Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake
“Yes, Titus! UH-HUHHH!”
“No, no, no, no, no, no…”
“Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh,” sings Rose as Titus is chanting his repetitive no’s with his fingers in his ears and eyes clenched shut. Annnnnd Rose turns up her volume knob in an attempt to land her words on his shielded eardrums:
Insert yours truly (that would be me).
“ARE YOU SERIOUS?! COME ONNNN GUYS,” I plead with a decibel level easily double their squabble. “CAN’T YOU JUST GET ALONG FOR THIRTY MINUTES? It is such a blessing to have a sibling – A FRIEND – to play with at home. Some kids don’t even have a brother of sister,” my ranting is transitioning to a sermon type monologue. This is kind of my thing. Yelling sermon-vents with a side of guilt trip. “There are children who only dream of having what you do. GOD GAVE YOU A FAMILY WITH A DAD AND MOM WHO ARE WORKING THEIR TAILS OFF TO GIVE YOU ALL A GREAT LIFE. Please. Just. PLAY!!! Actually, just go to your room or clean up this mess. We are done playing.”
What just happened? True story from my house in Albany, Georgia when I was today years old. Should they have played? Cleaned? Gone to their rooms? Did anybody understand the correct response in that moment? No.
My struggle with angry parental explosions are NOT a result of the sinful behavior I see in my kids. In their book, Triggers, authors Amber Lia and Wendy Speake address common parenting scenarios, like this one, that cause me to explode wrongly AT my children.
They offer a shot-through-the-heart type of biblical insight that has helped me realize my blow-ups are often a result of a bigger set of “triggers.”
The book is divided into two parts. Section one explores the external triggers including backtalk, video game addiction, strong-willed children, and angry kids to name a few. Internal triggers are covered in section two. These may be personally invasive in the best way, or at least they were for me. There are chapters on messy homes, running late, generational habits and patterns of sin (ouch), and lack of faith. Ooooh. Solid truth is spoken into these touchy subjects. Although every chapter didn’t resonate with me directly, an “ah-ha moment” turning point happened in parenting my oldest son after reading the “angry kids” chapter and for that I am truly grateful. I recommend this book to ALL moms with children at home. It is especially encouraging to the mom who feels like there is a grand canyon-sized gap between the “kind mom” she wishes she wishes she was and the “angry mom” she fears she has become.
Apollo (my oldest son) struggles with fits of rage. ANGRY OUTBURSTS. I’m talking intense. I’d always assumed he got it from me because – you guessed it – I wrestle with fits of rage and angry outbursts. Hello! Why do you think I read a book called “Triggers?.” Exactly. It’s probably a thing I picked up from my parents. They no doubt got it from somebody who got it from somebody and we were bound to wrestle with these thorns in our flesh but were trying really hard to fix it so we didn’t pass it on to Apollo’s future kids…and failing….miserably…
CHAPTER FIVE ON ANGRY KIDS WAS A GAME CHANGER FOR OUR FAMILY. Although I didn’t like to hear it, the challenge to examine myself was presented:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD.” -Ephesians 6:4
Although this verse is addressing dads, I’m pretty sure moms shouldn’t do this either. Was I provoking Apollo’s anger? Wendy (author) provided a list and suggested readers prayerfully read through it and honestly reflect whether we are contributing to our child’s anger problem. Here’s a FEW things on the list:
· Unreasonable expectations
· Inconsistent standards among siblings
· Punishing them out of anger
· Restricting them too much or controlling their every move
· Failing to keep promises
· Not praising them enough
· OUR OWN INABILITY TO ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
That hurt. The list was convicting and eye opening. I couldn’t address Apollo’s anger effectively because I had never taken ownership for my role in contributing to it.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” -Luke 6:41-42
HYPOCRISY WAS HOLDING APOLLO TO A STANDARD THAT I DO NOT HOLD MYSELF TO. He’s the oldest child and I expected more of him. His sin offended me and inconvenienced me most when compared to his siblings, so my standards had been inconsistent. Restricting and controlling his every move was my middle name…I could go on and on about how the list was used by the grace of God to open my eyes to how much I had been provoking him to anger. This was all confronted in ONE chapter.
There is not enough time for me to share the details of how each chapter sharpened me and gave me direction. You should read the book. Video game addiction, messy house, running late, generational habits, pressures of multi-tasking and THE STRESS CHAPTER all hit home in the worst (best) ways.
In closing, authors Lia and Wendy land the book by renaming our triggers. They used to be called “triggers” as they triggered us to live in shame, blame, and defeat. However, now we view them as opportunities to re-commit to following Jesus and clinging to His righteousness one holy moment and choice at a time:
So, what will I do with THESE OPPORTUNITIES? Will I let them drive me away from God and His holiness? Will I let them draw me nearer to Him and seek His face? One day at a time. Read the book! It has helped me “remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old…” like Isaiah 43 says as I see the beauty in Jesus doing a new thing in me. “…Do you not perceive it? He will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”