As an anger management counselor, I have worked with parents who are different in many ways. But similar in the fact that they all love their children, want what is best for them and want them to succeed in life. However, they could all say the same words as author Julie Ann Barnhill when she writes, “In fits of uncontrolled anger I have acted and spoken harshly and irresponsibly toward my children and have thought even worse. In the midst of parental rage I have tried to justify what I called ‘discipline’ when in reality I had crossed a shameful unspoken boundary.”
In my experience, parents who yell in anger focus only on fixing their children. I hear them say things like, ” If my kids would do what they are told and what’s expected, if they would clean their rooms and stop fighting with siblings….then I wouldn’t get angry.” Dealing appropriately with issues such as obedience IS important, but I strongly believe that parents must fix themselves and manage their anger before they will succeed in changing their children’s behavior. (Proverbs 25:28) It’s interesting to me that most abusive and angry parents blame others for their anger and behavior. But again, the answer lies in managing themselves first and then successfully correcting the normal or strong willed, disobedient, disorganized and/or challenging child.
Parents who yell in anger at their children identify with one or more of the 10 types of parents below:
The frustrated parent
Frustration is a result of unresolved issues. A frustrated parent often has more than one problem that needs solving and dealing with children is only one of them. I suggest to clients that it’s helpful to list frustrations and stresses and then work on resolving them one issue at a time. Getting someone to help with solutions may also be beneficial. Not all problems can be erased, but all can be worked on. Suggested reading: Frustration – From Source to Solution: Beating Emotional Cancer by Adrian Brown.
The militant parent
This parent demands absolute and prompt obedience. Often what they desire is right but their content gets lost in their delivery. Many times they are more concerned with behavior and obedience than with relationship. They tend to see immediate obedience as being separate from relationship. That may be true in settings such as the military, but unfortunately, it isn’t separate when it comes to the parent-child relationship. Rules without relationship equal rebellion. Often militant parents are impatient and approach discipline as “my way or the highway”. Unfortunately, they fail to see their child as an individual with feelings and emotions, but in relationship these two things matter a great deal. I encourage a strong understanding of Emotional Intelligence with the militant parent. Suggested Reading: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart to Heart Connection by Danny Silk.
The forgetful parent
This parent forgets two things: they forget that they are dealing with children who are not mature in their thinking, who need help with problem solving, who are usually acting their age, and who need hours of consistent training to become successful, responsible adults. Secondly, they forget to praise the good behavior of their children. Often, the forgetful parent overreacts to negative behavior and overlooks positive behavior. Suggested reading: Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel.
The tired parent
The tired parent is just too tired to invest in the demands of proper training and discipline of their children. It takes a lot of energy to parent well. I sit with many parents, problem-solving the underlying issue of being tired. Sometimes the problem is easily solved…Get more sleep and cut back on nonessential busy-ness. Other times the problem isn’t as easily solved. Single parents and those who work demanding jobs find it exceptionally hard to find down time. These parents must find creative ways to rest and get rejuvenated. Often, it’s a matter of being better organized in order to find the time to rest. Suggested reading: Hope For the Weary Mom by Brooke McGlothin. Timeout for Tired Moms by Judy Crawford.
The undisciplined parent
This parent finds themselves undisciplined in many areas of their life. Since they aren’t consistent in self-discipline, they are unable to manage and discipline their children. They resort to yelling in anger because it is the easiest way to react. The undisciplined parent lacks structure. They may run late for appointments and then demand that everyone else hurry. The solution may be as easy as getting up earlier, making lunches the night before, and planning ahead. Time management would solve a lot of frustration for the undisciplined parent. I suggest planning personal schedules with a daytimer. Suggested reading: Developing Discipline and Self Control by Joyce Meyers.
The powerless parent
This parent may be a passive person who lost control of their children early in childrearing. They give up because they see no way to improve their situation, and they allow the kids to make the rules. It is important for every parent to lead by example and by consistent training – when children have no one to lead them they make up their own rules based on survival skills. They need parents who are strong in convictions, morals and beliefs. Suggested reading: You Can’t Make Me by Cynthia Tobias, Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.
The re-creating parent
This parent tends to subconsciously re-create the dysfunctions from their own childhood. For instance, their parent was a yeller and even though they didn’t like being yelled at, they now yell at their child. It’s what was instilled in them and then it’s just easier to do what comes naturally. I encourage these parents to work hard at breaking the cycle of generational dysfunction – it is possible! Suggested reading: Making Peace With Your Past by Tim sledge, Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamands, The Sacred Romance by John Eldridge.
The unhealthy parent
The unhealthy parent can’t effectively meet the demands of positive and productive child rearing. I suggest that all of my clients get a complete physical to rule out any health reasons that may be contributing to their anger. Many test results have come back with problems of thyroid, hormones, blood sugar or blood pressure. Once health problems are corrected, people are then able to properly respond to situations in their demanding lives. It’s also important to eat right and exercise in order to be a strong and healthy person. There may be other areas in which a parent is unhealthy: addictions, substance abuse, emotional disorders or mental health issues. Whatever it is that is causing a parent to be unhealthy must be dealt with and managed. Suggested reading: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do: Bad Habits and Addictions by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, TouchPoints for Recovery by Ronald Beers and Amy Mason.
The angry parent
This parent has internal anger that is not being addressed and resolved. Internal anger is due to something from the past or present and has turned into bitternness. Bitterness, the Bible says, defileth a man. This type of anger can stay dormant for a long time, but it always surfaces. It either turns inward and shows itself as depression…or it turns outward and it shows as explosive, mean and or short-fused reactions towards things, animals or people. Suggested reading: Anger Controlled Parenting by Vivian Lamphear and Sherry Marlar, When Anger Hurts Your Kids: A Parent’s Guide by Matthew McKay Phd and Kim Paleg, Phd. Suggested action: Find a safe place to talk where anger can be exposed and dealt with, preferably with a Christian counselor or psychologist.
The spiritually weak parent
The spiritually weak parent will struggle in all aspects of life and especially in childrearing. It’s best to look at the opposite approach in order to understand what a spiritually weak parent is not. The spiritually strong parent, one who knows Jesus as Savior and continually grows in Christ, makes a happier and more stable parent. They follow the handbook of life, the Bible, and are given grace to accomplish what they are called to do as leaders. Their greatest example of parenting is pictured through God the Father. Following His example of unconditional love, patience, and correct discipline is by far the most excellent path to follow. Suggested reading: Done by Cary Schmidt, The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot.
Right now I have three kids at home, and on any given day I can fit into any one of the categories listed above. Yesterday morning I was militant, today I’m tired, and because of an event later in the week I know I’ll tend to be frustrated and stressed. I used to fit into MORE of these categories MORE of the time, and my kids behaved no better. By seeking God about my relationships with my kids and by truly seeking to act more like Jesus myself, I can see changes in how I behave AND in how my kids behave. YES they need discipline, and a lot of it! But discipline motivated by love for a child and by obedience to the Lord will be more successful than discipline motivated by anger.
None of us will ever be perfect parents, but be encouraged! Your kids are resilient, your kids LOVE YOU, and they WILL forgive you! Mine forgive me all the time! If you messed up today, repent and ask for forgiveness – from God and from your kids. Ask the Lord for a better tomorrow, and believe that He can do a work in your heart. The Lord CAN change the relationships you have with your kids!
Yes, yelling at your kids in anger is really that bad. But it ‘s a new day! We encourage you to be the best parent you can possibly be.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.
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Read Part 1 of “Is Yelling at Your Kids Really That Bad?” HERE
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