I Won’t Judge You for Yelling at Your Kids Because I Do it, Too

I have a neighbor who lives just out of earshot of my yelling. I know this because we are friends and we occasionally joke about the things we’ve yelled at our kids. Like this gem, “For the love of all that is holy in this world, STOP PEEING ALL OVER THE DAMN TOILET SEAT AND FLOOR!” Yeah. Not my proudest moment.

Despite what the sanctimommies of the Internet will tell you, yelling, generally speaking, is not abusive. It is quite normal to happen on occasion in the average family. And I, for one, will not judge you for yelling at your kids because I do it, too. To be super duper clear, I am talking about that once in a while parenting slip-up, NOT daily ranting and raving at your kids.


Yelling at your kids to “CUT IT OUT!” because they are beating the snot out of each other, because they have compulsively and intentionally annoyed you for the umpteenth time, because they are doing something stupid and dangerous that could get them maimed or killed, or because they have broken some cardinal house rule is absolutely run-of-the-mill reaction from parents and not a big deal. Even the experts agree with me.

In an article on TODAY.com, George Holden, a psychologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas says, “A bit of yelling is good for kids, if you’re angry at the child, it’s sometimes okay to express that emotion so the child can learn to cope with negative emotion in other people.” All of that is to say that yelling in small doses is not going to harm your child in the long term. This is not the same as yelling as a form of abuse. There is a clear line.

Yelling at your kids to shame them, to vent anger that is out of the realm of normal and into the realm of road rage or bar fight, or because that has become the twisted love language of your house is not normal.

Parenting has come to a pinnacle of black and white in which parents on one side have hunkered down to embrace their world’s Most Okayest Parents status and the other side where they’ve hunkered down to be the world’s Most Perfect Parents, casting judgment on the rest of us. Yelling is a taboo topic that will bring out passionate voices on both sides of this aisle.

But here’s the thing: Instead of judging parents for yelling could we all agree to step back and look at yelling from a case-by-case basis and from a holistic perspective?

My neighbor, the one out of earshot from my hollering, told me a story about this one time when her two boys — who, by the way, are usually very well-behaved kids — were driving her absolutely batshit crazy. While out shopping they were running through aisle, not listening, sass talking — basically acting like total heathens and my poor neighbor found herself screaming…in the middle of the store. “OMG, I AM NOW THAT MOTHER WHO YELLS AT HER CHILDREN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORE!!” she told me. It may not have been funny at the time, but we have both laughed about it together since then.

What people in that store didn’t see and could not possibly have known is that she is a very chill mom. Sure, she has strict rules and clear boundaries at her house as any good parent does, but she isn’t that crazy lady with the obnoxious kids you hear about. Her kids went bonkers one afternoon, for whatever reason. She found herself screaming and feeling the dread of judgment from passersby.

And I don’t judge her. At. All. Who hasn’t been in her shoes?

Children are not special snowflakes and they are also not so fragile that they can’t handle a raised voice from mom or dad, particularly when that raised voiced is out-balanced by acts and words of love on a consistent basis. Children who are handled like fine china will grow up to be emotionally impotent and ill-prepared to deal with the real world, so chalk your normal range yelling up to character building. Your kids are going to be just fine.

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