Raising Kids & Voices

Many of the blogs I read are written by female parents of younger children. And often these parents will write about their children. Some of them focus most of their blog posts on their children. I’m going to be careful not to call these bloggers, “mommy bloggers” because that seems to have become a derogatory term. I don’t know why.

Anyway, I believe that each of these bloggers has at some point written the “I’m a horrible parent” post. It starts out by telling us about their particularly unpleasant day. For instance:

  • The husband told her over breakfast that he was leaving her for a younger woman.
  • The triplets are all teething at once.
  • The washing machine burst into flames.
  • The nanny called at lunch to say she was quitting effectively immediately.
  • The best friend won a lottery and is leaving the country with the husband.
  • There’s no more vodka in the house.
  • And then the nine-year-old takes a dump in the cat litter box.

It’s at this point that this heretofore widely acknowledged paragon of parenthood, loses some modicum of control and RAISES HER VOICE TO HER CHILD.

“Dakota!” she says in a voice louder than her normal speaking voice,” Mommy would like you to please not make number two in the kitty’s special box – use the big boy potty, for Gosh’s Sake!”

Of course, she immediately realizes what she’s done and she and Dakota burst into tears, holding each other while mommy whispers words of consolation and begs forgiveness of this now-damaged child.

Then she blogs about this horrific episode at great length and with a great many self-immolatory recriminations. Then commenters respond with words of comfort and examples from their own life when they’ve almost come close to raising their voices to their own children.

 So, my question is: “What the fruck?”

Seriously? Because I reckon in that case, XUP Jr. is headed for decades of therapy.

Not that I advocate yelling at your kids. And there are families like my brother’s where indoor voices became totally obsolete as soon as the second child hit the runway, but I don’t know how any parent could get through 18+ years without ever yelling at their child.

I’m sure we all want to disassociate ourselves as much as possible from the Wal-Mart parents – the ones who scream and swear at their kids from three aisles over about every last thing.

Brittney, goddammit! Where the goddamned hell are you now? Git yer ass over here right now. I ain’t never takin’ you nowhere with me again. Yer nuthin’ but a stupid pain in the goddamned effin’ ass, goddammit. I’m counting to 3 and you better be here by the time I’m done or yer dead meat.

Ya, I can say with confidence that I’ve never done anything like that. However, there have been many times over the years when I’ve raised my voice to my child. Not on a daily basis or even on a weekly basis and maybe not even on a monthly basis. But then she has always been a very good child and she’s an only child. And yet there were still times when I was exasperated with her and yelled a little.

Maybe when I had to tell her for the fifth time to clean up her toys and wash her hands for supper. Or maybe when I told her no, she couldn’t have another cookie and she tried to snitch one while I wasn’t looking. Or maybe when she went down the block to play with a friend without telling me. Or maybe I’ve just spent several hours cleaning the house and she goes into the kitchen to get a snack and instantly the entire kitchen and paths leading to and from the kitchen look like something from a CSI Miami crime scene.

I’m not saying that yelling is a good parental tool. And I don’t feel particularly good about myself after doing it.  I’m just saying that it seems like a normal thing to occasionally lose your cool with your kids. Isn’t it? Isn’t that just a human thing? And is it so awful for your kids to realize that you’re human and not a textbook parenting model?

Am I the only on who’s ever yelled at her kid(s) and not had a mental breakdown over it?

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Note: While this post sort of pokes fun at bloggers formerly known as mommy bloggers and while I and other people with grown kids or no kids aren’t all that interested in reading blogs by bloggers formerly known as mommy bloggers and sometime mock them, none of this is intended to be disrespectful. I think the whole mommy blogging community is an impressive and valuable resource and network for young mothers. You have no idea how I wish mommy blogging or any blogging or even the internet had been around when XUP Jr. was young. It would have made such a positive difference. So, I’m just saying if you’re a mother who blogs mainly about her family, you should be proud to call yourself a mommy blogger.

