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
Eve: We are all so fucking lucky. Seriously, we all have food, clean water, warm homes and clothes for our kids. We have NO reason to be all blowing up at them.
They should be belitted because they are amazingly dumb people! LOL Belitte away! If your kid is skinning cats, yes, you should FREAK, but what people get so upset about is stupid.
See, people think that kids are so fragile and if we aren't super duper careful they will grow up to be failure humans and it just isn't true. 90% of normal kid behaviour is just that, normal. Parents blow up when they expect kids to be different than what they are, which is kids.
Lindsay: Really, I don't think it's funny. And I don't think that attitude helps anyone at all. Yes, you might have a wonderful life and it's nice that you see that and feel grateful. That's awesome. But suggesting that no one has anything to worry about or any reason to lose their temper is ridiculously narrow-minded.
Eve: I think it's hilarious! I do, really. And FFS, help people? with what? If people are capable of having a kid they should be capable of NOT freaking out at them.
Lindsay: That's super nice to say Eve. But you're completely ignoring reality.
Eve: The reality of it is that people expect their kids to be these cartoon caricatures of whatever BS they have concocted and when kids fail, which they do, people freak. It's silly.
Lindsay: The fact is, all kinds of people have kids. Lots of them aren't capable of controlling their emotions or processing stress or anger. And those people do need help so that they don't take their tempers too far.
Eve: Then those people need therapy! Hardcore therapy!
Lindsay: Children failing to be perfect is not the only reason that people freak. People lose their tempers all the time, for all manner of reasons. And I would bet lots of them can't afford therapy.
Eve: And most of those reasons are stupid.
Lindsay: And I'm sure hearing you put those reasons down will make everything better and it will all just go away.
Eve: Give me one example that justifies a total freak, that doesn't include your kid harming an animal or raping someone or drunk driving.
Lindsay: If only they had you to tell them that their financial concerns or job pressures or family drama or grief was stupid.
Eve: That is totally separate from your children!
Eve: Yeah but shouldn't people be smart and self-aware enough to see that this straw is just a symptom of bigger issues and not take it out on their kid?
Lindsay: Yes, because when people are stressed and frustrated, that's normally when they're also at their smartest and most self aware. And should people? Sure. Are they always? Obviously not. There's a reason that during financial recessions and difficult economic climates, child abuse soars.
Eve: I don't think this happens a lot actually. I think most people are smarter than this.
Lindsay: I think you're only considering a very small group of parents who you would identify with.
Eve: Umm, no, because I have been every parent. Yeah, maybe a really young mom with no life skills needs these lessons but most people of a certain age kinda grow up and realize that their kids are separate from their problems.
Lindsay: Every year, there are 3.3 million reports of child abuse in our country. A lot of that would likely come from people who can't process their stress and anger. And that's a whole lot of parents and a whole lot of kids.
Eve: OMG, you Googled! Well, people who can't process their anger shouldn't have kids.
Lindsay: And yet, they do. All the time. And the only thing we can do to help those kids is to teach more people how to process their anger.
Eve: And you can disagree that maybe they need to lighten up? See, I am so sick of this mentality, that people need all these coping skills. People need coping skills because in america we are fat and rich and pretty. Do you really think parents in the Congo sit there and say, "Wow, I need to know how to process my anger better?" We create these problems. We create problems when there aren't any.
Lindsay: Those are not comparable. And you can't just say that no one has issues that are worth mentioning because they aren't living in third world country.
Eve: What I am saying is we sure do have a lot of non-issues in America that we take out on our kids, and I think this mollycoddling parents is sorta lame.
Eve: Right, but neither is gently holding their hand and accepting their imaginary freak outs that the take out on their kids. It's normalizing a totally stupid idea.
Lindsay: Which is why we were talking about ways to help people.
Eve: And how do you propose we help these parents with no skills who scream or hit their kids when they are late on their electric bill? I suggest maybe these parents just need some damn perspective. Tell them to count to ten? OH count to ten and calm down and then you can rail on your kid?
Lindsay: Well I don't know Eve, I haven't done the interview yet. But there are lots of programs that send nurses and social workers into homes and help parents learn how to control their anger or how their emotions impact their kids and what they can do. They're programs that have shown really great success rates.
Eve: I don't know. I was a dirt poor single mom who lived in an apartment with a hole in the floor and crack addicts giving blowjobs in my laundry room. I took three buses to college and paid my babysitter who I couldn't afford and I never blew up at my kid. I locked my door and cried sometimes but I never took it out on him, because I realized that it wasn't his fault.
So no, I don't have a lot of sympathy for parents who blow up at their kids, and I think they are shitty parents with no coping skills. Just my opinion.
Lindsay: I was a single mom at one point in time as well. And I while I realize that both of us were lucky enough to have perspective and intelligence and ambition, some people don't. They don't know how to be responsible parents. And they need to learn. Which is why it's nice to try to educate them instead of just pretending that they don't exist.
Eve: I do see your point, but to be honest, I am sorta fed up with the hand holding and educating of the great unwashed masses. No one educated me, I just didn't wanna be an asshole. We mollycoddle parents and say, "There, there, we know it's hard." But in a sense, that just validates their entire thought process and makes them think, "I screamed at or hit my kid, but it's okay and normal and I will do better next time." Yuck.
And I do believe parents blow up for utterly stupid reasons. It offends me that people can't control their shit better. You can have sympathy, I do not.
Lindsay: It's possible to think that something is wrong and to acknowledge that it shouldn't happen while still trying to help people make better choices in the future.
Eve: it's all too precious for me. Sorry your cake got burnt while you were cleaning up the toys your kid threw on the floor. Bleh.
Lindsay: Yes, I'm sure that's all anyone is worried about... burnt food and a messy house.
Eve: Well, as you said, it's things like this that are the straw… it's a bigger issue usually. But instead of dealing with the bigger issue parents freak on their kids. I'm shitty for writing for Mommyish because I will always take the kids side. I sorta hate parents overall.
Lindsay: When you put them on separate sides, I don't think you do them much good.
Eve: I kinda doubt the child-beating, temper-losing parents read Mommyish anyway.