October 23, 2009

Shouting vs. Spanking

i heard you.jpg
Fake, fake, everything you do is fake, fake, fake...


From the NYT:

"I've worked with thousands of parents and I can tell you, without question, that screaming is the new spanking... As parents understand that it's not socially acceptable to spank children, they are at a loss for what they can do. They resort to reminding, nagging, timeout, counting 1-2-3 and quickly realize that those strategies don't work... they feel frustrated and angry and raise their voice. They feel guilty afterward, and the whole cycle begins again."

The article describes parents who (of course) wouldn't spank their kids, who thus end up yelling.

Psychologists and psychiatrists generally say yelling should be avoided. It's at best ineffective (the more you do it the more the child tunes it out) and at worse damaging to a child's sense of well-being and self-esteem.
This is absolutely TERRIBLE advice.

II.

The problem is neither the yelling nor the spanking, the problem is when.  When these parents yell or spank, it isn't in response to intrinsically bad behavior, it is in response to behavior that burdens the parent.

Note what it is that causes them to yell:

She can emulate one of those pitch-perfect calm maternal tones to warn, "You're making bad choices" ... That is 90 percent of the time. Then there is the other 10 percent, when, she admits, "I have become totally frustrated and lost control of myself."

It can happen... at the end of a long day at home -- just as adult peace is within her grasp -- when the 7- or 9-year-old won't go to sleep.

or


"I'd like to think that most of the time we have a good interaction based on reason," Lena Merrill said of her 4-year-old daughter, whom she has never spanked. But then there are the times when "she's done something like poured milk on the floor or ripped a page out of a book," Ms. Merrill said. "I just lose it."
The yelling isn't just disproportionate to the behavior, it has nothing to do with the behavior.  She's angry about other things, but she's yelling about the milk

The kid has learned nothing about good and bad behavior.  In fact, they've learned that "bad behaviors" merit only calm discussion, while things that annoy Mom or Dad are met with wrath.

Watch your kid: are they more terrified of your reaction when they are caught in a lie, or when they accidentally knock over a glass?

The natural thing to do would be to yell about bad behavior ("did you push that boy on the playground?!?!") and be calmly annoyed when they spill milk.  But.


III.

But that doesn't happen, because the parent isn't being honest.

I recognize it's done with good intentions, but pretending to be calm and reasonable "as much as possible" is neither honest to yourself, nor helpful to them: no one else on the planet is going to treat your kid that way.

Two-thirds of respondents named yelling -- not working or spanking or missing a school event -- as their biggest guilt inducer.

Read the article: the parents' reactions are all of guilt.  But it isn't guilt, exactly--

"Admitting I'm a mom that screams, shouts and loses it in front her kids feels like I'm revealing a dark family secret."
--it's shame.  Their yelling reveals them. Their carefully maintained identity (of sensible uber- parent) is revealed as a facade.  And the facade isn't in service of the kid

...as parents understand that it's not socially acceptable to spank children, they are at a loss for what they can do.
but in service of their identity of "good parent."  But they get exposed, turns out they aren't as rational as they thought-- they yell over spilled milk. 

IV. 

Consider a mom and a kid in a toy store.  The kids starts whining about buying something. He gets loud.  The mom hisses through clenched teeth, "wait till I get you home."

I understand she's frustrated.  But why is she whispering it?  At home she would have yelled, why not just yell now?  She's willing to carry the anger by car to another location-- is the behavior that serious?

She's whispering because she's embarrassed, not at the kid's behavior but about what it says about her as a parent to onlookers.  And she's even more embarrassed by her reaction.  She can't let other people see her rage when it appears to other people that it is only about a kid wanting a toy.

But if she catches the kid stealing, then she'll let him have it, right there in public, because then there's no shame in her yelling-- it reflects well on her.

The yelling isn't the problem, the problem is that yelling is used for the wrong things.

V.

The single problem of modern parents, mothers and fathers alike, is that they are trying to be something-- "good parents" (an identity construct) and not doing what is good for the kid only for the sake of the kid. (I look forward to your emails.) They may be doing good for the kid, but they are also trying to reflect themselves as good parents, they are also considering their shame.  That cannot work, ever.  The kid will sense this, and the lesson they will learn is that there is no absolute right and wrong, only pleasing the boss.

I'm not judging you, untoggle the caps lock, I am trying to help you understand where it all goes wrong.

If the parents had simply been real-- angry when something angers them, more angry when it is worse and less angry when it is not as bad--they'd feel better, and their kids would learn much better life lessons.  If they showed frustration when they were frustrated (and labeled it: "this is frustrating me!") and disappointment other times and rage for the big things-- instead of holding it in and then unloading-- they'd be much less stressed and the kid could learn to mirror a range of emotions, instead of acting out.  "He bites for no reason!"  There's a reason.

But I have asked a generation of parents raised by amazingly bad parents in 30+ years of a preposterously self-absorbed media environment to forget everything life taught them and be real.

-----

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych





Comments

Oh, so very, very true. I w... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 12:15 PM | Posted by Kathleen Fedouloff: | Reply

Oh, so very, very true. I wish you luck with the emails!

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Goddamn, can we just requir... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 12:16 PM | Posted by spriteless: | Reply

Goddamn, can we just require an anger management course to pass high school so there's a socially acceptable way to act on anger? Maybe one in middleschool so it hits more kids before they become parents? It's not PC to encourage it, I mean, but most 30yo kids are so shit at parenting might as well make the schools capable to pick up some slack.

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I knew there were a number ... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 1:05 PM | Posted by Meira: | Reply

I knew there were a number of things that annoyed me when I read that article -- not least of which the blatantly obvious but not helpful advice [ "if losing their homework makes you yell, create a new system where homework does not get lost". Yeah, like THAT never occurred to me.]
Thank you for pointing out what else was bugging me about the article, and in the process showing me that I'm not doing as badly as I thought.

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I want to kiss your cherry ... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 1:41 PM | Posted by John: | Reply

I want to kiss your cherry lips and nibble your shell-like ears, you bloody genius you.

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"IV. Consid... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 3:32 PM | Posted by Honorius: | Reply

"
IV.