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ANOTHER NOTE: We’re gathering this Saturday morning for our bi-monthly Ottawa Bloggers Breakfast. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be;  or think you are on the mailing list, but have not received the notice about this week’s breakfast; or have received all our emails and ignored them in hopes that we’ll go away, but it hasn’t worked so you’d like to be removed from the mailing list, please send an email with your blog link to: bloggersbreakfast@gmail.com

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28 responses to “Raising Kids & Voices

  1. *hand up high*

    Yes, I have yelled at DD and have not felt guilty. She has yelled at me too. I don’t know if she ever felt guilty.

    I have a theory about raising kids: it’s like a bank account. You deposit as much positive stuff into the kid as you can, then when you feel you have to ream them out for whatever reason, it’s like making a withdrawal. But if there’s enough positive in there, the account won’t be overdrawn. You won’t damage the kid and send them into therapy. They’ll get over it and probably thrive, and so will you. They’ll likely not report you to Social Services either, which is always a plus.

  2. Better than yelling, though, is the threat of death whispered through clenched teeth. When the blood drains from the kid’s face and they realize they’re one minor transgression away from whatever hellish fate mad mommies can bring down on their impressionable little heads.

    This was my parenting secret: kids should fear their mothers. They should always suspect that we have a barely-controlled lunatic side and it could come out at any moment. Like a rabid dog, it’s better not to provoke her.

    I once heard my son explaining to a friend what it would take for him to flip me off (in a serious way, not the way we actually flip each other off 50 times a day):

    “If I was leaving forever and the car was running and mom didn’t know where I was going and I had a head start, I could probably do it. I think. But I’d worry for the rest of my life that she’d find me.”

    I could feel my heart swelling with pride.

  3. Well, I got yelled at a lot when I was young and even tasted the bitter crack of a cane applied to a bare posterior. I don’t think I was damaged…….much.

    Certainly did not drive me to drink and on that note, I would like to answer your question in the previous post. I still drink alcohol today but not at all regularly. I tend to have a wine occasionally with a meal, especially if I am at a party or traveling. I like my beers but even that is occasional. I think on average I will consume 3 glasses of wine and about one six-pack of beer a month.

    I have never been drunk since my teenage years. Don’t care for it at all.

  4. Go Ev! I especially loved:
    Better than yelling, though, is the threat of death whispered through clenched teeth.
    I found out how well that worked by accident and it was awesome.
    Xup, unlike you, I am glad there was no internet for mommy bloggers when I was raising Kate, because just like with religion and politics I always know that no one else has a clue.

  5. I feel guilty for every time I yelled at mom, which has been quite a lot. is there any therapy around for that?Will it have had any bad psychological effects on her?

  6. Oh yeah I yell. I find it interesting that I yell about different things with each child.

    Darkmirror…really as a teen I never yell but as a younger child there was a whole lotta “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????” kinda yelling – when he took scissors and cut out pieces of the couch upholstery, that sort of thing. The answer was “I don’t know, I like the way it feels when I cut it” I also probably yelled a lot of “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???” Well, as it turns out he’s autistic.

    Nature Girl is all about the drama and I get caught up in it. She’s my “I’VE ASKED YOU 5 TIMES TO PUT YOUR LAUNDRY BY THE WASHER DON’T FREAK ON ME BECAUSE YOUR DAY OF THE WEEK UNDIES ARE ALL DIRTY!!!”

    Wild Thing is so sweet I very rarely yell at him. If I do it’s out of 4 kids bouncing off the wall exasperation “GO OUTSIDE NOW!!!!” and then I feel horrible because he says “Don’t yell mommy I love you so! We don’t yell at people we love!”

    Sprout gets a lot of “LET GO OF THAT DOG’S TONGUE!!! GET DOWN OFF THE STOVE!!!” “PUT DOWN THAT MACHETE!”

    Can you believe when I only had one I tried to never use the word “No”? Yeah, that didn’t through two.

