Yelling at Your Baby Makes You a Bad Mom


screaming mouth on handI was at the pediatrician and a mom was putting her baby into the stroller. He was a grabby kid and didn't want to put his legs where they needed to go, and his mom was having a bit of a struggle. The baby started to cry. One of those loud cries you hear when you know a baby is really upset. She was rough with him -- no doubt about that -- and she was losing her patience.

I sat there with my twins in the stroller in front of me, hoping the ruckus wasn't going to upset them.

Should I have helped her? I don't know. I mean, she was putting one child, albeit a now flailing child, in a stroller. I figured she could handle it. She's a mom. Her kid was about one, so she had probably done this countless times before.

But then he grabbed her hair and pulled.

He pulled hard. She screamed louder than I felt it necessary to scream when a child pulls your hair. One of those screams that if you heard it at night outside your door you would think someone is trying to kill someone else. I kid you not. She screamed that loud, that fiercely. And it made me judge her.

Clearly, she was a bad mom. At that moment, after witnessing it all, that's what I thought. When your hair is pulled it hurts. I know. But does it hurt bad enough that you must scream louder than your child? I didn't think so. And even if it did, this was her child -- she was the adult, who was acting like a child.

This bad mom was a mom without any patience, a mom who probably couldn't wait to get home to put the baby in his crib where he would cry and cry and cry until his cortisone levels were so high that he would make himself sick. A mom who was so annoyed that she had to take the day off of work or away from her soap operas to take her sick kid to the doctor.

After she screamed, the baby stopped crying and there was silence. A silence that hurt my ears. I looked over at the receptionist who looked down at her desk in horror. I wanted to say something like Calm down or It's going to be alright but I didn't. I couldn't. I was in shock. And I also felt it was none of my business. But at the same time, I felt so sad for the baby.

I know we can lose our patience sometimes. It happens, we're human. And that's why I feel like I am being judgmental about thinking that this mom is a bad mom based on this one yelling incident I witnessed. Maybe she just lost her job, is going through a divorce, or lost a loved one. But another part of me strongly feels that she is just a bad mom.

What do you think? What would you have done if you were me?


*Editor's note: I changed to specify it was a pediatrician office I was in when this occurred.

Image via Andrew Mason/Flickr



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toria... toriandgrace

I have screamed at my four year old when she's hurt me before. It's not right and it's not necessary, but sometimes when it's finals week, my husband is deployed, my dogs just ate my favorite sandal (again), and my daughter has been whining all day, I snap and yell. It's not justifiable, but it happens. If it happens in public (not sure that it has) then feel free to judge me as well. If she had hit the child, or pulled the child's hair to show that it hurt, then I would classify her as a bad mom. Occasionally screaming, while not good parenting, isn't really the end of the world.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

You're right tori and knowing that you know it isn't right makes you a good mom. I'm new at motherhood, so I am learning and I'm sure they will be a day when I lose my patience, but all I can do is try not to and realize when I am wrong.

isra1986 isra1986

I don't think it's your place to judge a stranger. It was a doctors office, for all you know she was there for her migraines and the child pulling her hair hurt worse with her headache than someone without a headache!

Carey... Carey2006

I might have tried to help her but I definitely would NOT have even thought to say something like Calm down or It's going to be alright....for fear that she might backhand me!

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

Note: It was a pediatrician's office.

nonmember avatar lmashe

WOW!!!  all i can say is that you are really judging her.....we all have bad mommy moment....we are not perfect people....we mess don't know what her day was like.  We all mess us and we all make mistakes.  Just have sympathy  and compassion. We as parents have to keep that in mind.  we don't always have controlled behavior.  Why are moms so hard on other moms why to we judge them.  I sure hope that one day you aren't having a bad day and some one doesn't judge you instead of having compassion on you.  We all have them....some just happen in public while others don't.  I am sure that I don't measure up to what would say is a good mom, but I am doing the best job I can. We wonder why women can't get along.

bride... bridey530

i've talked to moms about the pulling hair thing before and it actually REALLY hurts some the point that they say they can take anything else except their hair being pulled......i understand you judging her....we all do it, but i'm thinking she was probably not having a very good day and that probably you were seeing the absoloute worse of it.

if the baby had been 1 month and not 1 year i'd be more worried.....but coming into that toddler stage is hard on child and mommy and i'm thinking she's probably still just working the kinks out.

we also all have our own opinions of what consitutes a good mom and a bad me it sounds like she was probably an at least o.k. mom suffering a moment of frusterated weakness.  after all, at least she was taking her kid to pediatrician.


Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

Great point bridey.

lmashe, you aren't reading the whole thing and you are only seeing parts of what I wrote. I admit I am being judgemental and that we all make mistakes. And I am grappling with feeling sympathic to her as well as thinking she isn't being a good mother. Doing the best job you can is all we can do.

cafemama cafemama

I recently yelled at my son for the first time. It had been a long day and he pushed my buttons. I felt horrible for doing it  esp because he cried and asked me why I talked to him in "that voice". I'm not proud of that moment, but it happens. Being a mom is HARD and we all have our bad days. Maybe this was just a bad day for her. 

chann... channingsmama10

I definitely would have said something.  Man up, you're an adult, your child is a child, if you can't handle a little physical pain while parenting whether by accident or on purpose, you shouldn't parent.  In public, really?

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