I don’t hate you, but I’ll probably ignore your parenting advice

by Janelle Hanchett

A few years ago, when I started this blog, I created the tagline “Join me in the fight against helpful parenting advice.”

This is, of course, a joke. But like most jokes, it’s also true. I’m pretty sure my special talent is the ability to shoot down parenting advice in midair.

This is not because I think I know everything. I haven’t known everything in at least 10 years.

It isn’t because I’ve never received helpful advice. My midwife suggested I set one goal each day (clean my bedroom, do the laundry, etc.) and just do that first. The rest I’ll get to if I can. I tried this. It worked. I still do it.

And it isn’t that I think you know nothing. I watch you. I see you succeeding. I know you know all kinds of things. Well, some of you. Some of you are are not succeeding. Like Matt Walsh, for example.

There’s some ego involved. When I share some story about my kids, particularly if there’s a hint of negativity in it, and Other More Knowledgeable Parents share their “how-to tips” with me, I often respond (in my head) with a tween-like “fuck off” for no reason beyond I don’t like being told what to do.

Maturity. It’s my jam.

Who the hell are you to tell me how to parent? You know nothing about my family. I wasn’t writing for help. When I want help I’ll ask for it.



And the reason is pretty simple: IT NEVER WORKS.

Or it might work, but probably not. And if it works, it probably won’t work with the next kid, or in 6 months, or tomorrow. And after I hear your advice, and try it, and it doesn’t work, I’ll spend a while feeling shitty because the advice isn’t working, but there’s a chance I won’t be able to face that fact, because IT WORKED FOR YOU so it “SHOULD” work for me so now I feel like a failure for not applying advice correctly so I just keep trying and trying and trying until I say FUCK THIS NOISE and start a blog.

Because I’m tired of the bullshit, the idea that there’s any uniformity to this insanity, that parenting philosophies will work for all, or even most, or anybody for that matter. I’m tired of people creating road maps for that which cannot be tracked.

Hey parenting books, you’re applying your map to my land and my land has never been seen before. So fuck your maps.

Oh come on. I know I’m not the first person in the world to have kids. I know my kids aren’t some never-seen-before uniquely gifted snowflakes. They’re kids. We’re a family. Pretty standard.

But the fact is that the shit that makes my family really difficult, the parts that are tough and unclear and gray and rugged – the problems for which I really wish I had solutions or “advice” that works – cannot be “solved” by something that worked for you. I listen to your ideas. I think about them. I try it out. But the brutal truth is that just like anything else in life, there is no silver bullet. There is no “sure fix” to the shit that isn’t working in my life.

But we don’t want to admit that with parenthood because the stakes are too fucking high. We can’t accept “don’t know shit” as the pinnacle of our parental credentials. We don’t want to accept “flawed human” as the CEO of young lives.

It’s too hard. There’s too much happening. There are babies and kids and tears, trust and reliance and broken sprits and wild kid joy, there’s innocence and vulnerability and memories to be made, reformed, forgotten and recrafted through a lifetimes of what the hell will my kids remember?

When I yelled? When we laughed? When I lost it and screamed in her face? That camping trip in Tahoe? The crystal blue? Or the dark and cold?


I couldn’t stop yelling at my older daughter. She will be 13 in a month. Every day, I couldn’t stop. It was like everything she did was an affront to something in me.

We battled over and over and over and over again.

I’d lie down at night and wonder if there were any moms meaner than me. Secretly I knew they’re weren’t.

Sometimes I would try to blame her. She can be annoying, you know. She’s got a very strong personality. Rigid, at times. If she would just.

No. Not it.

I’d conclude I’m unfit to be a mother.

Why did I have all these kids?

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I’m the only one who treats their kids like this.

On and on like this. Days, weeks. Maybe months.


It’s exhaustion, from the newborn. The stress of lack of money.


Wake up, drink some coffee. Try again today. Fail again today. Tell them you love them.


Until one day I lost it. It built and built and built. I could feel it coming, rage, a voice in my head, “Janelle, stop now. STOP NOW.” But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I saw red, screamed and swore at my daughter. Not the kind of yell you tell your friends about. The kind of yell you pretend didn’t happen because you can’t face it in yourself. The kind you want to run from, hide from, forever. The kind that terrorizes and destroys, leaves you wrecked and shaking from shame.

