I got an email from someone earlier this week who was highly upset because I think it’s okay if parents yell at their kids.
This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten these emails, and hers was nice compared to others I’ve gotten.
I mean some are pissed. I’ve been called uneducated, an idiot, and even the B-word…ouch.
Most of these comments come from my favorite blog post, 5 Myths About Yelling At Kids
I was thinking about her email as I was reading For The Love by Jen Hatmaker. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It’s like chatting with an old friend about the real messy parts of motherhood. It’s great to pick up at the end of a long day.
In her book, she mentions that her family is loud and Spicy and that they are not one of the Sweet families who are always kind and well mannered.
A lightbulb went off in my head. Of course! All those emails are probably from Sweet Families who can’t understand how families yell in the first place.
They think I’m condoning abuse when I’m actually letting parents know that their yelling may not be damaging, they just might be Spicy.
Spicy families are way more likely to yell at their kids, but that doesn’t mean that their family is broken or unhealthy or that their loudness and yelling is hurting their child.
Some Families Yell More Than Others, And That’s Okay
Dr. John Gottman is a world-renowned Therapist, and I’ve been following his work since I first learned about him in Grad School when I was getting my Masters in Counseling. His research is based on relationships and what makes them healthy or not.
He’s discovered that there’s a Magic Ratio between positive and negative interactions that all healthy relationships have. That ratio is 5 to 1.
So for every negative interaction, whether that be an eye roll or a screaming match, there must be 5 positive interactions to counteract that one negative.
It’s a ratio though. So some families may have upwards of 10 or more negative interactions a day, and is still a super healthy family. Those are the Spicy Families.
While other families have less than 5 negative interactions a day, the Sweet ones.
Spicy Families are more emotional overall. They yell more, but they show love more, they’re just more intense than their “sweet” counterparts.
Sweet Families don’t have near as many negative interactions, but they also don’t have as many positive ones.
It’s like a volume dial on a radio. Some families are amped up really loud, while others are really quiet. But as long as there’s still that 5 to 1 ratio in place, they are both healthy.
Sweet and Spicy Families Don’t Understand One Another
Sweet families look at spicy families and just don’t understand how they yell so much but still like each other. It doesn’t make any sense and it looks abusive.
Spicy families wonder if sweet families love each other at all, and can’t understand why they never get upset.
Just the other day, my husband and I were talking about our own families.
He turns to me and says, “You know, I still don’t really understand how your family works. You guys are just so loud and you yell at one another, it feels so stressful.”
He was born into a super sweet family, a family that I adore. But I struggle with his family because they don’t show any emotions. I don’t know how they are feeling, and that’s a bit unnerving to me.
After 11 years of marriage, we still aren’t always comfortable with each other’s family because I’m Spicy and he’s Sweet.
Spicy and Sweet families don’t “get” each other, so it’s easy to judge how the other works.
In Defense of the Spicy Family
There’s nothing at all wrong with either type of these families.
The problem is that it’s more socially acceptable to be a Sweet family.
Parents are told over and over again that we should stop yelling at our kids because it destroys relationships and can damage a child.
And the studies are right, name calling and tearing down a child while in a yelling rage can cause some harm, especially when this type of yelling happens a lot and without any repair work and apologies later.
It’s possible to be spicy and yell at your kids without being emotionally abusive. Emotional abuse is complex and completely different than occasional yelling at a child. Shoot, it’s possible to be emotionally abusive without yelling at all. You can’t automatically put those two things in the same category.
Here’s the thing, most spicy parents aren’t being brutal and demeaning when they yell.
They yell out of frustration, feeling overwhelmed, or anxiety.
Spicy parents care a lot about their kids but they are more emotional overall than their sweet counterparts, so sometimes they yell.
The guilt that spicy parents carry around for yelling at their kids can be huge.
So, if you’re Spicy, let me assure you of this…
- As long as your relationship is in balance and there’s at least a 5 to 1 ratio of positive/negative interactions, more than likely, the relationship is healthy.
- An apology can go a long way to repairing a relationship after yelling. It’s important to tell your kids that you were angry and to apologize for raising your voice.
- The most important things for a relationship to thrive are LOVE and respect. Show your kids that you love them multiple times throughout your day. Learn their love language and fill your child’s tank every day.
The great thing is that because you’re spicy, you show more emotions, including love. So, you’re probably already doing these things and showing your children plenty of love!
So Spicy Mom, shake off that Mom guilt for yelling and losing your cool.
You just love more, feel more, and yell more.
That’s who you are.
Now if you feel like your yelling is getting out of hand and that your relationship with your child is out of whack, check out my new Stop Yelling Email Challenge.
All you have to do is sign up and you’ll get 5 Daily Emails sent to your inbox for FREE that will help you take control of your anger and yelling.
These quick emails will give you insight into the real reasons behind why you’re yelling and give you some proven therapeutic techniques that will help you create a calmer home, even if you’re Spicy.
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