By Peggy Ployhar

As humans we instinctively know we need to pray.  When tragedy strikes we ask for prayer, we gather to grieve and cry out, and our hearts seek healing from beyond what we can see, feel, and touch.  But, the biggest tragedy is that we don’t practice praying much when things are going well in our lives. We forget we have needs and large voids we can’t fill on our own.  The biggest void I could not fill through my own self-determination was the one created by the damage my parenting anger had created in my own life and in my relationships with my children.

 

 

 

A Spiritual Battle

Parenting anger at its core is a spiritual battle, and therefore prayer is fundamental to changing parenting anger and bringing about healing, in both the parent and the child. Prayer alone brought forth this healing in my life.  How? By ushering forgiveness and restoration to places grace alone could reach.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer is about asking, but it is more than that.  It is also about seeking something greater and desiring for it to come into our lives and change our nature; the nature which often brings us to the place where we realize our need for forgiveness and healing.  And, prayer is about submitting to that change by pursuing it with tenacity rather than pursuing our natural inclinations or good intentions.

 

 

 

 

A Plea for Change

When I decided in my heart that I no longer wanted to live with the rages I often experienced, I started to pray for God to change my heart and to heal my relationships with my children with more vigor than I ever had before.  My prayers went from “stop this” to “change me.”

 

Change was slow, but every time God revealed a new lesson I then prayed for His help to heal me, change me, and restore me.  When I backslid in carrying out this new lesson, I sought out His forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of my children, and we prayed together for God to help us accept His grace and do better the next time. I also started to make it a point to pray with my children when they met with failure in their own battles.

 

 

 

Fundamental to Change

Prayer was fundamental in keeping us moving forward, in giving us the strength to keep going on, to accepting our imperfect natures, and in realizing all the more our need for a Savior and a constant help as we navigated life with a desire to become less angry and hurt and more loving and compassionate—more like our heavenly Father.

 

When I started this series on parenting anger, I never could have imagined this process would take so long to complete and I would have so much to share.  If this is the first article in this series you have read, I would highly recommend you go back to the beginning and digest each article one at a time. Savor the wisdom God shared with me as I healed through my own struggle and allow the lessons to go not just to your head, but also your heart.

 

 

 

My prayer for you is that you don’t give up, on yourself or your children.  The struggle to change and grow in this ability is worth the battle, and the best part is that God will be fighting right alongside you all the way.

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

In the previous article in this series on parenting anger, I mentioned this next step is the glue which helps hold the integrity and authority changes in your parenting in place. Here is why this step plays such an essential role in repairing any disconnect with your child when your parenting anger has caused division in the past.

Judgment by Reaction
Looking at our children through a lens that is not personally judgmental can be very difficult. We tend to have strong feelings for how much we desire to see our children succeed. These strong feelings can easily be read by a child through nonverbal communication. When our body language shows we are nervous, stressed, or even bothered when a child fails, our reaction passes along judgmental overtones. These reactions, if repeatedly observed by a child, will convey a parent’s inability to accept failure even without any verbal communication.

Most of the time when we struggle with accepting our child’s weaknesses, it stems from our own inability to accept our failures. If you struggle in this area, and in accepting yourself for being less than perfect, then the first thing you need to realize is that failure is an essential part of life which helps us, and our children grow and learn.

Embracing Failure
A while back I wrote an article called Failing to Learn where I stressed the importance of learning how to accept failure as part of the learning process so mistakes can be launching points for more learning instead of roadblocks of further exploration and understanding. With each mistake, we are given the opportunity to see how and why we failed. From there, we must choose to take what we learned in failing, and joyfully move forward in the hope that our next attempt will be better than our last based on what we learned in the last go-around.

When we can change our perspective about failure, the mechanics of accepting our children also becomes much easier. We are more prone to say “oops” when mistakes happen. And, our child’s limitations are given flight to become vehicles for greater discoveries.

When we start to make this shift towards accepting a child’s limitations and working on our responses to their failures, we also need to change our approach in how we redirect our child’s reaction to their failures. This is where the big change in your parenting needs to happen to glue all these elements together…and to prepare for the final steps in cultivating your child’s heart.

The Boxing Ring
When a child sees your reactions to their failures as an attack, you, in turn, will become the object for any out-lash in dealing with internal feelings of inadequacy. You essentially become your child’s punching bag because your reaction comes with a dual meaning. First, it conveys to your child you are safe because your love for them is what caused your reaction to their failure, but secondly, you are also an enemy because your reaction has placed you in their battle zone. Thus, instead of your child taking on the real issues he/she is facing, exposed through failure, your child makes the issue about your relationship.

