Recognizing a Problem
In the series called The Truth Is Not Delicate I describe a list of unhealthy thoughts and/or behaviors about what I may have taught my daughters as they grew up in a home with a young mom (me) involved in an abusive marriage and who was just discovering that she was sexually abused as a child.
Number one on the list is the silent treatment is not ok, and in direct contrast number two on the list is: yelling at anyone is not ok.
I can remember when my children were around ages two and four. It seemed as if everything they did created so much anger in me. When I was angry with my children I screamed and yelled. My yelling led to me hitting one of my children. They just wouldn’t listen to me. They wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do. I’ve never hit my kids, but when I did, I realized I needed some help. I called a friend to be with me at the time until I calmed down so my children would be safe. I knew I needed to get some professional assistance.
I learned my children were not doing anything wrong. I was being triggered by my past trauma. I didn’t know it, but I was later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It took me a long time to work though my anger issues. Unfortunately I struggled for about another year yelling at my children.
Yelling at my children did not foster a positive relationship. In my family it promoted fear, anxiety, and poor self-esteem. My daughters did not make me yell. I decided to yell and it’s my responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for my kids.
My first counselor was not meeting my needs so I found another counselor and she was helping me through my anger issues. I needed another counselor because I learned that some of my anger issues were rooted in spiritual matters, and that was out of the scope of my current counselor’s practice.
As I started seeing my third counselor I became aware that I believed God did not love me. I also realize now looking back that I didn’t love myself. I realized that screaming and yelling was a symptom of not understanding love. I also didn’t feel loved in my marriage and sometimes I noticed I would yell at my husband.
When both my daughters were very young I modeled anger by yelling and yelling is not ok.
A Soft Answer
I’m reminded of the verse in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” This teaches me that responding tenderly in a relationship will help diffuse the anger.
After I learned that Proverbs 15:1 really worked, I did much better using a softer voice with my daughters and with my husband. However, I am human so I didn’t get it perfect every time.
I want to share with my daughters that whatever part I played in teaching or participating in yelling, I am sorry. I ask for forgiveness. I want to share healthier communication styles that provide a different teaching model not only for my daughters but also for all my relationships.