After, I collapsed in my room. My fury made my body shake. My heart pound. My whole body seemed to writhe and push and pull against something. I was furious. I wanted to punch, hurt things.

And after there was utter sadness. Desperate sadness. The surrender kind of sadness. The kind that knocks you breathless and pounds your gut, consumes you at once, spits you out and leaves you for dead.

I saw myself, a monster, screaming. I felt it all again. I saw her face, her eyes. In my mind I looked deep into her gorgeous young face and realized I was not yelling at my daughter at all.

I was yelling at myself.

I was yelling at my fear.

I was yelling at my terror that she would turn out like me, make the mistakes I did, walk a path so dangerous she may not survive at all. She was entering her teenage years, the years when I got lost, when it all began for me. I was furious that she was like me, and terrified that she would not be better than me.

And there is nothing I can do about it.

It wasn’t her that was driving me nuts. It was my hatred of myself being reflected back to me through a child with very similar characteristics.

I told her that. Every word. Our relationship was reborn.


There is no book to tell me to look there, in the part of me I don’t even know exists. There’s no parenting advice called “Surrender to the most fucked up parts of yourselves so you can face the truth and move on and become better for your kids.” There’s nobody who can do that work for me. There’s nobody who can make me braver, more willing to see the truth. There’s nobody who can break me for me, stand wild-eyed with love in the gaze of these beings so entwined with my own heart, mind, past and memories.

This fucked-up path is mine, world. The victories too.


So please, sure, tell me how you fixed that clogged milk duct, or what food you started your kid on, or how you got your 6-month-old to sleep through the night or your 4-year-old to obey, and I’ll listen, and I’ll file it away as potentially useful information. I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.

But understand that my vacant stare is because I’ve accepted that all the words in the world can’t make this gig easier. Some kids sleep. Some don’t. Some are built for school. Some aren’t. Some fit some don’t some listen some don’t some write some build some are like nothing that makes sense and some are just “right” in this world.

I have a little of this and a little of that. It’s gray and weird and shifting and relentless.

And the only one who can navigate it, in the end, is me. Them. Us.

Maybe a little of you.

I don’t really need your advice.

But I think I need you. Tell me how you keep walking your path, the unknown, as the world looks on shouting useless direction. That’s some shit I can seriously use.

We had to enter the next place, and I didn't want to go. We're there now.

We had to enter the next place, and I didn’t want to go. We’re getting there now.

  • Hope Irwin

    You are amazing.

  • Kateri Von Steal

    Guidelines – I consider all parenting hoopla (be it – blog posts, commentary from friends, books, articles) GUIDELINES.

    Because even though I do not want advice unless I ask for it – There are times when I just need someone else to give me an EPIPHANY! One parenting advice may lead to a thought – or just a breakthrough of what would work for us.

    🙂 I just hate when the hoopla is PUSHED. You know?

  • Sherry

    That yelling thing just wrecked me. I have so been there. The way you describe it… Holy fuck, that’s me. Every bit of it. And while I’m glad I’m not the only one, I doubt it makes my poor, sweet daughter feel much better about my hollering at her. I don’t do it daily – but does that matter? And she’s only seven. Teen years??? Sweet merciful shit, I suck at parenting. And I can only see me getting worse.

    Anyhoo, on a totally unrelated note, I love parenting advice. I ask everyone I know how they did this and how they handled that. I have an empty toolbox, obviously, so I look to fill it with the wisdom of others. I guess the difference is that I ASK.

    Parents of the world, let’s all write that down: Asked for advice = share. Not asked = don’t share.

  • L

    My daughter just started college – the beginning of my lost years – and I had to face those fears down (actually still trying to). It wasn’t through yelling, but I would just get so mad at the most trivial things, usually, but sometimes at her know-it-all confidence. I felt like crap about it because she was so excited and I was a dark cloud.

  • Diana

    Thankyou so much for this article.

  • Debbie

    I’m with you I gate advice, if you tell me how to fobit I won’t do it because you told me too, maturity nope. I’m on another slope 2 gorgeous grand babies. My hub & I wanted to get t shirts when the last one graduated that said “we survived” you did the best thing you could you gave her an example of “we are all flawed & make mistakes even parents” you apologized for it & now move on. Good luck with the teen years 😡

  • Chantal

    I think you are my lost twin soul, feeling from afar the same shitty feeling as me. The yelling, I can feel it when you describe it. Thanks again to be there and write for me what I cannot put in words.

