ParentLife magazine. If you're not familiar with the Duggars, they are the Arkansas family that has become nationally-known for their many children, their abiding Christian faith, and how they make those elements work successfully in front of an amazed television audience on The Discovery Channel's "19 Kids and Counting!"
The Duggars seem rather unflappable, but dad Jim Bob admits to struggling with an anger problem early on. Yes, they are real people! For most of us parents, our greatest personal testing has come through our children. God uses them to refine us, challenge us, and lead us to understanding our Heavenly Father's unconditional love and unlimited mercy. Read on as Jim Bob Duggar shares some great advice for how parents can manage their anger, rather than allowing their anger to manage them.
I never really had an anger problem—until I had children! When I saw them disobeying in different situations, it would make me upset and frustrated. Sometimes I would raise my voice in my efforts to correct them. Michelle and I quickly realized that a parent’s anger is detrimental to a child’s spirits. It creates separation between the parent and child, and its damaging effects can spread quickly to sibling relationships, as well.
Anger separates. It was actually through another man’s testimony that God revealed my anger problem to me. I heard a man sharing about how his anger had affected his home, and I saw quickly that I was headed down the same path. If a parent yells at a child or uses any kind of rejecting words toward him, it creates a wall between them. After listening to this man share what he had learned, I began to implement key biblical principles in my parenting.
The first was confession. After repenting before God, I also apologized to my children and asked them to forgive me. I realized what I was doing—reacting with anger—was worse than what they were doing, whatever their misbehavior might be.
Second, I asked my whole family to hold me accountable. I told my children that if they saw me getting angry and raising my voice, they had permission to put a hand on my arm and say, “Daddy, I think you’re getting angry. Could you whisper to me?” When that happens, it is like getting a bucket of cold water poured over your head! I have learned that if the children are in tune to my words, they are also in tune to each other’s words. My willingness to be accountable for my speech has created a whole spirit in our family, along with Michelle’s sweet spirit, for each of the children to talk kindly to each other.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...
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