  7. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself, being single and not having any kids of my own.

    Then again, after reading posts like this, I’m reminded that the grass is always greener, and I don’t have things so bad, after all. 😉

  8. I am one of those people who needs therapy after I yell at the kids. I hate yelling, I see it as a form of weakness on my part. I think I hate it because I hate allowing myself to get that angry/worked up over something. I don’t do it often, but when I do, man do they know I mean business, so I guess there is an advantage to not yelling often, because when you do, they march.

  9. Pinklea – That sounds like a pretty good theory to me. I find that only one of us is yelling at any given time. If she’s yelling I get calm; if I’m yelling she’s calm – that way the yelling never goes beyond one or two sentences. And hey – good job for making it through without Social Services!!

    Ev – All righty then… gulp….

    LGS – Ouch – a cane? It’s funny how giving your kids a whoopin’ now and then was normal in the old days, isn’t it?

    Geewits – That’s a point. I think the best parenting policy is to follow your instincts – assuming you have half-way decent instincts of course. But it never hurts to have input. I read all the books and did all the research just like I do with pretty much everything in my life, but then I’ll make up my own mind. Usually, I’ve made up my mind beforehand anyway and I’m just looking for something to back me up.

    Mudmama – I’m so relieved to hear you say that. You always seem like such a calm, earth mother, I figured you were one of the ones who actually never raised their voices or got angry with her children. I don’t know why I thought that because I must also have known on some level that you were human.

    Friar – I don’t know. There are hills and valleys being a parent and there are hills and valleys not being a parent. I’ve never for an instant regretted it, that’s for sure.

    Meanie – I find it’s often not even anything big that they did – it’s usually about me. If the whole day has been crappy or if it’s an accumulation of things, the last straw might be something quite benign. I don’t like yelling either, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I don’t think you can live with people day in and day out and have total responsibility for them and remain on an even keel every minute. That would be kind of creepy.

  10. I think my mom would’ve wound up in the looney bin if she couldn’t have vented by yelling at us, because we sure deserved it sometimes. Like Mudmama, my mom was good for yelling at all of us to get outside and don’t come back until it got dark. I don’t have any kids myself, but I do wish I could yell that at my dog some days.

    I think if it’s done in moderation it’s not a problem. When it’s done constantly, I think it loses its effectiveness.

    I

  11. Not a mommy. So, no, I have never yelled at my child. BUT, had I been a mom, I have no doubt I would have.

  12. I have raised my voices to my kids – did so tonite in fact when my 8 year old broke her recorder over my 4 year old’s head. There’s nothing wrong with raising your voice to your child when the occaision calls for it.

    In public though, I don’t believe in yelling. The death whisper is probably a good tactic in that case followed by a return home if it doesn’t work.

  13. I’m thinking way back, and I honestly can’t remember ever yelling at my son. I did hit him twice though, once when he was seven and once when he was 13, and I felt absolutely sick immediately after.

    Now that I think about it, I did yell at him the time I hit him when he was seven. And he wrote me such a sad note after, which made me feel even worse.

    I hope he’s forgotten.

  14. Nah, I yell at my kids and I don’t have a mental breakdown over it. I don’t do it a lot, but I do when something they’ve done really irks me. If I see one of the kids colouring the couch cushions with crayon, or sharpening a pencil and letting the shavings fall all over the living room floor that was just vacuumed half an hour before, yeah, of course I’m going to let loose with a bit of a yell.

    The funny thing is that Hana had a teacher who was VERY yell-y last year and Hana was terrified of the woman. Made for a rough year of junior kindergarten. Anyway, when Hana used to say that her teach scared her because she yelled a lot, I would say, “but Hana–I yell a lot, too, and you’re not scared of me.” And she would say, “you don’t yell, mom.” And then my husband would laugh and laugh. “Oh no, your mother doesn’t yell. Quiet as a mouse, she is!”

