I just read something that makes me want to scream. A story in the New York Times takes today's parents to task for yelling too much at their kids. Child psychologists call screaming the new "spanking."
To which my reply is: !*&$#@???+!!!!!?
It seems that despite our best parenting intentions – all those child-rearing books we've read, all those healthy lunches we've packed, all those times we've resisted the urge to belt our kids across the room – we are still inflicting immeasurable harm on our kids. This is a generation that yells, the report claims, and our children are suffering from emotional abuse as a result.
First, let me say that I am tired of society ragging on my parenting abilities. Criticizing today's parents has become the new sport. I can't sit through a school meeting or read a magazine without somebody telling me what I'm doing wrong with my children. Makes we wonder how everybody grew up to become such an expert if parents are doing things so dreadfully wrong.
Now raising my voice at my kids is socially unacceptable?
I can count on one hand how many times I've spanked my children. But yelling? Please. There aren't enough fingers and toes in the world. Sure, I sometimes feel guilty afterward and I know screaming is not always the best way to handle a situation, but let's be real. Yelling feels good. For that split-second of emotional release, life's see-saw has tipped in my favor and I am suddenly free of anger's gravity.
And my child has been saved from a royal beating.
Seriously, how many kids have avoided a major thrashing because mom decided to let loose with a good holler? You take away my right to yell at my kids and what do I have left? Next year, the newspaper is going to tell me that my kids are suffering psychological trauma because I give them "the look."
Being yelled at is not pleasant, I know. But it is part of the human experience. Even Dr. Spock called shouting "inevitable from time to time." In the course of my life, I've been screamed at by my parents, my teachers, my coaches, my bosses, my spouse. Learning not to erupt into tears at certain decibel levels turned in my direction was one of life's hardest lessons.
Nobody condones constant braying, but the occasional raising of a voice is unavoidable. A 2003 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that 88 percent of the 991 families interviewed reported shouting, yelling or screaming at their children in the previous year. Of the families with 7-year-old children, 98 percent reported having yelled. (The other 2 percent are liars or in a coma.)
Parents are not perfect. Like everybody else in this imperfect world, sometimes we lose it. I'll willfully agree to keep my hands tied when it comes to spanking my kids, but don't tape my mouth shut, too.