Last Updated on March 5, 2024

I’ve been a mom for 23 years, and for the first five of those years I had moments when I struggled to control my anger. While I was growing up, my stepdad would go from straight-faced to slap-you-on-the-side-of-the-head-angry in 15 seconds flat. I found myself repeating that cycle. Most of the time I’d deal with my children’s disobedience in a peaceful manner, and then something small would push me over the edge. I wouldn’t hit, but flicks to the shoulder, smacks on the hand, or a firm squeeze on my child’s arm would let my children know I was serious.

Then there is that one day when everything changed. I was sitting next to my son as he colored on a paper. I went to swipe his bangs out of his eyes, and he flinched. My heart was broken. I offered a loving gesture, but that wasn’t what my son expected. After that, those angry actions stopped. I turned to God. I prayed about my anger, and I changed my habits. If I felt frustration building, I’d count to ten and then offer up a quick prayer. I’m thankful my older kids can’t remember that frustrated mom.

Eighteen years later, I again have three little kids in my home (through adoption), and I find myself struggling with the same thing again. When I feel the frustration building, I know to hold back my actions. I count to ten, and I pray. Yet this time that isn’t enough.

This time I have two children who’ve faced heartbreaking situations that put them into foster care. Because of the way they’ve previously been treated, it’s not enough to hold back my flicks and squeezes. Even a frustrated or angry look on my face—or the lowering of my voice—causes them to melt down. I don’t speak with angry words but an upset look means the same to them. I don’t act out in anger, but after reading the adoption books and praying, I have to go one step farther.

With my three younger children my goal was not to act out my anger. Now my goal is not to let it show on my face either. When I breathe deep—holding in my frustration—I exhale a smile. When I feel the tension building, instead of lowering my voice, I raise my voice an octave. And I pray, pray, pray.

I’ve realized that when it comes to anger, we can always do better. And even when we believe we have self control, we can control ourselves better, too.

Anger will happen. Frustration will come. But how we handle ourselves is up to us. What is the best for your child? A mother who controls herself. What is even better for your child? A mother who turns to God to ask Him to help her control herself more.


{Editor’s Note: This post first ran in March of 2013. This month we will touch on anger and frustration in a few posts and videos, and felt that this heartfelt post from Tricia needed to be brought to your attention!}

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. This is so true, Tricia. I was so much better as a mom than I am as a person, if that makes sense! Thanks for the encouragement and great reminders.

  2. So encouraging.. I struggle almost daily with my tone of voice.

    1. I understand! Know that so many of us do. Also know God can be there to help! Just turn to Him.

  3. Single mom says:

    Do you have any suggestions on books for parenting teenagers? I’m a newly ‘single’ mom of 4 beautiful children. 15,12,9,&6. Their father isn’t around for them much and so I feel as though I am doing this alone with no breaks or another point if view. I need ANY good parenting book just to give me helpful ideas or tools to be a loving mommy again. I am generally a happy person, but just with our current situation I am just not a happy mommy anymore, everything is about business. I ready these posts & blogs but they just touch the surface of my needs. I need hours and days of study & useful tools to get ‘me’ or us back on track. Any suggestions would be helpful. We are a religious family so in addition to prayers I feel a little studying would help me a lot. Thank you

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about that!! I loved Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. Hugs to you!! Tricia

  4. I followed you over here from your website, Tricia, and I’m so glad I did! I have a one-year-old, and I also don’t want to repeat some of the behaviors I witnessed. Thank you for showing me that it is possible through prayer!

  5. monica marshall says:

    Thank you for this post. I am dealing with this with my 5 year old daughter who is quite challenging and I find myself being my dad all over. I pray to God for change because I want to stop hearing “mommy are you mad at me?”

    1. I’m so sorry, Monica! I’ve found that the more I praise the good things the less I have to discipline. Hugs!

  6. cynthia Smith says:

    thank you for writing this. Is there a book about this by you?
    I am a mother of 5 and I am 22. My husband had 2 when we got married and we added three more to the bunch. I am always finding myself overwhelmed with everything that goes on!!! Currently i have a 8,7,4,2 and one year old. If there is any extra advice that anything has it would be greatly appreciated !!!

    1. Cynthia, I did write Blue Like Play Dough. That is a huge challenge, but God can be there to help!

  7. Jennie Pippin says:

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been a member of this group for some time but never realized how similar our situations are. My bio daughters are 21 and 18 and we adopted two boys last year ages 3 & 4. I don’t remember my daughters ever “pushing my buttons” the way my boys do. My boys also dealt with trauma and abuse before they came to us and I want so much for them to only know peace and happiness in our home. Your tips are so insightful and helpful. Thank you.

  8. Andrea Tillotson says:

    Wow! I needed this today. My son is like your adopted child who reacts to not only my actions but to my facial expressions as well. My face tells it all! He also reacts to the inflections of my voice. He is a sweet, gentle, sensitive boy and I wouldn’t change him for anything, but my actions will change him if I don’t get a handle on them. Thank you, God, for your grace! Thank you, Tricia, for your words today.

  9. Stephanie says:

    Tricia, I found this post and the image a few days ago and I burst into tears when I read it.

    I too, am an adoptive Mom, but I have been struggling with my daughter for the last few months. It has been a rough road for both of us. I’ve made great strides, but it’s still not enough for her. I’ve found that she needs me to stay calmer yet. This is very difficult for me (especially because her younger brother has different issues and requires quite a bit of patience and grace)

    But amidst my battle for peace and calm, I have taken your words and made them my mantra. I have the image as the background picture on my phone, and I’ve read and re-read this post over and over the last few days. I am seeing improvements and it’s so very hard, but I know it will get easier.

    Thank you!!

  10. I don’t have children yet but reading this post really touched something in me – I’ve been married for almost two years now and when things are good they are GREAT! But sometimes I get angry and blow up – I turn into this horrible person…. I’m afraid my husband might not want to be with the person I become when I’m angry and I don’t want to be that person!! How do I prey about this? What do I do? I’m working on myself but need to work harder!!!

  11. Oh, man, did this hit home. When you’re supposed to be a role model to your children and even those in your church and community, it is so important to respond in teachable ways, but this is an area I am having to continuously turn over to God every day. Thank you for your encouragement!