I had recently asked on my personal Facebook page, “What do you struggle with as a mom and wish you could do differently?” For many of these moms, the struggle was universal, and this isn’t just for new moms. What this question taught me was not just that ALL moms struggle, but they struggle in similar ways. We need to break down and understand the WHY before we can find solutions to STOP! SO I’m here to tell you How to Become a Gentle Gracious Mom when all you do is Scream.
Why did I become a yelling mom?
I can’t answer for every mom, but I do know why I have at times and still at times am a yelling mom. It isn’t something I’ve completely overcome, but as my teenagers would tell you, I’ve come a long way and in some ways a different mom than when I was raising them.
When my oldest two were younger, I tried not to be a mean mom. For me, this meant never telling them no, it also meant trying to reason with them. I didn’t want to make them feel bad about themselves and especially ME. I wanted them to love me. Why couldn’t I be the cool mom that all the kids loved?
My vision was skewed, and honestly causing more harm than good. My children began to ignore me unless I raised my voice, then they knew I was serious. You see, I had been training them to be this way. I was teaching them to teach me to be a yelling mom.
Yes, I was that lady in the Walmart yelling at her son to come. I was that mom who was yelling at her toddler girl about all the makeup she had put in my purse because she wanted it. Remember that lady with the crazy hair, and frumpy clothes, who looked like she hadn’t showered in days. Yes! That was me!
As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t blame my children for my behavior choices. I was the adult. I was the example and what a horrid one I set.
What were the side effects?
Some of these were immediate, while others didn’t show up until much later.
The biggest thing was that my children ignored me until they knew they had reached my breaking point. It became a struggle between who I wanted to be and the reality of who I had become.
I began to be depressed. I didn’t know any other way. There didn’t seem to be a way out. Until I made some new friends, who gave me some wonderful ideas and pointers.
Those were the immediate side effects, but the ones that are now showing up, are the most painful.
You see, when my older ones were little, I wasn’t a great mom. Honestly, I wasn’t even a good mom.
I asked my teens about the difference in me– the things they regret, and the things they wish been better for them that are better now. The list, while humbling, wasn’t as staggering as I thought it would be. At the top of the list was, you guessed it, I no longer am a yelling mom.
There was talk that they know part of it was because they were monkeys, but they can also see that I am more patient and give more praise and grace than I ever did before. Because of this, they struggle with self-doubt. No doubt that I love them, but doubt that they will ever be good enough. It is a heavy burden for me, but nothing compared to what it is for them.
What made me realize I needed a change?
Things started changing after we moved from Indiana to Pennsylvania. I was surrounded by women who were not only great mothers but had excellent relationships with their children. From where I was standing they had done a perfect job. I know if you ask them, they will tell you that they have struggles too. In fact, two of them commented on my Facebook post, and I respect them even more for doing it.
It was one of these older wiser women that mentioned about my oldest son, then about 10, being sad. I had never noticed this before. He had always seemed a happy go lucky kid. What had changed?
I began to take more notice of my children and their behavior. I knew things were spiraling out of control, but I had no idea how to change things. We received some wonderful parenting advice, an excellent book to read by Mike and Debbie Pearl called To Train Up A Child, but the best thing these women did, was lead by example.
Over time, something deep inside me started to change.
I remember one time the preacher’s daughter, Brianne, came and babysat for us. I adore that girl, who is now a mother herself. Brianne was a beautiful young girl, not just physically, but beautiful in her heart. She had the heart to serve. She had the heart for God, and she had a heart that loved ALL people. Not only did I want my kids to be like her, but I wanted to be like her.
How one girl changed my thoughts about my children!
It was hard not to love Brianne. Everyone who meets her wants to be her friend for life wanting to be in her presence. I was one of those people.
Brianne did chores. I hated this part, as I hated doing chores as a girl, but Brianne saw it not only as serving her family but serving God. I’d catch her chatting with someone or humming while she was working.
Talking with her mom about chores, she once again pointed out that they should know how to do things. Not only will it make their lives easier, but their future spouses will love you for it.
She told me that I am preparing my children for their future. Cooking, cleaning, honestly any life skill, was an important part of life and everyone needs to know these things.
Brianne loved serving others. She was always offering to help and expecting nothing in return. Whether it was a hug, a listening ear, or offering to help watch someone’s children, Brianne was always serving with a smile on her face.
She had what I wanted to capture for myself so that I could teach it to my children. Brianne serves with LOVE! By yelling at my children, I didn’t love them, but showing them how NOT to love others.
Something had to change
Change doesn’t happen overnight
Yes, I’m one of those perfectionists that think, as soon as I decide it will be a certain way, it automatically becomes that way. NOPE! Not going to happen, well at least for me.
How would he do this?
