I spotted a newspaper article 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? 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 article from the spoof newspaper “The Onion” reminded me of my dad. It was about a father teaching his 10-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 inflation, don’t bother me. Little things like being treated rudely by a clerk — 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 when I completely lost it. I’d be fighting to keep my serenity when someone would crash the computer, clog the pipes 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.
My wife has an opposing view. She actually believes that yelling makes the situation worse. She hates when I overreact to the most trifling problems. She will not tolerate being spoken to in a rude manner. I recently learned that “mushroom gravy” can be fighting words if you say it in a nasty way.
One of our unofficial wedding vows was to speak civilly to each other. My wife heard plenty of yelling when she was growing up and it triggers bad memories. But how can I stay civil if I can’t remember my user name and password?
Regardless of whether yelling helped, I thought occasional venting was essential for keeping my sanity. Little did I know that I was raising their risk of depression? According to the article, 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 raise their voices. I once accompanied my son to the Secretary of State to get his driver’s license. I was seething before we got there, in anticipation of the abuse we were about to suffer. My son remained calm throughout the whole agonizing process. He had decided beforehand it was going to be 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 an iPad 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.”