Is Shouting the New Spanking?

It bugs me when the hubs loses his patience with the kids and yells at them. Granted, it doesn't happen often (he is the far more patient parent), but on the rare occasion when it does, it irks me.

My reasons are not what you might think. He works outside the home. I work within it (double duty, really. Childcare all day, and my freelance work all night). I am with the kids 24/7. I am wiping their butts, playing endless games of Candyland Bingo, schlepping them and their massive amounts of gear here, there, and everywhere, and scraping their tossed and pulverized Cheerios off the floor All.Day.Long. I am entitled to losing my shit with them every once and awhile.

He, however, sees them for less than two hours a day during the week. It should be sunshine, rainbows, and puppies when Daddy's around. Only one of us is entitled to being strung out and exhausted with the kids, and it ain't the guy who just enjoyed a blissful 30-minute whine-and-tantrum-free commute home, in which he wasn't forced to listen to "The Wheels on the Bus" for the 4, 457,286th time.

Truth be told, I'm not a yeller. I will swear aloud (not at the kids). I will walk out of the room to escape the screaming, yelling, fighting, or whining that's pushing my buttons. But I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've yelled (more than just raised my voice) at Isabella. I'm more a fan of the stare of death. One look can almost always get Isabella to do whatever it is she's protesting. Either that, or I freeze her out and ignore her. Behavior modification at its finest, people! Are you taking notes?

But on the rare occasion when I have raised my voice, I can't say I've felt that guilty about it. Apparently, I'm in the minority.

A few months ago (yes, that's how far behind I am in blogging about news stories I've read), I came across this NYT article. The article describes a survey of 1,300 parents, in which respondents were asked the main source of parental guilt. Two-thirds of them named yelling as their biggest guilt-inducer.

Okay, so parents feel guilty when they yell at their kids. Really guilty, apparently. That's not so shocking. In the era of mommy guilt that flows forth from just about every parental choice (from working outside the home to nursing versus formula-feeding, to tv or not-to-tv), I don't believe it's shocking to find that parents feel badly when they yell at their kids. Many feel like backing over themselves with their car when they forget to send their children to school with a hat on a 40-degree day.

But what irked me about this article is this quote: “Parental yelling today may be partly a releasing of stress for multitasking, overachieving adults, parenting experts say.”

Come on. Seriously? Do we really need this kind of anvil thrown at us?

Reading between the lines, this line of bull really means that parents are less patient with their kids because they're working (or maybe working too hard). We're trying to do too much, all at once, and our kids are suffering.

I will admit to being even less patient when I'm on a deadline. When the work is piling up, the hubs is due home late, and my kids aren't napping in the afternoon, a period that sometimes allows me a little time to work, I am more prone to snapping at them.

But give me a break. Even if I wasn't working, or if the hubs and I were Trump-esque in our lifestyle and bank accounts and didn't need to work for a living, we would still lose our patience with our kids once and awhile and yell at them. We aren't spanking them. We aren't locking them in their closets with only a handful of Baby Mum-Mums and a sippy cup full of water for hours on end.

So guess what? I don't think there's anything wrong with us occasionally raising our voices when the situation warrants it.

I don't feel guilty when I yell.

Do you?

17 Responses to “Is Shouting the New Spanking?”

  1. # Blogger Jamie

    As always, we're on the same page. I occassionally raise my voice or yell "no" when Bo is about to do something that could be harmful, but I don't yell at him. Or at least not in the way I think this article is defining yell. I am totally with you on the death stare. That is, by far, my most useful device with Bo and in the traditional classroom. :)

    I also understand your feelings towards your husband. Even now that I'm getting two hours, three days a week outside of the house to work, I still get the brunt end of the childcare duties. They should be happy go lucky, right? :)

    Let's plan a trip to Vegas. We both need to get away!!  

  2. # Blogger Sasha

    this made me feel a lot better, Kristi. Thanks for writing it.

    I yell and feel horribly guilty. This article? Made me feel worse...  

  3. # Blogger Andrew

    I NEVER feel guilt when I yell. Of course it's not at children and usually directed at some asshat Republican on tv. Speaking of childen, two girls showed up on my doorstep with a wheelbarrow full of Girl Scout cookies, and I didn't slam the door in their faces! I must be getting soft in my old age. Or it was the need for Caramel Delites. Not sure which.  

  4. # Blogger Melissa

    I occasionally yell - not just raising my voice - but yelling to the point of practically bursting capillaries in my eyes. For that, I feel guilty and completely ashamed, because I know I could have handled it better. I don't yell because I'm a stressed-out over-achiever. I yell because two (usually the youngest two) antagonize each other to the point of completely pushing me over the edge. They fight about EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING. I never yelled until my kids got to be older - why would you yell at a baby/toddler anyway? For the most part, though, I'm fairly even keeled.  

  5. # Blogger Melissa

    PS - I definitely need a few lessons in the particulars of the death stare, because that's not something I've mastered. I've tried giving my kids "a look" before, and they just laugh at me. ;-)  

  6. # Blogger Mom24

    Very thought provoking. Unfortunately, I am a yeller. Is that the same as a shouter? Probably.

