Sometimes I yell at my daughter. I'm not proud of it. I'd blame it on being a working mom, but I think that's too easy. It's not the fact that I work that makes me frazzled enough to lose my temper. It's the fact that I'm human.
So when family psychologist John Rosemond announced in a recent essay that "yelling has become epidemic in American mommy culture," I actually snorted out loud. Moms have yelled for generations!
The difference? Some moms today have actually figured out it's not the best thing to do ... and we apologize to our kids.
At least, I do.
If I slip up and I'm too sharp with my daughter, I immediately tell her I'm sorry for my tone of voice.
Does that mean I'm a pushover mom, what Rosemond calls a "milquetoast mom" who really only yells because she was so busy bending over backward for her kid to begin with that she ended up frustrated and lost her cool?
I don't think so.
I am not apologizing to her for disciplining her. I'm apologizing to her for doing it in a way that, quite frankly, I wouldn't do with anyone else. I wouldn't yell at my boss or neighbor, I wouldn't scream at my husband or the woman at the post office.
Ask any mom I know if she'd be OK screaming at the top of her lungs at an adult, and she'll say, "No."
So why is it that we yell at our kids? Why is it that there are moms who are OK yelling at their kids, moms who would (and have) scolded me for apologizing to her?
This is one of the crossroads I've reached as a mom, where I diverge in the woods with other parents who I often respect on other matters.
I want to be a mom with authority. Who doesn't? I want to be a mom whose child respects her, and by and large I am (aside from her insistence on walking in on me in the shower). I can -- and do -- still discipline with a firm voice at a modulated volume. She has manners, and her friends' parents insist that she's a delight when she goes to their homes.
But I also want to be a mom who can go to bed at night feeling like I did a good job of practicing what I preach, a mom who can actually say "do as I do" not just "do as I say."
If I scream at her, what am I teaching her?
To scream. To yell. To treat people in ways none of us want to be treated.
On the other hand, if I apologize to her for slipups, I teach her myriad things I want her to learn: that people are imperfect, that it's OK to mess up once in awhile, that it's important to see your mistakes and try to fix them.
I want her to know it's OK to say "sorry."
I'm not proud that I sometimes yell at my kid. But I'm not too proud to say I'm sorry.
Do you apologize to your kids for yelling at them?
Image via butupa/Flickr