“Ask a Priest: What If I’m Getting Into Shouting Matches With My Kids?”

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Q: I have been struggling with controlling my anger with my children. They have not been listening to me and often talk back. I then repeat what I want them to do and then they either start crying or begin yelling at me. When they yell at me I get angry. Then my son and I get into a yelling match where we both lose out tempers. I have not hit him, but my rage fueled by his crying, screaming and disobedience just this evening led me to drag him out of his room and threaten to hit him with a coat hanger or the belt. I did not actually do it, but I motioned like I was going to do it. Is this a mortal sin that I should go immediately confess? I know that it is wrong and I need to correct it. – J.K.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good that you recognize that the anger is not healthy. Left unchecked, it can someday turn violent and wreck family life. Allowing ourselves to fall into excessive anger can certainly be a mortal sin, so it’s good to mention this in confession.

This anger is something you need to face squarely. As the adult here, you need to see this as essentially your problem.

Anger often is rooted in childhood experiences. Perhaps you are acting toward your children the way an adult in your life acted toward you. This is a cycle that you want to break. You don’t want to pass anger on to another generation.

Three immediate suggestions might help.

First, try to intensify your prayer life and sacramental life. Try to find a solid, regular confessor you can help you.

Second, think about seeking out a counselor. There is a bit of a science to controlling anger. You might find a counselor via Catholic Therapists.

Third, you might want to read up on the subject, for instance, The Anger Workbook.

Whatever you do, it would be good to do sooner than later. You don’t want this problem to boil over again. Count on my prayers.

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