  • Bernie

    your words break me…thank you…

  • Joy

    Been doing this parenting thing for 16 years now…..we have 4 and the only thing i’ve got is ‘Knock that shit off’…..after all this time, all the crap I’ve read and did for them and to them….at 43, my parenting skills can be summed up in one pathetic attempt at parental control….’Knock that shit off….’

  • Almostme

    I LOVE that you are willing to be vulnerable with your children! I feel that vulnerability starts the path of healing and forgiveness. That path takes you directly to a great and healthy relationship with your children. Good for you for being honest!! Not all parents do that, instead they feel justified and refuse to think about how their actions hurt their children.

    It is because of that vulnerability that I love your blog.

  • Rita Arens

    I’m actually going to take this post as advice — I think what you told your daughter was brilliant. 🙂 Heading into the teen years with mine.

  • nara

    Your email is the only one I open. I actually look forward to it. The way you shape feelings into words with brutal honesty, is the only place in this world I feel kindred in parenting. It’s like my own voice talking to me and making sense of the feelings I can’t even track appropriately. Thank you is an understatement. Because when I have anger or sadness bubbling just under the surface and I’m about to go off on my husband or Target or one of my kids… you come just in the nick of time.

  • Jamie

    You are amazing, awesome. I always feel bad for my kids when they make me yell at them, its really their fault for not listening. Or mine, whatever. I always feel bad after i lose it. At least i have a conscious. I feel like a decent mother. At least i dont baby the punks, we go shopping for groceries, they ask for toys aka shit they dont need, i tell them they can look at it while we are there and put it back before the trip ends. When i take it away i get the ” no fair”, “but i really want it” my response EVERY-TIME ” Life is full of disappointments get use to it”! In our world we have winners and losers we will not given in to the pussification of america. kids need to learn to lose, and not everything is given to them. earn your life.

  • Jenna

    There’s hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

    I remember those days with my own daughter. The terrible tweens made me miss the terrible twos. So much yelling and butting heads, so many battles…and I’m a pretty laid back parent! And just so we’re clear. It was her. ;P It was all her. She was an annoying little shit. Stubborn, confrontational, sarcastic, too witty for her own good. From nine years old til..she got her first period. No lies.

    Up til then its like all those simmering prepubescent about to explode hormones make them Crazy. Capital C crazy. It was like daily PMS on crack. Those of you that are fearing the teen years because of “coming attraction” trailer you’re living through now, Don’t! Chances are it’ll be smoother sailer from the moment they start cursing their uterus every month. Its like a switch goes off in their bodies and their heads and they finally get it, at least a bit of it.

    Its not a miracle cure obviously, but from 14 yrs old it did get easier. Much easier. Daily explosions turned into monthly ones for a while, then not even that. She’s nineteen now and is and has been such a joy to live with in the past few years. She’s still sarcastic and too witty for her own good, but she actually likes hanging out with us, admits that we’re cool parents and concedes that I’m sometimes right. I wouldn’t go back to those pre-teen and early teen days for nothing, and I wouldn’t give up the mid-to-late teens for anything either. They’ve actually made everything that came before worth it.

  • Jen

    YES to all of this. I’m yelling at those scary, dark places of myself. Parenting my girls brings all my worries, my fears and my insecurities to the bright light of day instead of that closet where I had hidden them years ago.

  • Cygnus Jones

    Exactly! I don’t need you to tell me HOW to do it, I just need you to remind me that I CAN do it. A nuance that is easily and oft missed.

  • Kensley

    To face the fear of my daughter becoming me head on is an intimidating thought that I hadn’t even considered yet (she’s 2, though its already a struggle). So its comforting to know you broke the chain, looked deep inside the darkness we all have, and used your honesty to change her path and yours. That is sound non-advice.

  • Liz

    Thank you again for speaking your truth for the rest of us to hear and to let it resonate in us. Today is my first day back to work after having my second child. I was so frustrated with our three-year old over the last week because it seemed like he didn’t want to do anything I asked until I lost it one night over him not eating dinner. I did all the things I tell him not to do and right after that moment I realized how scared I was leaving him again to go back to work, and then it hit me how sad he must be that come Monday morning I wouldn’t be there all day.

