectionism a few years ago, and it is really freeing. It is one of the most positive changes I’ve ever made in life. In fact, sometimes when I see a mistake or see something out of place, I will just leave it there as a reminder that even when things aren’t perfect, the world keeps turning and everything is okay.

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Vicki February 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Great ideas. One great anger management idea: go to the bathroom and wash your face in cold water. Gives time to cool down emotionally, while you literally cool down.

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 4:53 am

Great idea!

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Brandi February 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm

The HS has already been dealing with me about this. Your post was just what I needed. Thank you ao much.

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 4:53 am

You’re welcome. Thank you for visiting!

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deb paul February 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Anger is not a sin, how you express it is.

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Carletta March 1, 2011 at 5:03 am

I agree with you that often our expression of anger is the sin, but I also believe that anger itself can be a sin when we are angry without a just cause.

Deb, I couldn’t leave a comment on your blog without a proper ID, but I loved your Feb 28th post. Listening to our kids without interfering is so important. I need to do a better job of it.

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Shannon {Discipline Project} March 1, 2011 at 7:37 am

Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve posted my 6-step program to overcome anger:
http://www.disciplineproject.com/angry-moms-anonymous/

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Mary/Homegrown Learners March 2, 2011 at 7:01 am

Thank you for this post! Wow, this is me on too many days I care to count. I especially like what you said about kids being our main focus, not an interruption. Turning off the computer certainly helps, and I’m trying to get so much better because my kids deserve so much better. Thank you again for a great post.

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Susan in the Boonies March 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

Very convicting, Carletta. Thanks for reminding me of some important things!

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Ken the Home School dad March 13, 2011 at 7:05 am

What a humbling and powerful reminder…I am cut to the heart. Thank you for having the boldness to post this, and in so doing, confronting me with Biblical truth. I never thought of the fact that I am being the bully, or that I sometimes treat my girls as “interruptions.” What a sobering reminder…thank you.

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Renae March 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

What a thoughtful and helpful post! I’ve been on my face apologizing to my kids on a few occasions. And I know it is only by grace that it hasn’t been more. Your advice is excellent. We model what our children will become.

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Sandy March 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Excellent post. So glad you entered it into the Carnival. I’ve been homeschooling 15 years. Many times my anger stemmed from something other than the kids, house or homeschooling. I had to back up and deal with the other situation, relationship or circumstance in order to short-circuit the anger. I think sometimes we become so focused on the day-to-day homeschooling stuff that we forget to take a step back and make sure our whole life is healthy. Healthy moms make healthy choices for their kids; tired, angry, frustrated moms do not. Thank you for telling the truth here- spewing our anger on other people is a sin and we won’t stop doing it until we’re willing to call it what it is.

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Tammy March 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Thank you, so very much.

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Anita March 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Carletta, thank you so much…this is the second post I’ve read of yours and it is so timely… I have been going to bed cut to the heart and sick many nights because of my outbursts of anger at my children, mostly at my oldest son (only 4)- snide tone, critical comments, I hate that I do it but I know it is my fault and I am capable of changing it… God has been giving me strategies for how to live as a peaceful, happy mother and some of the tips you gave were ones he gave me! If I stay up late at night watching TV and then am tired and grumpy the next day, have I any excuse? NO! If I am feeling condemned for my messy, disorganised house and take it out on my kids when they don’t work as fast as I’d like, is that right? NO!
It is really heartening to read other people’s comments too, I am so grateful to know I’m not the only one. My husband is encouraging me through this as I work to get better at it… some things that have helped for me:
-Early nights
-A schedule with times for rest, quiet, enjoyable reading times with the kids, and early preparation of dinner (ie, starting with a bit of prep at 11am to avoid having to make a decision on tea or everything needing to be done during the early evening rush!) built in.
-A song I learned just recently, a lovely, boppy little number “There’s never a reason good enough for not praising the Lord! When the going’s getting tough, you’ve gotta keep praising the Lord! Praise Him, you know that you should, everything working together for good! Praise Him, you can never afford, to ever stop praising the Lord!” As soon as I realise I’m feeling stressed, condemned, overwhelmed or angry, I start singing this… My 2 year old daughter instantly joins in with her sweet little baby voice and my heart swells with gratitude and peace comes over me… what a change a little step towards right attitude/perspective can make!

Thanks again for your straight words and your wisdom and insight… printing this out to read every morning!!

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Carletta March 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

It sounds like you are making great strides! Thank you so much for sharing!

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Margaret March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Ouch! Great post. I feel a little nudged! That’s a good thing.

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Cheryl Wood March 29, 2011 at 10:31 am

Stuffing our emotions makes them erupt in the wrong place. We have to own our issues so we can get past them. Everyone needs a support system and accountability. We all also need to submit ourselves to God, turn our burdens over to him. Sometimes we need to camp at the cross. But we also need to realize that Jesus isn’t hanging there anymore. He is risen! We have victory. It is ours if we just believe it. We can overcome any of our “stuff” including anger and resentment and bitterness and depression if we simply turn from what binds us and get some time with God. What freedom there is…i am not the same as I once was. I am in the process of becoming….

it is not easy, but it is necessary….thanks for you inspiration today!

