Home School Court Report
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September / October 2004

The Law: A good weapon in the right hands
Third annual essay contest results

Category 1: It took a cow to prove it

Category 2: Wisdom from Grandpa

Doc's digest
Freedom watch
From the heart

To do good and share what you have

From the director

Impact of the fund

Mission statement of HSF
Across the states
Active cases
Around the globe

Announcing HSLDA Japan

Meet Hiro Inaba

Encouraging homeschool moms
Members only

Questions about the new member rates?

HSLDA membership rate increases
About campus
President's page

The angry child


On the other hand: a Contrario Sensu

Prayer & Praise

HSLDA social services contact policy/A plethora of forms

HSLDA legal inquiries




The angry child


As I travel on behalf of HSLDA, I frequently meet homeschooling parents who ask me how to deal with an angry child. In many cases, the child has become so angry, frustrated, and rebellious that the parents are considering placing him in a public or private school. They have not made this decision lightly, but they long to regain some sanity and desire to protect their other children from the corrupting influence of this one child.

Although both reasons are understandable and even commendable, I rarely advise a family to stop homeschooling an angry child. A child's anger and rebellion are typically reinforced by peers. Enrollment in school, therefore, almost always leads to disaster, and sometimes to irreparable harm.

If you are struggling with an angry child, I encourage you to help your child learn to overcome his anger. In his book, The Heart of Anger, Lou Priolo draws upon his experience as a family counselor to enable parents to help their children identify the causes of anger and then take the necessary steps toward freedom from anger.

J. Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association
Anger itself is not sinful. Several times in the Old Testament God said he was angry with his people. Jesus overturned tables in the temple. As Christians, we too should be angry when God's law is violated.

People with righteous anger can indeed do great things for God. Be encouraged—there is hope! When brought properly under the Holy Spirit's control, an angry, strong-willed child has great potential to advance the Kingdom of God. He will fight for righteousness.

Unfortunately, most of the anger we see in our homes is not of the righteous variety.

All too often we violate the command in Ephesians 4:26 to "be angry and sin not." Instead, we vent our anger in a self-centered, prideful manner with God's righteousness last on our mind. "He who is quick-tempered," says Proverbs 16:17, "acts foolishly." In fact, of the more than 400 times that Scripture mentions anger, it is almost always in a negative context and is repeatedly associated with foolishness.

Unrighteous anger—in us or in our children—is simply not compatible with the character of God. When we lose our temper, sulk, use sarcasm, or become unfriendly and rude toward others, we're not concerned with loving either God or our neighbor. Rather, we're behaving in the most selfish and prideful way that we can.

Meekness is just the opposite of that kind of anger. Meekness is power under control, yielded to the sovereignty of God.

Knowing all of this, why do we have such a problem with anger in our homes? According to Tim LaHaye in The Spirit-Controlled Temperament, some personality types—particularly the "choleric"—are more susceptible to anger than others. The choleric is a quick, active, practical, and strong-willed person. Self-reliant, independent, decisive, and opinionated, cholerics tend to have a dogged determination and often succeed where others fail, not because their plans are better but because they push ahead long after others have become discouraged and quit. They are born leaders. If your angry child is a choleric, know that in this strong-willed, hot-tempered child is the potential for greatness if that unrighteous anger can be brought under the Holy Spirit's control.

An angry parent contributes to anger in children of all personality types. Are you an angry person? What would your children say about the way you handle anger? We cannot expect God to help us deal properly with our angry child if we ourselves have unresolved anger. Consider whether your own anger is contributing to the anger you see manifested in your child.

As Priolo explains, anger doesn't just go away by itself. It is a symptom of an underlying problem and will likely require a lot of effort to get to the root cause. In most cases, we will find that the root cause of our anger is lack of forgiveness for the one who has injured us.

In the Bible, we see one of the greatest acts of forgiveness known to the human race—God's forgiveness of our sins through the death of his son Jesus Christ. We deserve eternal death, but through God's forgiveness we can be free of that penalty. Because we have been forgiven of our sins, the Bible tells us, we are free to forgive others' sins toward us.

How do we help an angry child? Thank God for our child's personality type and other God-given characteristics. Make sure that our angry child understands God's forgiveness and knows how to go about forgiving others. Use The Heart of Anger to help us identify the causes of anger in our child and take steps to root out those causes. Ask God for the grace to do in his strength what we cannot possibly accomplish on our own. Examine ourselves to see how our own sinful manifestations of anger are "homeschooling" our child in ways we never intended.