Wednesday, July 3, 2013

WHAT IS THE BIG DAMN DEAL?

Do you yell? I think most of us would be hard pressed to answer that question with a solid, resounding, across the-board, "Never."

Because children.

I read a post yesterday by Bethany at Bad Parenting Moments that really struck a chord with me. She talks about the guilt she feels about yelling at her kids. And, of course, the things that other parents sometimes say to compound that guilt.

She was really hard on herself and I felt bad for her. Plus she's got 4 kids and OMG how do you get through a day without yelling is what I'd like to know.

Whether you have 10 kids or 1, they will push your ass right to the edge until you are hanging on with nothing but a broken fingernail.

My parents yelled at me. I'd be willing to bet that on 99.9% of the occasions, I deserved it. I'm not permanently scarred. I don't lay awake at night wondering if maybe they didn't love me because they  lost their shit that time I lied and went to a rated R movie with my friends even though they told me I couldn't go and then got caught because I was an idiot (true story). Or any of the other times they yelled at me for acting stupid.

So I gotta say...WHAT IS THE BIG DAMN DEAL?!?  (I just yelled that.) When was this idea born that yelling at our kids means we don't love them? We're all so worried that we are somehow going to screw up our kids. Well, we need to get over that because OF COURSE WE ARE. No one on either side gets out of this completely unscathed.

Emotions run high in this parenthood gig. Sometimes yelling is just part of it. I don't mean you should be running around screaming like a ninny about every little thing that gets under your skin. That's not good for anybody. And really, you'd be yelling ALL THE TIME. Bad for the vocal chords. But, sometimes? Sometimes it's what works. Sometimes it's what makes them realize you mean business.

My son deserves a spot in Guinness for the most difficult potty-trainee in history. I learned my lesson with my first child's potty training experience, so I didn't even start trying with my second until he was 3. Truth be told, he still wasn't ready but I allowed societal expectations get in the way of my "I-know-better-than-this", and forced the issue. (Dear Lord, I feel like I should thank you once again for seeing us out of that stage alive because you and I both know there were some close calls. Amen.)

One day I could tell he was holding it and really needed to go. So, I escorted him to the bathroom where I proceeded to talk and read to him while he sat - without success - "trying" to go poo (or so he claimed).  45 minutes passed. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. After pleading with me that he really didn't need to go, I begrudgingly removed him from the toilet and allowed him to go play in his room. A few minutes later, I went into his room to check on him and guess what I found? Him with no pants on...and a turd. In the middle of the floor. Do you think I said, "Oh, sweetie pie. We don't poop in the floor. We poop on the toilet."? Nope. That's not what I said. I yelled. In fact, I flipped the eff out. Judge if you must, but you know what? He didn't shit in the floor again.

One day when my daughter was almost 4 years old, I had one hand pushing a shopping cart, while the other was wrapped around hers as we made our way to the car. She decided she didn't need a personal escort and yanked her hand out of mine. Because she knew my inclination would be to grab it right back, she bolted. Into a busy parking lot. Now might be a good time to mention I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy with my second child and "quick and agile" are not words I'd use to describe myself. Did I gently coax her back to me with loving words and open arms? Uh...no. I yelled obnoxiously, and when I got to her (because my piercing screams stopped her in her tracks) I continued to YELL about how dangerous that little stunt was and that she was to NEVER, EVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER do anything like that again. She cried. I wished for a shot of tequila. But to this day she stays by my side whenever we are in parking lots. 

And then there are all the other days. The day you are unspeakably tired and that is the day the kids need your help with something every other minute. The day you wake up with a pounding headache and that is the day the kids decide to set their volume on maximum. The day you vacuum the floor and that is the day they dump an entire box of goldfish crackers into the carpet. The day you need to have an important discussion with your spouse after the kids go to bed and that is the day they get up 97 times because they are thirsty or hungry or need to go potty or want another story or one more kiss goodnight.

I'm out of the very-young-children stage and my yelling frequency has decreased dramatically. (My daughter turns 13 in about 9 months, at which time we'll revisit this comment.) But when they were little, yeah, I yelled. I yelled when they were doing things that were dangerous and I yelled when they did things they knew they weren't supposed to do and I yelled in lieu of waving the white flag because OMG I'm about to lose what's left of my mind.

This is parenthood. We are standing in the middle of the biggest clusterfuck we never knew existed and when we finally reach our breaking point...we yell. And we beat ourselves up about it. And we need to stop.

Parenting styles are different and that's okay. Maybe you're not a yeller. Good for you. Maybe you are. So, what? Don't let that define whether or not you're a good parent. The best parenting advice my mom has given me to date is, "Chill the hell out." Or something like that. We need to stop beating ourselves up and measuring how good of a parent we are against someone else's standards. If your kids go to bed at night undoubtedly knowing they are loved, you're doing your job. END OF STORY. (I yelled that, too.) 



