Posted in Family, Parenting, Reviews, Tricia Goyer

Calming Angry Kids

I love sharing books. I often have a list of books that I want to keep extras of on hand so I can loan or give them away. But, typically those books fit a targeted audience. Wives. Moms. Young women. Those who love historical fiction or fantasy or some other specific genre. Recently, though, I had the privilege of reading a book that I wanted to share with everyone.

Calming Angry Kids comes from the pen of prolific author Tricia Goyer. But, Calming Angry Kids was not just the next great book idea in a list of many. Instead, this particular endeavor was the result of tears, heartache, and pure determination. It was written with her skill as an author, but the credit goes to an entire family who chose to fight the fight and not give up. They chose to push through until they could see beauty birthed from the victory of overcoming the pure ugliness of anger. As much as I love reading everything that Tricia writes, I can honestly say that none of her books come close to the powerful message of Calming Angry Kids. And it seems others agree. Weeks before its scheduled October 1 release, Tricia shared the news that her book had already entered its third printing!

So, what is so powerful about Calming Angry Kids? Tricia doesn’t just speak from the perspective of a mom who has been there, although that would be a fitting description. She also doesn’t speak only from a clinical voice, although she has read exhaustively enough and interacted with enough professionals on the topic that she probably should be handed a degree! Instead, she combines the two concepts, delving into the psychology behind understanding anger at its very source while simultaneously offering help that is more than just clinical – it works in real life. In fact, it worked in her very real life.

The Goyers’ story is one of adoption and dealing with anger birthed from childhood trauma. It is a powerful story, and one that I know will help equip, strengthen, and encourage many adoptive parents. But, to say that Calming Angry Kids is only useful for adoptive parents – or even only for parents – is short selling the value of this book. This is about relationships. It is about understanding what causes others to behave in hurtful anger. What causes them to push away the very love they so greatly crave. My best friend regularly reminds me that “hurting people hurt people,” and that simple phrase fits beautifully with the message of Calming Angry Kids. When we find ways to work through our immediate emotional responses and choose instead to act out of truth, we can conquer the anger that plagues not only our children and others we come into contact with, but ourselves as well.

Calming Angry Kids is not a be-all, end-all solution to anger issues that plague our homes and our lives. But, it is a resource that shines a light in dark places, sharing tools and resources that will point us in the right direction. It encourages us to keep fighting even when victory seems impossible. It helps us to know that there is no shame in admitting that we need help. And it reminds us that there really is hope, even in a relationship that seems to be consumed by anger.

Yes, Calming Angry Kids is definitely a book I will readily and wholeheartedly recommend, not only to parents but to anyone struggling to find victory in a relationship haunted by anger.

Click here to read chapter one of Calming Angry Kids.

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Posted in Marriage

Conflict Seen

I can’t remember when I first heard the “never argue in front of your children” advice. I definitely see the benefit. Children, especially at a young age, cannot process or handle the emotions that go with their parents arguing. It introduces insecurity and uncertainty. And that is a burden none of us want our precious children to bear.

And yet…

Have you ever met a young couple impacted by the fact that at least one of them never heard their parents so much as disagree with one another? I have. It’s an interesting sight. The first time this young couple has a disagreement, argument, or fight, the “sheltered” one is devastated. Convinced that the relationship must be doomed. Or, at the very least, certain that there must be something terribly wrong. After all, Mom and Dad never argued.

Or did they?

The undeniable, irrefutable, and even biblical truth is that all relationships are marred by sin. If we cannot even succeed in relating flawlessly to our perfect, pure heavenly Father, how can we possibly think we will ever relate perfectly to a fellow flawed human being? No matter how much love may exist in the relationship?

So, it follows that all married couples – yes, even the most grounded and mature – will have conflict in their marriage.

Now, let’s contemplate parenting for a moment. As parents, it is our responsibility to nurture and protect our children. But it is also our responsibility to teach and mold them. That includes finding opportunities to safely teach them how to handle the not-so-great (as well as the downright horrific) aspects of this world. We watch for opportunities to discuss and explain, exposing them to the difference between a godly home and what they will experience one day as adults trying to navigate this mess.

That brings us back to conflict between Mom and Dad. While on the one hand we do not want to air all our dirty laundry before our children, and we especially don’t want to show a divided front in parenting, I wonder if there might be times in which it is beneficial for our children to grasp that we are in conflict.

If they see us disagreeing, then see us work through the disagreement, then see us choose to hug and kiss and say, “I love you!” as we go our separate ways for the day, could that not bring benefit in the long run?

How many things have you learned about your spouse because you disagreed at some point? How have you matured in being able to swallow your own pride or offer a sincere apology or choose your words carefully? How much have you learned about the difference between arguments worth having and arguments not worth having? How has your prayer life grown?

When our children fight with one another, we step in and separate them. But, at some point, they are not going to have Mom or Dad around to step in and end the conflict. They are going to have to figure out how to end it themselves. They are going to have to learn how to find resolution and restore peace. How better to learn such things than to watch their own parents handle conflict in a manner that honors Christ?

Of course, the first step is for us effectively model handling conflict in a manner that honors Christ!

Our children are precious, and our hunger is to protect and nourish them. But, sometimes the best nourishment we can give them is to help them see how to live Christ-honoring lives in a dark and sinful world. And sometimes that means letting them see.

