Before I Fly Off the Handle Again
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
(Deuteronomy 4:9, NIV)
It was a simple request. I had asked my daughters to practice their piano pieces before the teacher arrived for lessons. When they didn’t listen to my request, I became angry.
Anger was not the correct response. The way I should have responded was to calmly reprimand their disobedience and give them a consequence for their poor choice. But anger pushed my emotions beyond calm into chaos. My voice went higher in pitch and stronger in volume. Children not practicing their piano lessons should not have caused me to get so angry. What was the real issue here?
The week before the piano teacher had informed me that it was evident my kids had not had enough practice time. When she said this, my mind kicked into overdrive as I defined what she must have meant by this statement. Good moms make sure their children practice at least 30 minutes a day. Good moms help their kids stay on top of their theory assignments. Good moms ensure each child makes progress that week.
I held these unspoken but assumed interpretations up against my reality. The reality was I had no idea if my kids had even sat at the piano once that week. When I held my reality up against what I assumed to be her standard, I fell horribly short. I let my kids’ poor choices be a defining reflection of what kind of mother I am. Ever been there?
There are three fundamental parenting truths that we would do well to remember in situations like this. First, refuse to dive below the surface of people’s comments and blow them out of proportion. We moms can really do a number on ourselves with crazy assumptions, misinterpretations and dangerous comparisons. The reality was the teacher made a simple statement that my kids could use some more practice. So, tackle that issue plain and simple.
Second, there should be consequences for irresponsibility so that the pressure to remember is on them, not me. My kids are old enough to remember to practice piano on their own. If they make an irresponsible choice, they should feel embarrassed, not me.
Finally, I must operate in truth when it comes to my identity. Just because someone forgets to practice their piano, or does one of the hundreds of other irresponsible things kids do, does not change my identity. I am not a perfect mom, but I am a good mom. A good mom’s job is to love her kids, correct them, and model godly attitudes, actions, and reactions.
Dear Lord, Give me Your definition of what a good mom is for my specific children. You have entrusted these precious souls to me, and I don’t want to mess up. Help me hold on to Your truths and to resist Satan’s pull toward comparisons and assumptions. Help me keep my emotions in check and my heart in tune with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst
Balance that Works When Life Doesn’t by Susie Larson
Write these three fundamental parenting truths down on a 3x5 card and carry it with you. The next time you start to hear those accusing voices in your head, pull out your card and read them over and over until you can proceed in truth and not anger.
Under what conditions do you find yourself tempted to fly off the handle? God wants us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” since we belong under the control of the Holy Spirit. This includes thoughts of anger, guilt, comparison, and emotional reactions that lead to overanalyzing, incorrect assumptions, and misinterpretations of our situations.
Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” (NIV)
Ecclesiastes 10:4b, “Calmness can lay great errors to rest.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 10:12-13, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you.” (NIV)
2 Timothy 4:2b, “Correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 02 April 2007.