The news is swarming with heart-wrenching stories of kids bullying other kids. It’s pretty easy for me to cast stones at these bullies. But recently I realized just how much I can be like these reckless, hateful bullies who throw out empty threats and cause great harm. I don’t bully a friend—I wouldn’t dare—and I definitely don’t bully strangers. No, I save my hateful attitudes, quick responses, and threats for my son. At these times, I am a bully mom.
I especially see my bullying tactics on display during rest time. It’s two o’clock in the afternoon and it’s “my time.” It’s quiet time in our home and the kids rest so I can work, write, clean, or do whatever I need to do without interruption. But inevitably, one of my children decides they don’t want to rest.
“You are waking up your sister,” I yell as my son knocks his feet against the wall. I storm in the room, look him in the eyes, point my finger and say, “If you don’t stop that knocking I’m going to sit you outside.” He gets quiet. He surely doesn’t want to sit outside. I walk away, thankful that it’s quiet but quickly aware that my threat was empty, and my response was full of anger. I am convicted.
These types of scenarios have happened one too many times in my home. I can be quick to anger and loose with my tongue. Yes, my son should have obeyed. But I wasn’t going to throw him out of the house. And what does that communicate to him? When you disobey me, I will disown you, I will cut you off, and I will push you far from me. I will do harm to you if you inconvenience me. Ouch!
Left to myself, I would fall into this sinful habit each and every time I needed to address my children and teach them to obey. Obviously there’s a lot more than simply me being unkind to my kid going on here, but I like to address one thing at a time as not to be crushed by my own sin. Christ did that for me—was crushed for my sin! Because of God’s Holy Spirit, I can have self-control and learn how to be patient and gracious to my child.
Do you find yourself throwing out threats and verbally pushing your kids around? If so, you are not alone; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). God makes it clear that this problem with our tongues is a struggle all people have:
“We all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” (James 3:2).
I haven’t met a perfect man yet; that is, until I met Jesus! The good news is we have power to change because of Him.
God promises that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). He has made us a new creation so we no longer have to be slaves to our sin; rather we can fight it and grow (Rom. 6:6). God is gracious to give us His Holy Spirit if we ask. Everything good, including our sanctification (our growth in godliness), comes from Him (James 1:17).
Those episodes of my tongue getting away from me in anger are much less these days. God has been helping me learn from His Word how to care for and love my children. It’s easy to do when we are dancing around, when they do as I say immediately, or when we are making a fun memory. But it’s in the tough times of parenting that I’m learning how to love.
Dare I say that the times my son might remember most are those days when mommy bowed her head and asked the Lord for forgiveness for her sinful anger toward him and then asked him to forgive her, too. I think those will be the times he remembers his mom is human and needy for God.
How about you? What do you do when you find yourself being a bully mom?