Writer Emily Rosenbaum wrote a beautiful story for Babble about anger, “I Yell at My Kids Way Too Much”. She describes her struggle with self-control, acknowledging throughout that she yells at her kids far more than she should—or than she’d like to.
The piece was featured tonight on NBC’s new show “Moms and The City”. If you’ve taken a NYC taxi lately, you may know the one: three hot urban moms chat about the same issues we’re always going on about here. With fewer words and higher heels. The Dad named David who serves as narrator and referee asked the trio: “Yelling at kids: is it about the kids, or about the parents?”
Emily’s temper comes from a painful place. Her stepmother’s abuse was both verbal and physical, only ending after Social Services removed her from the abusive home at age 10. But as the moms on the show pointed out, it doesn’t take an abusive childhood to lose your cool with your kids. There was a lot of sympathizing with Emily’s experience, if on a somewhat less chronic level.
We all have our thresholds and our triggers. And as Emily points out, recognizing them is only part of the battle to get them under control. Here’s what I took tonight from the combination of reading Emily’s piece and hearing these moms discuss her situation: There are lots of moments in parenthood where we fail to live up to the measures we set for ourselves. Sometimes that’s because the measures are unrealistic. But sometimes, for whatever reason, the goal is good, and we just fail. Hopefully, though, it gets noticed—if not by us, by someone who can frame their observations in a way we can actually use. In Emily’s case it was a school principal. Sometimes it’s a spouse, a parent, or a friend, or perhaps most painfully, our children. Becoming a better parent (and a better person) is about doing the hard work to try to make those failures happen less often. But it’s also about cutting ourselves a little slack when it doesn’t happen right away. As one of the moms on the show said, “Sometimes Mommy loses it, and that’s okay.” We just need to keep our eyes open for when it isn’t.