Why did I used to yell at my kids? Because of spilled milk? Because I was in a bad mood? Because I didn't care? Hmmmm...there are lots of reasons. After a fight with my husband the other night, a fight where I walked away instead of engaging in a yelling battle, a new reason I yell at my kids hit me. It hit me hard and the acknowledgement of it made me feel really uncomfortable...and I mean REALLY uncomfortable.
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Why is it that I find all the will power in the world to not yell at my husband, yet I barely used to think twice about yelling at my kids?
Why is it that in 11 years of knowing my husband I have only yelled at him a handful of times, yet in my 6 years of parenting I used to yell on average at least 11 times a week?
Why is it that I almost always stay calm when “talking” to my husband yet with my kids I used to go from calm to yelling in 5 minutes flat?
Why is it that I when my conversations with my husband aren’t going anywhere but downhill, I can find the strength to walk away, yet when the same happened with my kids, I started yelling and kept yelling?
Why is it that I have the ability to decipher which fights with my husband to let slide, which ones just aren’t worth the battle, yet with my kids I felt every fight is worth it? That every fight I needed to be right, I need to assert my opinion, I needed them to hear what I say and agree and follow it?
Is it because my husband is 36ish and my kids are under 6?
Is it because I am with my husband only on the weekends but I am with my kids all day long?
Is it because I am a newbie at parenting and don’t know any better?
Or is it because I know that my husband has the power to yell back at me, that my yelling isn’t a one way street? That if he wanted he could make me feel small, wrong, and awful inside? That as an adult he has the knowledge and ability to say things that would make me feel worse than how I felt before the fight? That he can bring me to tears?
Yes. I think this is the REAL reason.
I hate to say it but I do think I yell less at my husband not because of his age or the amount of time we spend together but because I know that if I yell at him, he can return the favor. And it wouldn’t be pretty. Sure having young kids who are still learning to listen, to control their behavior, will bring out the desire to yell a lot more than when dealing with a so-called “mature adult”…but at the end of the day I know that if I yell at my husband I’ll end in tears and I don’t want to end up in tears! But if I yell at my kids, I won’t be in tears, they would be. Because at their current age, they can’t yell back at me in the same way my husband can. Sure they can continue to not listen, continue to misbehave, continue to drive me nuts, but they can’t yell at me in the way that would really, truly hurt my feelings.
At the end of the day if I yell at my husband there is an immediate consequence, an immediate attack at me, my argument, my confidence which serves as a great motivator not to yell. Because yelling hurts. But, if I yell at my kids the consequence is delayed, the guilt, the disappointment in myself, it all comes later and even then it usually isn’t on the same level of crappiness as I feel when being yelled at.
At the end of the day, I yelled at my kids because I could. Because I felt that the consequences weren’t “that bad.” Because they couldn’t yell back.
But I know firsthand that being yelled at sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. It makes me feel small. It makes me cower. It makes me feel embarrassed, unworthy. And I hate it. I hate being yelled at. There are no other words to describe how I feel about being yelled at. It is that simple. So I do everything I can to keep from yelling at my husband, or any adult for that matter because I don’t want to get what I give. I walk away until I can speak “nicer”, I stay calm, I decide to let some things slide. I don’t yell at adults. Period.
So if I know how much it sucks to be yelled at it, and I fight my hardest to not engage in yelling battles, why did I yell at my kids for so long?
Again, because they couldn’t yell back at me.
Eeeech. I REALLY don’t like the sound of that.
But it’s the truth.
And I am really glad that I have started to change the truth. That my truth now is that I don’t yell at my kids. I am glad that the so called manageable consequences grew and grew and became unmanageable, unacceptable to me and forced me to change. I am so glad I decided to take The Orange Rhino Challenge. Because I love my kids. And I don’t want them to feel how I have felt ever again.
IMPORTANT NOTE: My husband and I do truly rarely scream at each other. I am fortunate for that. My experiences of being yelled at are from my entire life: from friends, family, teachers, strangers, etc…. I just used my husband as an example tonight because our “fight” is what got me thinking.
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