  • gretchen

    Is is too forward to say I love you? Because I do. And thank you, this is me with my 13 year old. Last weekend we both lost it. It was hard. We’re trying to figure this damn shit out.

  • liz

    oh man. my baby girl is 10 months. it was also about 12 or 13 when i got lost. i’m oh so scared for my babies. can you send this to me in 11 years or so? thanks. 🙂

  • Sunrise Ayers

    So my kids are 3 and 5 now. But I very vividly remember the night I sat up with my firstborn, two weeks old, reading articles ALL night long, and crying and crying and crying because I could not get him to stay asleep for longer than an hour, no matter what advice I tried. I read four different books about baby sleeping, all of which gave contradictory advice. (I eventually gave up and co-slept with him, turns out he just wanted to nurse all the dang time!) It took several more months though for me to realize, in a sudden blaze of understanding, that no books or articles had “the answer” because if there was one sure-fire way to get kids to sleep, eat well, behave, etc – then there wouldn’t need to be a book, because we would all know it, it would be common-freaking knowledge, right? And from that point forward, I took all parenting articles and books for what they really are, interesting input about a thing that worked once for another person’s kid. Sometimes helpful, but not always, and certainly not worth staying up all night crying over, lol!

  • Judy

    Bravo. Been there, done that, survived x 5. You can do it.

  • Catherine

    I have one or two trusted friends whom I confide in about the hard stuff. It makes me feel like I have an outlet, and I know they’ll listen carefully and nonjudgmentally. They’re ready to respond with a hug and don’t offer advice unless I ask. If I didn’t have someone to text when my daughter’s screaming makes me want to jump off a bridge, then I don’t know what I’d do. I’d probably implode.

  • Renee

    I hate to tell you that you are heading into the worst times in your life. Your children going their teens is, to say the least, exasperating. However, how you handled your daughter was amazing! The more honest you are with them about your feelings, the better chance you have of raising loving and passionate human beings instead of assholes! And as you know, there are a hell of a lot of them out there! We all screw up and lose it….I wish that we all had the guts to fix it as well as you did!

  • Sara

    Thank you! I needed that reminder today. I know that advice is pretty much useless, for all the reasons you mentioned, but I keep forgetting it. I want to help so much, and also I think a part of me is all “I got this, let me show you how it works”, which is so totally wrong (I got nothing, NOTHING I tell you!)…

    And I’ve started recently trying to understand (what I consider) my parenting flaws by looking at myself and trying to see what those say about me. Why do I react to this and not to this? What in my personal experience triggers this reaction? For me, it’s a lot less pressure to see it that way, because that’s what I have power over (understanding myself and trying to learn from my experiences), as opposed to my daughter’s reaction , which I have no control on whatsoever! I’m not saying it’ll always work, and I’m certainly not saying that’s the best thing to do, but that’s what I’m trying these days…

  • Andria

    Long time lurker, no children yet. Your website will be my bible when I do have children. 🙂 Anyways, I wanted to comment as a person who was yelled at like that. I do remember it but I also remember that my mother was yelling out of control because she CARED. She cared so much about my choices and my path that she would stand up and be heard, no matter how red (or purple) she turned or how much she shook with rage or how much I cried and tried to leave the room. I cried because I KNEW she was RIGHT. I knew she loved me and was taking some huge chances to get it through my thick-ass head. I swear once she even shook me (I was like 17, not an infant!!) to get her point across. I needed it. I do not dislike her for it. I do not blame her for it. I love her for it. It showed me that someone was paying attention and really did love and care for me in a way no one else ever will. That is what I needed in my teenage years (and beyond, who am I kidding?!?). Good luck and be honest with your kids. My mom’s unfailing honesty and yelling kept me on the straight path, not even gonna lie.

    • Dan

      Thankyou for writing that. I feel slightly better about screaming in my 5 year old daughter’s face like a fucking banshee when she lost her school hat. Yep, you read correctly. She lost her hat and I screamed at her like she had murdered my other children. Go me. Possibly of all the fucked up things in my life I’ve done, that is my most shameful moment.

      • AnotherMel

        This made me laugh-cry. I SO needed both this post and this comment today. I feel like such a fucking failure so much of the time.

