Maybe it’s the times, maybe it’s because I live in California or maybe it’s because I have read too many parenting articles on Facebook. But lately, it seems that the new parenting no-no is yelling. I often see parenting methods that shun yelling referred to as “gentle” or “peaceful” parenting and I can totally buy into some of the practices taught through these parenting beliefs. What I can’t buy into is when parents judge others for not buying into the same practices. I have personally never been one to label my parenting and never felt like I fit into one particular box. I try to stay open and educated and pick and choose what works best for my kids, my husband and me. I have been stay-at-home mom, working mom and work-at-home mom. I “babywear,” cosleep and, longterm breastfed all of my biological children. I serve home cooked food during the week and visit at least 2 drive thrus on the weekends. I don’t believe in spanking but I am a strong believer in competitive sports, am tough on schoolwork, believe in giving consequences and…I yell. And yelling doesn’t make me a bad parent.
I have 4 extremely active children with big personalities and strong opinions. And let’s just say that whole “no yelling” idea doesn’t always work with them. I often exhaust all my other options for communicating with my kids. I whisper, I sing (sometimes opera works), I come down to their level, I gently touch them, I give them the “eye,” I repeat myself way too many times and I whisper yell through clenched teeth. But there are times when I am out of options and yelling is my final go to because it usually works. Granted my children look at me as if I suddenly became a three headed monster but they get their butts in gear.
There are times when I am out of options and yelling is my final go to because it usually works.
Some of you may argue that yelling is extremely harmful to children. And yes, there are cases where constant, unadulterated yelling can be damaging and emotionally abusive. That is not what I am referring to here. I am talking about those times when I have told my boys 50 million different times to stop flipping on the furniture and I come out of the kitchen to find one of them in the middle of a front tuck flip onto the couch. Or when I have repeated my 5 year old’s name at least 3 times within earshot and she hasn’t even looked in my direction. Or when I very clearly ask my 13 year old to go do his homework (which is part of our daily routine during the school week) and 10 minutes and several reminders later I find him dancing in a front of his mirror and when I ask him what he is suppose to be doing he looks at me with a blank stare. I will even admit to going on complete rants because it is the end of the day, everyone is tired and hungry, my husband has been out of town for a week, I am trying to get dinner on the table, help with homework and I have had it.
And before I get bombarded with a crap ton of parenting advice…Yes, I enforce what I say with action, I have clear rules and boundaries, I have routines in place and follow through with appropriate consequences when necessary. And I know that breaking the rules, pushing boundaries, questioning authority and the need to establish independence are all a part of growing up.
The truth is I come by yelling honestly. My mother was a yeller. She was a divorced, working mom with 3 strong-minded, outgoing, busy kids. At the time, I thought she was completely insane and she probably was thanks to my siblings and me. It was excessive at times but a lot of the time it was very well deserved. The thing is, with all the yelling she did, she did just as much if not more praising and letting us know that she loved us even when she was angry and, after all is said and done, she was and is a great mom. As a parent, I have gained a whole new understanding of my mom. She has always been open and honest with me about motherhood and I have learned so much from her strengths and her mistakes. She taught me to accept that I am not a perfect parent and I don’t always know the perfect response to my children. Sometimes that means yelling and there are times I feel I have a valid reason and I stand by it and there are times I feel completely terrible for yelling and I apologize to my children.
I am sure some of you will read this and pick apart my parenting and shake your proverbial no-no finger at me. Trust me, I don’t really need you to do that because I do it to myself every night when I lay my head on my pillow and replay the day. But at the end of the day, I have feelings just like my kids and it is not necessarily a bad thing for my kids to see me express my anger from time to time through yelling. Frankly, show me a parent that says they never yelled and I’ll show you either a real life angel or a bold face liar. So no, yelling from time to time doesn’t mean I am a bad parent. It means I am tired. It means I get angry too. It means sometimes I react from my gut and sometimes it means yelling was necessary. But most of all, it means I am human.
Elisha Beach is a stay-at-home mom to four kids and four step-kids…Yes, you read that right—eight kids. She is a wife, home cook, taxi driver, herder of children, terrible housekeeper and founder of The Mom Forum.
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