Dear Kids

parents yelling at kids

Dear Rachel & Eric:

I shared the article below from today’s paper with your Mother.  She’s gloating: “I told you so.” I’m snarling: “This is utter nonsense.”  Mom’s espousing “Let Freedom Reign.” Dad’s fencing is well established and flashing warning signals: “Cross the line, you’ll do the time.”

You three, huddled in your sheltered cocoon, will see the light.

Hang on to this post and drag it out when your children reach adolescence, and ask the following hypothetical (NOT) questions:

  • Rachel, your daughter, three days after acquiring her driver’s license, exits a parking lot without looking in both directions, and piles into an oncoming car – – causing $4,000 damage to your car. Do you blow her a kiss and tell her: “Honey, the best way to deal with this is to get back up on the iron horse.”
  • Eric, if your son backs your car into his friend’s rock wall, shredding the rear of the car, do you tell him: “Son, mistakes happen. Please be sure to take more care next time.”
  • Rachel, your daughter is laying on the couch watching three consecutive episodes of New Jersey Housewives.  You are exhausted from being up early, frazzled from working late and from your commute home – – and you are in the midst of preparing dinner. You ask her to walk the dog three times and she ignores you.  Do you walk up politely and say: “Honey, could you please help me out here?  Or, are you tired from your difficult day at school?
  • Eric, your son is on his second hour of Playstation and has ignored your 2 prior calls for bedtime.  Do you walk up to him, sit down and ask: “Son, could please put down the game, get undressed and go to bed.

Do these stories sound familiar?  Hmmmmm.  Right.

Being a parent, your Parents, has been our greatest blessing.

I can’t wait to watch you shine.



P.S. Re: Having children.  Absolutely no need to rush into things.

Study Says Yelling Is As Hurtful as Hitting

“Parents who yell at their adolescent children for misbehaving can cause some of the same problems as hitting them would, including increased risk of depression and aggressive behavior..A good, warm relationship with Mom and Dad doesn’t protect teens from the negative effects of parents’ yelling, cursing or lobbing insults, such as calling teens “lazy” or “stupid,” the study found. Conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, the study was published Wednesday on the journal Child Development’s website.  While spanking has become taboo in many U.S. communities, yelling doesn’t have nearly the same social stigma. Indeed, parents sometimes think yelling will make their charges listen and behave. But the study found the opposite to be true. “Shouting cannot reduce or correct their problem behavior,” said Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor in the departments of education and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and a co-author of the study. “On the contrary, it makes it worse.”…As to why yelling can prove so toxic for young teens, “adolescence is a very sensitive period when [kids] are trying to develop their self-identities,” Dr. Wang said. “When you yell, it hurts their self image. It makes them feel they are not capable, that they are worthless and are useless.”…

Full Article @ WSJ: Parent’s Yelling Is at Harmful at Hitting

 Image Credit



  1. Edward Onofrio says:

    I completely disagree with the thesis :). I come From a long line of Italian yellers and I am quite grounded, confident and self aware.

    Yell on

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I don’t have kids but this made me smile…I can only imagine! I’ve some Irish in me, and I know the answer to all 4 of those questions in your post! 🙂


  3. What if you got yelled at and hit at the same time?


  4. Hmmm…you probably already know how I feel about this one, so I’ll spare you the speech. Let me just say that I have great kids and all with being raised by me and in the manner which I knew in my heart was best. 🙂


  5. What about when your adolescent yells at you?


  6. There is an alternative to yelling that is not the sickly sweet dialog which you have posted above. It’s called being calm but firm and enforcing consequences. “I’m only going to ask you to do this once and if it’s not done by (time) you will lose (a privilege).” Stating expectations clearly, letting the consequence of non-compliance be known, and a little recognition for a job well done – it works wonders, especially if you start when they’re really young.


    • I completely agree that this is the preferred strategy, to a point, if there is compliance. And agree that taking things away is preferred to yelling or worse. Taking things away was the most frequent deployed strategy coupled with “some raised voice guidance.”


  7. I agree with the research & am totally against everything which could hurt self-identity of kids, as they have a long journey waiting ahead but yes at times “Yelling” is all that works because kids have become ignorant. They pretend as if they didn’t hear anything, so it depends.


