Star Powered Parenting: Yelling at babies.
Now that my dad is a grandpa, he gives me fatherhood advice when I seek it out. In one such moment of counsel, I discovered that we shared the same outlook on one inevitable aspect of parenthood… yelling at a baby.
I’m the first to admit that I’ve lost my cool on more than one occasion since my wife has gone back to work and I’m home alone with the baby all day. When the little guy is shrieking his head off for reasons I can’t seem to fathom and he’s physically fighting back against all my attempts to soothe him (i.e. gently rocking him in my arms, patting his back, etc.), sometimes I get frustrated and the release I think I need is a good yell. I don’t turn my head and shout into his ear, although he’s done that to me plenty of times. It’s certainly something along the lines of “oh come on!” or “what are you freaking out about?!” or “give me a break!” In my defense it’s never shouted into his face. I turn my head away from him and let out my frustrations in another direction.
It’s the release I think I need in that moment. I think letting those frustrations burst out of me will 1) set him straight and 2) make me feel better. The actual results are, invariably… 1) he cries louder because Daddy’s loud voice just scared the hell out of him and 2) I feel exponentially worse.
My own father shared that very same experience when he was raising me and my brother. The frustration builds up, you let it out in a moment of release, and you feel like a jerk a moment later. It was something I’m glad he shared with me. It let me know that I’m not alone in “losing my cool,” and he reassured me that as long as I’m not howling into his ear (like he does to me) or physically manhandling him, I’m not the horrible dad I picture myself to be in those moments of weakness. I’m still not proud when it happens, and it’s something I have to actively work on.
I’ve gotten much better at the yelling. Leto certainly hasn’t, but he’s only three months old and that’s what babies do.
Somebody buy my wife some earplugs.