I am going to keep this blog post brief – just Google "parent yelling at kid" you will find about 1,000 different articles (scholarly, secular and Christian) about the negative impact it has on your child. But I needed to chime in as well - for those of you within my realm of influence. I cannot handle parents yelling at their kids. You may deem it cultural or downplay it to ‘not a big deal.’ However, research has proven that yelling at your children is detrimental to their mental health. I am here to also say it is detrimental to their spiritual health.
I am going to give you scripture, statistics with only a few words of input. Most of you have read my article, “Luke…” and know that I am now a father. Not one iota of me desires to yell at my son – not only that but I loathe the idea. I understand frustrations, emotions, feelings may boil over while raising him. But my anger, my response and tone of voice is my choice. I have heard some argue, well sometimes God has to yell at me to get my attention, so I too have to shout at my children. Are you then comparing yourself to God? Do you think your perfect in emotion and intention for your children that you know exactly how to respond? I guarantee if you yell at your children and then walk away, pray about it, you’ll never think, “well that was a good decision.”
Christian parents across the country are raising up children who are excited to yell at their future children.
Probably the most well-quoted scripture in Christian parenting is Proverbs 22:6, ”Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” With that scripture, I want to tell a story of something that occurred while hanging out with the Youth Group at church. We were talking about keeping control of our emotions and I asked the teens how many of them experienced anger. It lead to discussing their parents and their relationship with them. They all admitted their parents typically would yell at them - sometimes often. I asked them how it made them feel. They all responded with negative comments and effectively decided that nothing good came from it. The only thing they could think of that was “positive” was that “sometimes they deserved it.” I disagreed. I told them sometimes teens deserve a rebuke, discipline or punishment but that didn’t mean yelling. Yelling is lack of control - you cannot control your emotions. They all agreed that they did not like to be yelled at but then, when I asked them if they would yell at their kids they said absolutely. It even went as far as some of them said they were excited to yell at their kids. I asked them why and they said, “because that is what parents do!” They were excited to be on the opposite side of the shouting. Proverbs 22:6 rang true – Christian parents across the country are raising up children who are excited to yell at their future children.
NY Times perhaps said it best, “Yelling may be the most widespread parental stupidity around today.” Also, Healthline.com wrote, “It’s normal to get frustrated with your children, especially if they are misbehaving. But the way you express this frustration and deal with the situation can have major implications on their personality development and their long-term health.”
I write this to you not to feel condemnation for yelling your kids in the past. If it is past, it is done. God is full of grace and we live in that grace. We are human, we are carnal, we make mistakes. I write this to you to (hopefully) compel you to change the way you interact with your children moving forward. If your kids are adults, it is done – it is okay. If you are still raising them, prayerfully consider the change. We need to allow God to be in charge of how we interact, raise and discipline our children.
Here are scriptures and statistics for you to read and consider:
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”
Yelling causes worse behavior: A study on parent-child relationships showed that this is just the case in many families. In the study, 13-year-olds who were shouted at by their parents reacted by increasing their levels of bad behavior over the following year. [Healthline Parenthood]
Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Yelling can lead to depression: In the study that tracked increasing behavioral problems by 13-year-olds who were yelled at, researchers also found an uptick in depressive symptoms. Many other studies also show a connection between emotional abuse and depression or anxiety. [Healthline Parenthood]
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not provoke (to stir up and cause anger) your children, lest they become discouraged.”
James 1:19, ” Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
If you’ve ever been yelled at, you know that a loud voice does not make the message clearer. Your children are no different. Shouting will make them tune out and discipline will be harder, since each time you raise your voice lowers their receptivity. Recent research points out that yelling makes children more aggressive, physically and verbally. Yelling in general, no matter what the context, is an expression of anger. It scares children and makes them feel insecure. Calmness, on the other hand, is reassuring, which makes children feel loved and accepted in spite of bad behavior. If yelling at children is not a good thing, yelling that comes with verbal putdowns and insults can be qualified as emotional abuse. It’s been shown to have long-term effects, like anxiety, low self-esteem, and increased aggression. It also makes children more susceptible to bullying since their understanding of healthy boundaries and self-respect are skewed. [Healthline Parenthood]
Proverbs 17:27, ” Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”
James 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.”
Proverbs 19:20, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
And finally, Colossians 3:12, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
I will rest my case for now. But I could not let this go. As a new parent, I feel a strong conviction to write you – Parents of my church, loyal readers, parents in search of help, passer-throughs, Christians, non-Christians – carefully consider how you speak and raise your children. For myself, I must keep my family in order if I wish to continue in ministry. It is a Biblical expectation for overseers. 1 Timothy 3 says, ”He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?”
Please Christian parents, we need to stop yelling and start connecting with our children.
Think on it,