I came across a newspaper story bearing the shocking headline, “Parents who yell may raise teen’s risk of depression.” What? Isn’t yelling at kids a key part of parenting? Why, a respected pediatrician I know told me that to keep peace in the house, it’s sometimes necessary for “the lion to roar.”
He means the dad, of course. Mothers yell but kids can tune them out. I learned the value of yelling from two professionals: my parents. An “Onion” article reminded me of my dad. It was about a father teaching his ten-year-old son to lose his temper every time he encountered the slightest adversity. That’s what I call a role model.
Overreacting to tiny problems – isn’t that the right of any father? I’m like my dad; big problems such as the Great Recession don’t bother me. Little things like being treated rudely by a retailer or bureaucrat – better call security right away. My tantrums would embarrass my kids but I was just trying to teach them the value of increasing the volume.
Yelling doesn’t just work in public. It’s very useful at home. It’s funny but most of the time I wasn’t even mad. I yelled to break up fights, stop nonsense in its tracks and slow the gradual destruction of the house. In extreme emergencies, I’d throw in some Anglo-Saxon terms.
There were also times during their teen years that I completely lost it. I’d be fighting to keep my serenity when someone would crash the computer, clog the toilet with a jar of makeup, or break the car key off in the lock. I noticed that shouting at the perpetrator really improved the situation.
Regardless of whether it helped, I thought occasional venting was essential to keeping my sanity. Little did I know that I was raising their risk of depression. According to the study, yelling at kids does not improve their behavior. OK, but isn’t it great to occasionally see the Fear of God in their faces?
Unfortunately, I have not been a good role model for my two sons. They do not have anger issues and rarely yell. I remember accompanying my son to the Secretary of State’s office to get his driver’s license. I was practically seething before we got there, in anticipation of the abuse we were going to suffer. My son remained calm throughout the whole agonizing process. He had decided beforehand it was going to bad and wasn’t worth getting upset about.
What’s wrong with this kid? What’s going to happen when he has his own son someday and the lawn mower won’t start? Is he going to worry about causing depression, or teach his boy some new words?
Personally, I think this whole anti-yelling thing is part of the touchy-feely trend in parenting. Modern parents prefer time-outs to shouts. They take away TV time or a video game. Where’s the satisfaction in that? If there’s no roaring about a kid’s behavior or life’s little injustices, someone’s going to get depressed and it will probably be the “lion.”
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.