How I Became a ScreamFree Mom and (More Importantly) Why
I had been a screaming mom for about 9 years when I read ScreamFree Parenting. Not that I wanted to be a screamer. No! In fact, I was mortified that I had those tendencies. I had been praying for approximately…9 years…to stop. I hated it. I was embarrassed. And I was appalled at the effects it was having on my kids.
My kids. I have three — two sons and a daughter. I remember poignantly one night when I was bathing my small babes, and I lost it. The screaming was intense and the looks on their faces nearly crushed me. They were terrified of me. Sadly, they eventually grew accustomed to my outbursts, and I noticed a different response: disgust and disrespect.
I knew this was not how I wanted to raise my kids. For my own sake, I wanted to live in a way that was admirable, respectable, and loving. I wanted to be proud of my own behavior. I also wanted to have a relationship with my kids that would last a lifetime. I didn’t want them to grow up with a strong desire to leave ASAP!
My initial response to ScreamFree Parenting was not good. The first chapter was entitled “Parenting is not about kids; it’s about parents” and it was asking me to look at my own behavior and focus on myself. What? No, I thought. I need to focus on my kids’ behavior and make them behave! Frankly, the idea of focusing on myself sounded a little selfish.
About 9 months passed as I picked up the book and put it down, disappointed that it wasn’t telling me how to fix my kids so I didn’t HAVE to scream at them. Eventually, I decided to actually read the book.
And it was then that I had a light bulb moment. Aha!
I was being asked to focus on myself and take responsibility for my own behavior…Hmmm…just like in my marriage, if I want to change my marriage, I must focus on MY behavior, not my husband’s. I had already realized this after 13 years of marriage, so I figured it could be the same in my parenting. If I wanted my relationship with my kids to change, I had to focus on the one person I CAN change: ME!
As I read, I realized that I had been asking my kids to take care of me emotionally. It went something like this:
I NEED you to obey me. When you obey me, I can calm down; then I can stop screaming. But until YOU do __________, I’m going to be out of control.
Crazy-talk, right? Yet somehow I rationalized it.
When I began to take responsibility for my own behavior and my own reactions, I started to scream less. It’s not my kids’ responsibility to take care of my emotions, but that’s exactly what I’d been doing—throwing all of the responsibility of my emotional health onto my kids. Now I began to realize that no one can MAKE ME MAD. I choose my responses.
Here I am more than five years later, and I can say that I am more proud of my own behavior, my kids (and husband) see the difference, and our relationships are significantly strengthened.