The B-Plus Parent: 5 Perfectly Acceptable Reasons to Shout at Your Kids
The problem with pretty much every parenting philosophy is that they expect you to be a perfect parent. Always do what's best for your kids, no matter what the effect on you, your wallet or your mental health. And in striving for an A-plus, most of us end up feeling like failures.
Well, I'm here to let you off the hook. Don't aim so high. Those kids in high school who studied 24/7 to maintain their 4.0 GPA never had any fun, and you felt sorry for them, remember? So why are you so bent on being a parenting nerd? It's not even like there's a parenting Harvard to get into, so seriously, relax already.
Go for a B-plus instead. A B-plus isn't perfect, but it's a solid grade. If you're a B-plus parent, you love your kids, you want them to be happy and successful in life, but you have your own life, too, and that's OK.
So if you're a B-plus parent, like me, how are you supposed to handle all this anti-shouting hullabaloo?
There was the viral post from the woman who talked about how perfect her life became when she stopped shouting at her kids. Then there are the alarmists who insist that shouting is the new spanking. And just watch all the nasty looks you get when you shout at your kids in public. "Oh, I'm sorry I disrupted the serenity of this Applebee's, everyone!" Well, I want to say something to those anti-shouting jerks, as loudly as I can:
I'M ONLY HUMAN!!!
Sure, it shocks and even frightens kids when we shout at them, but that's kind of the point, at least if you're doing it right. I'm not saying you should shout all the time. Of course not. Then the shouting would lose its impact, and you'd lose your voice… which would mean you couldn't shout anymore. But a well-timed raising of the voice can be highly effective parenting.
Here are five reasons you DAMN WELL BETTER shout at your kids, YOU HEAR ME?
1. They're in danger. OK, duh. If you're going to save your shouts for anything, this is clearly #1. When you yell "DON'T JUMP IN THE POLAR BEAR PEN!", it's because you want an instantaneous response. Ditto for "PUT DOWN THAT DRANO!" and "EITHER GET YOUR FACE AWAY FROM THE VACUUM OR GET YOUR HAND OFF THE POWER BUTTON!"
Of course, I don't think this is what anybody's talking about when they say to never shout, but it's a good reason to never say never. Because "Pardon me, children, but there appears to be a meteor headed directly for us, so let's calmly form a single-file line toward the shelter" isn't going to cut it.
2. To be heard over the chaos. I don't know about you, but the average decibel level in my house fluctuates between NASCAR starting line and airport tarmac level. You really think in that kind of environment that gently intoning, "Tally ho, my little angels, I just put dinner on the table" is going to get anyone's attention? Sometimes, the only thing that gets kids to the kitchen is, "FOOD! NOW!"
Then, once we're all in the same room, we can try to have a nice, quiet conversation. If mashed potatoes start flying across the table, though, I'm probably going to raise my voice again. Which brings me to the next perfectly acceptable reason for shouting…
3. Because you're f***ing angry! Are kids supposed to feel empathy? Because mine don't. When one kid hits the other and that kid falls to the floor in agony, screaming their head off, the look on the hitter's face isn't remorse. It's pride. Like they're thinking, "Ooh, that was a good one! I rock!"
A gentle, "Tsk, tsk!" isn't going to bring them back down to Earth. More likely, what they need to hear is "GET YOUR TUSHIE IN THE TIME OUT CHAIR, MISTER!"
I don't say mean things or belittle them when I shout, but I use the tone of my voice to convey two things very clearly: 1) you messed up and 2) I'm the sheriff here.
Maybe someday they'll develop some compassion for their fellow man. I'm working on that, too, but it's more of a long-term project. In the meantime, shouting helps me condemn bad behavior in the quickest and most effective way.
4. So they know you're not perfect. Sometimes, I shout because I've lost my cool. I got tired of asking my kids for the 500th time to pick up their Legos or to put on a long-sleeve shirt because it's the middle of winter and Daddy says so!
At times like those, I often feel bad about raising my voice. Do I think it makes me a bad parent, though? No, I think it makes me human. And that's exactly what I'm going to tell my kids. "I'm sorry I yelled at you. You know I love you very much, even when I'm upset. Seriously, though. Pick up the Legos."
There, now it's a teachable moment.
5. Because they shout at you. I know, this is the pettiest reason of them all. My kids also shit their pants sometimes, but I'm not about to do that, mostly because they won't spring into action with a new pair of pants and a case of wipes if I do. But that's all the more reason to fight shouting with shouting. It's one of the few kid behaviors I'm willing to throw back in their faces. They want to know how I feel when they yell at me? Well, I'm going to show them. And by the way, I own shouting. Their chirpy little kid voices are no competition for my grown-ass man bellow in that department.
And when we're both shouting so loud that neither of us can hear the other or even understand what we ourselves are saying anymore, then maybe the kids will get the message that shouting is, overall, a lousy way to communicate with people you love.
You know, unless someone's about to get hurt or something.