Mommyish Debate: Is Blowing Your Stack With Your Kids Bad Parenting?

bad parenting

Things got a little heated in the Mommyish offices today. While discussing an upcoming interview about helping parents learn to control their anger, Lindsay Cross and Eve Vawter found themselves debating whether there’s any excuse, or any cure, for a parent who lets stress and frustration lead to “blowing your stack” with your kids.

Lindsay argues that losing your temper is a natural occurrence that sometimes results from serious issues, and that we should help parents struggling through these tough times. Eve believes that there’s just no excuse for taking out your stress on your kids. Not to mention, a lot of this “stress” is man-made. She makes the point that we shouldn’t encourage parents to indulge in it.

Lindsay: Oh hey, I have a psychiatrist who wants to do an interview about what parents should do to deal with their anger so that they don’t blow up at their kids. Anyone have questions or anything?

Eve: Yeah, what parents blow up at their kids? What sort of assholes are these? I have never blown up at my kids, ever. Mayhaps my kids are boring though

Koa: I’d be curious to know how many parents snap at their kids who technically “know better”? Who have the education and what not but are just overwhelmed?

Lindsay: I mean, I’ve lost my temper before…

Eve: Overwhelmed is so stupid. People freak out over stupid stuff, who cares? Your kid throws food? Well, they shouldn’t, but then you just take the food away. Your kid hits someone at the playground? Take them home, explain we don’t hit. I have alllll the answers.

Lindsay: I think that’s a little unfair. It’s easy to be so calm about it when you’re just speaking about it or writing about it. It’s harder in real life when you’re stressed or tired or have a million things going on.

Eve: Kids are easy, Teenagers are hard.

Lindsay: Realistically, life can be overwhelming. And some people do lose their tempers and yell at their kids and then regret it later.

Eve: But why be stressed? See, that’s the absurdity of it. People have these dumb expectations. You are a lady lawyer who has a giant meeting and your 3-year-old wants to wear a princess dress and you are running late! Who cares? Let her wear the dress! Almost any situation is not that big of a deal.

Lindsay: But seriously? You’re saying that everyone should just stop being stressed… like that’s the easiest thing on the planet. That’s just not realistic at all.

Eve: IT IS!

Lindsay: It’s not. And pretending like it should be makes it harder for people to actually get help if they have a hard time managing their stress because you just brush off their concerns and belittle their feelings

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  • Raeronola

    I can’t read this article because the stock photo is legit terrifying. :(

    • Helen Hyde

      For real! It’s not really an article anyway, just an argument. No answers there.

    • Raeronola

      See I probably would have known that if I could have gotten past that horrifying lady. It’s like the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, plus my mean English teacher, and also the scary mask from scream. No Bueno.

  • Jem

    Granted, I did not read the whole article. And I’m likely biased. But coming from a home where my mom regularly “vented” by screaming her lungs out at us, over usually non consequential things, I do not think it is ever ok, or rarely maybe. She always justified it as “oh they’re just words” but it was terrifying.

  • Ashley

    I am…at a loss for words. I am astounded and appalled at the lack of empathy and the amount of judgement spouted by Eve. I mean…wow. There is really no way to have a conversation with someone so unwilling to consider the perspectives and lives of others. (Oh, unless we’re talking about “third world countries.” 1. This is the most [THE MOST] ridiculous and over-used excuse for not dealing with problems at home. 2. It seems to me to be in bad taste to always trot Africa out as the “poor sad brown people” we should be thankful to not be–Googling “white savior complex” might lead you to some interesting reading.)

    Eve, I’m glad that you and your children are so perfect that you never, ever get upset about anything (because stress is for the stupid and weak, amirite??), but please. Helping people is not a bad thing. You are so insulting in this debate, to so many people, it’s hard for me to even count the ways. Take a big, big step back and think about what you are saying here. You did it yourself, so everyone else should also? You didn’t need help, so no one else should either? People aren’t perfect. People need help sometimes. Stop judging them for trying to get it.

    • bb

      No doubt. Atrocious. Yeah, it’s all no big deal. Like if another one of your children gets cancer or something. No biggie, right Eve? Amirite girl?? Just deal with it. No stress there, never, nope. Alcoholism, drug addiction, not enough money for food. Forgeddabout it! Just chill and be cool like Eve!

    • Paul White

      I was afraid it was just me! Thank goodness it wasn’t.

    • AlbinoWino

      I mean, Eve must really live in a delusional bubble. She must think I don’t tend to feel a certain way and therefore no one else must. My kids are provided for and I don’t have many issues. Jesus, I’d be amazed to know this woman has any friends as she clearly doesn’t live in reality or possess any real empathy for other human beings.