  8. I feel your pain, David. ESPECIALLY the car stuff. Little learning point there: NEVER let your kids drive your car. They save up and buy their own, and until they can afford it they use the bus.

    I can outdo you on this, I think. At least when your kids trashed yours they were driving, I assume with your permission. Get this; MY son, aged 16, before he had even had a driving lesson, took my car for a little ride, trashed the front end by scraping a wall, didn’t tell me and eventually when I noticed it blamed the milk tanker driver from the farm!!

    I asked him what he can learn from this and suggested he take more care when turning corners (NOT). Grounded for 3 weeks and I had a sore throat for days.

    You are not alone mister.


    • LOVED your story Michael. Laughed. And recall my own moments of sore throats. I left a few minor points out in my story.

      1) Rachel’s car demolition and Eric’s back up into the rock wall – happened to MOM’s car. Dad’s car is and continues to be off limits. Dad anticipated what was coming.

      2) Susan fixed her car after Rachel’s incident. I wouldn’t permit the repairs to the car after Eric’s incident so the car, to this day, has a large ugly scar on it. I wanted them to see, each and every time they get in the car, what can happen when you don’t pay attention and how quickly something bad can happen.

      My car remains off-limits. They both feel that the statute of limitations has run out. Ha! I just smile, look at my unmarked car and let them know that I’ll decide when it’s time to give them the keys. I call it character building.


  9. Not a big fan of yelling, I must confess. Shuts me down on a dime. I definitely think the “firm, rational strategy” mentioned above is preferable…if it works. My parents took a different tack than yelling–for them it was all about us letting ourselves down and disappointing them. I know it sounds a bit lame, but it worked with me. Within a week of getting my license, I rear-ended, wait for it, THE DRIVER’S ED INSTRUCTOR! (Following too closely on a gravel road, co-efficient of friction poor…sigh). My parents’ reaction? Lori, we’re so disappointed in you. The horror….. I never did THAT again. 😉


  10. I prefer not to yell, not because I am worried about my daughter’s psyche, but because I don’t like feeling my stress level get that high. That said, it happens. I’m human. I think knowing that a consequence of not doing what you’re told may in fact be watching your mother lose her shit is a good deterrent. If that is what makes my kid stop and think, “Do I really want to use this good kitchen knife to saw through wood? No, no I don’t,” then it’s fine by me. Sometimes that fear of parental reaction is a good bridge to understanding why such things are inadvisable in the first place.

    And there’s this: If, as an adult, you take someone else’s car and ram it into a wall, can you realistically expect that they won’t get upset? No. Parents are people, just like everyone else. Kids shouldn’t be beaten, but they need to understand that the real world is full of adults and other kids who react in a wide array of ways. And consequences are not chosen by those who commit the transgression.


  11. Hah. The roles were reversed in our house. I could have been accused of yelling a few times; my better half almost never. It had greater affect, because the rare times he raised his voice, he was really mad. Me? Outbursts were as ignored as a passing storm.

    But I must say, he got the better results. On the few occasions when bad news came ( the call from school, the curfew violation, the traffic ticket), he calmly and sincerely observed: “I am so happy that you were caught. Because if you had gotten away with this, you could be misguided into thinking this is acceptable behavior. And, the consequences will help you to remember that it’s not.” That got through to the teenage brain, because at that moment “I’m so happy that I was caught” and “I want to remember this moment” were not on the radar.


  12. I live for the day when I get to watch my children deal with their children! I wonder how many of the “I’ll never be like you” actions will be repeated then?! Goodness knows, I ended up sounding just like my mother more often than I thought possible.


  13. Me yell? Hmmm… I prefer to call it – speaking to be heard 🙂
    Seriously though – I don’t yell much. My “look” usually works on it’s own.


  14. richardkanigan says:

    In our house, I like to use the Bill Cosby line, modified slightly “I didn’t help bring you into this world, but so help me God, I will help to take you out of it if you don’t do…..”


  15. I’m not a yeller; Andy was. I can’t stand the volume going up that high – it makes me ears hurt. Truth is, the angrier I get, the quieter I get – which often was far more unsettling to everyone..


  16. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    smiling broadly; we’re in alignment …


  17. I love this David and can totally relate. Looking forward to watching my kids raise children, it will be interesting 😉


  18. Is there a guilty button in wordpress? I can’t click like…


  19. Reblogged this on nbeamp.


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