All quiet on the home front

Ten days ago, I completely lost my voice. I spent nearly 72 hours only able to whisper, at a time when my house was filled with family and Halloween hubbub. For someone who talks far more than I probably should, this sent me into a bit of a tailspin. It also forced me to recognize that much of what I say is unnecessary, and more importantly, the volume of my voice had little to do with how my message was received.

Over the course of those three days, I lost what I had previous considered one of my most efficient parenting tools: yelling. Unlike my own mother, I’ve never been able to fully the master “the look” (which, by the way, still stops me in my tracks, and I’m nearly 36.) So, next to taking away screen time, I thought a loud voice was the fastest way to ensure compliance. Turns out, it’s not as effective as I’d imagined.

About the time my voice returned, there was a flurry of articles about a recent study suggesting that yelling at kids is just as harmful as physical abuse. (My favorite article on the topic: “If yelling at kids is just as bad as spanking, what the hell is left?”)

I know shouting at your kids isn’t exactly good parenting; I don’t need a study to tell me that. But then there are mornings like today . . . One is insisting her hair be parted a half inch above her ear, another is actively ingesting deodorant, and yet another’s crying because she wants to take a ham sandwich for lunch, but we’re out of bread. (“They’re serving HAMBURGERS today, and I’M A VEGETARIAN.”)

I really felt like yelling. Instead, I calmly explained the source of ham, then tried to rationalize most everything else. I don’t know if it was effective, but I felt better about how I handled it.

I keep coming back to something I read about that study, which is, essentially: If you address your kids with anger and frustration, you end up with angry and frustrated kids. And I can say, up until this morning at least, the girls have been remarkably calm and very reasonable. So much so, in fact, I asked I questioned this newfound behavior yesterday. (“Nothing’s going on! It’s not like we broke an iPad or anything…geez, Mom. “)

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Doug Smith on November 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Another great little essay on parenting. You should be blogging for one of the national magazines, Rebecca. Or writing a book!

  2. Posted by Linda Fasching on November 15, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I just have to add a note on how I LOVE your blog. You let everyone into the amazing Smith, Bornemeier, Whitehead family and let us know what is going on in all your lives, making all events and thoughts so real and exciting. I agree with Doug, you should be blogging for a national magazine!
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!


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