Friday, October 23, 2009

Parents Who Yell

The NYTimes has an article today about today's parents who don't spank; instead they yell:

Many in today’s pregnancy-flaunting, soccer-cheering, organic-snack-proffering generation of parents would never spank their children. We congratulate our toddlers for blowing their nose (“Good job!”), we friend our teenagers (literally and virtually), we spend hours teaching our elementary-school offspring how to understand their feelings. But, incongruously and with regularity, this is a generation that yells.

“I’ve worked with thousands of parents and I can tell you, without question, that screaming is the new spanking,” said Amy McCready, the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, which teaches parenting skills in classes, individual coaching sessions and an online course. “This is so the issue right now. As parents understand that it’s not socially acceptable to spank children, they are at a loss for what they can do. They resort to reminding, nagging, timeout, counting 1-2-3 and quickly realize that those strategies don’t work to change behavior. In the absence of tools that really work, they feel frustrated and angry and raise their voice. They feel guilty afterward, and the whole cycle begins again.”
Been there; done that. Although there is an apocryphal story that my son Ryan loves to tell about me once chasing him around the house with a wooden spoon, we weren't spankers when our kids were little. There were a few pops on the butt when they were toddlers (and apparently, according to this article, we stunted our kids emotional development when we did that - sorry kids) we mostly used time outs and loss of privileges and tried to teach about natural consequences.

But there a few times - maybe more than a few - when I yelled. I will only speak for myself here. I can still remember what it felt like to be at my wits end and lose it with the yelling, and then feel absolutely mortified afterwards. I can remember Meagan especially bursting into tears once after I yelled at her because she so rarely pushed my buttons. Ryan was a little better at knowing where they were.

There comes a point when your kids get old enough and they begin telling you about what a bad parent you are, and you just say "you can take it up with your therapist." And then they go off to college and you look back fondly on helping with homework and the lunches and reading to them and all the hugs and kisses that so often made things better. There are a few things, though, that I would just as soon forget about. It's funny how those are the things that come up around the dinner table now when we are all together.

No comments: