Has your anger hurt the relationship with your children? Anger is one of the most common reasons that we lose the hearts of our children. However, it is possible to restore relationships damaged by anger, and win back the hearts of our children.
Recently I posted the following status on my Facebook page:
Parents who want to influence their children can’t rely only on their authority to keep their kids obedient. If we want to have significant influence on them, we must have their hearts.
A reader messaged me in response to this post and asked:
“How do I recapture and retain their hearts?? I’ve parented in anger far too often. I know they know I love them, and I apologize frequently. I just feel guilty for losing my temper so much. My 10 y/o dd is already becoming bitter, and it breaks my heart.”
I have talked to many parents at conferences who have asked the same question. I don’t think that it is EVER too late to win their hearts back, but the older they get, the more of a challenge it will be.
Here are 10 ways to restore relationships damaged by anger:
1. ALWAYS apologize when you have responded to your kids in anger.
We need to swallow our pride, and admit we were wrong, because the relationship is much more important than our pride! When you have lost it with your kids, and responded wrong, give a proper apology:
I’m sorry for _____. I was wrong in how I responded. Will you forgive me?
ALL parents respond in anger at times; the key is not to let it be the norm, and to apologize each time, whether that is 10 times a day, or twice a year)
Apologizing brings restoration to the relationship, and heals the hurt. It also shows our children how our relationship with God works. If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful to forgive us, and our relationship once again is restored with Him.
2. If you feel you have lost their heart, express that to them.
Tell them how much you love them, and want to have that relationship restored. Ask them if there is something in particular that you have done to push them away, or that hurt them. Then be willing to apologize, and make it right.
3. Don’t bring up past offenses, or things that have been taken care of.
That will lead to resentment, and the feeling that you will never let them live down their mistakes. They, in turn, will have trouble forgiving you when you apologize.
4. Work to intentionally pursue their heart.
This means spending TIME with them. Relationships don’t do well when there is little to no time spent together. Intentionally seek to build that relationship.
This may require some sacrifice on your part, but the benefits of having your child’s heart is worth any sacrifice!
Just a few ideas to help you as you pursue their heart:
- Verbally express to them that you love them, regularly.
- Show affection in tangible ways. Write them little notes, give random hugs or tickles, bring them a little treat now and then, etc.
- Let them know that you like them, and accept them for who they are.
- Be fun, and have fun with them. Don’t always be serious – learn to laugh with them.
- Be interested in what they are interested in. That is one of the BEST ways to build a relationship!
5. Don’t allow yourself to get bitter toward that child that requires more from you, or tends to “mess up” often.
The bitterness will eat at away at you, and hurt the relationship more. Ask God to let His love flow through you to that child/teen.
6. PRAY, PRAY, and PRAY some more!!
Ask God to give you wisdom as you strive to restore the relationship. Ask Him to work in your heart, and the child’s heart.
7. Realize that the battle for your kids’ hearts is a spiritual battle.
THEY are not the enemy. We need to realize who we are fighting, and that we cannot win the battle in our own strength.
8. When behavior occurs that makes you angry, send the child to their room to think about what they have done, and to give YOU time to calm down.
Find solutions for the situations that tend to make you angry on a regular basis. Talk to your kids about it, and find a plan that tells them what is expected, and list consequences that can be calmly administered when necessary.
9. Correct with Scripture.
When you use God’s Word to correct wrong behavior or attitudes in your kids, it makes it a lot harder to stay angry with them.
Also, God’s Word has power that will work in their hearts more than our words will. Remember that the purpose of correction and discipline is to restore that child’s relationship with God.
10. If anger is an ongoing issue with you, get help for it!
Anger WILL destroy your relationships if you don’t get it under control. By that, I don’t mean you NEVER get angry again. I mean you don’t get angry near as often, and you apologize immediately each time you realize it has happened.
Be encouraged and go fight for that relationship! You need to win and keep your child’s heart.