 

Posted in Faith Nuggets

Willing to Work

I find it funny when people say, “Oh, I could never do _________. I’m not ________ enough.” Go ahead – just fill in the blank. You just might be able to remember at time when you have said just such a thing. I know I can!
As is frequently the case, God has used both life in general and my children specifically to make me completely rethink my “I could never” statements. Take my oldest child, for instance.

No Outlet

For years I have marveled at the stories floating around in my daughter’s mind. She is so incredibly creative, and she has concocted entire worlds in her imagination. For years, I tried to figure out how to get those worlds out of her head and into a form that she could share with others. When she was little, I had this notion that, as soon as she learned how to write, she would be able to keep a journal and just write everything out. When she finally did learn how to write, however, it didn’t take long for that notion to crumble.

The physical act of writing proved to be excruciatingly tedious for my sweet girl. She could draw all day long. But handwriting was a completely different story. She hated it. And I finally accepted the fact that my sweet girl would never write. She finally accepted that it was okay to hate writing, even though she needed to learn the basic skills involved. But when it came to those stories, I was determined to not give up. We would just have to get them on paper another way.

Discovery

Fast forward a few years. As my daughter grew older, she learned a new skill: typing. Or keyboarding. Or whatever it is called these days. She learned how to push the letter keys on a computer keyboard in quick succession to cause letters and words to appear on a computer screen, an action that opened a whole new world to her. And created quite a shock for her mother!

First, she wrote a nearly perfect book report without help. Then, single-paragraph writing assignments for school became easier for her.

But it didn’t stop there! I nearly fell out of my chair the day she said, “Mommy, I got to write three paragraphs in language arts today!”

Got to? GOT to? Whatever happened to “had to”?

It got better still. She followed that statement up with, “It was fun!” I almost cried.

A few days later, I walked into the living room to see her propped up before a laptop, tapping away.

“What are you doing?” I asked, curious.

“Writing a fantasy novel,” came her matter-of-fact reply. Later than night she asked me to help her set a daily writing goal. Yes, that time I really did cry.

Work for It!

My child thought she hated to write. But she discovered she just needed the right avenue through which to do it.
All of us have dreams and talents. But, we often find ourselves limited when it comes to actually turning those dreams into reality or utilizing those talents. So, we hole up. Or give up. Or push it all down. We neglect to fight for those dreams. We refuse to push for ways to express our talents. We are unwilling to think outside the box.
Scripture is full of evidence that God is not limited by normalcy. Story after story reveals how He worked creatively, uniquely, and unexpectedly in the lives of biblical heroes. The incredible reality is that you and I are no different. Were our talents and dreams to be fulfilled through normal ways, how often would we give glory to our Creator? But, when He makes us turn to Him for a creative solution, He is glorified as the world watches what only He can accomplish through us.

I have been privileged to read some of my daughter’s novel and peruse several related short stories. It is so obvious to me that God made no mistake when He created an incredibly imaginative child who hated to write. She had to blossom. She had to push. And now, she loves writing more than she ever would have had she not had to work for it.
What are you willing to work for?

Posted in Marriage, Thoughts from Kids

Marriage Monday: Wisdom from the Teen Years

My oldest stood expectantly in her doorway, watching me.

“You don’t want a hug, do you?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I am a teenager, after all.” With a grin, she wrapped her long arms around me and squeezed tightly.

My daughter just entered her teen years, and we frequently chuckle over what many teens find to be unacceptable behavior. On this particular morning, a close relationship with Mom was the topic of discussion.

As we talked, I gave her a bit of advice that I learned as a teenager: Never get into gripe sessions about parents.

Negativity feeds negativity.

As a teen, I was blessed with a few older women I could occasionally confide in. Some were journeymen fresh out of college. Others were older single missionaries. Either way, I knew if I had a real problem, they would listen. But they would also not accept any bad-mouthing from me about my parents.

Peers were a different story. If the conversation ever turned toward frustration with parents, conditions could quickly escalate from minor frustration to outright anger. Something that was small could quickly become a wedge between parent and child. I hated those conversations. I knew what they could do to my contentment and attitude, and I did not want it.

So, I made it a point to never bash my parents publicly. If I really needed to vent or seek advice, I knew who I could trust.

As my daughter and I talked, I reminded her that there will be times of frustration for her. She will, on occasion, want nothing more than to gripe with friends about how unfair and cruel her parents are. But, I am praying now that God will provide that safe place for her to vent. I want her to have wise counsel like I did.

Isn’t this a marriage post?

You’re probably wondering why I have spent over three hundred words gabbing about parenting on a Marriage Monday. Let’s just say that my little “never gripe about parents” practice in high school has been perfect training for marriage!

There are times I get frustrated with my husband and I need to talk it out. But, there are very few people who will ever hear me speak negatively about my husband. Why? Because griping breeds griping whether you’re a teenager or a full-grown adult. When wives get together and complain about their husbands, those poor men suddenly have no chance. Their wives discover that they are agitated about things that had never bothered them before, simply because a girlfriend started griping about that particular issue in her own marriage.

When I need to truly talk something out, I go to one of those rare friends who will listen, identify, and then do whatever they can to help strengthen my marriage. Those conversations ease my frustration. Those conversations help me refocus. Those conversations leave me both relieved of my burden and stronger in my love for my husband.

Are you tempted to gripe today? Prayerfully seek a trusted friend who will help you refocus instead.