Q: I always vowed I wouldn't be like my parents, who were angry and abusive toward my brother and me. But now I sometimes find myself losing control with my own children. I hate myself afterward, but why do I act this way? -- D.F.
A: This is a serious problem, and I'm thankful you realize it and want to do something about it. You love your family, and it would be tragic to see you repeat the same mistakes your parents made. God certainly doesn't want you to do that.
I'm not a psychologist, of course (and it may be good for you to find a trained counselor who can help you sort through your problems).
But I suspect one reason you act this way is because you grew up with a lot of anger and frustration over the way you were treated. But you never learned how to deal with it; in fact, you probably just tried to push it aside.
But now when things don't go your way, that hidden anger erupts -- even against people you love. Until you learn to deal with your past, you'll always be in danger of letting these things burst forth. The Bible warns: "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control" (Proverbs 25:28).
What can you do?
First -- hard as it may seem -- ask God to help you forgive your parents, and to let go of your hurts and resentments.
Then turn your life over to Jesus Christ, confessing your sins and trusting Him to forgive you and help you and fill you with His love.
Christ can take away the poisons of the past and replace them with His love and strength. The Bible says, "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs" (Proverbs 10:12).
Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; or call 877-2GRAHAM.