  • Andrea

    Beautifully said!

  • Jessica

    Thank you.

  • Rose

    OMG. Thank You. My idea of a great writer to take something I’ve know and felt and put it into the words I could not. Thank you

  • Elaine

    This Blog always make me feel less alone, so thank you.
    i like to hear others advice because i can either use the distraction of trying something else (that like you say may or may not work – but lets me feel i’m not just standing still) or go home and laugh at its ridiculousness!

  • lisa

    Wow, that was intense…it brought me right back to that time I was standing outside my 13yo sons bedroom door screaming for him to unlock the God. Damned. Fucking. DOOR! He wouldn’t. He was also right. I had just embarrassed and screamed at him in the back yard for something that was probly really my fault. He got pissy at me and I got way too pissed off back. It was like looking in a mirror and I hated it. After I went defeated to my own room to stew, I had the same epiphany. I had him so young. When I was his age I went crazy and searched out every wrong path. I was so afraid for him. That was the day I realized I couldn’t control him, and I started treating him like a human. We had plenty more fights, but honesty got us through it. Hes 21 now, and I’m so proud of who he’s become…with all the best parts of me, and not so many of the bad ones. I think you handled that better than me, better than most actually. Cheers to this crazy fucked up roller coaster, it’s always worth it in the end.

  • Karyn

    Amazing. You’ve nailed it again. Thanks.

  • melissa

    Thank you for writing this. I never really understood why some people are touchy about advice. I live my whole life in a position of flawed-human-doesn’t-know-shit — in fact, I thoroughly believe that we’re all flawed humans who don’t know shit. So I take advice with a grain of salt, and give it, too — Hmm, you might try this, but really, what the fuck do I know?

    And I have lost my shit and screamed at my eldest so violently, it made him cry. But he still comes back to me, and I’ve never hit him. That’s just going to have to be the victory for this generation.

  • jacki james

    im a 54 yr old mom of 4. my kids are all grown 2 out on their own and 2 freshman in college. i know you might be thinking what is this old lady doing reading my blog !!! but i have to say i wepted when i read this! you are the most real.raw and couragous person i know. you are such a gift to your readers:) i sure wish i had something to read when my kids were little. thank you so much for your voice of pure truth. if its one thing i know its keep writing and the money will come . i just love how you weave your words together i had so many days like yours cuz i had 4 kids 5 yrs. your doing amazing and helping so many people with your wisdom and hontesty

  • colleen

    Do you read my journal!?

  • Rebekah

    Oh god.

    I’ve got a 14 year old and an 11 year old. The 11 year is Going To Break Me. This last weekend was like a glimpse into the waiting room for Hell. I’m worn to nubbins . She’s so GOD DAMNED STUBBORN ! Like a mule. No. Like a whole 20 mule team . I had to physically remove her from the make up section of the store and take her home and listen to her yell at me as I drove my shitty minivan back to my messy damn house ….

    It was a relief to send her to school on Monday.

    Every Single Day I wonder : what will she remember ? How much is she going to just completely fucking hate me and wish for me to die ? How far and how fast is she going to leave this house and my side ? Is she going to hate me the way I hate my own mother ? Is that what we have here / Will she know , ever, how desperately I love her ? How beautiful I think she is ? How hard I am rooting FOR her, not against her ? How much she means to me ?

    Or is she going to throw what she can into a bag on her 18th birthday and Run out of this house without a look behind her ?

    I don’t know. I just don’t know. I try. Jesus God do I try. I lead 4h. I volunteer at her school. I make the effort to BE THERE no matter how worn out I am … I listen. I am THERE, and she is using me as her whipping post and her counselor and her best friend and worst enemy and all I can do is pray that I am not damaging this beautiful girl so much that she will always be broken. I need to make sure she is strong and ready and capable . I need her to know I love her at the same time I need her to stop talking back to me before I snap and scream in her face .

    Oh god is this some Damned Hard Work.

    • dana

      Because parenthood can be very difficult, and many moms come at this w/ their own baggage, I think it is important to care for ourselves, physically AND psychologically. This may mean dropping the volunteering in favor of more rest, or our own activity, or organizing our home so it feels good and not draining to enter it. Your daughter will benefit so much more from having a clam and confinent mom who is caring for herself than she will from you volunteering at her school or 4H, etc. She needs you happy and whole, and sometimes this means having to face our own baggage and heal it. Other times is just means better self care and de-stressing tools (meditation, yoga or whatever..)

