It‘s embarrassing, shame-inducing, and stress-relieving, all at the same time. It’s rarely talked about or confessed in small groups; but it’s prevalent in almost every home: angry parents.
You may have once fancied yourself a patient person—until you started having children. Whether the constant physical demands of little ones, the continual testing of the middle ones, or the perplexing reactions of the teen, children press us in new ways.
God has uniquely positioned children to shine a floodlight on the true state of our hearts. And often it’s not pretty. We use words with an intensity that surprises and frightens us.
As a father of four young children and later of four teens, I remember thinking, Wait. God commands me not to exasperate them? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? By God’s grace, after searching the Scriptures in desperation to change, I found some help that allowed me to grow in patience.
God has uniquely positioned children to shine a floodlight on the true state of our hearts.
The following three truths are meant to help parents with anger in a normal range. They are not intended for a potentially abusive situation. For that, seek immediate help from spiritual and legal authorities.
What were those three key truths?
1. See What Anger Actually Is
David Powlison’s definition of anger has helped me: “an active stance you take to oppose something you assess as important and wrong.” Note that anger is active. Springing from our desires, it’s a response to act against something we believe is important and wrong.
This helps us understand one reason why God’s anger is righteous and why Jesus was livid with the Pharisees. He alone perfectly understands and defines what is important and wrong. It also explains why God commands his people, “In your anger, do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). While some anger may not itself be sinful, it is uniquely positioned to cause us to sin.
Indeed, Scripture is filled with commands that help us see how anger is usually filled with sin.
2. See Anger as Your Foe
Sinful anger is an enemy. Jesus taught us that sinful anger is miniature murder (Matt. 5:21–22), that it grieves the Spirit (Eph. 4:30), and that it’s driven by the flesh (Gal. 5:20). It will not fix the problem (James 1:20) and will injure the other person (Prov. 12:18). As Ed Welch observes, “To be angry is to destroy.” My anger destroys the peace of my child, the trust of my…