Consider a mom and a kid in a toy store. The kids starts whining about buying something. He gets loud. The mom hisses through clenched teeth, "wait till I get you home." "

Should she yell? Is it what your advice translate into? I'm not saying this is good or bad, just asking if this is what she should do.

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I love your work, please ig... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 3:48 PM | Posted by Andrey Fedorov: | Reply

I love your work, please ignore angry e-mails and continue writing more in this fashion.

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That is kinda of beside the... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 3:52 PM | Posted, in reply to spriteless's comment, by Roger: | Reply

That is kinda of beside the point. The problem is not anger management or lack there of. The problem is that a lot of parents my age have a mental image of what society deems "the perfect parent". This image is a complete and utter fabrication, is not realistic for real parenting.

Trying to conform to the image of the "perfect parent" just causes the parents to hang on to their anger and frustration long enough to get out of the public eye. This just disconnects the punishment from the transgression and changes the objective lesson, much like punishing a cat for peeing on the carpet 3 days after the act. Instead of learning "Don't pee on the carpet", the cat learns "Avoid the guy with an angry look and a spray bottle full of water". Yes, you're angry, and yes they misbehaved, but the teachable moment is long gone.

It also doesn't help that a lot of parents have a flawed picture of what a "perfect" child looks like as part of their "perfect" family. They get angry when their kids make them look bad by not acting their part, not because their child actually did anything morally wrong. Isn't this like punishing the cat for not acting cute and cuddly?

Random thought #1: Isn't all of this "spanking/shouting/aversion training is bad" is part of the same focus on building self esteem crap that has already been talked about from http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2009/03/are_schools_breeding_narcissis.html#more? Society is too busy trying to have "perfect" happy children, that we don't have time to raise moral adults.

Random though #2: If more narcissistic parents are raising children, and punishing them based on the shame the child causes the parent, would that not cause more children with social anxiety issues? IE children afraid to go out in public with adults because that is where they get into the most trouble.

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> > The kids starts whining... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 3:53 PM | Posted by Andrey Fedorov: | Reply

> > The kids starts whining about buying something. He gets loud.

> Should she yell? Is it what your advice translate into?

Author can ellaborate, but I see a variety of choices - my parents would give me an allowance, suggesting I save up for something if I wanted it. On-the-spot advice is probably simply to be aware of your own embarrassment and not act on it.

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Isn't that just another for... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 4:10 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrey Fedorov's comment, by Honorius: | Reply

Isn't that just another form of bottling up? The way I read it, the parent should yell because it's what's more "real".

The parent would not try to maintain a facade of good parent and communicate more openly with the child. By yelling. But honest yelling. I'm gonna read it again, and think about it, but I'm not sure I get it right.

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"But it isn't guilt, exactl... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 5:27 PM | Posted by ashamed: | Reply

"But it isn't guilt, exactly...it's shame."

OK, the child's behavior burdens the parent in a way which challenges the parent's identity ("good parent"). Such an identity challenge causes shame, but shame isn't mentioned anywhere in the referenced article. Instead OP infers shame, because that's what the situation calls for, but I would argue that the shame is fully defended against by the parents. Only guilt (which is mentioned) ever enters the parental consciousness.

It is shame that amplifies the original identity challenge experienced by the parent. But shame feeling is intolerable (to the modern human), so the feeling must be bypassed. The way this is done is by using contempt: contempt for others (in the form of reactive blaming) is directed at the child and self-contempt (i.e., guilt) is directed to the parent's self. Contempt used in this way is more or less the universal "identity construct" defender.

I agree that the problem here isn't anger expressed by the parent,it's anger expressed in a way that implies contempt for child and for self, and that is the toxic lesson the child is being taught.

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I personally think half the... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 6:00 PM | Posted by caeia: | Reply

I personally think half the problem is inconsistency. The reason that a kid thinks it's OK to act out or whatever is that there is no consistency. Things get you in trouble only when mom and dad are mad, not when they're wrong. So it becomes a game for both of them of trying to look good rather than BE good.

The "rational" approach (which is probably impossible) would be more like what Ceasar Milan (dog whisperer) does with his dogs -- set the rules and the limits and stick to them. It seems like a better approach than what's actually going on. If the rule is "no begging in the store" then leave the store when they beg.

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My god. You, sir, Mr. Alone... (Below threshold)

October 23, 2009 11:50 PM | Posted by ASub: | Reply

My god. You, sir, Mr. Alone, have just described my parents better than I thought possible. Certainly better than I could have described them.

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Love it. Love it completely... (Below threshold)

October 24, 2009 7:36 AM | Posted by Rob: | Reply

Love it. Love it completely, want to have sex with it, your mind is a pleasureland of wonderment.

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My mom beat me once when I ... (Below threshold)

October 24, 2009 10:49 AM | Posted by married nowadays and supposedly normal: | Reply

My mom beat me once when I was eight. Some serious beating. I hadn't done anything wrong; I just shamed her. I sobbed for hours. I still felt my ears throbbing and burning the next morning because she yanked at them with gusto. And all because she was worried about "what neighbors might think".

She never punished me when I was dishonest/didn't keep my promises/didn't do my homework/skipped my responsibilities.

She's the mom who warned me against strangers but whose acquaintances molested me in two different occasions.

I'm not writing this here because I need to get it off my chest or because I bear grudges. I don't bear any.

I just thought that maybe there's a pattern there. I think there is.

She was trying to be *a* mother. Not *my* mother, though.

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The parent would n... (Below threshold)

October 24, 2009 12:00 PM | Posted by jen: | Reply

The parent would not try to maintain a facade of good parent and communicate more openly with the child. By yelling. But honest yelling. I'm gonna read it again, and think about it, but I'm not sure I get it right

I think that part of the point is that if the kid's behavior really bothers the parent, a not-quiet, not-calm "will you just behave yourself for once?" would let the child know that you are upset about the behavior while letting the parent vent a bit.

Then, hopefully, mom or dad is less likely to really hit the roof over something the kid does by accident, because mom/dad has less bottled up...

But instead, a lot of parents are unwilling to lose their cool with the kid in public because audibly snarling "will you just behave yourself for once?" admits publicly that neither you nor your child are perfect.

