How one screaming mom learned to control her tongueWritten by Belinda Walker
What's inside this article
I was far from my idea of the perfect mom – delicate, patient and sweet. Even though I love my children and am devoted to them, you wouldn’t know it by listening to me. My mouth was always wide open and yelling at my children.
I considered going to a 12-step program and introducing myself, "Hi, my name is Belinda, and I’m a screamer."
My problem always began the same way. I lost my patience, then my tongue spit out words faster than the speed of light. My volume escalated – each word a higher pitch. My rant went on and on like the Energizer bunny, except I didn’t beat on a drum – I beat on little ears, sensitive hearts and young minds.
The thought of what I sounded like to my children sickened me. I was like a drill sergeant shouting each morning, "Wake up, it’s late! Hurry! Pick up your rooms! Make the beds!" When I helped them with homework, my voice screeched like nails on a chalkboard, "What do you mean you don’t get this? How many times do I have to explain?" I knew my real message was lost. "I love you and I want you to do well in life" was not conveyed.
I blamed my out-of-control behaviour on parenting solo, a stressful job, financial problems and no time to myself. But the cycle of screaming, feeling guilty and apologies continued to hurt my children.
I needed to change for the sake of my little family, but change was difficult. I read books on my self-diagnosed screaming syndrome. I tried counting to 10, then 10 again and again. I practiced slow breathing techniques, which only caused me to hyperventilate. I even videotaped myself yelling. Nothing worked.
I was miserable and questioned my ability to mother my children. I called on God for help. I didn’t know how He could fix me, but I knew that all He required was a tiny mustard seed of faith. So I got down on my knees, planted my prayer and watered it with tears.
Soon Mother’s Day arrived and my third-grader, Rebekah, gave me a card and proudly proclaimed, "I made it all by myself!" I was torn between laughing and crying as I read the words written on the front – Happy Mouther's Day.
Happy Mouther's Day? The misspelled greeting pierced my heart. I was filled with sorrow and memories of all the broken promises to my children.
Then, at once, the heavy burden vanished. I knew deep inside I now had the strength to stop my abusive behaviour. There was no looking back. The simple little u that translated Mother into Mouther transformed me.
My daughter laughed about the misspelled word; I relished her laughter. I knew that was no misspelling – God had intended it. I opened the card and read the rest, "Dear Mom, I love you with my whole heart and soul." In spite of my mouth, my daughter loved me. And through a heavenly-inspired card, I was changed forever.
A note from the author
Screaming is like a tornado that tears through the heart and soul of a child. It leaves an aftermath of anxiety, fear and feelings of worthlessness. A child’s only defence is to emotionally withdraw from a parent who is supposed to represent security and safety. As a result, the parent-child bond becomes weaker and the emotional health of a family diminishes. Screaming is never a solution – it wounds tender hearts and impressionable minds.
At one point in my healing process, I recalled the times God could have yelled at me, but He didn’t. "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love" (Psalm 145:8).
Belinda Walker lived with her children in Vermilion, Ohio, at the time of publication.
If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.Our recommended resources
Free advice on marriage, parenting and Christian living delivered straight to your inbox