  • BB

    Please tell me Eve was just playing devil’s advocate. It must be stressful to be so perfect. Oh wait, she’s perfect so there’s no stress. Right…….

  • Smalls

    First – It’s not okay to physically or verbally abuse your kids under any circumstances. Now that I’ve said that, it was really hard to get Eve’s point (and I wanted to) because the argument style was making me really defensive. People get stressed out. It’s not wrong or bad that they do. And sometimes people yell at their kids. I was yelled at – no permanent damage to my psyche done.

  • Aja Jackson

    “No one educated me, I just didn’t wanna be an asshole.”

    Somehow your desire to not be an asshole doesn’t come across at all in this article. Maybe some education would have helped.

  • christy kay

    I agree! there is no excuse to ever snap at your children or lose your cool. my dad would flip the s*** when he had bad days, it was unfair and scary. I am a mom now, if I ever feel myself getting too worked up or frustrated…. I walk in another room and remind myself that it is not my right to make my child to ever feel scared of me! people that can’t control their tempers should not have kids!

  • Debb

    I am actually completely in agreement with Eve. When I taught Preschool, I would regularly get frazzled parents throwing their children at me because he or she was driving them “crazy” and every time, I would say the same thing…….look, you are the adult here, you’ve been on this planet for 25+ years, the child however has only been here for a very short time, if anyone should be overwhelmed it should be the child. Put yourself in their shoes and grow up. There is no reason that everyday stress (and if I’m correct, that is what Eve is referring to……….NOT Cancer or any of the other scenarios you put in her mouth) should ever be taken out on a child. It’s time to stop making excuses for your emotions and act like adults. Children didn’t ask to be brought into this world, and for all of you out there who are lucky enough to have had children, you should feel incredibly blessed. It seems to me that some people are taking such offense to Eve’s words because they don’t want to be responsible for their own behavior. If you are stressed out about “Alcoholism, drug addiction, not enough money for food”, well, those things are your own damn fault and have nothing whatsoever to do with your child.

    • StephKay

      ” “Alcoholism, drug addiction, not enough money for food”, well, those things are your own damn fault”

      I’m hoping I’m misunderstanding that line, but I would be REALLY careful criticizing others for putting words in eve’s mouth and following up by tagging that opinion on. While Im sure we all agree that a parents personal problems are not the fault of a child, it’s extremely inflammatory, classist and mental health able-ist to say a parent struggling with addiction and poverty should just suck it up because it’s their fault anyways. Is it their responsibility to keep the kids out of it? Yes. But fault? That word has absolutely no place in discussing the horrors of finding yourself addicted or impoverished with children to care. Somehow I’m not so sure that was what Eve was getting at. Of course it’s totally possible I’m misreading both of you, and I know you very likely didn’t mean anything by it, that line just kind of made me cringe.

  • misspell

    I agree with Eve. I was a single parent for awhile too. I don’t recall wiggling out in my kid like I noticed other moms doing. There have been a couple of times at the grocery store that I wanted to tell parents how crappy they were being to their kids. But also noticed their kids were crappy too. probably because they saught attention that they never got, unless they bugged the crap out of their parents or every other adult in the store. My son has probably been annoying to me twice in his life. Never had a lot of problems with him. I spent a lot of time with him too. He is 24 now. doesn’t do drugs and no drinking problem. Empathic and honest. Maybe Eve and I are similar in that we protected our kids from wrath and fed them love.

  • copycait

    This whole conversation just makes me really glad that I don’t know Eve in person. Even when she has a valid point, she is just soooo judgmental that I have no desire to listen. I don’t think anybody would argue that it’s OK to lose your temper with your children, but Eve’s suggestion that nobody needs to talk about it because this never happens to “good” or “educated” parents is ridiculous. Also, for someone who says she didn’t want to be an asshole, she sounds like a pretty big asshole.

    • Eve Vawter

      Well, in my defense, it should be noted I had ZERO idea this would be turned into an article, and I was also on vicodin because I had double root canals. Had I not been on painkillers and aware this would be an article, I would have whipped out the google machine to further my argument too. That being said, I really don’t care if people call me an asshole or bitch for thinking that people who scream at kids or hit them suck it, I’m 100% fine with that. Kids don’t ASK to be born, we all owe it to them to protect them. The only thing screaming at a kid teaches them is that you have a really loud voice and can’t control your anger. So yeah, I’m a bitch and an asshole for hating kids being screamed at or hit, and if I catch some sorry-ass parent doing it in the parking lot of Target, you bet I will stop them and tell them off. I’m THAT sort of bitch.

