I’ve Decided It’s Time to Yell at My Kids Like a Boomer

Two images of mom from Malcolm in the Middle. First is about to lose. Second is her yelling.

I am a good millennial mom. I read Janet Lansbury and listen to Dr. Becky. I follow all the instagram accounts and TikTok’s that tell me how to be a gentle parent. We have a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine thanks to the multitude of sleep training books I have consumed. We don’t do much screen time (I’ll accept my award later, thanks so much!), and we don’t usually have brownies before bed. However, brownies are delicious. So if they are in the house we eat them. But I’ll get to that later.

I was raised by boomers who modeled the exact opposite of gentle parenting. They created a discipline structure around yelling at us so loudly it scared us into doing whatever they wanted. And sure, I’m in therapy now, but at the time it seemed like I was a pretty obedient kid? (Note: I checked in with my mom, and she says I was a “pain in the ass.”)

I have been diligently working to not make the same mistakes my parents did. I don’t want my kids to be scared of me! But the other night, in the throws of an emotional stand off with my 3 year old, all my gentle parenting techniques I'd so diligently added to my toolbox failed. So, I resorted to the only thing left: yelling like a boomer.

Here's what's happened. My husband was out of town, and I’m in my third trimester, so I decided we should have big fat brownies for dessert. I gave one to my 3 year old. She loves brownies even more than a super pregnant woman. However, chocolate before bed has never been a good idea…and as predicted she was awake from 1 to 4 a.m. using all of the tricks she'd diligently added to her toolbox to explain why she absolutely needed to sleep in bed with me. After five or six “calm check ins” I just lost it.

Bargaining with the devil is all about choosing when to negotiate and when to fight. Well, at 3:30 a.m., I realized this opponent was an adversary who was not willing to budge. So I took a tip from the boomer handbook of parenting, rolled up my sleeves, and got ready to fight.


And then for dramatic flair I added:


I sat in front of her door (as she banged and clawed at it like a caged Roman lion) and cried. I felt so guilty for yelling at her. Have I become my mother?! What would Janet Lansbury think of me?!

After ten minutes of this—or was it 30 seconds or 6 hours?—I decided to go back in there.

I walked into her room fully sobbing from pure exhaustion and mom guilt. As the tears flowed, I thought, “This is good—let’s use these tears in our ‘negotiations.’ She will take pity on me and finally go to sleep!” But no. Now, instead of screaming, we are both openly weeping between our attempts to convince the other of what should happen next. I try to persuade her to stay in bed until the sun comes up; she tries selling me on getting into bed with her, since it will only take “five minutes.” (What can I say? She’s good.) Neither of us budges. These hostage negotiations have only made us both more upset. I retreat to the outside of her door once again.

After 20 more minutes of tantrums (and a creative redecoration of her bedroom) she wins the battle and is now in bed with me explaining the benefits of eating a couple boogers before she can fall asleep. As she passes out (finally), I realize how lucky I am. Yes, this lost night of sleep will alter my brain for the next week, but her little body cuddling next to me is worth it. And I seem more scarred from yelling at her than she does—so I guess I didn't completely f*ck her up with that one outburst that will never, ever happen again?

The next morning we turn on Encanto (yes, I’m aware I said no TV) and watch Luisa’s song. The lyrics, “I’m the strong one, I’m not nervous,” stick in my head as I know we’re both actively plotting our stubborn plans for how bedtime will go in the evening. Tonight, I will easily be able to avoid the urge to down a brownie in front of my child; I will totally be able to handle a 3 a.m. wake up without screaming. But if I scream just a little, it’s OK—our parents did it all the time and we turned out FINE...right? (Janet Lansbury will have the final word on that one.)

I Love My Kids, But I Hate Playing With Them

Anna Callegari is a UCB writer and performer since 2010. She was raised in Chicago and graduated from NYU with a degree in musical theatre. You can find her most recently as Samantha in Season 7 of Orange is the New Black. Anna can also be seen singing in the Loser's Lounge Concert Series led by Joe McGinty, which has a bi-monthly show at Joe's Pub. Anna is a mom to a human child and a dog child. If she’s not performing or mom-ing she is selling real estate or probably sleeping.

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Freelance Writer

A UCB writer and performer since 2010, Anna Callegari was raised in Chicago and graduated from NYU with a degree in musical theatre. You can find her most recently as Samantha in...