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We're in Alfie Kohn territo... (Below threshold)

October 24, 2009 1:30 PM | Posted by woundedduck: | Reply

We're in Alfie Kohn territory here. Check out his website, read his website, and learn from his website.

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Thank you! I can't believe ... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 12:38 AM | Posted by Melinda: | Reply

Thank you! I can't believe someone is finally telling parents to be real. What a concept! You need to be the one writing the books...not these idiots. Grr. Flames! At the side of my face...

I got so mad when I read it, I sat right down and wrote myself a letter: http://sfeasyrider.blogspot.com/2009/10/open-letter-to-ny-times.html

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On the subject of "should t... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 3:51 AM | Posted by 324r3bfi: | Reply

On the subject of "should the parent in the store yell?": I don't think there's an answer implied in this post. The author does not diagnose a problem with the matter of the reactions (e.g. yelling vs. spanking vs. a stern lecture), but rather with the principle upon which they are doled out: i.e. it is a bad principle if it is motivated by a desire to maintain a particular self-image ("good parent"). Implied is the conclusion that a good principle would be "respond as is good for the child." The author is pretty clear about circumstances of response: discipline ought to occur when the child has done something that's actually a bad thing to do (e.g. stealing, lying, being narcissistic - though in reality this is a more difficult question that at first appears). Now, the author doesn't state what response in detail is called for, but that's expectable: what the right response is depends a great deal on the particularities of the situation - e.g. how old the child is, what wrong they committed, why they did it, etc.

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1) I cannot relate to your ... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 6:54 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

1) I cannot relate to your upper class problems. This whole blog is like an anthology of social climber class drama. Where I was raised, hitting and spanking was and is commonly employed in my family and others. I am not old. Also, amongst us low classes, narcissism really isn't a big problem either. Just FYI.

2) I do agree that bad parenting is hitting (or yelling) at kids because you're pissed off vs because the kid did something that you want to teach them is bad. Parents are human thus not perfect, but come on. Most parents discipline kids because they are pissed off, and that is unfortunate, because the kids walk away thinking life is bullshit and people in power control everything. Even as a little kid I remember thinking that my parents hit me because they were angry and because they could. The punishment was proportional to their frustration, and had nothing to do with me. On the plus side, I think this made me more intelligent and skeptical. If life appeared as just as a punishment proportional to crime, I wouldn't have looked for logics beyond the surface to explain seemingly irrational phenomena like "mom hitting me because I embarrassed her in public; mom hitting me because she hates her life; dad hitting me because he's pissed off about some work he had to do, etc".
And if I never started doing that, I'd probably be as stupid as most people. Thank you, mom and dad, for hitting me and starting me off early pissed off at the world, it's helped me to understand it better.

3) I find the concept of NOT hitting your kids and making a point of it to be pretty disgusting and hypocritical. Hitting is more effective punishment because the child very vividly learns that bad behavior is dangerous FOR HIM, HIS SAFETY. It is a safe way to tell your kid certain behaviors are potentially dangerous and lethal. They'll get over a spanking, but they won't necessarily get over being hit by a car or something.
Yelling, on the other hand, is not about the child ever; it is about the parent, the parents feelings and emotions. A spank to the butt is about the child, at least if used appropriately, it can be a way of telling your kid that certain behaviors are harmful and have consequences. Yelling does not get that message across, it is only ever useful for the yeller (to vent, to debase the ego of the yell-ee). Yelling is what your boss does when you piss him off. It's about the person doing the yelling. The person being yelled at does not feel that same sense of "I better not do that again it's dangerous for me", instead they typically feel like "this person yelling is annoying/crazy/dangerous/uncontrolled, let me just pretend to comply so they shut up and go away".

Spanking > yelling

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"If the parents had simply ... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 3:34 PM | Posted by anonym: | Reply

"If the parents had simply been real-- angry when something angers them, more angry when it is worse and less angry when it is not as bad--they'd feel better, and their kids would learn much better life lessons. If they showed frustration when they were frustrated (and labeled it: "this is frustrating me!") and disappointment other times and rage for the big things-- instead of holding it in and then unloading-- they'd be much less stressed and the kid could learn to mirror a range of emotions, instead of acting out. "He bites for no reason!" There's a reason."

But is it not the frustration of their social construct that angers the parent? Spilling the milk may, in truth, anger the parent more. For your advice to succeed, the parent's rage must follow a reasoned system.

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"This whole blog is like an... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 3:37 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous other: | Reply

"This whole blog is like an anthology of social climber class drama."

Add 'critical' before 'anthology' and I do believe you've got it.

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I can't even put into words... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 6:28 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I can't even put into words how much I hate you. You obviously don't have any kids, and you shouldn't have any, and you should not go near any nephews or nieces. If you are truly a psychaitrist, then god us all.

At what point are you and your profession going to stop blaming the parents for everything? Parents shout because they are exhausted. Parents today have numerous expectations foist upon them, and everyone is criticizing them, from your neighbor all the way to Oprah.

I don't want to shout when the "spill the milk" but what advice are you offering? To spank them? Doesn't that seem worse?

It's to hard to live up to everyone's expectations. Every parent is judging you with everything that you do and everything that your child does. How is anyone supposed to live up to all those expectations? Sometimes yelling is the only way to be heard.

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@6:28 Really? Hate? Because... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 7:00 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by kayleighkins: | Reply

@6:28 Really? Hate? Because he's asking parents to stop spanking for milk, to stop screaming when nothing is wrong? You hate him for that? Are you, perhaps, so angry about a blog that it makes you want to scream?

Please, stop whining. "Woman have too much put upon them," really? You can't handle your everyday life, so you yell at your kids because your exhausted and that makes you hate a psychologist? I don't think you even realize how easy women have it now a day's compared to women in the past. Blaming your children for your own stress is selfish and disgusting. Women now a day's don't have to cook for their families, they don't have to play with their children, they don't have to sit down and read to them, or help them with their homework. They have a choice: they can't work or they can be stay at home moms. How is society asking you to be perfect at all? Society doesn't care about children anymore. You really have the freedom to be as lazy and as selfish as you want.

And yet, someone writes a blog asking you to stop, and you hate them.

