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Mother Yells a Lot
Q: I come from a loud, Italian family. Everyone in the household would yell when they talked. My husband comes from a very soft-spoken family.
My son's a well-mannered honor roll student who's involved in sports. I never thought that raising my voice was a big deal, since I turned out so well. Recently, I've had several people voice negative opinions on my parenting skills. Should I change the way I am, or tell them to mind their own business?
A: Perhaps I should preface my comments by noting that I was raised in the embrace of my mother's "animated" (How about that as a substitute for "loud"!) Italian family. She had seven brothers and sisters and the homestead was always full of raised voices, singing, laughing, and life! My dad was an only child from a reserved family, but he welcomed the lively rhythms of my mom's family.
Isn't the "proof in the pudding"? Your son is an all around great kid. If he were complaining about the boisterous conversations and raised voices of his family, I would pause to consider whether this atmosphere might be negatively affecting his development. But that's not the case. As long as the yelling isn't producing any harm to others' feelings, let's accept this as a matter of family style. If you believe that your boy is being raised with the love and support of his extended family, please don't doubt your parenting abilities. They're just fine. As for the folks who have offered their criticism of this parenting atmosphere, you might say something like, "Sometimes love makes loud noises."
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.