We yell at our children because we can.

In Hilary Stout’s recent for The New York Times, the former Wall Street Journal editor references a national study where, of the 1,300 parents asked, two-thirds “named yelling — not working or spanking or missing a school event — as their biggest guilt inducer …  Parental yelling today may be partly a releasing of stress for multitasking, overachieving adults, parenting experts say.”

The eye-opener here is not that we do it, or that damages the children we love purportedly more than anything on earth. What Stout brings forward is that we are finally defining yelling for what it is: verbal abuse.

My childhood was loaded with abuse. While the physical and sexual elements were more immediately life-threatening, the verbal abuse was no less damaging. No one believed me … UNTIL NOW. (Dum dum dum!!!!)

PS. Yelling at each other in front of our children is just as abusive.

We also yell at children because we still can. Most of the avenues that used to be considered a parent’s right are now punishable by jail time. Not so with our dirty little secret. It and emotional abuse remain the adult way to off-load onto the most vulnerable everything from frustration to fury (see above: “releasing of stress for multitasking, overachieving adults”). I call that abusive.

Well, every parent yells. True, but: desirable? Would it make a difference if you heard instead: “Every parent commits verbal abuse.” If: “My parents yelled at me, and I turned out okay,” then: “My parents verbally abused me.”

After I yell at my children, I apologize. To them. “I am sorry I yelled at you.” I resist the urge to add, “Because you (list offenses).” That can come later, in a low-key chat. “Hey, loved offspring; when you yadada yadada yadada, I thought/felt (choose all that apply): Anger. Fear. Guilt. Shame. Lonely.

It doesn’t matter how Loved Offspring responds, or even if. What matters is that I apologized.

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