12 comments:

  1. For some reason my kids don't seem to hear me unless I'm yelling at them. I don't yell all the time, but when I do I don't feel bad about it.
    Great post!

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  2. "Judge if you must, but you know what? He didn't shit in the floor again." HA!

    I'm a yeller and I immediately feel guilty and apologize for the yelling. Ryan always looks at me and says, "It's okay, mom - I'm used to it." God love...

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  3. Well, I am thankful for this post because judging by the way I handle the dog sometimes.... I am most likely going to raise the 'ole wind pipes at the future rugrats at time or two.

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  4. I love this post! I have two kids of my own that are 9 & 16 and then I run an in home daycare for 8 full time kids ranging in ages (at this time) from 1-4.(and no I'm not an alcoholic and a lot if people are surprised by this) I don't yell all the time but I do yell on occasion and its usually to get their attention. Because I think if I did yell all the time they wouldn't know I mean business when my voice raises above all theirs. And they don't sound like angels. Today is one of those days I had to "yell" more than usual and I literally laughed out loud when I read this. Thank you!

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  5. Well, first, thanks for sending me some views. Always appreciated. Next I wouldn't consider my piece a piece about anyone else other than me. I yell. I feel guilty. I hold myself accountable for my guilt by being honest about it. By saying, HEY, I FUCK UP! It's COOL. Because, it is. I find honesty to be key. Do I wish I yelled less? Hell to the yes. Will I stop? Hell to the no because like I said, someone is going to be handing the baby a steak knife later and that's bad. But, I'm also drinking wine right now and that is good. I think, I'd rather be hard on myself in writing than discouraged and lonely in real life and, I think that all parents, the yellers, the dreamers and me are just doing the best damn job we can with the tools we are given. I'm glad my post made you feel. Feelings are good. So is wine. Cheers, m'lady. Cheers.

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  6. Brav the fuck O. Yes yes yes, to this post and yes to the comments. Thank God for everyone and their honesty. I thought I had just past all of that yelling stuff but O HELL no. I have 17 year old spawn of the devil...I mean daughter and a 16 year old deaf, smelly, unhygienic mutterer...I mean son. I should stop now because I too have had a glass of wine...okay okay..closer to a bottle..what's the difference. Thank you all and cheers.

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  7. PREACH SISTER!!!!

    i really try hard not to yell at my kids (ages 3 and 5) - and i try to be patient and explain things calmly and blah-blah-blah - but when i repeat myself 5 times and my children are purposely ignoring me, hell yeah i yell - and on the days when i just can't take it anymore and i lose my shit over things that are completely ridiculous (because i am FAR from perfect), i apologize to my kids and tell them that i will try to do better - which is the same thing i expect from them when they screw up

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  8. I'm working on a piece right now about yelling, and your post and Bethany's post both had me nodding my head in agreement. One of my kids is unfazed by yelling, and the other one crumples her little face up like her heart is broken and her faith is shaken. With both kids I don't feel bad for yelling in dangerous situations, because DUH, but when the yelling is more about me than them, my guilt is based on their reaction.

    I know there are parents who don't yell, but I have yet to meet one.

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  9. Thank you! Do I feel guilty afterwards? About 87% of the time, but the fact of the matter is, if you run out in the middle of the street or ask me the same darn question over and over after I've answered it 500 times with the same answer, I'm gonna lose my ever loving mind. I'm a firm believer that kids have to hear you say it three times and then have it yelled at them. 'Tis the way this gig works.

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  10. Yelling at kids is perfectly fine. Sometimes you just gotta yell a good message to keep 'em on their toes!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley
    Dandy Doodles

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  11. I think my kid would say for the most part I wasn't a yeller. I was more sarcastic which is not any good either. If I had a nickel for every time I offered to call DSS...We finally put it on speed dial as a joke. I once put the dirty dishes he and his friends made after school in his bed. He didn't forget to put them in the dishwasher after that. I am cringing just thinking of this confession...but I don't think he's too screwed up...I'd have to ask his kids.

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  12. Terrific post because yes, I yell and I used to yell a hell of a lot more, but I sorta got a handle on it. My husband is always telling me there is never any reason to yell unless the kids are playing in the street during rush hour and I don't know if his parents were truly the saints he makes them out to be, but I'm not buying it. I've gotten to the point of huge guilt so it's good to see some other perspectives and it's exactly as I suspected: I'm normal. Kids can really push our buttons and we'd have to be Super Mother Theresa-bots to weather it without yelling some of the time. Thanks for this.

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