Also, no one is judging you, your paranoid. No one cares what you do with your children, that's why when you yell and hit them at walmart no one steps up and tells you to stop. Who's judging you, other parents at the PTA? The television? The internet? This makes you scream at your children and hate people who tell you to calm down? People who ask you to think about why your about to flip out before you open your mouth?

You need a psychologist.

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Hey, 6:28... you are the so... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 7:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Hey, 6:28... you are the sort of person who shouldn't have kids. It's not normal to routinely yell at your kids because "you have too much on your shoulders". News flash, oprah isn't talking to all mothers... mainly mothers like you. News flash #2... all parents are NOT doing what you are doing.

I'm the anon 6:54 (who argued for spanking, who does think yelling and spanking kids out of frustration is kinda normal). All parents do that from time to time, vent on their kids. The difference is that normal parents don't defend themselves as if it were their right because "they are so stressed". You kinda scare me. If you feel so strongly about your right to yell at your kids, odds are good that you are doing it way, way too often. Odds are oprah IS talking to YOU.

When I was young, my parents never made me feel like a burden, they never made me feel like I was there to "help them", they never whined about their "problems". My parents were REAL parents. Not perfect by any means; my dad's an alcoholic, my moms a depressive... but they accomplished the most important goal - appearing to be secure, adult. I always felt bad for those kids with parents who acted like giant babies whining about their youth, their future and dreams, and their problems. The sort of parent who makes their kids help them get ready to go out to a club, while they stay home and take care of the baby. Ugh. Gross.

I am actually pretty lucky I guess, spankings/beatings and all. I always felt like I had adults for parents.

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Anonymous, we share similar... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 8:50 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Lucas: | Reply

Anonymous, we share similar ideas about narcissism and its origins, but I have to disagree with you about it its prevalence in the lower classes. It is present anywhere people become isolated. Sure, on the lowest scale, those who have to fight for basic resources don’t have much time to worry about identity, but go into any impoverished area, from inner city ghettos to the trailer park and you’ll find the same fake identities you’d find in orange county.

Poor narcissists don’t identify with a job or social standing, they “keep it real” or “don’t need book learnin.” It is a glorification of ignorance and violence central to their identity, every bit as narcissistic as a CEO who has to be seen as “professional” and “in control.”

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Yeah, 6:28, nobody is judgi... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 9:33 PM | Posted by Common Reader: | Reply

Yeah, 6:28, nobody is judging you cause no one cares. We're all floating in a giant void here.

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Everywhere man is in chains... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 9:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Everywhere man is in chains.....

Start saving for your kids meds now...

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Everyone is judging everyon... (Below threshold)

October 25, 2009 10:54 PM | Posted by spriteless: | Reply

Everyone is judging everyone. If I couldn't handle that, I would never go outside. I'm saying that as a former shut-in, you know. I wasn't always able to handle that.

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There are also parents who ... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 7:07 AM | Posted by Granddaughter: | Reply

There are also parents who never raise their voices, instead they punish by striking terror into the hearts of their children: all my mother had to do to shut me up was say, "if you don't be quiet right now, mommy will give you to somebody who wants you. No one wants a talker." She would follow through by taking me to similar family members and asking them to take her "talker", and having them refuse. (Yes, really. I don't know what's worse, that she did that, or that others agreed to it. They did tell me it had been rehearsed afterwards...)

On a positive note, reading your site over the years and working at comprehending has helped me more clearly understand and appreciate an upright, mature role model in my otherwise chaotic family: my paternal grandfather. He grew up in a scarily abusive cult, but got out as soon as he could. Rather than become reactively anti-religion, although he was an atheist himself, he always insisted that everyone had the right to exist and hold different beliefs, and anyone who said otherwise was someone to be wary of. "Be tolerant, but don't tolerate intolerance," in short. More in line with your post here, he was also a man who was unafraid to show his emotions, and balanced those with his strong respect for others. (He wouldn't use anger as an excuse to insult someone, for instance.) When he was angry, HE WAS ANGRY (he was also mostly deaf so it was quite loud), he could explain why, and you'd understand.

We visited once or twice a week, at least. Break something accidentally? Spill something? No biggy, if it could be fixed, he'd put on a grin and say, "come dear, Grampa will show you how to fix it!" If it couldn't be fixed, "ah, that's okay, I'll miss it, but dear, objects can be replaced - you, dear, are precious and irreplaceable. I'm very happy to have you in my life," and he meant it. I only ever saw him angry at others, since neither my brother nor I ever pulled any pranks. We cared about him too much to do that!

I once stopped a story I was telling to ask him if I talked too much. He looked at me funnily and asked, "who?" "Me, Grampa," I replied. "You? Talk too much? ... Weren't you telling me a story? Go on, dear."

It seems parents would do well to remember that they made a choice when they had children, and to think about what "unconditional love" means, instead of falling for the cheap temptation of power plays and Aren't I A Good Parent theatre.

Thank you for sharing your insights on narcissism, raising children, what it means to be a mature adult, et cetera - it does make a difference.

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Honorius, I don't think he'... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 11:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Honorius's comment, by Meira: | Reply

Honorius, I don't think he's telling them to yell. Yelling at that point would not really be about the child's behavior, but rather about the parent's frustration over being embarrassed in the store, and would also further embarrass the parent.
My 4 yr old daughter often whines in stores. Yes, it embarrasses me. But since she's one of three children, and the other two don't whine, I realize that it's more about her then about my parenting -- whatever the (imagined judgmental) lady in the next aisle may think. When she whines, I tell her clearly that we will have to leave the store if she can't behave appropriately. The (imagined judgmental) lady in the next aisle may hear me and think what she likes. And if my daughter continues to whine, we leave.
Disclaimer: And then my daughter kicks me as we're leaving, and then I growl at her through my teeth and the whole exercise goes to pot. Oh well.

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Should she yell? I... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 11:58 AM | Posted, in reply to Honorius's comment, by Susan: | Reply

Should she yell? Is it what your advice translate into? I'm not saying this is good or bad, just asking if this is what she should do.