    It's definitely not my favorite quality about myself, but I do feel, rightly or wrongly, that I have more time to balance it with the kids. I don't yell all the time, and I like to think that my gentleness or even my steadiness at other times evens it out.

    It makes me insane, truly insane when Mark comes home and starts yelling at them though. I feel exactly as you expressed it--you've been here how long? 20 minutes or whatever, and you're already yelling like an idiot? Get over it.  

  7. # Blogger Mom24

    I have to say I also agree with Melissa. I never yelled until my kids were older either. There's not much a baby/toddler could do to make me lose my cool.

    Of course in your case the screaming and sleep deprivation would do it. :)  

  8. # Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    I don't feel guilty when I yell. I DO feel guilty when I yell all day or allow my anger to become like that of a toddler. Then? Then I feel stupid and inadequate. Also, I am of the school of thought that a swat on the butt isn't the end of the world, especially when they are extremely disobedient or risking the well-being of themselves or someone else.


  9. # Blogger Stephanie

    I agree with you SO much about how the hubby should be sunshine and twinkle stars all the time when he's home! I do lose my patience with (translation: yell at) the girls once in a blue moon, and when I do, I feel terribly guilty. My job as the adult is to act like one.  

  10. # Blogger JM

    I think it all depends on the level of yelling. In general I don't feel guilty when I raise my voice to make a point or stop bad behavior. There have been a few times where my yelling reached a pitch that was definitely guilt worthy. Fortunately I can count the times that has happened on one hand. Still. As for the death stare, so far that hasn't worked for me. My toddler just dishes it back. Maybe as he gets older? Or I get better at it??  

  11. # Blogger Sasha

    I agree mostly with the idea that I did not start yelling until recently when my daughter became old enough to really assert herself (she is a very precocious 3), but I really disagree with the way that both moms (Melissa and Mom24) said "I would never yell at a baby or toddler" because every mom is just doing the best she can and I am sure anyone can find ways to judge someone else.

    In the end, however, judgment is neither productive nor becoming. It is yet another passive aggressive way we women undermine one another.  

  12. # Blogger Sunny

    I think part of the difference of opinion here might be that everyone has their own idea of what "yelling" is -- and how often it is present in the household. I don't think it's okay for me to get so angry at my son that I lose control and yell at him. On the very rare occasion that that has happened, I always calm down and apologize. It doesn't keep me awake at night with guilt, though, because it's extremely infrequent. I'm only human, after all.

    My husband, however, DOES have a problem with giving into his anger and yelling. It's still not very frequent, but it happens more often than it really should. He feels the appropriate guilt for it, in my opinion. He wants and needs to learn to remain calm when our son is having a tantrum -- it's something we are working on.  

  13. # Anonymous Lisanne

    Oh Kristi. This post hits home for me *SO* much. When Meredith was six months old, I screamed at her, "SHUT THE HELL UP!" at three in the morning when she just would *not* freaking go to sleep, and it was the sixth or seventh time I'd gotten up with her ~ all the while my husband was snoring away in bed, sound asleep. Yes, I do yell at our kids. But after reading Mitten Strings for God (a wonderful book), I've tried hard to be more patient. I've had a lot of success so far not yelling so much, actually, and I feel very good about it. There are *so* many parental guilt things, but really, I don't feel so guilty about yelling at the kids. It depends on the situation.  

  14. # Blogger Rachel

    As always, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the NYTs article. I am trying to get over the idea that everything should be rainbows and kittens when my husband gets to see the baby (think about 10 days total every 3-4 months). I DO actually think that I need to be more sympathetic to him when he gets home from work (there may not be any fussing children there, but there's a reason he looks so tired when he comes home), plus the issue that he has to adjust to being around the baby and all the new things that she's into, plus he generally has MUCH less experience with children. That said, I have been trying to get him to commit to simply not yelling at home.

    I have always been known as being a bit stubborn, but when I was in high school I decided to stop swearing. And it took months of work, and endless mocking by my mother and sister, but I just don't swear anymore. And I am trying really hard to make yelling at the baby like swearing - I simply don't do it. I do tell her in an icy voice exactly why I'm pissed at the situation/her, but for some reason I think that'll be easier for her to understand in the future.  

  15. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I feel guilty sometimes. I tend to fuss at Little Elvis more on preschool mornings when I'm trying to get us dressed, fed, and out the door in time. While I'm rushing, he's dragging his feet, taking a while to get down the stairs, running around the car when I want to strap him in. And I get impatient. I do usually end up apologizing to him on the drive. I don't want to beat myself up, but I do feel some guilt.  

  16. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    I do feel guilty. Yes, cos its ridiculous really. To lose it like that.

    I am a *loud talking* parent often but I dont feel guilty about that.

    But the times I have crossed to the dark side and Yelled Like a Fishwife have left me feeling utterly ick.

    But thats just me, others struggle with guilt in other areas. Mine is this.  

  17. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I am guilty and I am a yeller. It sucks and it is my most detested quality. It is the number #1 thing I wish to change about myself. But how? Any suggestions?--KB  

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