Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Is Mommy Guilt Making Me A Worse Parent?

Or at least a not so good disciplinarian? One of my top reasons for guilt is yelling. I was reading an issue of Parenting magazine that said yelling was one of the number one reasons for mommy guilt. Well, it's nice to know I'm not alone. Let me explain, I am a yeller by nature. I get it honest from my father, who got it honest from his father. However, getting it honest doesn't make it okay. I guess if there's a good side, it's that I am not a grudge holder. I don't bottle my anger up inside and let it fester. It explodes out in a very loud voice, and it's gone in a minute. (This is not to say that I forget every unkind comment that has ever come my way, that I don't remember said comments periodically and feel hurt all over again, but that's another blog topic).

The problem is I know it's not good to yell at my three year old. It just makes him yell, too. The time I am most likely to yell is (I cringe to type this) when I am on the computer - emailing, reading blogs, posting. I get so frustrated that I am not allowed even fifteen minutes of me-time. Now we're coming to part of the problem, allowed? Since when are my children making the rules for me? It's the mommy guilt. I feel guilty for being on the computer and yelling, so then I don't give myself time to do something I want to do. When, really, I need to set some boundaries (for myself and my sons). For instance, Mommy is going to be on the computer for fifteen minutes after breakfast, then we can play, draw, go outside. During those fifteen minutes, please don't ask Mommy for a snack or if you can get on pbskids.org.

I know lots of moms struggle with giving their children enough of their time. I know it's easy to let the computer (or, for me sometimes, a book) suck up way too much time. I guess I just don't want 1) the guilt I feel for not giving my boys enough time to become a reason for giving in to their unreasonable demands or 2) the guilt I feel for yelling at H to become a reason for not following through on a promised punishment.

I don't know if this will even make sense to anyone else... Maybe it's the pressure of having two mobile children, for which I am very thankful.


Devra and Aviva said...

Technology seems to be our greatest blessing and our biggest curse at times. And like you've written, it absolutely can suck up our time and we don't even realize it.

One suggestion we would make is setting a kitchen timer for 15 minutes and doing this with your child. This way he can both see and hear exactly what you are talking about. Saying to a three year old "15 minutes more" may as well be the same thing as saying, "Someday", they don't really have a concept of time yet. So the kitchen timer may help both of you to understand one another.

The wonderful thing we got out of your post if you are becoming more aware of your yelling, you might even want to keep a running tab on when/where and under what circumstances you are yelling and then when you are calm, look at the list and brainstorm ways to substitute another tool, other than the yelling. For example, you could try whispering. : )

Sounds like you are doing all the right things to lower your voice. If it makes you feel better, when we began writing our book we realized the chapter on yelling (yes the chapter!) was taking up half of the book. So we divided it up into the kinds of yelling we all do and where we do it so half of the book wouldn't just be a chapter on yelling.

If you need more suggestions, we hope you'll hunt us down!

mel said...

My momma used a timer (or 'dinger' as they called it) a lot. Even as they got older. It was handy when Steven and Luk wanted to be big boys and brush their teeth by themselves, for instance.

Good luck with it. I think about situations like that and wonder how I'll handle it. I'm thankful I'll have you for advice when Baby comes and as he/she grows up! :)

Kate said...

Oh - I think every mother can relate to this! Right now I'm sneaking in some computer time while my kids are eating...

EatPlayLove said...

My husband will some times quip to me, stop yelling. I usually reply with you don't know what yelling is. I rarely yell at my girls, but they certainly do know how to press my buttons.

And..my 4 year old gives me the pbskids.org line all the time when I am on the computer!