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Why You Don't Yell at Your Parents

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Parents can try your patience sometimes, but it doesn’t help to yell at them -- evn if you are all adults. Yelling isn’t respectful and simply encourages your parents to yell back in a vicious cycle, if they weren’t already yelling. No one listens when the yelling starts, according to family therapist Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D., in a “Psychology Today” article entitled, “Stop Yelling So Your Kids Can Hear You.”

Communicate With Respect

Your parents deserve your respect, even if they aren’t behaving very well, as can sometimes happen as your parents get older and move toward dementia, according to Marlo Sollitto, managing editor at AgingCare.com. Consider how hurt and embarrassed you feel when someone yells at you and realize that your parent can feel that way when you yell. If you wouldn’t yell at a co-worker or friend, don’t yell at your parents. Try to find out what your parent is upset about and work out a solution. If they are angry, try not to take it personally, suggests Sollitto.

Please Listen!

When the yelling starts, people stop listening, according to former deputy warden Carl ToersBijns in a Corrections.com article entitled, "Raising Your Voice or Yelling at Someone." If you want your parents to listen to you, don’t yell at them. If your parent is already yelling, try whispering in a calm voice. Your parent might stop yelling long enough to discover if you’re cussing them out or being otherwise disrespectful. The result is that your parent stops to hear what you have to say, and that’s really all your yelling was about anyway. You can set the example for how you should communicate with one another.

Don't Be Aggressive

If you wouldn’t dream of being physically aggressive to your parent, don’t be psychologically aggressive, advises authors Straus and Carolyn J. Field in a 2003 study published in the “Journal of Marriage and Family.” Yelling, especially when your words are hurtful and demeaning, is a form of psychological aggression. (Ref 3) Your parent is likely to respond in a negative manner and you won’t accomplish what you want.

Alternative Responses

When you’re frustrated and angry, you can resort to yelling almost before you know it. Instead of yelling, take a time out to get yourself under control by taking a walk or getting respite care for your parent, suggests Sollitto. Take deep abdominal breaths until you feel calmer. Write a letter or email instead of talking to your parent directly, even if you had the letter to your parent instead of mailing it. Address whatever has made you angry and frustrated in specifics, such as, “When you do this, I feel that emotion and I want to behave this way.” Keep your comments focused on the behavior and not your parent’s value or personality.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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