Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Help an Angry Mom, part two

If you haven't had a chance to read Monday's post, you'll want to do that first. Otherwise, this will make no sense!

Hi Hank,

I am so glad to know that you love your family like you do! Thank-you for being willing to accept help. The next words of advice I have are primarily for you. If something resonates and sounds like it will work, go for it! If something doesn't sit right, pray about it first. If it still isn't feeling like something that applies to you after some prayer, disregard it. :)

It's important to be aware of your God-ordained role. You are the dad, the husband, the leader. This means that, ultimately, God holds you responsible for the fruit of your family. You cannot change Donna or Buddy, but you can ensure that you are doing everything you can to influence your family for the better. Then, even if things do not improve, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you have carried out your duties well. So here are a few tips on how you can do your best, with or without Donna's cooperation...

1. Don't over-compensate. While your natural inclination is to protect Buddy, and you'd rather spare him more upset than you know he's already dealing with between him and mom, you must resist this inclination! Instead of "making up" for Donna's anger, you overlooking discipline issues simply confuses Buddy. He will begin to recognize that mom and dad expect different things and I guarantee you - he will manipulate you both with that knowledge!

2. Get on the same team. Right now you are on team Don't yell at the children and Donna is on team Why doesn't anybody listen to me? The team you need to be on is We are the parents and we are in control. We will work together and stand behind each other in all things at all times. Even when we think the other parent is over-reacting, we will stand together because we are on the same team.

The thing is, Donna is feeling disrespected by Buddy's behavioral outbursts. But because she's also tired and overwhelmed, and not feeling supported by her man, she has given up on trying to discipline. Instead, she resorts to yelling. At least that occasionally gets some results. What she needs is some good modelling in child training that occurs in a methodical and calm way.

This is where you come in. You can step in to exact discipline. Don't mistake this for taking over or getting between them; this is done in a way that communicates love and respect for your wife and her position of authority over your children. Every time you discipline Buddy for being disrespectful you are:
- communicating to Donna that you are on her team,
- communicating to your kids that you and mom are on the same team all the time,
- teaching your children right from wrong, and
- modelling for your wife a new way to discipline.
All of this without saying a word of criticism to your wife! (I'll offer a bit of strategy for discipline later on.)

3. Value her. There are three key ways that most women feel loved: words, effort, and time.

Words - Remember that Donna is probably filled with guilt and self-loathing for her struggle with anger. She needs to be told, over and over again, that she is a good mom. Tell her that you are glad she's your wife and the mom of your kids. Tell her you trust her. Tell her that she has been chosen by God for this job.

Effort - I don't know about you, but many hubbies like to "veg out" when they get home from work. If you choose to resist the temptation to zone out in front of the TV, and instead pitch in with whatever Donna is doing (cooking, bathing kids, tidying the house, etc.), you will tell her "I love you and value you" louder than a dozen bouquets of a dozen roses!

Time - Give her time for herself. Send her off to a spa, or for a shopping day, out for a girls' night, or just on a walk. This tells her that you see how hard she works. And a refreshed momma is a happy momma. (As well, a refreshed wife is a happy wife, if you get my drift.) P.S. This is where your sister can also help out. Nothing is more beautiful than a sitter who volunteers!

I realize that I've not really given you what you were looking for. Rather than a bunch of ideas on how to help Donna stop being angry, I've been telling you a lot of things you can do to change you. But here is the amazing thing about our God - He can completely restore a broken relationship with only one willing heart! The world tells us that "it takes two." The world is wrong. I can say this with such confidence because if God couldn't transform a relationship using only one person, I would not stand before you a woman married for 11 years. The more you work on you, the greater Donna's desire will be to work on herself. YOU, Hank, have the power to transform the way your family relates!

Part 3 - discipline - coming soon by a special guest blogger

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