Have you guys seen the Orange Rhino Challenge? In a nutshell, it’s a challenge to stop yelling at your kids.
*eyeroll* Right? How can you be a parent and not yell? That’s what parents DO. It’s like, 90% of the job description.
Here’s the thing: I’m a yeller. My family of orientation has some anger management issues that were blissfully passed on to me. The Captain, though much better than me most of the time, feeds off of my stress, so when I yell, he yells, too. The kicker? We never yell at each other the way we yell at the kids. I would never, in a million years, use it as an acceptable form of communication with him, and he is usually so even keeled that I doubt he’d yell at me if I stuck a fork in his hand (okay, that may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea).
How is it okay to speak to our kids in a way that we would never dream of using with our partner?
We’ve made excuses for a long time. “They just don’t listen… I ask nicely 1,000 times and it’s only when I yell that we get results… We do it to keep them safe… We can’t communicate as effectively with them and we get frustrated.” I think most parents would think these are all viable excuses. BUT THEY ARE NOT GOOD REASONS.
Since becoming parents of multiple children, our stress and anxiety levels have increased. Now, we’re about to add a 4th into our barely contained mass of chaos, and I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking a lot.
About how I hate the way I feel when I tuck the kids in with tears on their faces, because I had to yell at them to just go to bed. How I hate myself, because I should be doing better than this. They deserve better than this.
About how I want to do better, and feeling guilty because I. Just. Can’t.
So, upon my frequent blog hopping, I came across another Orange Rhino post. This time, though, instead of passing it off as a wishy-washy idea, I read about it. And I read some more.
I mentioned it to the Captain, and he became interested.
This could be good for us.
We’re starting small. Like, one day at a time, small.
But you know what?
I did it. I went the whole day, and the one time my voice got to a 4 level, I quickly reigned it in, took a breath, and started over.
And it was AMAZING.
But not yelling wasn’t the only part of it. I had to let go, too. I had to let go of the need to control what my kids were or weren’t doing. I had to remember that they’re kids. One of them is barely considered more than a baby. Cabin Boy was the toughest. Being nearly 4, he’s picked up on my ‘start yelling if someone doesn’t do what I want’ habit, and that’s going to be a tough war to wage. It will be so worth it though.
Because I got to say goodnight to my kids tonight without the guilt of things I said in anger, or things I yelled about, hanging over me, marking me as a less-than mom. Less-than I want to be. Less-than I should be.
Today, I didn’t yell. And I will strive to do the same tomorrow. Because my kids deserve more than the less-than mom, and so do I.