Do you frequently deal with mom anger? (Umm…is there anyone who doesn’t?) This is the #1 problem I hear about from my readers. So if you’re wrestling with guilt and feel helpless to change, know that you’re not alone and you’re in the right place.
It often happens when I’m on the phone.
I’m multi-tasking. I’m usually on a time crunch. Since it’s the 21st century and I don’t talk on the phone much, the call is probably important.
And then one of my kids needs something.
Let me rephrase: they think they need something.
I explode. Maybe I don’t always yell at the top of my lungs, but I give the nasty look. And I talk in that tone.
Let’s be honest. I get downright scary.
On good days, I pull myself together and apologize. On bad days, this is just the beginning of moment after moment of regret.
Mom anger is real. And it’s even understandable. But if you’re like me, angry does not describe who you really want to be for your kids, or anyone else.
And you know God has called you to better than this.
But no matter how hard you try, you can’t just will yourself to be a more calm, patient mom.
So, what do you do? While I’d love to give you a quick and simple answer to the mom anger problem, I can’t, because there isn’t one (although you can check out my anger management
But what I can do is share with you some of what I remind myself on the days when my anger just feels out of control. While it doesn’t fix everything, a healthy mindset matters.
So the next time you’re about to explode when your kids are arguing over what cartoon to watch before you’ve even had your coffee, take a deep breath and remember these things.
1. Anger Is a Part of Being Human
When I consider how ugly anger can be, I can’t help but wonder, why did God make me this way?
I’ve wrestled with this question biblically. Was there anger before the fall? Is there such a thing as righteous anger? Was Jesus expressing his anger when he flipped tables at the temple?
My current thought is that anger is a part of our biology, and therefore God has a purpose in letting us experience it. So what is the purpose?
Throughout the Scriptures, God himself is angry at times. But even so, he is frequently described as “slow to anger” (also translated as “longsuffering”). He is abounding in
Furthermore, God’s anger is always, in my observation, related to his response to injustice and oppression. When Creation turns on itself, he reacts in protective anger.
He brought judgment on the Egyptians for enslaving and oppressing his people (Exodus). He brought judgment on idolatrous pagan practices that abused women and children (Joshua). And he eventually brought judgment on his own people for disobeying him and treating the outcast and the helpless with contempt (the Prophets).
So what are we to learn from our God who is zealous about protecting and restoring his Creation?
Our anger is there to protect. Not just ourselves, but for those around us who are hurting and oppressed.
Having said that, it is my belief that anger should be approached with great caution:
‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold…Get rid of all bitterness, rage–Ephesians 4:26–27, 31
andanger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Anger, while not a sin in and of itself, is a great stumbling block for many of us. So while we shouldn’t deny that it is a part of humanity, we also have a responsibility to respond to it in a godly way.
2. Mom Anger Is Usually a Symptom of Something Deeper
A friend of mine who is a child psychologist says that anger is a “buddy feeling.” It always has a buddy to go along with it (like fear or hurt).
In other words, anger is a symptom of something else going on.
When you think of anger being protective, this makes a lot of sense. You can react in anger as a way to protect yourself when you’re feeling vulnerable.
Anger can also be a learned response. If you grew up in a household with a lot of yelling, chances are, you yell too.
With this in mind, one way you can deal with mom anger is to prayerfully consider what is really going on. With a more accurate assessment of your emotions, you can find healthier coping mechanisms.
Some questions you might ask yourself after an anger episode include:
- What is the true feeling that I may be substituting with my anger?
- What specific circumstances triggered this episode?
- Did I overreact? Why?
- What patterns am I seeing in my behavior?
It takes a lot of practice to become truthfully self-aware. I often talk through some of these questions with my husband or a friend. And of course, in prayer.
If you’re not sure where to start when assessing the deeper issues behind your anger, the Patient Mama Blueprint can point you in the right direction.
3. You Can’t Pour Out of an Empty Vessel
When your kids are well-fed, well-rested and being showered with genuine affection, their needs are met. They have nothing to complain or get angry about.
Have you considered that the same logic can apply to you, as their mom?
Anger can simply be a sign that you’re running on empty.
We joke in my household about my tendency to get hangry, but I’m sure that many of you who relate will concur that it’s not a laughing matter. In fact, my husband knows me well enough to ensure that we save serious conversations for after meals.
It’s hard as a mom to make sure that your needs are
That means being intentional about rest and protecting my self-care practices. I go to bed early and make sure I get up before my kids. I limit my phone usage so that I’m not mindlessly scrolling when I should be focusing on self-care that actually fills my tank.
You might be in a season when this is really hard to do. I’ve been there. I get it. But try to make it happen anyway. You don’t have to hit every target; just aim in the right direction.
4. You May Need to Adjust Your Expectations
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from over a decade of marriage is that expectations are a huge part of making a relationship work.
Whenever I’m angry at my husband, it’s almost always because he didn’t meet an expectation. Sometimes that expectation has been expressed. Often, it has not (not even to myself).
Unrealistic, unclear or uncommunicated expectations are a recipe for anger outbursts because they lead to misunderstanding, hurt and distrust.
The same principle applies to my relationship with my kids. I often become angry with them because I am expecting them to act in a way that they are incapable of acting. It is not their job to know how to do everything according to my whim.
It is my job to teach them
When I’ve made my expectations clear to my kids, I find that I am much less likely to get angry with them, even when they don’t follow through.
For example, when my 6-year-old doesn’t pick up her room, I can assess whether she is at fault for disobeying, or I am at fault for not equipping her with the skills to obey. If she is at fault, she receives a consequence that she knows in advance. If I am at fault, I need to continue to teach and train her how to clean her room adequately.
In short, you can prevent mom anger simply by expecting kids to behave according to their age and ability. You can calmly follow through with consequences, or continue to teach your kids how to meet your expectations as they develop.
5. You Are Not Doing This Alone
It amazes me whenever I receive a message from a reader. So many of you say the same thing over and over again: you want to be more patient with your kids.
In other words, you are not the only one who is struggling, mama. So reach out and find your people!
Motherhood can feel very isolating, whether you’re at home with your kids most of the day or running around from the office to the pickup line and trying to balance it all.
It took me a while to find my people, but now I can’t imagine trying to survive life without some dear friends in the trenches with me, as well as mentors who have been down this road before.
What’s more, God is with you on your motherhood mission.
Fight for friendships. Fight in prayer. Get the support you need, because no one should go into battle alone.
6. You CAN Grow Out of Mom Anger—with God
I know what helplessness feels like. You try and try and try to change, only to come full circle and realize you’re falling into the same old, ugly pattern.
Too often when it comes to overcoming mom anger or any other personal flaws, we don’t have any strategy except to just…try harder. (And how is that going for you?)
Patience and self-control are what we’re aiming for when combating mom anger, right? These qualities are fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22–25).
And how do experience that fruit? Do we go chasing after it?
Nope. According to Jesus, we remain in him, the vine (John 15:5). He does the hard work for us.
I know that talking about the Holy Spirit can feel a little weird and mystical. But remaining, or abiding, in the vine involves a lot more than treating God like a vending machine (input prayer; output answer).
Growing in the Holy Spirit involves wrestling through your weaknesses in prayer and other spiritual practices. It doesn’t happen overnight. But in my experience, it’s the way that brings lasting change, for you and your household.
If you’re sick and tired of dealing with mom anger and want to be more patient with your kids, go ahead and get some prayer and journaling prompts with the Patient Mama Blueprint. Plus, I’ve got lots of other resources I’ll also send your way if you sign up!