If you were to view this scenario as a boxing ring, your child would be in the battle of life with you in the same ring. There are many things your child battles each day, but your job as a parent was never to be his opponent. Instead, you have been called to be a coach who can provide fighting strategies for all the important things he fights through in life.

Coaching to Success
By accepting your child’s fight as part of the learning process, and your role as the ever-vigilant coach through this training period in your child’s life, your goal will be to remove yourself from the ring by accepting your child and battles they are up against. Win or lose, you must show you are willing to stick it out while learning alongside as to what works and what doesn’t with failure, and success, leading to the winning strategies.

Each time your child tries to get you into the ring, you must make a dedicated effort to keep your feet out of the battle zone. And when needed, calling a “time-out” a break until your child is ready to receive training instead of taking you on in the ring. Over time this process will become easier, especially as your child starts to see the value of having you working with them to fight these struggles instead of being frustrated, embarrassed, or upset when they fail.

Continue to be Encouraged
In my next article, we are going to continue with the next step in the process of cultivating your child’s heart, which is forgiveness. Until then, make sure to keep fighting the good fight alongside your child and make sure you are getting the encouragement you need to keep pressing on. 

One way you can get exclusive resources and a monthly dose of encouragement in your inbox is by subscribing to the SPED Homeschool newsletter. Also, make sure to check out our podcast channel  or download one of the SPED Homeschool Conversations podcasts on iTunes or Google Play for lots of great content to encourage you in your family life, homeschooling, and special needs parenting.

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

In my last article in this series, I stated, “Instilling truth into a child’s heart depends on how prepared his/her heart is to receive truth.” Therefore, my next six articles in this series will focus on practical ways to cultivate a child’s heart for truth. I will base everything I discuss in this cultivating section of the series upon the previous methods I have shared in the earlier articles of this parentinganger series.

My prayer is as we slowly work through each of these steps, you will find how practical and healing God’s way of handling our parenting anger can be when we use it towards building godly character in our children. Also, as you apply each of these cultivating steps, you will see how they work to bridge relational gaps that parenting anger may have created in your home. So, we start with ourselves: parental integrity.

Integrity and Trust
The reason I start with integrity is because a child only accepts a parent’s instruction as much as they can trust that parent. Also, integrity is essential in breaking the protective crust a child builds up when situations have trained them to distrust…which often happens when a child lives with a parent who has a short fuse.

If a child can trust their parent, they will gladly absorb what that parent has to teach. Everything we teach our children hinges upon how much they trust us. If we cannot work on this basic foundation of our relationship with our child, much of our homeschooling and parenting instruction will be for naught. We are also more likely to see our children look to other places for truth instead of looking to us. Over time the relationships we were hoping to so tightly control with our misdirected anger will be the first things we lose the ability to influence.

An Integrity Check
A person of integrity is someone who can be trusted to do what they say they will do. They are not someone who uses excuses and their actions and lives are aligned with the priorities they say they value. Day in and day out, no matter what, a person with integrity can be trusted. This doesn’t mean they are perfect, but it means they are trying all the time.

Let me ask you, is this how your children see you? Do you live in a manner consistent with your public persona? Or, do you change your character once you get behind closed doors or within the sanctuary of your home and family?

Children will determine how trustworthy their parents are based on what they see them do and how they live either according to their word or apart from it. What a parent says about who they are holds negligible weight if it differs from how their child sees them behave.

Reversing Your Parental Integrity
As a young parent, I did a very poor job of establishing integrity with my children. My anger was the biggest obstacle to developing integrity with my children because while I would tell them I loved them, I would not act in accordance with my words when I blew my top.

As I started sorting out my anger issues, I made a concerted effort to build up my integrity in the eyes of my children. To do this, I first created a mantra, “I love you no matter what.” And then I lived it out, by God’s grace, one day at a time…praying a lot along the way. I followed the process of taking steps to work through my anger episodes just as I talked about in the previous articles in this series (see the listing below at the bottom of this article).

My oldest son tested this fresh approach more than his siblings because he and I shared many ugly battles where I could not keep my integrity in check. Yet, every time he pushed me, I followed the pattern of identifying my trigger, keeping myself busy and praying, looking for God’s escape door, shifting my focus, and seeking the lessons that needed teaching while telling him, “I love you no matter what.”

