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This is my first Works for Me Wednesday post. Each week I scour my brain for things that “work for me.” As a mom of five (almost six) kiddos, a lot of people assume I must be terribly organized and patient. They are mistaken. I maintain having all these kids helps me learn to be more organized and patient. I am so not there yet.

My children are not angels.

They say and do things they shouldn’t. I’ve recently witnessed my two youngest tap-dancing in a 32 ounce lake of Coke and crushed ice spilled all over the kitchen floor. The playroom walls once boasted having fifteen R2-D2s drawn in black marker by the capable hand of our seven year old. They’ve flushed the unflushable and broken the unbreakable. Kids can be maddening.

Several years ago my husband and I were expressing to each other how easy it was to get angry quickly at even minor infractions. If we were tired, not feeling well, or generally stressed we reacted badly to our kids’ hijinks. We never hit them or verbally abused them—but we were unfair in punishments and found ourselves saying “no” to the most benign requests simply to save ourselves from the mere possibility of becoming angry. We didn’t want them to think the normal tone of our voices neared the decibel level of a space shuttle launch.

Then one Sunday our pastor reminded us of this verse:

A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention. Proverbs 15:18

Slow. To. Anger.

We were challenged by those words. If my husband saw signs of anger growing in me, he would simply whisper “slow to anger.” I did the same for him. Those three words were enough to inspire a deep breath and a lot of perspective. Was the fifth spilled milk incident of the day worth my negative energy? I didn’t have to be happy about having wads of milk-soaked towels lying around—I simply had to react how I’d want my children to react in their own frustrating situations. Calmly, with control, with perspective on the grand scheme of things. It’s not an easy thing.

Over time, Slow To Anger became “Stay.”

“Stay,” we say when red anger rushes up an unsmiling face. It isn’t a 100% solution, but it works better than the alternative. We aren’t always perfect with using “stay” but we try.

Being “slow to anger” also acknowledges there is a time and place for anger. It’s a real emotion with power—something to be used only under control and only in situations that warrant decisive authority. Being slow to anger ensures that anger is appropriate. Anger isn’t a license to hurt anyone, however.

We also hope this is a tool we can pass along to our kids. When they hear the word “stay” I pray they are reminded to be slow to anger too.

25 comments to Stay

  • That is so relevant to me – I sometimes find that I’ve yelled so much (okay, not mean yelling but “CUT THAT OUT!” type yelling!) that at the end of the day, my throat is HOARSE. I’m copying that verse down and putting in on my fridge. Good reminder. Thank you so much.

  • What a great tip, and one I have been sorely in need of. Now that the Tominator has reached the toddler stage, I find myself saying “no” in an angry tone more often than I would like.

    Thanks for the great tip.

  • That’s a wonderful tip, and something I think I’ll start applying in our home too.
    Thank you

  • Wow, I think I am going to try this. Yesterday I had an incident with Lucy that wasn’t supposed to go how it went…she bit me…HARD, repeatedly! Anyway, thank you for the wonderful advice!

    I LOVE the preggo belly pic! I just get a big smile on my face whenever I think of you, your baby, and your family!

  • Very good idea…my mom and dad thought of something similar but they won’t tell me what because I may still make them “quick to anger”

  • This is GOOD. Really, really good! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Gretchen, thank you for this! Being slow to anger is NOT one of my normal traits and never has been. But now that I see my angry reactions reflected back to me in my kids’ reactions to certain situations, I realize I absolutely must do something to change.

    I also love that it’s a team effort between you and your husband. Anger is a powerful emotion, so much so that it often takes more than one person to hold it back! Thanks for this post!

  • Ditto everything above. I’ve tried to remind myself of that before, but it is hard when I’m the one doing the reminding. I need to ask Craig to remind me of that too…

  • Mary

    I have started to see my anger/impatience, etc.. being reflected in the actions of my children, especially my daughter and she is the younger of the two. It is shocking when you see them act that way and realize it came from you. It breaks my heart. I love your idea and have already forwarded it to my husband. I am going to start trying it tonight!

  • I feel like you could be speaking directly to me-and I’m taking this to heart. What a wonderful idea!

  • I’m such a dork, this is the correct website. Sorry, this is all new to me and I’m still working on the blogging stuff!

  • Julana

    The same for having a child with special needs–people assume you are patient, when you are actually in school to become patient.
    When my son was young, I read “God gives you the children who can teach you what you need to learn.”

  • Thank you for this post. And I so know what you mean. A horde of little ones can do things and ruin things that you wouldn’t think possible. I’m a-gonna have to try this “Stay” thing.

  • Great reminder!! I’ve really been working on this lately with my 3-year-old. I tend to “sweat the small stuff” sometimes, so I’m trying not to get mad about little things like messes in the kitchen. Kids learn through making messes, so I just need to cool it!

  • Wow that was really helpful to me, and something I can do. (Alot of the WFMW are too crafty and time consuming for me!)

    Seriously, I think I needed this. And especially to hear that your kids make messes and aren’t perfect, too. I can stop feeling like I am the only one with artwork on our walls, almost daily, courtesy of Crayolas and grubby handed boys.

  • edj

    I can so relate to reacting to my kids, instead of taking that deep breath and responding realistically to the situation–especially when I’m tired, a little sick, or under stress. Thanks for the good reminder to be slow to anger.

  • I love this idea, such character building for parents and yet a great example to set for your children.

  • Love, love, love it. Wow can I relate. Thanks for sharing this Mopsy. And I love what Julana said about God giving us the kids we have to teach us what we need to learn. So true.

  • P.S.
    When I read the title, I thought you were going to tell us about your kids’ “places” around the grocery cart. That can be your next WFMW. I’m dying to hear about it.

  • I so needed this right now. God led me here for sure. Thank you.

  • Excellent message for me to work on. Thanks.

  • I meant to comment a week ago when I read this and I guess I forgot. But I wanted to let you know that your words have echoed in my head since then, and I need you to know that this is one of the best blog posts I think I’ve ever read – ever! It just may change my life.

    (Yeah, dramatic much?)

    I think you’re awesome.

  • P.S. I’m a friend of Nini’s, not just a random stalker. 😀

  • JoAnn

    wow! That’s a good one. Thanks for sharing my friend.

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