    What I get from that, though, is that in the moment when I yell the kids do understand that I’m upset and that they need to stop what they’re doing pronto. However, the yells are infrequent enough and I’m normally a warm and affectionate mom, so the yelling is not what comes to mind when they think of me–which is good.

    I do like Sean’s “the death whisper” when in public. I’ve used that. I actually think my kids know that they are super super in trouble if mom’s voice goes very quiet and very steady.

  15. I’ve DEFINITELY raised my voice. A few times yesterday in fact. What’s there to have a nervous breakdown over? Raising your voice shows you mean business and to stop effing around. I use it sparingly so it still has the intended effect.

  16. I yell at the kids sometimes, maybe more than I’d like, but I don’t remember blogging about it. Feel free to refresh my memory if I did.

    I don’t regard mommyblogger as a bad word, I was definitely one when I started out blogging four or so years ago, when the girls were 7 and 3. As they’ve grown up and are less likely to want me to write about them, I think my blog has morphed into more of a personal blog with mommy overtones.

  17. I don’t have children, but from what I’ve observed children nowadays are far too coddled! I was yelled at and spanked when I was bad.

    Did it destroy me? No!
    Did my parents have to pay for therapy as a result of this discipline? No!

    I don’t advocate yelling and spanking all the time, but more as a last resort when your kids are driving you nuts and really disrespecting you. They need to learn boundaries, discipline as well as consequences for their actions.

  18. Skye – That’s what happens at my brother’s place. Everyone is always yelling at everyone and no one is listening. They’re forever threatening the kids with no more TV, early bedtime, getting grounded, etc., etc., but there’s no follow-up because I think they’re all too tired from yelling. The place is a madhouse.

    Jazz – Do you ever yell at your cat (do you have a cat? I can’t remember?) Do you ever yell at your husband? Anybody? Do you have anyone to yell at?

    Gracious – Indeed

    Sean – Ya public yelling is embarassing for everyone. A little hissing in public goes a long way.

    Zoom – Wow, that’s pretty impressive. But then again, you also claim to never get angry. I can’t imagine life without anything ever making me angry or frustrated. Do you just internalize it or can you just let things roll off your back that easily?

    Mary Lynn – I don’t think teachers should be allowed to yell. That’s just wrong. If they can’t handle a room full of kids all day long. Sure, I wouldn’t do it for all the money in the world, but this is a job they’ve chosen and they should find a way to deal with it without yelling all the time. I can see and explosion once or twice, but not a regular thing.

    Tiana – Ya, I don’t think young children are all that into sitting down and having a reasonable discussion about stuff.

    Alison – I don’t you remember lamenting about yelling at your kids and I don’t really think of you as a mommy blogger either (not that there’s naything wrong with that) — but then I just starting reading you in the last couple of years. I was pretty sure you yelled at your kids sometimes though. Ha ha

    Pauline – Absolutely. I never got into the spanking thing. That seemed a little too cold-blooded to me – to plan and execute a corporal punishment. And in the heat of the moment is not a good time to get into corporal punishment or hitting, so I avoided it. A good holler was usually enough. I’ve also never had to ground her which is pretty cool. She’s really very well behaved. It’s freaky.

  19. We try to avoid yelling at the kids. We really do try.
    But we do occassionally raise our voices or snap at them, and I don’t think several thousand dollars of a therapist’s time will be needed in the future.
    I snapped at my 6 yr old yesterday when she kept doing something after repeatedly being told to stop.
    But that’s what kids do, right?
    But no yelling in public – it is too embarassing for both of us.
    And no hitting. That doesn’t prove any points at any time.
    But that’s just me…
    Hey XUP – any Daddy-bloggers out there?

