Thursday, November 20, 2003

Me? A Bully?

Next time your children jump on your last nerve and you feel they're in need of aggressive correction, here's a new idea for disciplining them: Don't yell, don't scream, don't shout, just pick up a phone and call Murray Straus and Carolyn Field. They're the co-authors of a study in November's Journal of Marriage and Family that claims that most parents bully their kids, citing screaming, shouting and yelling as unacceptable forms of psychological aggression. No distinction is made in their censure for harshness of language or frequency of outbursts; raising your voice at all, ever, is just wrong, they conclude. HealthDay News quotes Straus as saying, "There is no empirical evidence to indicate occasional psychological abuse, such as the frustrated parent 'blowing off steam,' is harmless," though he doesn't explain how a frustrated parent holding in all that steam and eventually busting a blood vessel is preferable.

I'm convinced, though: No more yelling at kids for me. No more screaming when they're sibling rivalring, no more shouting when they start across the street before checking for cars. Nope; I'm no bully. The next time I feel like my kids need a good, loud scolding, I'm going to call ol' Murray Straus and have him come over and deal with them for a while. And then I'm going to go out, buy myself an expensive cup of coffee, browse through a bookstore or read a magazine, and allow my blood pressure slowly and delicately return to normal. My kiddos may not end up being better behaved, but I sure will be.

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