    • Rattata

      Being really bitchy then blaming it on “Oh, I was drunk when I said that/I’m on painkillers/That wasn’t me, my friend stole my phone” is a cop out. You meant everything you said and you said it in a very bitchy manner. Also, not every woman asks to be pregnant. Do I think yelling at your kids over your personal problems is good? No. But my god, I’m on Cross’s side for this one, I couldn’t stand reading your parts. Also, don’t blame it on your dental work- orphans in Africa can’t even afford dental work!

    • Eve Vawter

      I wasn’t excusing it, I was just sort of giving a backstory, I stand by my argument totally!

    • Paul White

      Being on meds or booze never makes me feel differently than I do sober; it just makes me more willing to state how I feel.
      As for hitting? I can agree, never an excuse for smacking your kid. But shouting? Really? No raised voices, ever? Is that somehow damaging to their psyche? Is it ineffective at all times?

    • Eve Vawter

      Yeah, I get all loose and truthy :)

    • k

      i dont think its fair to lump yelling in with hitting. Ive lost my temper, and talked to them about that afterwards. i dont think that makes me abusive. (and yes i am a college educated and gainfully employed person with a husband with serious depression and everyone has alot of stress. deal with it.)

  • Zettai

    Can we just call it like it is?

    Eve, you’re a self-righteous, judgmental bitch. Period.

  • Lawcat

    There’s only one time where I completely, blinding rage lost it with my son.

    After being told numerous times to not play in our front yard, constructing a fence for the back, and double locking doors, my four year old unlocked our front door and wandered out towards the road while I went down to put a load of laundry in. It was more out of fear of what couldve benn than anything, but he hasn’t attempted a second escape.

    I see a difference in raising your voice and berating, screaming, or yelling about everything. My mom had a tendency of yelling over small issues. Annoying, but I’m no worse for wear and we have an excellent relationship. I’ll raise my voice if he’s doing something he knows he shouldn’t be doing or just completely fails to follow directions after redirection and other discipline.

    If its a continuous cycle, then parents might want get outside help in other methods. Obviously you shouldnt be blowing up at your kids everyday, bu if you lose your cool once in a blue moon and explain why or apologize after, I think it’s only natural.

  • LindsayCross

    I would just like to say, given some of the seriously angry comments, having Eve as a friend is really wonderful. It’s wonderful that we can disagree about something and even debate and still adore and respect each other. And I don’t know anyone who has a bigger heart than her.

    This conversation really wasn’t made for publishing. We were just talking about a subject that we both felt passionate about and realized that it could spike some conversation about how forgiving we should be of bad parenting, and whether all of that “help and understanding” really helps.

    I love seeing commenters further the debate or even just respond to Eve and I. But just saying, “Eve’s an asshole,” isn’t doing anyone any good either. And it’s not true. She’s pretty great.

    • Eve Vawter

      But I am kinda an asshole, and that is okay! <3

    • katydid0605

      this comment totally redeemed the article eve. ;) I agree with Lindsay, and wasnt going to call you an asshole, but i like that you can pick on your own self :P

    • i’m so done reading this site.

      being an asshole is being an asshole. having a total lack of empathy is being a bad person. but, you don’t care what the visitors on your website think so, good luck with that.

    • Justme

      And cue the flounce!

    • copycait

      If the conversation wasn’t meant for publishing, then it shouldn’t have been published. Use it as the starting place for a new article, one that doesn’t make anybody look like a total jerk. At the very least, make it anonymous. Somebody made a lazy call in publishing this as-is.

    • chickadee

      Absolutely — saying that it wasn’t meant for publication is a cop-out and kind of insulting to the readers. If they are going to publish something that makes one of the participants look bad, they have to deal with the fallout and no excuses.

  • Fabel

    I think you guys forgot to define what “blowing your stack”/snapping/venting means to each of you? Is it a shrieking rant that goes on forever? Is it a mild, constant bitchiness brought on by other life factors? It is one snippy, mean comment? I don’t think it’s cool to yell at your children (of course, I have none, so…grain of salt), but raising your voice at times in understandable. But there’s a difference between raising your voice out of emotion, and letting it remain raised throughout an entire rant (especially if it’s out of proportion to the child’s behavior)

    • LindsayCross

      I think you bring up a really good point! And looking back, that might have part of the problem that Eve and I had in our discussion. I was thinking of ways, both big and little, that parents can “blow their stack.” I mean, honestly, there have been times when I have been frustrated and momentarily raised my voice with my daughter. And then I feel guilty.

      But I think it’s important that after those moments, my daughter and I sit down and talk about the fact that Mom made a mistake, that I was angry and I didn’t deal with it in the proper way. It hasn’t happened a lot, but my daughter and I have had one or two of those talks. And I think they’re important and they teach kids that anger happens, you just have to be able to deal with it.