  20. My mother whacked my butt with a hairbrush. I’ve been in therapy for years. (Actually, I haven’t. But it would probably have done me a world of good.)
    As a young mother, I yelled. A lot. My kids survived.
    I too read a lot of young mothers who are trying to raise their kids with empathy. This looks to me like a very, very difficult thing to do and I am in awe of their self-control and creative approaches to teaching and discipline. Although, as you say, some of the angst can be pretty funny when seen from the angle of someone whose children are grown up.
    What I try to remember is that these young women do not know what the result of their parenting is going to be. It’s easy to laugh about throwing a coffee cup across the room in a tantrum when you are talking to a highly successful forty-something daughter who finds it funny. Not so easy when the kid is four and you don’t feel as if you know what you are doing.

  21. Did you invent the term, “Walmart Parent”?? I am madly in love with it. I will be trying to use it on a daily basis. My new goal in life: don’t be a Walmart Parent! Maybe I’ll do it up in needlepoint.

    My mother was a yeller and I’m a yeller, too. Sometimes you have to let your kids know that you are really serious about something.

    The times that bother me, though, are times when I go past yelling into screaming or screeching. The times when I’m totally over the line with anger that I’m screaming, screaming, screaming at them like a toddler having a temper tantrum. Those are times when I know I’ve really scared them, and its not good. I’ve worked hard to put it behind me but I must say, on days like that, it is so nice to know other mommybloggers who can quietly admit that they’ve been there.

    I wonder how our mothers survived, having bad days like this and thinking they were the only ones. It’s tough.

  22. It’s not my favourite parenting method, but I definitely yell sometimes and I don’t feel guilty about it. I actually think it’s important for kids to understand that we are human and can’t always have endless patience. We all have our breaking points.
    I’m still trying to decide if I am a mommy blogger or not. Some days yes, others no. I do not mind that term though.

  23. Trashy – I think there must be some stay home dads who blog. I don’t know any off hand.

    Mary – I do realize that the humour in mommy blogging is because either we’ve already been through it or have no intention of going through it. I remember very well what it’s like to be a new mother who doesn’t know what she’s doing. Hell., I’ve had 17 years experience and I still don’t know what I’m doing – because it’s a whole new ball game every day. Which is why I said that I wish I’d had a mommy blogger network to access and participate in when I was a new mom. Good point.

    Lynn – Yes, I invented the term “WalMart Parent”. And feel free to use it whenever and wherever you wish as long as you always add “as coined by XUP” – ha ha just kidding. Once it’s out there, it’s up for grabs, right? I think moms in the olden days had more of a network of other young mothers in their community. People lived in close-knit neighbourhoods. Most of the moms stayed home looking after kids and they all got together at the park or for coffee and networked. Now, everyone lives in isolated suburban communities where most mothers go out to work and the kids are in daycare. So the mom who does stay home is often all alone all day in a suburban wasteland with her children. So it’s good that the internet came along just in time.

    Susan – Ev doesn’t blog nearly enough.She always has such an interesting new perspective on things.

    Finola – There’s a fine line about that human parent thing though. Kids have to have absolute trust and faith in you. They should feel completely confident in your ability to keep them safe and warm and fed. They should never be afraid of you harming them. All that is somewhat super-human, so they have to have some notion that you’re a superior being to all the other people in the world – at least for a while. But ya, they also have to understand that you have needs (sleeping past 5:00 am for instance or going out without them sometimes) and that you have feelings that they can hurt and that you have limits to your super-humaness. They’ll figure it out eventually anyway, but it’s always good if it’s a gradual thing rather than a sudden surprise.

  24. laughing at the first part how you described the dramatic mommyblogger who yells at their kid.

    yelling is a normal part of human behavior and while it makes us feel bad afterward, it’s a necessary evil.

    i firmly believe that we have to have some kind of way to stun our kids into stopping immediately and listening to me as a safety measure.

    lastly, you completely NAILED the walmart scenario.

  25. Leah – Thanks. It’s always fun when you do your mass commenting day because I get to look back on what I wrote days or even weeks ago. It’s nice then because it’s like the post wasn’t just over on the day I wrote it.

  26. I think you make a great point! Thanks for injecting a normal voice into the din. 🙂