Last week I wrote a post that was sort of about yelling – or ‘roaring’ as we call it around here. I confessed that my lion mum was on the roar path and that the kids were copping it. Lion mum always comes out when everyday mum is pushed to breaking point. You don’t want to break everyday mum.
I honestly thought I’d be slayed for being so honest about not loving parenting sometimes, but instead I was supported and soothed and made to feel normal. Sweet normal – it’s all we ever want to feel when we are a parent, just as ‘normal’ kids are all we ever want to raise, really. Normal is good and I can’t thank the wonderful mums who chimed in and made me feel it enough. It’s always good to know that we are not alone in the dank, gloomy trenches.
One thing that I did notice, however, was a general theme of mums feeling ashamed whenever they yell at their kids. They feel guilty and like a ‘bad parent’ when they yell. Even though we all do it. Even though, despite knowing we have other options (although with time outs also being questioned, those options are frankly getting slimmer and slimmer), sometimes a yell is all we really want to do. Yelling might not ‘work’ necessarily, but man does it ever feel good. Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s about the mum, not the kids. Surely?
Apparently not. Apparently yelling is the new smacking. We’re not ‘supposed’ to yell, ever. Yelling damages children’s emotional wellbeing and can be as bad, if not worse, than physical abuse. Instead we’re ‘supposed’ to pull our naughty kids in closer and listen and soothe and work out what’s ‘really going on’ together. Incidentally, there are some ‘tips’ at the end of this article that made me laugh out loud. You can always tell when an ‘expert’ has written an article.
Now, reading the literature has me trying hard not to be a yeller as much as the next mum and most days I manage to get there. The kids are misbehaving and I despite the fact that my head wants to explode into a thousand pieces out of my mouth, I don’t yell. I sit them down and gently talk them through how their behaviour is making the rest of us feel. We talk, I listen, they listen and then we hold hands and sing Kumbayah as a pan pipe whispers in the background.
Because parenting is like that, isn’t it? All pan pipes and soft voices and children who want to please? We don’t yell, we never yell. Yelling is bad. Instead we make our directions clear to our children, we give warning and reminders, never threats, in a calm, clear voice and we give them positive ‘please do’ messages instead of negative ‘don’t messages’. And then the kids listen and do as they’re told. Of course they do.
Gah. Meh. Blah. Spah.
I’m honestly at a loss as to what parenting is all about anymore. To be a ‘good’ parent appears to mean that we leave all human emotion and weaknesses at the door. We leave us. We become an uber-someone, a super-mum. Able to leap tall emotions with a single bound. More powerful than a child refusing to sleep. You get the picture. I’m just not sure what message supermum is sending to our kids. That mums aren’t human? That we don’t get upset? That we don’t get angry or feel hurt or reach the end of our tether from time to time? Where does that leave mums?
The truth is, we are already all supermums. We are amazing. We go above and beyond what we think our human endurance can stand and we do it every day. We are super, super, super and the only trouble is that our kryptonite just happens to be our kids on certain days. Some days our kids just render us powerless and return us back to human with a loud, echoing plop. Fallible, imperfect mums, trying our best to raise powerful, perfect kids. Truth is, sometimes a big old yell is all we have standing between us and walking out the front door without so much as a backward glance.
Do I feel guilty about that? Do I feel guilty about yelling? Of course I do. I don’t want to be a yeller. But sometimes it’s all I’ve got and I’m not letting it go. I don’t yell all the time, but I do yell some of the time and those are the times when I want my kids to know that enough is enough. Mum is yelling because she’s human and she’s hurt and you’ve backed her into a corner and she’s fighting her way out. I am not going to feel guilty about that.
With all the evidence stacking up about how wrong yelling is, I guess I’ll just feel guilty about not feeling guilty instead.
Do you yell? Do you feel guilty? Does feeling guilty stop you yelling?