Something happened in my daughter’s bedroom the other day, and it left me heartbroken. It wasn’t anything that doesn’t happen in most of your homes, maybe even on a recurring basis. And yet, though normal, it isn’t acceptable.
Siblings have a disagreement, one lashes out in anger, and the other gets hurt. The angry party doesn’t mean to be mean, and regret and sorrow immediately follow, but what’s been done has been done.
I remember one such time from my childhood—it’s one of the handful of times I got spanked. My little sister had come into my room and was doing things to (intentionally? We still disagree about that. 🙂 ) annoy me, and I got so frustrated I bit her arm. I didn’t mean to get flesh. I didn’t mean to do harm. But in my anger, I did.
Anger never produces a good result. Like the other day, when my daughter’s bare foot was intentionally stomped upon by her angry brother’s heel. She cried—it hurt. And when I found out what had happened, I cried. It hurt. My foot was fine—turns out hers was, too—but my heart was deeply grieved.
I talked to my son later. He had already admitted he’d “lost his anger,” and in his sorrow had reconciled with his sister. But I needed for this to be a lesson in the gravity of anger—a reinforcement of the discussions we’ve had on this topic. And I needed him to see that his anger had hurt more than just his sister. It had hurt all of us.
Why, you may wonder, did a minor brother-sister fight upset me so? In some ways, I wondered the same myself. I know my children aren’t perfect, and I certainly don’t expect them to be. I know that sibling squabbles are normal and can even be a useful part of the process of growing up.
At the heart of my sorrow was this: I don’t want anger to be something my children struggle with. If you knew my son, you’d know he’s one of the nicest, gentlest, kindest boys around. Anger is by no means the norm for him. In fact, I might even venture to say that this lashing out is a lone occurrence.
But coming from a family that has dealt with anger issues through the generations, I saw even this one incident as something to be taken seriously. And in my parental ponderings, I was struck by the cold, hard fact that I have one chance to get this right.
Okay, so it’s never going to be “right,” right? Despite our most diligent efforts to be the perfect parents, we are still going to miss things, neglect things, maybe even get some things just plain flat wrong. But right now, while my kids are still kids—now is my chance.
I get one chance to raise my kids. One chance made up of many years, stages, experiences, and situations, but one chance nevertheless to be the momma my kids need.
Now is the time to engage.
I have a serious responsibility to build into their lives, to be diligent and watchful over their hearts and their minds—and to respond.
Sure, I could have written that angry reaction off. I could have waved my hand and told them to just work it out. (No doubt there are times that I have.) But anger is not to be taken lightly. And neither is the responsibility of parental guidance.
My kids need me to be present. Not just “there,” but actively involved—rejoicing with them in the good and processing with them through the bad.
Because sometimes bad happens.
My son “lost his anger.” He cried for forgiveness, I cried for their hearts—because this is my chance to not lose them.