by Jennie Smith
Assistant Secondary Principal
It’s Spring Break…and that means spring cleaning in the Smith household. I decided I would start with the most neglected room of the house – it’s what we call the “den,” but should really be referred to as “the dumping ground.” I started with the bookcase and thought I would dust and sort through the books. Then, in true bookworm fashion, I found a dusty book off the shelf, was intrigued by it, and stopped cleaning in favor of reading.
The book was The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo. I had originally bought it as a summer reading assignment for the teachers of the school many years ago, probably before I even had children. But with a pre-teen and a pre-teen wannabe in my household, I was caught by the title and then, as I read, I was convicted as a parent.
Lou Priolo begins his book by first dealing with the plank in the parents’ eye before touching the speck of dust in the child’s eye (Matthew 7:3). He, first, challenges parents to have a God-centered home, rather than a child-centered home. Here is the comparison he makes:
Child-centered Home Children: interrupt adults when they are talking, use manipulation to get their way, are entertained out of a bad mood, demand excessive time and attention from parents to the detriment of the other biblical responsibilities of the parents, speak to parents as though they were peers (pg. 24).
God-centered Home Children are taught: to joyfully serve others, to cheerfully obey parents the first time, to understand they will not always get their own way, to suffer the natural consequences of sinful behavior, to esteem others as more important than themselves (pg. 27). These ideas are now prominently displayed on our refrigerator door – as a guide for the parents and the children that reside here.
Secondly, he thoroughly addresses this powerful verse of Scripture: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (ESV). He mentions 25 ways that parents provoke their children to anger, and I was surprised by how many I allow to go on in my own heart and home. Some of these 25 things are easy to remedy; for example, asking forgiveness from our children when we sin against them is an easy way to bring peace in our homes. Some take more of a deliberate effort on our part, like being consistent in discipline and knowing how much freedom your child should be allowed. But in this section, I appreciate how Mr. Priolo gives biblical support for each way we can avoid provoking or exasperating our children.
The second half of the verse from Ephesians “…but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord…” is addressed in the latter half of the book. One of my favorite chapters is “How to Conquer Disrespect and Manipulation.” In this chapter, Mr. Priolo challenges parents in to be biblical in their response to disrespect and manipulation. He encourages parents to examine their motives, examine their lives, maintain a spirit of gentleness, and choose the right words – the words that point the child back to the Lord and what He has for them.
The Heart of Anger is now off my bookshelf and has taken residence beside my bed. I have found so many nuggets of wisdom that I plan to implement in my parenting and know that I will be re-reading this book multiple times. Are there parenting books that you’ve found particularly helpful? Share them in the comments below. Now, I best get back to the cleaning of “the dumping ground.” I wonder what nuggets of treasure I can find today!