      • dana

        spelling correction! *calm and confident

  • Susan

    Thank you for this powerfully honest voice that won’t let me look away and lets me know it’s not just me.
    Even as I’m losing it at her, knowing it is my fear monster uncurling and stretching out from that deep deep place, the many levels of awareness sounding alarms in my head, it seems it has to come out, to be seen, to be named, to become the next phase we move through. Shit man, it’s really hard sometimes though and sometimes I just don’t get it and we dance through again.

  • Sally

    This could not have come on a better day for me. I am parenting three kids whose grandfather was murdered by a parolee. Yesterday, the man who killed him was sentenced to 27 years (23 minimum) for murder, bodily harm, and three armed robberies. He will be out when my kids are young adults. I am trying to mother three angry, scared, grieving kids every day, and most of the time their get by ok. Some days are harder than others. But what shits me is the “advice” I get from people who have no idea what my life is like. Give me a hug, give me a bit of space or understanding, leave me the hell alone if I’m too much to handle. But don’t tell me how to “help” my kids. Unless you too, are mothering the grandchildren of a murdered man and his severely traumatised wife. Ok? Thank you, thank you Janelle. I really appreciate your writing xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Tara

    I think every parent of teenagers totally goes through what you did with your daughter, but most of us don’t have the guts to admit it. I really appreciate your honesty and totally saw a lot of myself if what you described. I’ve got a 19-year-old (stepson whose bio-mother is totally out of the picture) and a 2-year-old – I feel like I’m perpetually frustrated. Thanks for sharing – sometimes it’s not advice that helps (or ever helps) but simply sharing what you went through and how you dealt with it, that can bring other people solace.

    Also, I totally stopped giving other people advice about parenting because every time I’d get all smug and preach about how “brilliant” my method of doing something was, Karma would literally bite me on the ass and immediately ruin said “brilliant” routine, trick, or method. Like the minute I give someone advice on how to get your kid to sleep through the night, mine is waking up at 3 AM SCREAMING. If Karma has taught me nothing else, it’s basically to just shut the fuck up and let everyone do what they’re going to do. Bury the smug and keep the “brilliance” to myself! 😉

  • Chanda

    This moved me to tears. I can definitely relate! I’ve walked a similar path W my teenagers and am dreading the battle with my youngest…but your harshly eloquent realizations give me hope! My journey for sure won’t be the same as yours or his or hers…and that’s ok

  • Jesse

    Hey, thanks. You speak the truth. I only really started appreciating my sister when we both had kids and could compare notes on our misery and mishaps, all the while knowing we would throw ourselves in front of buses or hall monitors for our kids. Every kid is different, every family is different. We all need to just respect the love. We’re doing our best and only we can know or will know what might be better. Keep speaking the true. All the love.

  • Sharon

    Yeah. Just wow.

  • Jolene

    Matt Walsh What an awful person!
    I enjoy reading your stuff. I feel this way to, we work out what works for our family, you work out what works for you, if I want your advice I’ll ask for it.

  • dana

    Nothing like our own children to draw attention to our unhealed wounds.

  • Agata

    Thank you, again, for your blog. You rock. And thank you to all of you who commented, as well. It’s so incredibly helpful for the sanity situation to know I’m not alone. I recently lost it big time on my tiny 2-year old. Still feel like a bag of crap about it.
    Hang in there, Mamas!

    • dana

      As much as it may be helpful and carthartic to know you are not alone, and to release the unproductive guilty feelings, I also do not think ‘comfort in numbers’ should be the end of the line. In other words, don’t let knowing others have similar experiences keep you from changing what needs changing. It may help you to feel better to know other moms “lose it”, but it will do your two year old no good at all. You cannot explain with a two year old that “it was about you, not her”. She is too young to comprehend that and yelling/screaming at her is an act of violence. Those are my thoughts, to take or leave as you see fit.

      • erica dolsen

        something about unwanted parenting advice…hey…I’m counting two times now. Dana. Knock that shit off.