I can't speak for Alone, but here's what I do when my 6-year-old gets whiny about something he wants:

First of all, by the time we've gotten to whining, the following has already happened:

If we aren't buying any treats in the store no matter what, he was inoculated against that fact before we went in. Grandma spoils him, so he's come to expect a new toy at every store we visit as the default. If I've decided in advance that we aren't buying anything, I feel it's only fair to give him a warning so he doesn't get his hopes up. If I tell him in the car that we aren't buying something, we don't, period.

If he's asked for something outside of our budget, or that I don't think is an appropriate choice for him, we look at it together and talk about what kind of choice it is. (If he chooses something that he'll eventually get, we look at it together and decide on it in the same way. I'm trying to push the concept of stopping to think before buying.)

So, for whatever reason, he's not getting the toy, and we've progressed to whining. (The loud part really doesn't happen any more -- he learned long ago it is not acceptable.)

I remind him that he's too old to whine, and that we already talked about the toy, which we aren't getting for X reason. I also remind him that whining is not polite, and that boys who aren't polite don't get [other toy he was going to get | privilege he's about to lose | etc]. Usually, that ends it. When it doesn't, I carry out the consequence I'd explained, he cries, and I pointedly ignore him (even when the crying is drawing attention -- I choose not to care, because it deprives him of a way to manipulate the situation). When he's calmed himself and apologized, he may have my attention again (but I don't withdraw the consequence). If he asks for the toy/privilege/etc I've taken away, I remind him that he's done something wrong, and tell him at what point and under what conditions it will be reinstated (maybe next time if you behave, etc.).

What's the worst that can happen? I've gotten dirty looks (which I ignored). The worst (to me) is people asking me if he's okay, with that why-aren't-you-taking-care-of-your-obviously-distraught-child-you-monster tone; I dish out a quippy comeback if I have one handy, else I simply explain that he'll be perfectly fine when he chooses to be, because good boys know not to cry whenever they can't have their way (more for my son's benefit than the stranger's).

As an interesting side note -- typically the disapproving people are of about my age (20's), while people closer to my parents' or grandparents' ages have often walked up to me with spontaneous compliments or support.

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Anger is one thing, rage is... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 12:31 PM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

Anger is one thing, rage is another. Anger can be a very healthy response to a situation and doesn't need to lead to violence. Learning about how to manage anger - which is a call to action or defense of oneself - is what's lacking in an out of control parent. Rage is, by definition, anger that is out of control. It's an over-reaction and out of proportion response. Rage is about past injuries being triggered in the present, it's often an attempt to gain self control through controlling others or simply releasing internal pressure.

Our culture tends to glorify violence and anger and misrepresent it as being "strong" or "in control" when really it's a reaction to being out of control and an attempt to control a situation using violence because one doesn't have the appropriate skills to express and use anger in a constructive way. In the case of a parent vs a child, as an adult it's the parent's responsibility not to use their superior strength and emotional power to bully their child. What we have is parents who don't have appropriate coping skills to manage their own anger and frustration who are venting on their children instead of finding a more appropriate way to manage their anger or rage (like getting professional help, dealing with work issues with their boss or marital issues with a spouse, finding another adult to confide their feelings about being out of control or frustrated by work or life situations, etc). The issue here is parents using their children for their own emotional needs and actions - and blaming a child for their own lack of ability to regulate and manage their emotions, or for the emotion itself - rather than taking responsibility for own emotions and actions. This teaches a child that they have a power they don't actually have over the parent, it also teaches that other people cause and regulate our emotions and actions and doesn't teach the necessary skills to do so.

As noted about in the story about the grandfather, all it takes is one person in a child's life who seems them as an individual and not an extensive of the parent, who is mature and manages their emotions honestly and with integrity, to let them know it's possible to do so and that they are their own person. This kind of adult and compassionate love - even a small taste of it - is enough to allow one to have a sense of self. Of course, it generally does lead to rebellion against the parents and questioning of social values and systems that encourage exploitation of others - a healthy response if not a socially condoned one (in my non-professional opinion :-).

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I can't even put i... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 12:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Susan: | Reply

I can't even put into words how much I hate you.
Drama-ridden much?
At what point are you and your profession going to stop blaming the parents for everything?
Your child's upbringing is, for the most part, your doing. Any deficiencies in your behavior are your fault. It's called free choice.
Parents shout because they are exhausted.
Then they are bad parents...bad human beings, really. If your behavior toward your child has more to do with your mood than their behavior, they simply won't learn the right things. In a small child's mind, the whole world is about them (this isn't a criticism, they have to develop a bit before they can understand that it isn't). In order for them to learn that they have power over outcomes, and what is and isn't a good choice, their choices (good and bad) must be linked directly and clearly to outcomes they understand.
Parents today have numerous expectations foist upon them, and everyone is criticizing them, from your neighbor all the way to Oprah.

So your solution to having taken on more than you can handle, and being too weak to cope with talk show comments (or even understand that they aren't directed at you in particular), is to pick on a helpless human being that you created, who depends on you for everything?

Quit feeling sorry for yourself and do the right thing -- whatever it is -- instead of whining and lashing out.

I don't want to shout when the "spill the milk" but what advice are you offering? To spank them? Doesn't that seem worse?
Cleaning up the milk and calmly admonishing the child to be more careful should do the trick. Accidents happen (even to grown-ups), and it's not a big deal.
It's to hard to live up to everyone's expectations. Every parent is judging you with everything that you do and everything that your child does. How is anyone supposed to live up to all those expectations? Sometimes yelling is the only way to be heard.

A parent's job is not to live up to others' expectations (which is impossible, as there are too many contradicting opinions out there). A parent's job is to teach his/her child the things that child will need to be a happy, successful human being. Different people have different approaches to parenting -- some things are a matter of personality/preference, while others have demonstrably right and wrong answers. The one thing that is universally true is that a responsible parent is always looking for better answers/strategies, and doing what is right for the child(ren) even when it is difficult.

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I'll add that it's not abou... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 12:46 PM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

I'll add that it's not about the parent being in total control or "perfect", it's about being responsible for one's own emotions and actions. The war cry of every abusive parent is "they made me do it, they're bad". No, they didn't "make" the adult do anything and the child isn't "bad" even if they're behaving in an out of control way (they learned from the out of control adult who acts this way in the first place). Even if a parent overreacts or loses self control, explaining to a child that, as an adult, own behavior wasn't acceptable, wasn't the child's fault and that we can all make mistakes but it's important to acknowledge and own it when we do - and apologize and not repeat the same behavior - gives the child not only permission to fail and learn but also means the child isn't being made responsible for the adult's emotions and actions.

