Parenting: There are Worse Things Than Yelling

This week I read, Huffington Post’s well shared piece, 10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling at My Kids. I wholeheartedly agree that mothers need to keep their temper under control, and have written on this topic before:

“His words had really hurt me, and they were apparently still on his conscience. What if he hadn’t stepped on the thorn? Would he have had a chance to make things right? What if I had yelled at him and refused to help because of his negligence [disobedience] for not wearing shoes outside?” – Excerpt from Crying Over Spilled Oatmeal

However, it is important to remember that while lowering one’s voice may be like refraining from throwing gas on a fire, there is still a fire and it needs to be dealt with.

Face it — those of us who cringe when people yell (and are secretly freaked out at our own hypocrisy when we yell!) often avoid confrontation to begin with.

We’d rather escape.

Some of my personal favorite escapes are to mow the lawn or retreat to my peaceful comfort zone of weeding the garden outside…while all hell breaks loose in the house. I have also been known to spend an extra-long time in the shower, not just to get extra clean, but to drown out the sound of kids fighting over video games downstairs. It’s not as overt, but sometimes I “graciously” let my children play outside with friends while I stay inside (savoring the quiet as if it were a secret cigarette) cleaning up yet another my childrens’ ridiculous experimental cooking messes…when I should be doing the hard job of getting to the heart of why all five children refuse to follow through on their promise to clean up after themselves and are instead blaming their siblings for the mess.

Certainly, there is a time for peace and rest! As a parent, though escaping in the middle of a conflict with a child is like taking a nap on the job.

The Bible says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

True peace is not simply the absence of yelling, or even the absence of conflict, but it comes from a heart that is steadfastly trusting in the Lord and His everlasting promises; a peace that is not dependent on circumstances. Attempting to control circumstances and manufacturing peace through any other means besides trusting in Christ is a sin. It’s called idolatry.

In Paul Tripp’s Book, Age of Opportunity , one of the first few foundational chapters deals with parental idols. Tripp describes how the worship of such idols shapes our responses to our children. About the idol of peace and comfort, he writes,

The Idol of Comfort. Secretly in our hearts, many of us want life to be a resort… We reason that we have a right to quiet, harmony, peace, and respect, and we respond in anger when we do not get it. Scripture warns us that life is far from being a resort. Life is war…the tumult, chaos and unrest of the teen years are not only the result of significant biological changes taking place, but because of the dramatic spiritual war going on as well.

Parents who demand comfort, ease, regularity, peace, space, quiet, and harmony will be ill-equipped for war. They will begin to see their teenager as the enemy. They will begin to fight with him rather than for him, and, even worse, they will tend to forget that the true nature of battle and the identity of the real enemy. They will act out of frustrated desire, doing and saying regrettable things, and they will fail to be effective and productive in those strategic moments of ministry in which God has placed them.”

(How did this description of my unchecked idolatrous heart end up in this parenting book?)

Those times when I choose to walk away and conveniently find something else to do? I’m walking out on “strategic moments of ministry”. Under the guise of being “peaceful”, I’m missing the moments God is placing in my life that He is not only using to help my children to grow and mature, but to help ME grow and mature.

It takes faith in God to stand on the promises of His word. It takes faith to be brave enough to speak truth in love, and when we do, we grow in Christ… and so do our children.

Upon realizing the patterns of my idolatrous heart, I confessed that I lacked faith and that I was more afraid of yelling and conflict with mouthy, lawyer-like children, than I was of obeying God and training my children up in the Lord. I confessed that I was more interested in the appearance of peace than the peace of Christ. I asked the Lord to forgive me and asked Him to work in my life, no matter what it takes, and to let me to be shaped by His leading and not by my personal comfort.

Worse than yelling is the negligence of our children’s spiritual nourishment. As Tripp points out, life is spiritual warfare. Ignoring heart issues and merely telling kids to be quiet, or being silent ourselves, does not equip children for battle.

I confessed to my children that I had not being diligent in teaching them, and asked them to forgive me. I made it clear that I would no longer be “tolerating” or turning a blind eye to sinful behavior, and that, even if it was uncomfortable or inconvenient for me, that I would be doing a better job of helping the children work through conflicts. I also made it a point to read The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande again with them, to better equip all of us for the conflicts we have been facing in our home. I reminded them that we were in it together, and that we were on the same team.

After two weeks of reading The Young Peacemaker together, I have to say that there has been an improvement of attitudes in our home… both in me, and in my children.

I leave my readers with the wise words of Elisabeth Elliot, which were shared with me by mother in law back in 2008:

The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.

It’s Not About the Food: Children in the Kitchen

Vietnamese Spring Roll Assembly

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. – Ecclesiastes 4:9

I’ve observed that people who have bad relationships with their parents seem to have been kicked out of the kitchen as kids. “I never learned to cook” is a common thread with hurting adults. The more I thought about this, I realized that children who are kept out of the “heart of the home” miss out on a very integral aspect of personal growth.

Having my children in the kitchen with me is important. They’re often there, working alongside of me, in our little test-lab for life, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about the benefits of this.

Some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had with my children have happened while working together as a team. I’ve noticed that fidgety kids with occupied hands seem to be able to relax mentally, sort out their thoughts in a more coherent way, and share them more freely. Perhaps this is because the attention is focused on work, and not on them and if they are saying things “correctly”.

When families work together in the kitchen, they’re not merely in close proximity (like being in the same room and looking at different screens), they’re working toward a common goal. Participating in family life, especially the behind the scenes work, are opportunities for children to practice humility and selflessness (“I can’t wait until Dad tastes this!” “Make sure to check the ingredients so our friend Bryce doesn’t have an allergic reaction!”).. and also to feel a part of something bigger.. to be valued for their effort and work ethic.

