Friday, October 23, 2009

Know what makes me want to yell?


The headline on one of the most ridiculous NYT articles I have ever seen reads: "For some parents, shouting is the new spanking." Interesting that this appears in the Fashion & Style section of the Times, but whatever. I'll read on...only to discover that now, according to this nonsense article, we need to add yelling to the list of things we should not be doing as parents. Okie doke. That's reasonable.

There are a number of choice quotes in this piece, but here are a few of my favorite:
"Parental yelling today may be partly a releasing of stress for multitasking, overachieving adults, parenting experts say." (Translation: Focus all your energy on your child, not on running your household, volunteering at church, or your outside-the-home job.)
"Psychologists and psychiatrists generally say yelling should be avoided. It’s at best ineffective (the more you do it the more the child tunes it out) and at worse damaging to a child’s sense of well-being and self-esteem." (Translation: It's much healthier psychologically for your child to run all over you than for you to express any sort of anger. Ever.)
"...while spanking is considered taboo by the major medical and psychological associations, there are still some religious and conservative groups who support it as an effective disciplinary tool....But...'There is no group of Americans that advocate yelling as a parenting style.'" (Translation: Not even religious zealots think yelling is ok, so really, you should feel lower than low for raising your voice last night when little Jimmy flushed his toys down the toilet and flooded the bathroom.)
But here is my favorite bullcrap tip:
"Experts suggest figuring out ways to prevent situations that make you most prone to yell."
Wow. Thanks for that piece of advice. Too bad the only way I can think of to prevent situations that make me most prone to yell would be to stay in bed all day long. Which is not really an option since I'm a frazzled, overwrought, under-rested, impatient, multitasking, working mother. Hmph.

So, in light of this new piece of parenting wisdom, let's recap the Guilty Mommy Commandments together:
  1. Thou shalt not work outside the home.
  2. Thou shalt not feed your child anything from a can, box, or bottle that contains any type of preservative or added sugar.
  3. Thou shalt not let your child watch television, especially the kind with commercials.
  4. Thou shalt not buy toys made outside the USA because they may contain lead.
  5. Thou shalt not allow your child to play in your yard unattended because there are lunatics lurking everywhere.
  6. Thou shalt not spank. Ever. Big no-no.
  7. Thou shalt not even threaten to spank.
  8. Thou shalt not put a child in time-out for more minutes than his/her age, no matter how much time you need to cool off in order to avoid spanking or threatening a spanking.
  9. Thou shalt not yell.
  10. Thou shalt not ever become frustrated because that leads to yelling. Which leads to crying. Which leads to you feeding your child salty, processed snacks in front of an episode of SpongeBob because you feel so guilty and ashamed.
Got it? Good. If we all just follow these simple guidelines, we will raise happy, healthy, overindulged, pansy-ass kids with sensitive digestive tracts and no idea how to cope with anything other than sunshine and rainbows.

By the way, instead of yelling at or spanking my child, I am now considering this mom's approach as the most sensible:

3 comments:

Ro said...

Bravo! For my two cents, this is what I had to say to the New York Times' Editor, since I'm not a parent yet, but definitely a feminist:

"I couldn't help but notice a part of the Hilary Stout article that screamed at me: all the parents interviewed who felt guilty shouting were women, all the "experts" quoted about parenting studies were men, and Harold S. Koplewicz' quote used male references: “... I had a fight with my wife, I have a project due…” There's a fundamental disconnect here that The New York Times and Ms. Stout missed. Of course women are boiling over when they're overworked and bombarded with tips from people completely separated from the fact that we've been doing this really well, naturally, for thousands of years! Ironic that The Shriver Report was just released about America becoming "A Woman's Nation," yet it's obvious that we still aren't thinking clearly about the woman question."

Let's hope my anger gets me published! If living in an apartment with warrior mice has taught me anything about life, it's that you need to launch multi-pronged attacks to win the fight, my dead See-ster. Blog and print's the way to go.

Love you.

paddyandhenrysmom said...

Since it's "parental yelling" that apparently is the problem, I propose that we vent our frustrations by yelling at other people's kids.

Seriously, though, I am exhausted by all the pressure to provide my children with a completely organic, sugar-free, TV-free lifestyle while engaging them in every sport/music/art opportunity known to man so I don't shrink their horizons, reducing our family's carbon footprint, supporting local businesses, making sure I do not neglect my husband's many needs as a human being and marriage partner, and yet somehow paying all of today's bills while preparing for both our retirements and our boys' college educations. Surely some parents exist who use yelling as their first and last recourse no matter what the situation. But some of us yell because we are human beings we eventually run out of interesting, educational, and (above all) supportive ways to deter our kids from hitting the dog/cat/little brother or talking back after every.single.request.

If I had wanted to avoid yelling at my kids, I would have had to avoid having kids. And then I'd have likely gotten criticized for being a career-oriented woman with no maternal instincts.

Less eloquently than Robyn, let me just say Thhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhbbbbb! to critics like these and their stupid studies.

Christy said...

I didn't bother to read the article but, duh, of course we shouldn't yell. It is ineffective when done too much b/c children, like spouses, tune it right out. Often we're actually yelling at our boss/spouse/mother-in-law/idiot who cut us off earlier that day/self when we yell at our children. Sometimes the yelling is because we're tired, we're sick, we never got to visit Paris or the dishwasher isn't working and we're yelling rather than jumping in the car and driving away (or off a cliff.) But sometimes, just sometimes, it's totally justified.

What this article leaves out, as do most of the parenting articles you post, is common sense (probably b/c the academics writing the articles have none.) We all know when to use the various tools in our parenting toolbox and yelling is one of them. Personally, I don't yell often so when I do, my kids take notice. They straighten up and fly right when my voice gets loud and quivery. It won't kill them to know that they have done something that causes anger, frustration or disappointment in someone they love. On the contrary, they learn to modify their behavior so that they and I don't have to go through it again another time.

On the flip side, when I yell but later realize that I was too harsh or expressing misplaced anger, I apologize which teaches them another important lesson -- parents have feelings, some of them negative, and we aren't perfect or infallible. It also teaches them the importance of apologizing and how it feels to be on the other side of the "I'm sorry" that we so often demand they say to others.

In a perfect world, no parent would yell. Of course, if the world was perfect, there'd be no reason to yell because all children would be little angels (or robots.) Sounds initially relaxing but ultimately boring.