I wish I could say my son started believing me right away, but it took months of repeating this cycle and him testing the boundaries of my ability to act towards him just as I said I would. But then the day came and the memory of this transformation in his heart still brings tears to my eyes.

It was a beautiful summer day, and we were outside playing in the yard when my son again tested my integrity boundaries. I can’t even remember what he did, but what I remember was what he did and said after I told him, “I love you no matter what,” and followed through with my anger in check.

He put his chubby hands on his hips and looked straight into my eyes and said to me, “You really mean it don’t you?” From that day on things changed in how I could speak into my son’s life. No, he didn’t stop testing my boundaries, but he started trusting me.

I encourage you if you feel like all hope is lost with your children because of your past inability to handle your anger. There is a way to repair those relational gaps and instilling integrity is the first step in the healing process.

Stay Connected with SPED Homeschool
Next time I will talk about authority and how to practically work on establishing a godly form of authority in your home that will strengthen the integrity bridge you are working on.

Until then please make sure to connect with us at SPED Homeschool on our  weekly live Facebook broadcast, in our support tribes , or by emailing us with any questions you would like to have us help you walk through as you homeschool your child with special educational needs.

 

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

In my previous article, in this series on parenting anger, I talked about the Parenting Anger Escape Door and hinted to the fact that it is “a gateway to developing godly character in both you in your children.” Once I discovered how God’s escape door for my ugly anger episodes could actually help both me and my children, I have never looked at my sinful nature the same. I hope what I have to share with you below will leave you feeling the same about your struggle and encourage you to keep pressing on.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20

Yes, God makes wonderful masterpieces out of life’s messes, and I am excited to share with you how He does just that with our misdirected parenting anger.

Blurred Vision
Once I started training myself to not pick up the rope and instead turn to braiding the whip (if you don’t know what I am talking about, you will have to go back to the previous article in this series), my parenting vision cleared up considerably.

Anger had blurred my perception of effective parenting strategies. Instead of working productively to train my children, my desire to control their actions slowly crushed their spirits. When I finally stepped back, it was glaringly clear how much I needed to change my approach.

A Natural Warning Light
But checking our own behavior is only half the battle. The other half comes when we confront training our children due to the lack of character we are alerted to in their lives.

A lack of godly character will always make our internal righteousness meter go haywire. This is God’s way of showing us we need to take notice of a situation which lacks godly character. And, if you remember from the last article in this series, indicates a lesson needs to be taught.

Taking God’s parenting anger escape door leads us to the perfect starting place where this character training lesson should start. We first pray and use our energy to seek God and His training lesson, and in doing so we discover the most impactful and eventually fruitful way to help our children develop strong godly character.

Building Solid Boundaries
When I am speaking to a group and get to this part in my talk, I take out three objects: a shoebox, a flat piece of cardboard, and a ping-pong ball. First, I show my audience how the ping-pong ball is extremely difficult to keep on top of the flat piece of cardboard. I point out how the lack of edges on the board leaves nothing to stop the ball from going off the edge. Then, I contrast that example with a ping-pong ball being securely held inside the shoebox, making sure to point out the high sturdy sides that allow this containment.

I use these examples because I want parents to understand that as we teach our children lessons in godly character, we are essentially giving them a building block to add to their natural boundaries. For a child instructed in righteousness, and given lots of building blocks, they instinctively know when to stop (just like the ping-pong ball) because those walls have been built over time and through many independent lessons that have stacked up sturdy boundaries for godly living. But, for a child who is only held back from the edge and controlled from doing wrong, they are not provided those blocks and instead when left without someone to hold them back from the edge will topple off just like the ping-pong ball on the flat piece of cardboard.

My demonstration may seem too extreme for those of you who have a younger child who is still close by and working on these skills, but when your child grows into his/her teen years and then moves into adulthood, you will realize how critical it is to have laid boundaries with strong and solid blocks of godly character. Those boundaries will spare you and your child much larger heartaches and pain than the training process could ever bring into your lives.

In my next article, I will be giving you some very practical how-to instructions on instilling godly character into your children using these blocks. But, in the meantime keep working on walking away from the rope, braiding the whip and seeking God for a clearer vision of how He is alerting you to character flaws through your natural anger meter. With a resolute desire to seek His escape door and readiness to grow in godly character along with your children, you will be well on your way to conquering your parenting anger.

 

 

 

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