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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Just a little while ago I was yelling. Again.

no yelling-001This child was trying to help me, you see.  I was clearing the table.  She was stacking the dirty cups next to the sink.

Stacking them until they were tumbling.

And all I could see was the tumbling, and predict the spattered milk all over her, me, the floor, and everything else.

So I yelled at her.  I yelled at her to not help me.

A child wants to help and I yell at her for doing it. 

Have I lost my mind or something?

Yes. I think I have.  But I’m getting it back. 

Emma and I butt heads every single day. And what it really comes down to is that we are both stubborn.  Stubborn mules.  It really and truly irks me when my 4-year-old tries to bend me to her will and get her own way by throwing a fit.

And yet, isn’t that what I’m doing when I yell at her?  Trying to bend her to my will by intimidating her?

So that’s the first thing that’s wrong with this picture.

Fear can be a powerful motivator.  Yes.  It will get you something.  The man who’s running away from the lion has a good chance if he’s afraid enough and doesn’t fall into a pit.

But he’s not going to shake hands with lion or have a fulfilling relationship with it. 

How does intimidating my children improve my relationship with them?

020Um, well it doesn’t, does it?

The second problem is this:  if I bully Emma into obeying my wishes, I’m perpetuating the cycle.  If I actually succeed in getting her to jump when I yell (I rarely do succeed, actually), I’m teaching her that this is the way to relate to other people.  By forcing them to do what you want.

Oh, yeah, I don’t think raising a dictator is such a good idea either.

I guess could hang that on my upbringing.  But that’s really pointless. 

Why continue a cycle that produces fruits you don’t want?

How does continuing the cycle of intimidation teach my children to have fulfilling relationships with others?

Well, it simply doesn’t!

But there’s an even bigger problem here.  And it’s this:  when I deny Emma the opportunity to learn by doing because it doesn’t fit into my own plans, I’m not only teaching her that my plans are more important (which is false), but I’m denying her the opportunity to grow and to become the person God intends her to be.

Does inspiring fear in my children help them to reach their full potential or does it shut them up into a tidy box?

Did Edison invent the light bulb because he was afraid of the dark?  Was he trying to avoid something? 

Or was he trying to achieve something?

How can my children be all they are created to be if I try to force them into my own plans?  How is that honoring God’s plan for them?

And where did I get the arrogance to assume that my plan was best?

It’s hard to not lash out in some way when I’m angry or frustrated.

Yes, it is.

So often I’m relying on my own meager stores of patience and trying to reason my way out of an unreasonable situation.

That’s why I need God’s Grace.

There was a time, not long ago really , that I would pray every night that God would make me into a better person.

Because I constantly mess up and that must mean that I’m not good enough, right?

I was asking God to re-make me.  As if He didn’t do it right the first time.

Oh, wow.  What a revelation!  Once again, I was holding up my own plans as the best and disregarding what the Father wanted for me.

So now I pray for peace of heart.  I finally understand that what causes the yelling and the frustration is quite often fear.

And anxiety.

When the world feels out of control and my heart is anxious, I react.  Badly.

And you know what?  The yelling doesn’t actually work, anyway!  Maybe it’s because my kids are NOT afraid of me.  Maybe it’s because they know that I’m all noise.

Maybe it’s because it’s not a rational course of action, but a desperate reaction.

When I’m at peace, I can think more clearly and act positively, rather than simply reacting.  Remember the man running away from the lion?  He’s not acting out of wisdom or faith, but out of fear.

Yelling, it’s a desperate reaction. 

Hopefully, when my kids are grown, they will remember me more as the peaceful loving mommy, not the desperate one who yelled when she didn’t get her way.

How do you escape the yelling trap?


  1. Well said Susan. I, too, have one with whom I butt heads quite often. And it just so happens we have very similar personalities. Surprise, right?!

  2. Ah, bless you. Having three very strong-willed girls, I feel your pain. The good news is, my oldest and I like each other again. Did I mention she's 23 now?

    You are a good mama, and she is lucky to have you. You are real, and she will learn to be real, as God expects us to be. You will raise her with grace, as He does with us.

  3. Thank you, Brandi and April.


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