Angry Parent

Dear Christian Counselor,

I am a mother of 3, redeemed by Christ nine years ago, but every day I fail to live that promise. I have this temper that comes out and hurts my kids. Am I really saved? Then why do I keep repeating this sin with the littlest things, like spilt water, a loud voice etc.? After snapping I am disgusted by it, and I always repent to God and my kids. How I thank God for not giving me serenity in sin. His mercy is there, but I want to experience His victory. I pray each time that His sovereign power protects my kids from me.

I’ve read so many books about parenting, and I’ve been crying out to God each morning to experience His presence and the hope He has given me. Every day I fail in my greatest mission — to reflect Christ to my kids. How can I shepherd them if I always scare them away? Most times I feel that I don’t deserve to be a mother… Why can’t I take care of his gifts well, and why can’t I always be joyful with these? We are talking about being good stewards of what God has given us. And I’m failing big time. Please remember me in your prayers.

Mad Mama


Dear Mad Mama,

I want to answer your most important question first: I do believe you are saved. The Apostle Paul called himself “the chief of sinners” in one of his last letters (I Tim. 1:15). Conviction and remorse are signs of the Holy Spirit’s work. If God wanted to give you an instant victory, He could do that, but being saved doesn’t usually mean we stop grappling with sin – it means we have help for the struggle and forgiveness when we fail. If you can set this question at rest, and stop beating yourself up, it may help you find a bit more patience.

It seems you have taken some good, practical steps, such as reading parenting books and starting your day with reminders of God’s love. Because these things have not helped you substantially, I believe you need to find the root of your anger (see James 4:1-2a). You may be carrying a burden from the past which explodes at an inappropriate target. Finding peace within does not mean blaming others for your temper; it means leaving bitterness behind and redeeming your story. I would suggest finding a local, Christian counselor to help with that process. You might try calling Focus on the Family which has a phone counseling ministry as well as a counseling referral database:

To reach Focus on the Family’s counseling service by phone, call 1-800-A-Family (232-6459) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). Please be prepared to leave your contact information for a counselor or chaplain to return a call to you as soon as possible. The consultation is available at no cost to you. You may also reach our counselors online by filling out our Counseling Request Form.

I want to add a few more hands-on suggestions:

  • First, offer your children an abundance of praise. If you give them plenty of intentional encouragement and loving kindness, it will help counteract your angry outbursts.
  • Second, you might try working through Carter and Minirth’s Anger Workbook noted on our resources page.
  • Finally, I would urge you to take very good care of yourself, finding rest in small ways throughout the day, reducing or eliminating activities which drain your reserves, asking for assistance when you need it. No one else will do this for you, and lowering your overall stress will help you when you encounter parenting challenges. Sometimes I find that Christians have a hard time saying “no” because they feel it would be selfish. You must learn to do this for the sake of your kids, so that you have the capacity to love them well over the long haul.

set of vector icons of religious christianityIn closing, I am asking everyone who reads this letter to say a prayer for you and your children. Perhaps that’s the real gift God has for you here.

To Tell Or Not To Tell?

Dear Christian Counselor,

I was a pretty wild kid back in the ’80’s, but now I’m a pretty conservative parent.  I’m wondering if I should tell my own kids about some of the things I did in hopes that they will learn from my mistakes?

Secrets of a Misspent Youth


Dear Secrets:

There are different schools of thought on this perennial question.  If you ask adolescents, they will generally say they want their parents to be open about their past mistakes and that they would actually take those lessons to heart.  Personally, I don’t advise it.  One of the developmental characteristics of adolescence is the inability to appropriately weigh consequences.  Even when a teen knows that a certain desirable action (such as bungee jumping) has undesirable consequences (a grisly death), he or she lacks the mature judgment necessary to weigh the potential cost (blood and pain) against the momentary emotional reward (exhilarating free fall).  BungeeTherefore, your well-meant revelation about your own bungee-jumping past seems more likely to give your teen new ideas and permission to try them than to relieve them of the burden of testing the boundaries you already blasted.  A recent study bears this out in particular reference to drug use.

It might be gracefully appropriate to tell your son or daughter about your own mistakes AFTER they’ve made the same ones.  But I wouldn’t do that either, if you have younger children.  They WILL find out.  Your teenager needs a wise and even a somewhat mysterious limit-setter more than he or she needs another messed-up friend.

I Don’t Like My Church!

A picture of Pisgah Baptist Church in Four Oak...Dear Christian Counselor,

My dad is the pastor of a small Baptist church. My brother and sisters and I are the only young people there over the age of 10 and under the age of 25. I absolutely am sick and tired of going there. First of all there is no zeal for God; everybody just sits there like a bump on a log. The church has no joy. They won’t sing. We don’t have a piano player. There is no youth group whatsoever, the men there aren’t spiritually mature or disciplined, so I have no older males to look up to and no one to confide in other than my dad. But he is always working, so he doesn’t take the time to help me or my siblings. The church doesn’t seem to want to grow, move forward, reach out to the community or anything. I feel isolated, ignored, and unloved. I don’t know how to go forward, and I don’t want to become stagnant. I don’t know what to do.

– Pastor’s Son


Dear Pastor’s Son,

At this point you have two good choices: stay or go.  If you believe in Romans 8:28, then you are not stuck in a bad situation but at an exciting fork along God’s good path for your life.  If you decide to make another try at your church, I would suggest you have a heart-to-heart talk with the one man you say you can talk to, your dad. Take him out to breakfast and let him know you are feeling restless and stagnant in your faith. Ask for his suggestions to stir up some enthusiasm and find some purpose.  Could you put together a worship team?  Could you organize a community youth group or a charity project?  What passions and gifts could you contribute for the good of everyone?  For example, I know a college student who organized a 5K with hundreds of participants for the benefit of an organization dedicated to ending slavery in the world.

Your other option is to explore different churches in the area. You could begin by attending a singles’ or men’s group at another church while remaining in Sunday worship at your own. Once again, I would suggest having a good talk with your pastor/dad and explaining that you are prayerfully seeking God’s direction for your adulthood, that you want a close relationship with your father but that you are feeling the need to explore your own faith.  Be careful not to put him on the defensive by criticizing his work.  You will find that there is no perfect church or pastor but that most of them are trying to be the best grace-filled sinners that they can.  Just like you.

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