      Now, is that on par with ranting and raving for an hour or ever physically harming you child? Of course not! But I think that even those parents who go overboard could benefit from learning healthy ways to handle stress and anger.

    • LiteBrite

      That is exactly what I thought of when I read this piece. Full confession: I have “blown my stack” on a few occasions with my son. He’s very strong-willed and when irresistible force meets immovable object…well…sparks fly sometimes. I have never hit him nor have I verbally abused him (as in called him names), but yeah, I’ve definitely raised my voice, sometimes more than a few octaves.

      I also agree with Justme and Lindsay in that it’s how you handle it afterward. Yes, I may be angry and under stress when it happens, and no that’s not an excuse, but I do own up to the fact that I didn’t handle the situation well. In those cases, I have hugged it out with my kid and apologized and have tried to do better the next time.

  • Justme

    Real cases of child abuse aside, I think that it isn’t whether or not a parent loses it on a child but instead how you handle it afterwards. If you were stressed about work and money but went off on Susie because she dropped her strawberry on the floor at dinner, then own up to it. Apologize to Susie and explain to her that you were wrong for yelling and that you’re not perfect and even adults make mistakes sometimes.

  • chickadee

    If Eve never EVER loses her temper around her kids, then congratulations on that. I have to say, as an educated and reasonably intelligent adult, that I cannot say the same. I never abused my children, but I did lose my temper once or twice.

    I’m on the side of getting people help who have trouble controlling poor reactions to stress rather than deciding that they are terrible people who aren’t mature enough to have children, particularly as those children already exist and will learn poor coping techniques from those parents….this was just a strange perspective to read.

  • joe

    I agree that we should control our temper around our kids, and if we screw up it should typically be seen as a failure and we shouldn’t make excuses. But Eve takes the point way too far and ends up contradicting herself. ALL parents screw up, and mocking and belittling people for their mistakes is just as bad as making excuses. And it isn’t exactly a great example to set for your kids. I don’t think it is acceptable to use mockery or condescension to address mistakes like this, and for children it can lead to life long issues with guilt, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness.

  • AlbinoWino

    “If people are capable of having a kid they should be capable of NOT freaking out at them.” Uh, last I checked conceiving a kid isn’t rocket science. I used to work with 13-17 year olds who managed to get pregnant all the time. Raising the kid became the issue though because, you know, they were fucking kids themselves. Seriously, every one of Eve’s arguments are stupid and ignorant beyond belief. Man does she live under a rock. Of course, she clearly sees yelling and getting angry as a class based issue. No person who has food, clothing, and shelter could ever have an anger issue. Look how good they’ve got it! I mean, Jesus, look how many people are on anti-depressants and other mood stabilizing drugs in this country. What does that tell you?

  • Victoria

    It’s super hard for me to compartmentalize my life into non-overlapping sections. If I have a million stressors, I have less emotional energy to deal calmly with fifteen tiny little crisis at home. I think that Lindsay and Eve were talking about different things? Losing your temper at your kids because they are temporarily being little monsters (when you’re already on edge) and screaming at them in complete hatred aren’t even in the same category.

    I remember my dad getting laid off, and my mom (never in the best mental health anyway) turning into a slapping, screaming, hitting fiend. I think watching that gave us all (my sisters) a reason not to be like her, with our own kids. But we still blow up from time to time…but that’s cool, because it’s also creepy for kids never to see their parents at their rope’s end when dealing with life’s issues. Life has frustrations, and if everything’s perfect allll the time, the kids are in an artificial environment. When they grow and get jobs and have frustrating spouses or bosses or whatever in the real world, should they just deal by stuffing things away? Therapy bills galore.

    TL;DR: A little harmless bellowing from time to time is harmless if it’s not done to scare the shit out of kids. It’s not psychically scarring, otherwise every Italian/Jewish/whatever child would be traumatized forever. But take it easy.

  • wmdkitty

    I’m leaning more towards what Lindsay was saying, that people need coping skills. And it ain’t just parents that need ‘em, it’s society at large.

  • Kim Lewis

    Kids learn by example. Mine are learning that anger is a normal emotion. That mommy has feelings too. That hurt feelings mend. That apologies are accepted. They’re also learning that anger doesn’t solve anything, but talking about it does. They wouldn’t learn any of those things if I was afraid to be angry in front of them or at them.

  • Kim Lewis

    hang on… “freaking out” in this article.. is that yelling? I’m talking about losing my temper and yelling at a kid.. not being abusive. You can raise your voice and express anger and not say horrible things or start smacking little heads. Maybe this is all semantics.

  • Kim Lewis

    btw Eve… 3rd world countries often have extended families to help with childcare, parenting etc. It’s not that they don’t have problems or anger, it’s that they have a rather larger support group than most people in “the civilized” world.

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