“Be on guard.  Stand true to what you believe.  Be courageous.  Be strong.  And everything you do must be done with love.”     – 1 Corinthians 16:13

You’ve probably heard in the news this week about the mom who got so frustrated with her kids that she stopped the car, made her two girsl get out, and then drove off.  The 12-year old was able to catch up to the car and the mom let that child back in, but left her 10-year old girl behind!  Fortunately the young girl was helped by kind strangers (praise) until authorities took her into their care.  Ten hours later the mother finally reported her child missing.  She was arrested when she went to retrieve her child and spent the night in jail. 

I’m not going to get into a debate about this mom’s actions.  There are enough other people doing that!  What I will say is that I wonder if she’s an over-stressed mom.  I’ve been an over-stressed mom.  I’m guilty of having angry outbursts and saying words I regret to my children. 

The TODAY Show asked for people to respond to the story about the angry mom.  I responded from my experience to say that the best intervention is prevention.   

My experience taught me that I had to 1) acknowledge and take ownership of my thoughts, actions, and behaviors; 2) ask God to forgive me for losing my temper with my children and for the things I said (not always what I said, but the angry way I yelled at them); 3) admit to my children that how I’d acted was wrong.  They might have deserved the admonishments, but not the harsh way I’d handled things; 4) tell them I was sorry for how I’d acted; 5) confront myself with my inability to handle these moments; 6) ask myself why I was losing my temper.  7) Eventually, as a woman of faith, I learned to take these matters to God and seek His help in dealing with these things.  8) Identify what triggered my frustrtations; and 9) think of a plan ahead of time for how I’d handle things better in the future.

Steps 1-4 are necessary for making amends to the situation.  Steps 5, 6, 7 , 8 & 9  are the steps that allowed me to do “intervention by means of  prevention” approach.

When I examined my reactive behavior, I realized that it wasn’t my kids who were causing my anger and frustration.  It was other circumstances in my life.  I was letting things build up until I blew up with my kids!  The things they were doing weren’t that bad!  (My poor kids!!)  Identifying what was really bothering me led me to address those problems in a better way and not take them out on my kids. 

I identified my ‘trigger times’ as times when I hadn’t gotten enough sleep (sleep is SO under-rated!) and times when I was hungry.  Those are times I can prevent by getting proper rest and keeping my blood sugar up. 

I came up with a plan of how I would respond when I felt myself starting to lose my temper. 

The greatest ‘ounce of prevention’ that’s led to the most effective ‘pound of cure’ was learning to take my problems, concerns, and frustrations to God.  Being a more godly mom has helped me be a better mom.  I’m not a perfect mom!  I still have my ‘moments’.  I still get mad, still find myself yelling, and still have times when I have to apologize to my kids for not handling something as well as I should have…BUT I’M DOING A HECK OF A LOT BETTER!    We have much more calm and a lot less chaos in our home.  Thank You, Lord!!! 

The verse above is a great help for any parent seeking intervention by means of prevention.  Be on guard at all times for situations that might test your patience so that you can be prepared to handle them in a good, positive, and effective way.  Stay true to what you believe by handling stressful situations with your children and times of discipline in proper, non-compromising ways.  Be courageous as you seek to make the changes necessary in your life or your children’s lives to make things better.  Be strong.  Sometimes it’s hard to enforce new rules or try new things.  It can seem easier to do things the ‘old way’ because it’s what we’re used to, but if the old way wasn’t working, be strong when implementing new, better ways.  Remember that everything you do must be done with love.   That’s the Bible’s instructions, not mine, and I admit it can be hard sometimes!  However, if everything you do is done with love— including discipline, correction, seeking forgiveness — you’ll have fewer regrets and many more positive outcomes when you face stressful and challenging moments with your kids.  (These things work with grown-ups, too!)   

Something else that helps me keep matters in proper perspective with my children is realizing that they’re God’s children more so than they’re mine.  He has entrusted their care and well-being to me.   When I lose my temper with ‘my’ kids, I’m losing my temper with God’s kids!  My job is to love them and raise them up in ways pleasing to Him.   

Are you ‘losing it’ with your kids?  To find out, ask yourself these questions:

1) Are there times when I regret my actions/words with my kids?  If so, how often?

2) Do the kids deserve this behavior/treatment?

3) Are my kids the real cause of my stress and frustrations?  If not, what is?  How can I deal with those things better?

4) If it really is my kids behavior causing my anger, what do I/we need to do to start correcting their behavior?   If they’re acting out in ways that cause me to act improperly, what is the source of THEIR anger and frustration?  How can I/we best deal with that?

5) What triggers my outbursts and tempers?  How can I avoid those triggers?

6) What does God have to say about all this?  Have I prayed about these things? 

7) Ultimately, how do I want things to be with my children?  How can I best achieve this ultimate outcome?  Have I asked God to help me?

My friend, if you feel like an over-stressed parent, then I hope this message helps you in some way.  Please know that you’re not a ‘bad parent” – just maybe a stressed one.  God still loves you and wants to be there as YOUR parent to help you make things better.   I have prayed for each stressed parent who reads this, that God will help you as He helped me. 

Do you have tips or helps to share?  If so, please do! We’d love to hear your thoughts!  You can respond to the word ‘comments’ under the title line. 

God bless you all!