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