        • dana

          Erica, I was not considering mine parenting technique advice (which I understand is often useless). I think mine falls into the category of ‘being human’ advice/a voice for the child (a two year old, for example). I was simply trying to point out that if you feel you may be doing psychological harm, it might be in yours and your child’s best interest to consider figuring out how to change that IN ADDITION TO taking comfort in numbers/hearing from others who have felt and behaved similarly.

        • dana

          Also, I should clarify, in case it was unclear, that my comments were NOT ddirected at the author (Janelle) but at one or two moms who commented. Janelle’s story that ended with her self-reflection and discussion w/ her intellectually capable teen daughter, is very different from another moms “”yeah, I lost it big time on my BABY and thanks for letting me know that’s perfectly okay!” I don’t think this is what Janelle had in mind w/ honestly and poignantly telling her story. That’s all.

      • Agata

        I’ve started and stopped writing a response several times, because I generally don’t bother getting into arguments on the internet. I don’t know where you got the idea that I believe yelling at my kid is perfectly ok, I had figured ‘feel like a bag of crap about it’ took care of that notion. I’m not proud of myself, not even a little bit comfortable with how I behaved, but it happened. And I’m grateful that other mothers are brave enough to share their stories-gives me hope that I can fix it, do better next time. I could do without the ‘advice’ that discourages honest expression, cuz that sure-as-shit isn’t doing my child any good.

        • dana

          I did not see anything in your comment that sounded like you would ‘try to fix it’ or ‘do better next time’. I am happy for you that you feel better, but I was just pointing out that not taking any specific action to prevent it means it will happen again. And again.

        • dana

          Also, perhaps I should not have singled you out- Your simply was an easy comment for me to remember and represented the feeling I got that many parents were feeling more validated than motivated to change anything. I know this is an assumption based on what I read, and I am spoiling the party, so to speak. I do wish you well in your parenting.

  • Alicia

    Oh WOW. I don’t think I could love you any more for your sincerity and honesty. It is such a gift to your readers. I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and your posts have resonated deeply with me.
    I have 3 kids under 5 and wow….when I read your writing I feel so much less alone. I often feel I suck at being a mum and I don’t know if that will change, but it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only person in the world that feels that way.
    The yelling and the shame…oooh…it hurts. I have even smacked my eldest daughter more than once, and sitting with the shame and regret around that is not a good place to be.
    How wonderful that by being honest and vulnerable with your daughter your were able to repair the bond.

    You are a legend Janelle- keep doing your thing. Yeeeeew!

  • Margo

    Your honesty is beautiful. I love that you follow your own path and in the end you always seem to find the way. It is that journey that inspires me!

  • Melissa

    I love you. So many times I have felt defeated by my 17 month old and this mom life. Then I read one of your posts or even listen to your podcast and my battery becomes charged again. You are unlike anyone else. We need you! Thank you so much for being brave and being you!

  • OhEm

    your honesty is so refreshing. i come back to this blog over and over and over again to remember what the realities of parenting are.
    if i have to read one more baby center post with mom saying how she bakes fresh bread every morning and smiles while her kids smash milk jugs on the ground and she is just wondering how she will fit knitting into her day i may scream. Parenting is so hard… its so so so hard. Especially if you want to do it on the side of actually benefitting your children, seemingly besides your own best efforts to fuck it up all the time. Being hard on yourself and trying to create perfection out of life just won’t work. that has always been my hardest lesson. just let it go and do your best. your best is truly all you have. thank you again for keeping us grounded. you’re an amazing woman and mother.

  • Shan

    When I’d yelled that yell and felt that shame (ugh, we’re going on nearly a decade and my eyes are still burning with tears just thinking about it), I told a friend. Her response was along the lines that we all have those moments and that, yes, it’s horrible, but it also prepares our kids for those inevitable moments in life when their boss, teacher, client… whatever… loses their shit. I’m not calling it a gift to them, but there are worse things.
    <3 <3 <3

  • Ani

    I think I survive by having other mamas that I can tell the truth to. That’s it. It’s the best I got.. Trying to hold a space for other mamas and being held by them, in a fierce and non judgmental way..