Bless you!

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Carletta March 31, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Your comment was inspiring as well, Cheryl. Thanks for sharing!

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Melanie Antonacci April 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Thank you so much for this article! I struggle with this, for many of the reasons you listed. I have never seen anyone get to the root of it quite like you have. You have definitely given me much needed food for thought! I will pray for God to use this article to not only help my life and family, but bless others as well, thanks again!

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Sarah April 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Carletta, you are such a gift to me. I always come away from a post/series of yours a challenged, humbled and encouraged person. Thank you for bringing this up, admitting struggle in your own life and giving practical ideas to overcome anger. I needed to read this tonight. . .

God bless you, sister!

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ET @ Titus2:3-5 April 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Thank you for this post! It is wonderful to see other moms opening up about this struggle and addressing it. Mommy anger is one of my big issues, well it was one of my big isses in life, now it’s one of my big issues in writing. I’d love for you to check out my thoughts on anger… http://titus2345.blogspot.com/search/label/Mommy%20Why%20Are%20You%20Angry%3F

Blessings,
Tyler

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Belinda May 6, 2011 at 5:24 am

Thank you for this honest post. I needed to read it.

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Shannon@Chickens in My Kitchen May 6, 2011 at 7:27 am

I needed to hear this. It IS bullying. I have read several times (I can’t remember where) that if you have a problem with how difficult motherhood is, how many little people need you, then you need to take that up with the Lord, not take it out on your children. That thought has really helped me, as I realized that I am often taking my exhausted and overwhelmed feelings out in my behavior to my precious babies.

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Sally May 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Wow. The title from another’s blog got me here, because as a homeschool mom of 4, I DO struggle with anger. And my children are beginning to espouse some of the behaviors they see. It’s the little things, you know, but they aren’t really so little.
Bad, bad, bad.
I am so thankful that God grants us new mercies every day, and that He doesn’t love me based on how “good” I am each day…otherwise I would be up Skunk Creek.
Anyway, you nailed me on Misplaced Priorities. With every word, it was like you were talking. Right.To.Me. How many times have homeschool moms felt like this, that we can, and SHOULD be able to do it all, or that people think we can do it all? This school year, I have made very difficult, but right, decisions in dropping things — my work at a yarn shop, my LLL leadership, my doula and birth class business, even homeschool committees and all but one church teaching responsibility. And it’s just like you say: Choose one. I am an All-or-Nothing kinda gal, a Go-At-This-One-Thing-101% sort of girl. I can’t divide myself up between my husband, my children, my church, my co-op people …and (1) give anybody a worthy amount and (2) I leave nothing for God. :(
So, short comment long, thank you for posting this. I have bookmarked this so that I can read it again when I get too big for my britches :)

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Candie June 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Carletta,
I just stumbled on to your site while doing some research for a project I’m working on about encouraging homeschooling moms as they begin the new school year in the fall. I am SOO intrigued!!! I’m alot of other things too, convicted, ashamed, prayerful, hopeful… just full of emotion after reading these three blogs, but I was wondering are there more on the horizon?? Dirty Little Secrets #4 or #5 maybe?

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Carletta June 21, 2011 at 3:30 am

I don’t have any plans for 4 and 5 yet… Please let me know when you finish your project. I would love to take a peek!

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amber June 28, 2011 at 11:22 am

Thank you for this post. I struggle with anger and am extremely torn up on the effect this has had on my daughter. I am horrified to think my behavior could be classified as abuse (screaming/yelling, feeling so guilty and out of control, apologizing, telling her if she hadn’t done XYZ mommy wouldn’t get so mad). Will try these tips.

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Wendy November 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for this candid writing, which I am feeling extremely convicted about. I absolutely would freak if a teacher spoke to my children in the manner and tone I have used way too many times. I am shamed, humbled, and will be crying out to the Lord that He help me remove my bad attitude and replace it with love and mercy towards my precious children. Here’ s a challenge to us all to remember LOVE is a verb, not a feeling.

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Tammara Houston December 12, 2011 at 1:07 am

It has been running through my mind every since I decided to take my son out of school. This is my first year home schooling him and he literally doesn’t like it because of my attitude towards him sometimes. I love my son dearly and he is the only one I have but I just don’t want to bully him into success. I want my time with him to be nourishing, calm and peaceful. It kills me to know that is what I’m doing…..that is the reason I took him out of school in the first place. Home schooling is very difficult sometimes and you are right….if he told me a teacher acted that way towards him, I’d be right at the schools front door. Thanks for the avenues to control my anger and frustration with home schooling my son. I’m to try my hardest to get us back on the right track. :-)

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