Why Your Physical Health Affects Your Ability to be a Gentle Parent
Did you know that an unhealthy gut can lead to those explosions of anger that you loathe so much?
It's true, friends.
Although I believe you ought to address the spiritual side of anger first, (see 15 Scriptures for the Parent Who Struggles with Anger) you would be wise to address your physical health as well.
It took me a while to put the pieces together, but over time I have learned that a large part of my struggle to be a gentle parent has been related to my physical health.
I know for a fact that my gut health is nowhere near where it needs to be. My journey through chronic fatigue has taught me that. I've been in the care of an excellent doctor, and I've also spent hours and hours in research, and I've learned a whole lot about my physical health.
Have you ever heard of the term “gut-brain connection”?
(You have now. 🙂 )
Think about these ideas:
- You get butterflies in your stomach when you are excited.
- You feel sick to your stomach when you are afraid.
- Your stomach drops when you ride on a rollercoaster.
- A tragic experience is “gut-wrenching“.
Your gut is the seat of your emotions.
In the King James Bible, you'll find the term “bowels” used many times. Generally the word is used as a term for strong emotions.
1. Joseph being reunited with his younger brother:
Genesis 43:30 “And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.”
2. Two women each had a baby. One accidentally killed her child by rolling onto it in the night. She took the other woman's baby and tried to claim it was hers. They both went before the judge, and the wise judge, in order to easily tell who was the real mother, said to cut the baby in half and give each woman half.
I Kings 3:26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it.”
3. Job in his great physical and emotional pain said:
Job 30:27 “My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.”
4. The emotion when anticipating a visit from a lover:
Song of Solomon 5:4 “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.”
5. Jeremiah's great burden for his people:
Jeremiah 4:19 “My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.”
6. The need to feel Christian love toward others:
Colossians 3:12 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”
These are just a few examples of the many emotions that the word “bowels” describes.
So now that you understand that your gut is the place where your emotions stem from, you can see that it's important to maintain good gut health because an unhealthy gut leads to unhealthy emotions.
Take for example this list from Harvard Health outlining some symptoms of intestinal distress:
- Overwhelming sense of tension or pressure
- Trouble relaxing
- Quick temper
- Poor concentration
- Trouble remembering things
- Loss of sense of humor
Do you see how poor gut health could affect your ability to be a gentle parent?
I told my husband once that many times when I explode, it's not necessarily because I feel angry. It's more like a panic button. When everyone is saying “Mommy! Mommy!”, and the food is burning on the stove, and somebody just peed their pants, and the baby is crying, my body just can't handle all the stress of the moment and the pressure boils over. I end up speaking in a not-so-nice way or dealing with the situation in a calm and Christ-like manner.
While I can't use my physical issues as an excuse not to be gentle, it's still important that they be addressed.
The quest to become a more gentle parent must be a multi-faceted approach which deals with spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional factors.
Chances are, if you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms on the list above, you too have some gut issues that need to be addressed. An incredibly high percentage of people today do, thanks to stress, poor diets, a food supply that lacks in essential nutrients, and even genetic factors.
When I finish this series, I plan to dive right in to a new series where I'll share some of my own journey through chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression and give you some practical ideas for improving your own health.
Improving your physical health is essential to improving your emotional health, and improving your emotional health will be an incredible help to you as you seek to be a more gentle parent.
This post is part of the Parenting with Gentleness series.