I’ve got to come clean. I‘m a yeller. It’s not something that I’m proud of or the type of mum I thought I’d be. But there it is.
It’s not a conscious choice. I try really hard to be a good parent. I’ve read all the books. I did attachment parenting before I even knew that’s what it was called, in a time when it was all controlled crying and sleep doctors. I know all about the importance of setting limits with empathy, listening, connecting. Most of the time I give this parenting gig a pretty good go.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I yell.
My yelling is a gut reaction. It’s a 4pm on a long day sheer exhaustion why are you not listening to me reaction.
So when I read about the new term “yellibacy” it amused me. Committing to not yelling. The latest thing on the long list of how to become that allusive perfect parent.
And then it happened. In one of those funny moments life sometimes throws at you, later that week mid yell my daughter said: I can hear you know.
And there it was. One of those rare moments of clarity. Or maybe sanity.
I didn’t need to yell. My kids could hear me. They were choosing not to listen.
It wasn’t an issue of volume. It was an issue of respect. Somewhere along the long weary line of parenting it had become okay for my kids to disrespect me by not listening. And I was disrespecting them by yelling. I expected them to calmly “use their words” (oh how many times had I said those words!) to say what they needed. And yet I was not. I was throwing the adult equivalent of a two year old tantrum, getting louder and louder to make them listen to me.
I realised in that moment that my yelling wasn’t about them. It was about me. They weren’t making me yell. I was choosing to.
And so I chose not to. Call it Yellibacy, call it choosing a calmer way, I decided that I wasn’t going to yell anymore. I didn’t want to be that person or that parent.
But what do you do when you decide not to go with your gut reaction? Your default setting?
I choose to ask once calmly. Then ask once firmly. I listen to what they have to say, to what they need. There are still consequences but I try to be firm, fair and most of all calm. It is about expecting respect but also giving it.
It’s been a bumpy journey. I have yelled. But when I start yelling, I catch myself and stop. I say something like “Mum needs a moment”, and I walk away until I can find my calm. Sometimes it’s a much longer walk than others. But when I am ready to adult up and “use my words” I have another go at being the kind of parent I want to be. The calmer kind. And I like the parent I am becoming.