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"A parent's job is to teach... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 1:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Susan's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"A parent's job is to teach his/her child the things that child will need to be a happy, successful human being. Different people have different approaches to parenting -- some things are a matter of personality/preference, while others have demonstrably right and wrong answers. The one thing that is universally true is that a responsible parent is always looking for better answers/strategies, and doing what is right for the child(ren) even when it is difficult."

Well said. Also, different children have different needs so what may be appropriate for one child may be inappropriate or even downright abusive for another. It's about being able to see your children as separate people, with their own personalities and needs. I highly suspect a lot of people have children because they want to be unconditionally loved and get enraged when their child tries to individuate and turns out not to be the parent they never had.

There's also the fact that our culture promotes the idea that love is a feeling - a narcissistic feeling of limerence - and not an action. Parents think because they feel love that they are loving parents when it's the expression of love - loving actions - that create the deeply satisfying connections that are about mutual recognition of worth that we all crave and need to be emotionally healthy. I think the comments about many people not having social groups - be they family or friends - are relevant.

It's also worth noting, that if a parent thinks being a successful human being is about superficial markers such as wealth, beauty or uncritical admiration, then they will perpetuate these values with the belief that they are doing the best for their child.

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To clarify - when I wrote "... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 1:39 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

To clarify - when I wrote "social groups" I was talking about people we have deep relationships with that traverse time so they know us both now and then (and care about our future). People who know us as people and not as social objects that affirm our status or external worth. People who value us for who we are, who care about our larger good and know us across time. These are the friends we can count on being honest and kind with us when we truly need it and to engage in mutual caring and understanding. This is allows us to be seen and valued as adults, it can give us insight into our patterns and remind us of what we already know, our successes as well as our failures, and our value as individuals outside of the larger social context. They love us even when we're weak, sad or failing and remind us that we can also be strong, happy and successful. And that we're not alone in our suffering or our joy. It strikes me that there's nothing more painful for us humans - being social animals - than to feel totally alone and disconnected. I do have a great deal of compassion for people with NPD because it seems like the apex of being unconnected and intensely lonely. It seems to me that one of the functions of various forms of talk therapy (and all kinds of new agey and religious attachments) are really about alleviating these feelings in a somewhat artificial and controlled way (not to dismiss the value of this but, really, having friends is a much healthier way to feel connected). Of course, healthy friendships are based in accepting that everyone involved has needs, limitations and are human. We seem to despise or denigrate some very simple human needs in our culture or view them as "weak" (as if needing other people and to be connected is a weakness and not simply part of being human...or a mammal for that matter). Our problem isn't being animals, it's pretending we're not and designating all "bad" emotions as "animal" and all "good" emotions and human or divine. All emotions are just part of being human, it's how we act on them that defines whether we're healthy social animals or antisocial ones.

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I grew up with two great pa... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 5:41 PM | Posted by Anony-Mouse: | Reply

I grew up with two great parents, but they were also therapists. That meant that they thought about emotions at a very high level. Far beyond what I could understand. They basically tried to "game" things for maximum developmental impact. But it came at the expense of being real. I would get "I think it's important for someone your age to hear 'No'" after a perfectly reasonable request. The request would have been fine except this is when Dr. Spock said to say "No."

My point is that most parents act on a script. They aren't real. They don't see the kid in front of them or identify the real reasons for their feelings. Look at how many parents today have a guru. There's the pro-Leapfrog and the anti-Leapfrog groups. some parents pride themselves on being "progressive" while others talk about being "old-school." It's parenting by identity. The parenting is about the parent, not the kid.

No wonder kids are confused. Nobody talks to them. They talk about them, to them. "What you've done is not good..." instead of "You've done something wrong." The kids are left not knowing where they stand.

It's like the scene in Office Space where Jennifer Aniston and Mike Judge are discussing "flair." Judge wants her to wear more, but won't say it. Instead he says, "You're only wearing the minimum, do you want to be known as someone who only does the minimum?" Aniston, wanting to do the right thing, asks "Oh okay, so I should wear more." Judge, looking disappointed, goes "It's not about wearing more. It's about expressing yourself."

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I know this family that is ... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2009 10:46 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

I know this family that is in a mess. They raised their two boys (now, respectively, 16 and 14) without limits. Dad was more like one of the boys than an actual father. Mom pretended Dad was in charge, when in fact, Dad was off sleeping, in his den, or jogging, never to be disturbed.

Even the dog was out of control--barking, snapping.

I saw serious acting out. Only when the oldest son was 16 was he suddenly into two suicide attempts, after which he was shipped, two states away to a therapeutic boarding school.

Mom keeps asserting that this is the only way the kid can be kept safe. I kept asking why not find him an inpatient setting close to home, so he wont feel exiled?

My contention is, the kid was sent into exile only when his behavior was so serious and public that 1) it threatened to unmask, publicly, what a mess the family has been in, for years.

2) This boy is the only one in the entire family who challenges the father and reveals how inadequate he is. The other all collude in covering for Dad.

As I put it, the dog has been a pain in the ass, and her snapping makes her a potential legal liability. But...the dog has not been sent to a training school or back to the SPCA. But...unlike the boy, the dog does not blow the cover on how messed up the family is.

I think LP is on to something.

For additional reading, get and read The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment by Pressman and Pressman. This book was first published back in the 1990s, but it still is applicable today..perhaps even more so, today.

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Uh I disagree about your an... (Below threshold)

October 30, 2009 3:17 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Uh I disagree about your analysis of the "messed up family". Before you even spoke of the boy's psychiatric problems, my first thought upon hearing of the father's behavior was "sounds like bipolar" (well perhaps not literally, but my point is the way the father behaves is clearly coo coo clock and well beyond "normal" narcissism, and it is clearly involving a brain that ain't working with all gears). Sleeping all day in the den? Or going for jogs? Alternating between lethargy and energy? Socially inaccessable? Age inappropriate behavior? Hmmm...