I’ve observed that parents who do not allow their children cook with them are often perfectionists themselves… and produce perfectionist offspring.
They can’t fail in front of their children. They can’t let children make mistakes or messes. They are more concerned about clean and quiet than love and learning. When kids work alongside of their parents, however, children learn how to handle mistakes in stride, how to work under pressure (if you don’t stir the eggs while you make lemon curd, you have scrambled eggs with lemon!)… and to enjoy and appreciate their food, value the where it comes from, and the effort it takes to prepare it.

Of course, one of the best benefits of having children attending to meal preparation is that they actually learn how to cook!
My older children (now 12, 11 and 10) can be trusted to follow directions and create an entire meal on their own. My 10 year old is also quite the grill-master.

That’s not to say that parents always have to cook with children in the kitchen. (I certainly do kick my kids out every now and then, especially when they need a good run in the back yard!) However, more often than not, they’re right next to me boiling water for pasta, breading cutlets, stirring oatmeal, and sharing their hearts with me.

Undefeated: Seven Strategies for 7Wonders


7 Wonders is my new favorite game to play during our Family Time. After three games, I am still undefeated. Booooooooooyah!!!!

I’m a noob, but these strategies seem to be working:

1. In the first Age, focus on resources. Get as many free resources as possible as early as possible, especially ones my neighbors do not have (then they have to buy from me to purchase structures). Also, I buy resources needed to facilitate the building my Wonder.

2. Build Wonders early, if it is beneficial to so. While it may sound glorious to build a Wonder, sometimes the benefits from doing so are more easily obtained in acquiring the right cards.

3. Opt for cards that support other future cards. For example, I choose the “Baths” card over “Pawnshop”. During the first Age, these foundational cards are often free.

4. Don’t spend resources on military unless my neighbor’s military is going to drastically make me lose points. No matter how many military cards I have, I can only get 5 points for a win against my losing neighbor per round. If a neighbor only has one military card, my having six military cards will give me the same number of victory points as if I would have two military cards.

5. Choose Scientific Structures wisely to rack up points.
Because points are scored twice and based on sets, opt for a card that will add to a set or a match. If a Scientific card is not attached to a set, it’s only worth one measly victory point.

6. Pay attention to the cards in hand. I often forget to look my cards carefully to make sure I don’t have duplicates (which are illegal.) My eyes tend to get big over the victory point value, and I fail to see I already have that card in my pile. I then end up having to “burn” the card for coins, only slightly better than forfeiting my turn. Also, don’t forget to look at Commercial Structures before purchasing new resources. Some Commercial cards are only used once, where others give resources throughout the game. To prevent these victory-point-costing-mistakes….

7. Keep cards neat! Just long division, sloppy columns lead to mistakes. It is important to see all of the information on the cards, so arrange them in columns accordingly. Also, by keeping the cards around me neat, I don’t accidentally lose my cards to my excited, grabby kids. When we play at our house, we put our chosen cards above our city cards to signify we are ready for the next phase of the round. One person, chosen at the beginning of the game, always flips their chosen card first. Each flip is settled one at a time. Coins are placed in hands during purchases, not thrown on boards. When cards are sloppy or people go out of turn, valuable cards get shuffled to the next player or end up in the burn pile… not that the other players mind!

What are your 7Wonders strategies?

Christmas in July: Used Books from Amazon


  • Becoming a Father by William Sears (Reading this for work.)
  • Bubby’s Homemade Pies by Ron Silver and Jen Bervin (I had borrowed it from the library until I could no longer renew… love this comprehensive book on pies!)
  • The Yellow Pages Guide to Educational Field Trips (updated from Everything from A-Z Field Trips) by Gregg Harris (Homeschooling resource for the field trip group I am forming.)
  • Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family by Kim Brenneman (Need I explain?)
  • Crying Over Spilled Oatmeal


    Leah spilled her oatmeal as she carried her bowl from the dining room to the kitchen.

    I heard the splat.

    I sighed and grabbed a wet wash cloth.

    “Hey, Mom! Look! It landed in the shape of a heart!” she said.

    She took the washcloth out of my hand and cleaned it up by herself.

    I hugged her and swallowed hard as my contacts started to blur. What if I had yelled at her when I heard the oatmeal fall? I might have missed out on this moment, and she may have been afraid to spill and make mistakes in the future — the opposite of what I want for her.

    Yesterday, Aiden, who earlier in the day had adamantly insisted that his parents don’t love him, got a monster thorn in his foot. He limped home, crying.

    I tweezed it out of his very dirty foot, and then washed and dried his feet.

    He climbed into my lap (he doesn’t really fit anymore.. it was more like being sat upon, but I didn’t mind at all) and put his arms around my neck and said, “Thanks, Mom. I DO know you love me.” His words had really hurt me, and they were apparently still on his conscience. What if he hadn’t stepped on the thorn? Would he have had a chance to make things right? What if I had yelled at him and refused to help because of his negligence for not wearing shoes outside?

    In my childbirth class last night, the last one of the 12 week series, there was discussion over how disgusting it will be to change diapers. “Yeah, but you’re not just changing diapers, you are showing your kids you love them,” I said. “You are showing them you’re there for them even when they stink the most.” I hope my students remember this at 3am when they are down to their last diaper in the pack and are washing crib sheets.

    If we just go through motions without love, overly-sugared spilled oatmeal, up-the-back poopy diapers, and why-aren’t-you-wearing-shoes-while-you-play-outside?!?! foot thorns can be pretty annoying.

    Be thankful for and make the most of every opportunity, and humble yourself enough to allow the spills, stink and stickers get to your heart.

    I need to be reminded of this, too.