Fight or Flight

So yesterday was a hard day in a mothering sense.  By 3 p.m. I wasn’t really fond of any of my children anymore.  Something deep down inside of me (the love child of anger and frustration) really, really wanted to:

A)  Beat people up,

or B)  Book a private jet and escape to a Carribean island.  Alone.

Option B would probably make me feel better, but Option A is a lot cheaper.  I didn’t do either, but I wanted to.  Instead I just lost my temper and barked my disappointment and sent people to their rooms indefinitely.

I hosted a Relief Society Spiritual Literacy meeting at my house last night and we studied some of the recent conference talks.  My study partner and I read “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”  I know what you’re thinking:  It made me feel all guilty and penitent.  It probably should have, but it didn’t (except for that one little part about “Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and implies patience and teaching on our part. It should not be done in anger.”).  Honestly, the talk gave me some hope, some advice, some direction.  I’ve been really frustrated with my kids lately.  I feel like we’re in a cycle of the same mistakes over and over again — both theirs and mine.  I’m losing patience with them and with myself.  What I loved about this message was a fresh new perspective.  It gave me a better way to look at discipline and at praise and at my children themselves.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes.  Don’t be lazy and skip them; read them:  🙂

When children misbehave, let’s say when they quarrel with each other, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, or the quarreling we observed. But the do—their behavior—is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts. We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the future?…”


Through discipline the child learns of consequences. In such moments it is helpful to turn negatives into positives. If the child confesses to a wrong, praise the courage it took to confess. Ask the child what he or she learned from the mistake or misdeed, which gives you, and more important, the Spirit an opportunity to touch and teach the child. When we teach children doctrine by the Spirit, that doctrine has the power to change their very nature—be—over time.


A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only in Parenting 101. If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505. Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing and opportunity to become more godlike yourself. With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christlike virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined? Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?

Anyway, as I read these quotes and the rest of the talk, which is excellent, I felt some of my anger slipping away.  I felt the Spirit telling me that these principles are true, and there is a better way to approach our recent trend of disobedience and disrespect.  I felt like I could (with the Lord’s help) do it the right way and get the results I’ve been wishing for.  And isn’t it the truth that our children have the greatest power to develop God-like attributes in us … if we will let that happen?  I’m going to work on this.

I might buy some boxing gloves just in case, though.  Unless anyone has a private jet I can borrow.  Anyone?


18 thoughts on “Fight or Flight

  1. Fight or flight. You’re funny. 🙂

    I have been having the same issues. To the point that I thought for a few days that I actually do not like one of my children. That was a terribly few days, but maybe it was my memories of this talk (I haven’t read or listened to it since conference but some of those quotes feel very fresh in my mind) but I finally realized that THIS IS WHAT PARENTING IS ALL ABOUT. Also, I had a neat experience with the sister who spoke about learning from children and I realized that there are certain attributes I need to attain that only the particular challenges of my individual children can allow me to develop.

    But sometimes it’s really easy to NOT remember all that and to just put on the boxing gloves.

  2. Summer does that to even the best mothers. I only get peace and quiet when the kids are in Time Out. And sometimes, *I* am the one that needs the time out. I do try to follow some of the “Parenting with Love and Logic” but other times, it’s easier to just make them do what I want.

  3. I remember hearing the phrase “choose your battles,” and before I had kids I was perplexed, because why did there have to be any battles in the first place? I get it now, though.
    It is soooo hard to not be right in the moment when some behavior makes me so crazy I could explode. Really, I have said not to do that a THOUSAND times, and you’re still doing it? That first quote was one I rewound the DVR and played several times so I could write it down when I heard it. Once upon a time, hubby and I taught a parenting class in our ward (before we had kids, that’s how we had time to prepare the lessons 🙂 ) and the first lesson of the cycle started with this quote from Elder Packer: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” What a great concept for both parents and children!

  4. You couldn’t have shared at a better time. Yesterday was one of those days for me, too. After a rocky start this morning, things are looking up. thanks for sharing.

  5. K, so we are on the same wavelength here. I just reread this talk. I think it is going to be a continual read for me. I also just wrote a small post asking for discipline advice. I haven’t received much but I think that’s because the talk already gives so many answers. I just need to barrel through and make some changes which are in the works and I think always will be. Patience and I need to become best of friends. It’s on my list of “bes”. 🙂

  6. You are AWESOME!! That is great that you left off guilt and bad feelings and looked what in this talk could help. Thanks for the quotes. I did read them all too. it is nice to have them to think about again.

  7. oh, how I needed this today!!! I’ve felt like this for some time…the fight or flight…and it’s usually resulted in a fight with time-outs…for me AND my kids. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing such a great resource!

  8. Ouch, why did I have a pang of guilt while I read this? This week has been HORRIBLE I tell you. To the point I was ready to take flight too. I have some repenting to do. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I have so been there! I have 12 children and have had many days when I felt their only intent in life was to torment me! I have wanted to run away many times. I am so grateful the Lord has given me the presence of mind to work through it all. At least most days when I am listening! I have 3 from India and I have been tempted more than once to send one of them back where he came from!

  10. Thanks for keeping it real. I hate to even type the words, but my kids have been actually doing much better than I anticipated this summer. So far, at least. I’ve spent the past few days sick with a fever and chills, and other than some deep down cleaning things have stayed together pretty well with Mommy out of commission. That being said, my oldest teenage boy is at scout camp, and he’s the one who really knows how to push my buttons.

    I love this talk, and it makes me want to do better.

  11. You really do inspire me, you know. I printed the talk off so I can use it for my personal study over the next few days.

  12. I hear what you are saying… I would go for option B, but within seconds of the plane taking off I would miss the kids like crazy. I had a similar episode with my kids this week, and it took a long time for me to cool off, however I tried making amends and altering the heart of the problem and the rest of the week was much better. Love the quotes. Am going to listen to the talk as I do my housework tomorrow. By the way I LOVE your GCBC It is the best!!

  13. I think I have been doing too much fighting myself lately 😉 !!

    I need to reread this talk because I have two children that put me in that Parenting 505 class and I have been failing miserably at it lately!?

  14. I’m all about the fight, too often. 🙂

    I loved this post (as I always love your posts) and you have given me much to think about. And I ovbiously need to re-read this talk.

  15. Definitely needed to read this today! Actually, I stopped after “didn’t make me feel guilty.” Love it! I made a mental note to come back and read the rest of your post when I’m in a more receptive mood… i.e., after the children are in bed. 🙂 Thanks!

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