So when you went on to talk about the suicidally depressed/mental case boy with "acting out" behaviors, I really wasn't surprised. I tend to think this is more of an example of "mental illness is hereditary" as opposed to "not being genuine/being narcissitic fucks up your kids". Normal teen boys don't try to kill themselves. Twice. Unless they were severely abused or something, which is certainly doesn't sound like. Esp since the problems onset after adolescence. If it was a parenting issue, behavior problems would have started earlier. They wouldn't have exploded after puberty. But ya know what does explode at/after puberty? Crazy brain.

I am also curious how you know this family. You know too much about them for it to be a neighbor, unless you are going by floating rumors. Distant family maybe? Friend's family?


Sadly, this reminds me of my own fammy. :(

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Oh and more... I agree that... (Below threshold)

October 30, 2009 3:22 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh and more... I agree that some narcissism may be involved, mainly the mother's and her refusal to accept a mentally ill husband and at least one of her own son's who appears to have the same problem. That's actually pretty common for crazy people though. There is this dichotomy of crazy hell on the inside but keeping up appearances on the outside. On the inside of the home you've got dad all up in his head sleeping and jogging, acting like a kid, and mom is there trying to keep everything together (appearance wise). At 16 when junior falls prey to the same issue and starts going nuts and killing himself, he is removed, becuase he is threatening her denial of everything being okay.

The only thing that can save this family is lithium, effexor, and therapy, lol.

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Re anon 1:03pm who talks of... (Below threshold)

October 30, 2009 3:44 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Re anon 1:03pm who talks of "love being an action and not a feeling... that feeling love for your child is not the same as expressing love for your child" is the nail on the head. I think of my father, who was often abusive, traumatizing, and is a big part responsible why things got so bad for me. I believe he did not intend to be abusive and I do believe he did love us... but he is completely incapable of understanding that he was abusive.

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Yikes! On just so many lev... (Below threshold)

November 3, 2009 1:46 AM | Posted by Marie: | Reply

Yikes! On just so many levels!!

Great, insightful and really practical post. Scary the reaction it wrought!

First I have to say, someone tries to reason with a four year old?!?! Oh yeah, that kid knows who's in charge. lol And it isn't mom. lol

I definitely identified with your comments abut wanting to appear to be an exemplary parent. I was raised by a nightmarishly narcissistic mother and a father who alternated between rage and indifference. Exemplary? I wanted to be Super Duper Exemplary Earth Mother of All Time!! lol

But a funny thing happened. I loved my kids. It was more important to me that they feel safe and secure and learned how to get along in society than for me to be recognized as a paragon. Did I yell when milk was spilled? Sure. And explained that mommies get mad when children don't wait for help as asked. But I also sent the message that getting mad was not the end of the world.

If it was a simple accident, there was no yelling. Just matter of fact handing of paper towels so we could clean it up together.

Because I am human, there were times I lost it, usually unrelated to what my child was doing and totally connected to something that was going on inside of me. My four now-grown children for some reason find those to be hilarious anecdotes that become more embellished with each telling. I have raised a bunch of comedians.

Thanks for a wonderful essay and a great blog!

Reason with a four year old! ha ha ha ha ha....

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I thought one of the author... (Below threshold)

November 3, 2009 2:02 AM | Posted, in reply to Meira's comment, by a-d: | Reply

I thought one of the authors main points wasn't what you do. Shouting, spanking, grounding, etc.
But why your doing it.
Are you doing it because they've damaged your self image as a "Good Parent?" Because they aren't matching up with your image of a "Good Child?"
Or are you doing it because they've done something that put them or others directly at risk or indirectly through imitation?

This ignores when they are being ill mannered, but the principle probably still applies. The "Why" instead of the "What."

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I think that the point that... (Below threshold)

November 7, 2009 3:52 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think that the point that TLP is making is that people's perception of a "good parent" is what's controlling rather than your perception of what's good for the child, and that's the problem. So you and him/her are really on the same side.

Feeling guilty because of other people's opinion is the problem.
Don't.

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You make a great point. Pa... (Below threshold)

November 7, 2009 8:36 PM | Posted by Jimmy Havok: | Reply

You make a great point. Parenting should be for the benefit of the child, not of the parent. The devotees of John Rosemond's egotistical philosophy of parenting need to remember that. Your children didn't ask to be born, you forced life on them. Now you need to give them the tools to live. If you do it well, then they owe you, until that point you owe them.

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I love this article. Thank ... (Below threshold)

November 8, 2009 3:10 AM | Posted by BC: | Reply

I love this article. Thank you so much for writing it. Right on the money. The principle applies not only to parenting, but also to everything else in the world.

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oh, good, you're back. glad... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2009 7:18 AM | Posted by Trei: | Reply

oh, good, you're back. glad that other guy is gone.

there's just one problem I can see here: there is no right-and-wrong. and it is helpful for the kid to ignore that, and instead learn to please the boss. they'd fit right in and have a good understanding of what's going on.

even if everyone in the world would read this and had an AHA! moment, little would actually change at the 'doing' level. it's all about reactions, trained in a life-time of bad models and bad feedback. look at Marie :-))

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I have to agree entirely wi... (Below threshold)

December 1, 2009 8:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Susan's comment, by R H: | Reply

I have to agree entirely with Susan.

While I don't have children of my own, I have eight nieces and nephews and four godchildren, whose lives I am very involved with.

Now I realize that being the "uncle" means I generally get their best behavior, but the kids are of the age where I have taken them for a weekend or so and over that sort of duration, you are going to see the entire spectrum of behavior.

I've found that single most common cause for misbehavior amongst the kids is low blood sugar (not surprisingly, I also find that it is quite common among adults).

When I'm out with the kids and they start getting cranky, I immediately calculate when the last time they ate was and see about getting some food for them.

This alone mitigates or removes close to 80% of the problem behaviors, and I've found that steps such as Susan describes (warning the child about consequences, removing the child from the situation and enforcing stated limits) is very effective.

I have always chosen to treat my nieces/nephews/godchildren as if they are a year or two older than they are, to speak rationally and explain logically and I have found that they tend to rise to the level expected of them more often than not.

