Bad Mommy: On Mom-Shame

For the Mom Who Yells: Words of Grace to You

Yelling Mom-Shame Title

Hey, Mama.

I write a lot of long-form essays around here—sometimes deep theological points, sometimes musings as I work through my own spiritual transformation into motherhood… Mostly with the purpose of encouraging you that you can be spiritually deep through the season of “in the thick of it” mothering.

Today, though, I will be brief.

We're talking about mom-shame this month, and today I wanted to talk directly to you. Yes, you. The one who is feeling doused in shame for yelling at your kids.

I want to talk to you because I’ve been there, too. I’ve gotten to the very end of my patience, felt the explosion rising up, attempted to stop it, and still succumbed to the spilling over in frustration and anger. 

Then, almost immediately (usually), I’ve begun the fast and dizzying dissent into shame about what just happened.

She was so scared. 

Why do I yell?

A good mom doesn’t yell.

I’ve got to get better.

And it doesn’t stop there, does it? My precious toddler is ready to move forward. She’s ready to snuggle before bed, or move on to play or snack time. But I’m stuck in my head, internally berating myself for not living up to my values of being a loving mother, and missing the new moments ready to be made right before my eyes. 

Yes, I’ve been there too. And in the abundance of His kindness to me, the Lord has supplied me with words of grace through prayer, time in His word, and spoken through faithful friends. 

I want to share them with you, too.

Pinterest pin: Mom Yelling

First, your yelling doesn’t make you “bad.”

Read that again. Soak it in. Because the first line of defense against getting swept into the riptide of mom-shame is to let go of the notion that your shortcomings are inextricably linked to your worth as a mother (or person).

Your yelling doesn’t make you a bad mom. Actually, the fact that you’re here– probably because you Googled “how to stop yelling at my kids,” or because you clicked a link from Instagram probably makes you a pretty good mom.

You’re aware.

You’re insightful.

You’re human.

Every human gets to the edge of their patience. And even the most peaceful of humans generally get brought to a place of frustration with children. 

No, yelling doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you a human one.

Do we want to keep yelling all the time? Nope, which brings me to my next point:

Your yelling is information about your internal well-being.

There’s a term in the therapy-world called the “window of tolerance.” This window is basically the degree to which you can tolerate stressors and events of the day. As you experience and interact in your days, you might experience a range of positive to negative emotions within that window.

Window of tolerance visual image

The Window of Tolerance. Concept developed by Dan Siegel. Image by Kiara Mucci. Supplied by The Rumpus.

When you get pushed outside of your window, that’s when we see things like yelling (called hyperarousal), or checking out (called hypoarousal).

Compiling stressors, life seasons, physical exhaustion, personality differences, and other things have the power to shrink our window of tolerance in certain days or even seasons of life. 

In more clear language: your yelling is information that you’re being pushed outside of your window of tolerance. Your body and mind have a need that hasn’t been met, and it’s crying out. 

Maybe it’s lack of sleep. Maybe it’s hunger. Maybe it’s a need for a break from being asked 5 million times a day for fruit snacks, and meeting a temper tantrum each time you say “no.” 

I can’t say for sure what it is for you, but I do know that your yelling is information. 

So, instead of meeting those moments with shame, meet them with curiosity. 

Absolutely take time repairing the moment with your child. Apologize. Express compassion. Use clear language. 

Apologizing to your kiddos helps them release their expectation and desire for perfection, and shows them a healthy response to their imperfections.

It also opens a door for you to give yourself grace, and to be curious about what’s pushing you beyond that window of tolerance.

And as you find that peaceful place of curiosity…

Always know that God longs to lift you upward and forward in growth.

What is the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus? When we read about his life, and learn about the implications of his death, burial, and resurrection, what kind of path is forged for our own spiritual lives? 

I don’t see a shaming Jesus-one who berates and belittles his followers when they don’t get it right. 

I see a gentle Teacher. I see a graceful Friend. I see a loving space to land when we mess up. 

The life and ministry of Jesus teaches us that the answer to our anger outbursts toward our kids isn’t to shame ourselves into “doing better,” but rather to run to the loving arms of the Creator who graciously teaches us a new way.

He longs to meet the needs we have. To lift the burdens we’re carrying of expectations of perfection, to restructure our lives and priorities so that we have more margin for grace, to show us what life and life to the full might look like. 

So, instead of leaning into mom-shame next time you yell at your kids…

Stop the cycle of shame. Adopt a mindset of curiosity about what’s pushing you past your zone of tolerance. And lean into the grace of Jesus that will pull you forward into more righteous living.

Are you ready to lay down the burden of mom-shame?

Join me for a 5-day guided journal experience to unpack, lay down, and move forward from mom-shame…

(1) Comment

  1. Great post! I love the idea that “yelling is information.” This is just as true applied to when our children are yelling (or crying or screaming or disobeying) as it is applied to us. Sometimes we need to give ourselves the same grace we give our children–or maybe giving ourselves more grace can help us to give them the grace they need and deserve… Love your neighbor as yourself and all that… 😉

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