Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In Defense of Yellling

I yelled at my teenage daughter the other night. I admit it. There were several extenuating circumstances, some my fault; some hers; some nobody's, just situational.

First of all, I was worn out. We are under tremendous pressure at work right now; a client's pending acquisition has created a ton of new projects and it's been all-hands on-deck for the past couple of weeks. (This is wonderful news for business, but doesn't really make for the most patient parent after hours.) 

My daughter is worn out as well. Like most high school students, she doesn't get anything near enough sleep. And, after almost twelve years of classes and homework (I won't count kindergarten), she's pretty much "done" with school. Attitudinally anyway — hey, we've still got five months to go.

Add to this the concurrence of senior-year mid-terms, a looming scholarship competition, a naughty puppy, car trouble, the season's first significant snowstorm ... no wonder the atmosphere at ye olde homestead was what one might call "fraught." 

The aforementioned yelling was in response to something that my daughter had promised to do but was not doing (something that I thought was important, but she clearly did not). It turned out to be a moot point, but that's another story for another less stressed-out day.

For the record, I don't yell very often. Generally, I speak in dulcet, measured tones. But, my daughter would tell you otherwise; she insists that I do. I confess that I often nag, but I don't yell. To me, yelling involves raising your voice. My daughter, on the other hand, thinks that any negative observation or constructive criticism, no matter how soft-spoken, constitutes a "yell." I say, "Get thee to a dictionary."

To yell (a verb) is to say something very loudly especially because you are angry, surprised or are trying to get someone's attention. Thank you, Misters Merriam and Webster.

Definitions aside, I did yell and I'm sorry for it. But, in my defense ...

Is it not human nature to raise one's voice when one has repeated a request so many times that one has lost count?

Is it not natural to become frustrated and to voice said frustration in a "loud and sharp cry" when one's high honors student, for whom English is a first language, appears to be mystified by the simple words, "Do it now?"

Is there not some benefit to helping one's offspring understand that a person should only push another person so far?

I would argue yes to all of the above.

And I would do so in dulcet, measured tones.  

If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.   

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