He stands silently trembling, eyes squeezed shut, hands firmly planted over his ears. He doesn’t want to hear it, won’t hear it. She can’t make him listen to her screaming. No more! No more, his mind cries out.
That was my sweet young son.
I was that screaming young mother.
That was the pain I inflicted on my children day after day after day.
I’m so ashamed to think about it now.
My children didn’t deserve the verbal beating they received from me. They didn’t deserve the brunt of my anger. Anger that was out of proportion to whatever mischief they’d recently gotten into. This wasn’t discipline. This was abusive.
As I watched my children interact with each other, I saw my anger reflected in their actions. It was a heart-wrenchingly accurate mirror.
Proverbs 15: 1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
I struggled with this verse. “Gentle” didn’t always equate to good words. I’d often had the most hurtful things said to me in a gentle, quiet tone.
We needed a change – desperately needed a change. But how?
Thankfully another woman who’d been there — who was a recovering screaming mom — offered brave, strong, piercing words. She didn’t know how her words slapped me and woke me up to the pain I was inflicting on my sweet, small children.
She said in essence: “What is the REAL cause of your anger? They [your children] aren’t the problem. You are.” Even quiet words spoken in anger inflict damage.
Ouch. There was that 2×4 to the head again.
Do you relate? Are you a screaming mom? Is it really possible to overcome screaming? Yes, it is.
Here’s a few disciplines we can all practice:
- Identify the cause of your anger and start to deal honestly with it
- Get professional help if you need it. Better to get the help than to continue to destroy all those around you
- Put yourself in a “time out”
- Count to 10, or 20 or 50 or 100, s-l-o-w-l-y before you respond
- Remember, your children are children not miniature adults
- Call a trustworthy female friend before you blow your top
- Memorize Scripture that deals with anger — they’ll come back at the appropriate moment
- Learn to laugh — hard and often
- Practice using your words to encourage — they tend to be gentler words
After an impromptu lesson on Ephesians 4:29 to a group of children during a church service, Florence Littauer, author of several books including Silver Boxes, related this story. “… a little girl stood up and said, ‘What she means is, your words should be like a little silver box with a bow on top.’ … It’s amazing how usually they’re reflecting what we are giving. If we aren’t giving out silver boxes they aren’t giving back silver boxes.”
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
What an extraordinary way to express the gift found in encouraging words. Silver boxes. Beautiful words. Life-changing gifts. Wrapped up in a bow.
You can change from a screaming mom to a mom who practices life-giving words! Will you get it right all the time? No. But the more you practice, the more I practice, the more proficient we’ll both become at handing out silver boxes on a regular basis.
What silver boxes are you giving out today? Leave a comment below to encourage others.
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