Given proper management of a child's blood sugar levels and a calm rational explanation of both expectations and limits, I rarely have situations develop that can't be handled calmly both by myself and by the child in question.

Lastly, I find myself compelled to ask - Do you have a sister? ;-)

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The article has a lot of go... (Below threshold)

January 20, 2010 9:41 AM | Posted by anon: | Reply

The article has a lot of good insights, but I find this comment off: "The natural thing to do would be to yell about bad behavior ("did you push that boy on the playground?!?!") and be calmly annoyed when they spill milk. But."

I think the natural behavior is what's common, it's the parent overreacting to what annoys them and to what will be seen or have public consequences for the child. Letting everything else off easy is also natural. What is also natural is for parents to argue about disciplining children because one (or one pair) thinks issue X is important and the other doesn't.

Sometimes our natural reactions are not the best. Or at least, they don't mesh well with the rule of law our society has constructed for itself.

Another huge issue, which I think you mentioned, is the lack of consistency that results from many factors but is also reflected in the main element you address: when. Parents draw lines and then don't hold them by any means of discipline. The few times they do, then, come off as unconvincing.

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This is brilliant. I can r... (Below threshold)

February 23, 2010 12:22 PM | Posted by Kellen: | Reply

This is brilliant. I can remember being a kid myself and KNOWING that Mom was yelling at me because of something that happened at work. I think it's also important to note - what - people yell when they are mad. I've been around people who are yelling, "I've had enough! First I spill coffee all over myself on the way to work, then I flub an email to a customer, then I had a fender bender trying to get something for lunch, now I've finally gotten home and the dog has gotten sick all over the kitchen floor!" That is an accurate statement about what's going on. It isn't blaming or naming anyone else. It's just a recap of what they're mad about. That's not threatening. Many people seem to think that we should go through life with quiet tones and never be angry. I think anger is a normal healthy emotion that is often misunderstood and expressed very badly. And I think it gets expressed badly because we fight to hold it in instead of learning how to let it out without hurting anyone.

I love your point about the parent in the grocery store. It reminds of something I need to write about, lol. I see parents and pet owners in public saying things to their child or pet that I know is not for the child's or pet's benefit. It if for mine. "Now Fluffy, don't bark at people. You know that's not nice." And Fluffy continues to bark his head off without missing a beat. The comment was not for Fluffy to stop barking, but to impress me that they are trying to address the bad behavior. Either address it or have the guts to leave it. Talking to the dog (or kid) for my benefit fools no one.

Thanks for the great article. Very insightful.

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Kellen - "Many people seem ... (Below threshold)

February 23, 2010 1:31 PM | Posted, in reply to Kellen's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Kellen - "Many people seem to think that we should go through life with quiet tones and never be angry. I think anger is a normal healthy emotion that is often misunderstood and expressed very badly. And I think it gets expressed badly because we fight to hold it in instead of learning how to let it out without hurting anyone."

Well said. And anger always finds a way out or to express itself, passive aggression is still an expression of anger...just not a very honest one.

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If you'll continue reading ... (Below threshold)

June 4, 2010 11:11 AM | Posted by Alex-5: | Reply

If you'll continue reading this blog you'll be cured from completly narcissistic coments like your first one :) although there's a known side-effect you might start hating people, goverment, TV, etc. :) welcome to the fanclub.

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Narcissism or an advertisem... (Below threshold)

June 4, 2010 4:00 PM | Posted, in reply to Alex-5's comment, by ATraveller: | Reply

Narcissism or an advertisement? It is so hard to tell these days ...

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Thank you! The content is e... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2011 10:23 PM | Posted by cheap jewelry: | Reply

Thank you! The content is extremely rich.

cheap jewelry

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"She's whispering because s... (Below threshold)

February 6, 2013 1:00 PM | Posted by Thales: | Reply

"She's whispering because she's embarrassed, not at the kid's behavior but about what it says about her as a parent to onlookers."

That's the problem with endemic narcissism -- even if you arn't, your neighbors are.

Mom could be worried about onlookes because onlookers can call Child Protective Services and have the kids removed. In an all-powerful Politically Correct society, they fear spinsters lurking in the hallways who look for excuses to call the Stasi.

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He asked the question to se... (Below threshold)

March 22, 2013 12:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Honorius's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

He asked the question to set up his next point: The reason she is not yelling is because she knows it would be wrong and PEOPLE ARE WATCHING. He is saying that subconsciously (and perhaps even consciously) the parent knows that yelling because of something minor, like a child whining because he wants a toy, is disproportionate and wrong, but if the parent were at home, she would have yelled anyway; only when she is in public with people watching does her shame of her own disproportionate outburst make her self conscious.

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This was one of your better... (Below threshold)

August 4, 2013 6:23 AM | Posted by J: | Reply

This was one of your better posts.

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I stumbled on this old entr... (Below threshold)

August 4, 2013 3:00 PM | Posted by Foobs: | Reply

I stumbled on this old entry (I may have caught up with the internet, leaving me to re-read old stuff while it adds new stiff :D )... I partially agree with it.

I don't think a parent should yell at their child. First, because if you want to teach your child self-control, you should damn well practice it (can a kid really not spot a tantrum?). Second, because yelling/screaming (as opposed to raising your voice) means that you've lost control of yourself. If you can't control yourself, the kid will figure out that you can't control or protect them, and it won't make them happy.

Spanking, in my opinion, should be hard enough to make a point, but not to actually cause real pain. Two fingers on the back of the hand for a child under 8 or so is more than sufficient. Much more and the punishment overwhelms the lesson. I also believe that, in regards to discipline, the parent should be as small a part as possible. The child does A, and B happens. The parent's emotions aren't important to the process. The parent should be upset that the kiddo lied, but the child is being punished for the lie, not for the angering...

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"I don't want to shout when... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2013 3:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Tom P: | Reply

"I don't want to shout when the "spill the milk" but what advice are you offering? To spank them? Doesn't that seem worse?"

If your ultimate reaction is to do anything other than sigh and (if they're old enough) make them help you clean up the milk so they learn that accidents have consequences, you're probably a terrible parent. So you're tired. You overextending yourself is not THEIR fault.

It's milk on the floor. It's 5 minutes.

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