I have always had sleeping problems. I could lay in bed for hours and not sleep. It makes for one tired and grumpy mom. Add in a couple of wound up kids that just want to play, have fun, and be normal kids, and you can be in for a bad situation. It is a set up for a possibly bad outcome.
It wasn’t until I began to accept my imperfections and that I could see the things I was doing right. I found that I wasn’t yelling as much. I would find myself closing my eyes and taking a deep breath before responding to my children. It didn’t happen EVERY time, but it was happening more often.
I was becoming the woman I wanted to be, and as I made changes, the kids began to make changes as well. They would come when I called them; would answer when I asked them a question. They became happier.
There was still bad days, sick mama, and healthy kids can be a disaster. Exhausted mama with a newborn and a child that NEVER seems to stop talking. Throw a migraine now and then in there, and you know what happens. You must start all over again.
Enters The Help!
I had heard many wonderful things about the movie The Help but had never seen it. When a good friend recommended it, I decided it was time to watch it myself.
The premise of the movie is about African American women who were paid help in the homes of white women in the 40s and 50s. There was one woman who was horrible to her daughter but was great at putting on a smile for her friends because her life was perfect.
This little girl, who was a little on the chubby side, was being verbally abused by her mother. The woman working for her took it upon herself to speak life to the little girl. “You is kind. You is good. You is important.”
When I first heard these, I thought how cute. The thing is those are the only lines that stuck with me. They settled in my heart and began to germinate. Words matter!
Now that I had begun to master not yelling at my children on a regular basis, it was the time I started filling them up with good things. I needed to speak life to them. They not only needed this from me, but this is something GOD expected me to do.
Once again, the change was on the horizon.
1 for every 1
My children still frustrated me. I still had to be their mom and correct them. I began to be swallowed up with being a mom and forgot to be their mother. What I mean is that I got so caught up in the everyday things, and forgot why I fell in love with my children in the first place.
I had a wise friend who told me that for every complaint I had about my husband I had to find at least one thing I loved about him. She said sometimes it would be the same thing repeatedly. For me, it was, “Stephen goes to work every day so that I can stay home with our children.”
I began to practice this with my children, writing them down so I would remember them.
One of them would smart off to me; I would say that I’m thankful that my child is capable of speaking. (As a mom of an autistic child, we know what it means to have a child that can’t talk.)
How about the child who whined? I would be thankful they felt comfortable expressing themselves, instead of feeling like they don’t matter.
Several of my children are always hungry. I would be thankful they had an appetite instead of being ill.
It became such a habit for me, and something I began with the children as well. If they said something nasty about their sibling, they had to say one thing they like about that sibling. This one thing began to change how they see each other, and the fights became less and less.
Speak life into their lives.
So, I’ve dumped out the yelling, began filling myself with thoughts of love and thankfulness, and now I needed to start filling my children. I not only had to stop being the yelling mom, but the mom who gives grace, love, hope, and mercy.
These are the things that I want from God, so I better be giving it to them.
It is something that takes being aware not only of yourself but your children. When I’m talking to Stephen, and one of the kids comes into the room or sits at the table with us, my first response used to be, “we are talking, go away.” Now, I stop and ask them what they need, knowing that they wouldn’t interrupt us unless they had something important to say.
With my girls, I ask them if they are beautiful when they say yes, I ask them who made them beautiful. Their response is always GOD! That’s right! Every good thing about them comes from God. God is the giver of all good things.
When Stephen and I are talking about spiritual matters, we ask our children what they think. Honestly, listening to their thoughts, valuing what they have to say. Praising them for participating, even if we don’t agree. In fact, we praise them, even more, when we don’t agree because it takes courage to speaking your mind when you don’t agree.
The key here is to FIND reasons to praise them. My kids while not perfect, are good kids. They have minds of their own, meaning we have achieved our goals of not teaching them what to think, but how to think. Praise them for good! They need this from you; they feed off of it.
It was so hard to write. No one wants to share their failures, especially when they are this big. When I hit publish, it is with fear and trepidation, knowing that I’m laying my heart out here before you, my friends. I’m no longer hiding; I’m coming out and admitting that not only am I not perfect but at times have been a BAD mom.
It has been a LONG journey. In fact, I’m still on this journey, with you. The best thing I’ve learned is that I’m not on this journey alone. Satan’s best tool is to make us feel alone. Like sheep, he wants to separate us from the flock, so we become an easy target.
In the war, there are many battles. Some you will win and some you will lose. You must NEVER give up. Your children’s very lives depend on it. Not only them, but all future generations depend on YOU! You can either make or break your family. You can stop the cycle and change your world.
Believe me; you have the power because if you didn’t, Satan wouldn’t try so hard to destroy your heart.
It is my prayer that you learn from my mistakes. That in sharing this you find one thing that helps you make the changes you need to make. You can do this! I believe in you! Why, because I’m doing it just like you. We just must never give up.