One basic thing we’ve learned with our children is that when children have feelings of sadness or fear, it often comes out as anger. I wrote about this in the post, When Sad Looks Like Mad. When one of my kids is acting out in anger, I try to help them identify their true feeling of sadness or fear.
Interestingly, one evening we were at the dinner table visiting with our older kids at the end of the meal. We were talking about Isaiah’s plans for college and I was expressing, what I thought was concern, until he said,
“Mom, why are you acting so mad?”
“Mad? I’m not mad.”
Noah chimed in, “It kind of looks like you’re mad, Mom.”
“You know, you do that when you’re really worried, ” said my other perceptive son.
“I do not; I’m not acting mad.”
All three older boys just looked at me and nodded their heads.
I paused for a moment and realized that I was feeling scared, I was feeling worried that Isaiah might make the wrong choice, go to the wrong school, ruin his future, have a miserable career, marry the wrong woman — it ran deep. Oh, woman of little faith!
You moms with older kids – I bet you know what I’m talking about.
“You’re right,” I said. ”I guess I am sounding mad, but I’m actually just scared. I love you and I want the very best for you. Sometimes I get anxious and forget that God is sovereign and He will help us make the best decisions.”
My boys quietly said, “It’s okay, Mom.”
That night was a good lesson for me. I struggle with not letting fear creep into my parenting. While I know that Jesus is ever with us, I’m so prone to forget and think that every decision is weighty and could lead down a path of disaster.
This post was going to be about Eby and how we had an amazing moment yesterday when he was really scared and sad about losing something. He was crying and tearing about the house looking for his precious squirt gun. When he finally found it, he smiled through his tears. I knelt down next to him, put my hand on his shoulder and, when he was a little calmer I said,
“Eby, I noticed something really good.”
“What?” He asked with tears still on his cheeks.
“You had some big sad feelings about losing your squirt gun, didn’t you.”
“Sometimes when you have big sad feelings, you start acting mad and you yell at people.”
He nodded again.
“But today you were so amazing because you didn’t let your big sad feelings turn into mad feelings! You let yourself feel the sad feelings. You did so great, I am so proud of you.”
He smiled and leaned into me just a little bit – which is as awesome as a hug, coming from Eby.
Then he was off to play and I was left kneeling on the floor marveling at my boy.