What I didn't see were parents who were angry with their children... that is, except, of course, my own who did everything in their power to wrangle us out of the house each week in a state of mind suitable for worship. I thought we were the only family with hard Sunday mornings or who expressed anger at all.
We were not.
I swear I apologized to my mom every chance I could for the first two years after having my own child. I know that I was just as self-centered as my own children are now. Is it a family pattern or human nature? Tough to say. But here is what I want to tell all new parents, "This will bring out the worst in you, so be prepared to be humbled."
When parenting does bring out the worst in you, there is help. Oh, don't you dare think you're the only one who has yelled, belittled, spanked too hard or scared her children chitless. I didn't ever want to be that kind of a mom, but I have been. And I was always afraid to admit it to anyone. I still am. But I think I just did.
Enter She's Gonna Blow by Julie Ann Barnhill. I've read this book twice in the past five years and both times I was so glad that I did. Julie addresses a super sensitive topic with an authentic, gentle truthfulness that kind of makes me want to bend over and say, "Thank you, Ma'am. May I have another?" I'm thankful for people like Julie that can say what needs to be said in a way that inspires change rather than defensiveness. She outlines how we show frustration and anger, helps us draw lines that we'll be far more hesitant to cross, and drenches us in Scriptural truth without the platitudes and proof-texting that other Christian authors fall back on. Yes, she is going to say all the things that you think she's going to say, but it's because you need to hear it... again.
Life never hands you what you think it will. You marry your true love because you accept everything about him. But you can't special order your children and yet you have to accept them too. Be real about it -- it's hard work. If you need help, please tell someone. The most pointed lines from the book are these:
"What will happen to my children if I tell someone how I treat them?"
"What will happen to them if you don't?"