Parenting from the Heart: Slow to Wrath

thCACQKSEYAt the mall last week I had a 6-year-old who could not stand still, could not help but put his hands on everything he walked past, and could not accept correction without becoming increasingly angry. In fact, his two-year-old cousin, who was also a handful, was better behaved. I finally had to take both boys, who are 4 and 6, into the hallway while my daughter and granddaughter finished shopping. When we headed to the car, my daughter informed the boys they were not going to go swimming that night due to their continued behavior. This was the last straw for the 6-year-old and he shut down immediately; refusing to walk to the car and threatening to run away. It was a difficult situation that could have escalated very quickly.

Recently, I have found myself more and more often faced with a child who quickly becomes angry when he does not get his way. My knee jerk reaction is often to snap at him for this behavior, but I know better. So,  instead I work to de-escalate the situation in a more proper way by calmly discussing the problem and working toward an agreeable solution…MOST OF THE TIME!

Having raised three girls, taught primarily girl courses such as Interior Design and Apparel at the high school, and then taught primarily girls in the Life Skills unit, I have undergone quite a lesson in appropriate responses to male children since moving to elementary to teach students on the Autism Spectrum in addition to taking on two boys with ADHD in my home. Both of these diagnoses often include male children who are quick to anger, have difficulty listening to instruction, and speak before they think. This makes it so important as a parent and an educator to be quick to listen, slow to wrath, and slow to speak.
I ended up carrying the 6-year-old to the car, kicking and screaming, strapping him in against his will, and praying for a safe trip home while watching to make sure he did not try to jump out at a light. He continued to complain out of anger saying that he did not love us, that we were mean, and that we should die. All we could do was listen and pray until he finally broke.
About half way home it happened. He began to cry, and we knew from training and experience this was a turning point. This was his release. I reached for his hand. He accepted and held it in his lap as we quietly drove on. I once again told him that I loved him to which he responded positively. As we pulled into the driveway he apologized for his behavior.

James 1:19 says “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  As a parent and educator I must be the righteousness of God for my children, and especially for my students, who may have no other avenue of viewing the love and righteousness of  Him, than through me. I have to be constantly reminded to listen before I speak and think before I respond, especially in the volatile situations where I find myself.

God does the same for us, when we as adults find ourselves acting as children throughout various situations in our own lives. How often do we thank Him for being such a gracious and loving parent? How often do we show our children the same grace and love He has shown us?


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