  • Mel

    For me, walking my own path has been helped along by a big dose of hubris smacking me in the face! Oh my child eats everything. It’s because I started her on real foods, none of that mush. I’m a freakin parenting genius … and now she only eats about 8 different things. That’s it. Not even pizza. What the? So, yeah, realizing that I know jack shit has been strangely liberating. Also, I find mentally crossing off the items in my list of ‘things I’ll never do when I have this baby’ (devised while pregnant or even, ahem, more hubris, pre-childbearing) to be paradoxically satisfying. I’ve done about 9 of those things now. More to come, no doubt.

  • Charlie

    Thanks. Again.

  • Wendy

    Love it – just love it – have a 2 yr old so will be archiving this for the tween/teen years 🙂

  • JC

    Again you have nailed it for me. Every single bit of it. You are not alone on this journey, and when I read your brutally honest posts I know I am not alone either.

  • Mimi

    Amen! Love how you came to realize that so much of what we do to our kids comes from our own issues regarding ourselves. And to be able to express that to your kid is priceless. I have had to learn and do the same thing with my teen. They arent stupid and know that its just us pushing our crap onto then. And yet they cant articulate it but they can sense what is going on. To be the bigger person and be open and honest with them so that they can make sense of it is what is needed. You really are a great mother!

  • Becky

    Most useful parenting advice ever: Don’t listen to anyone’s parenting advice ever because the chances are pretty high it won’t work for you, and you’ll think you’re a failure when it doesn’t.

    Things it only took me three kids to learn…

  • Mamie Jane

    Thank God you have the humility to write shit like this.

    Please keep writing. Moms NEED you.


    And holy hell…you can WRITE. I’m so jealous! 🙂

  • Renee

    Say it, Sister. I’m in the deep trenches of parenting a young adult, a teenager and a preteen. God be with them. If they walk in my shoes, we’re all in for it. Solidarity! We do the best we can with who we are and what we have.

  • Alyson

    I love your writing, your way of making moments come into my home, into my body. I was recently sharing one of those do not tell others shame parenting moments with my daughter’s therapist and she said, “Good.” It’s important for you to make mistakes, be messy, really, really screw it up. Now, you get to repair. That is relationship. We love. We hurt each other. We repair. Show her how (and not by shaming yourself). Show her how to repair including self love and care for the relationship. Inhabiting my very intense body with kind, patience and peaceful words all the time does not show her how to be herself. It simply gives her an example of a woman who pretends. Scream. Cry. Giggle. Be inappropriate. Repair. My newest statement is, “Well, THAT just happened.” We’re all ok.

  • Dee

    My kid doesn’t sleep by herself or through the night, she’s almost two, and everyone has advice on how to magically get my daughter to sleep on her own and through the night. None of it worked, it just caused tears and feelings of failure. So I just keep bed sharing with her and give her milk at night when she wants it. Parenting isn’t black and white like all these books and forums preach, which is another reason why I love your blog. You keep it real, it’s not always pretty, but it’s a truth I need a lot to help me through the really hard days.

  • Laura


    For a kindred spirit… This has saved my life, or at least gave me a bit of a leg-up.

    Be mindful



  • katrina

    Love!! As always.

  • katrina

    Love!! As always.

  • Emily

    This has been a lot on my mind recently, and I’ve had numerous occasions to say, “If your advice includes the word ‘just’, shut your goddamn mouth.”

    • Emily

      To clarify, I wouldn’t actually say that to anyone; it’s more a reminder–mostly to myself–that nobody’s problem is fixed as simply as you imagine, otherwise *they would have fixed it already*. And just because you don’t understand why they’re being held back by things you wouldn’t let hold you back, doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

  • Axelle the french reader

    Sometimes, we give advices just because we do love the person we see in trouble and it’s a way (wrong, maybe, you’re right) to try to help her, just because we feel her pain and we suffer with her.
    You’re right, it doesn’t work all the time.
    our way of yelling on your girl, it’s just a … kind of advice :). “Don’t be like me, be different, do a different way”.
    By the way, I do totally agree with you. And I yelled on my children sometimes as a mad person.
    My youngest uses to tell me how much she was scared when I used to yell madly, break everything around me just not to kill them, just to not hit them and almost immediately after, felt in tears, desperate tears, because I was feeling so bad.
    Just don’t worry. You’re not alone.
    I’m french, I feel and live sometimes the same you say. Motherhood doesn’t have any frontier.

  • Axelle the french reader

    “Your way of yelling on your girl”. Sorry, I forgot the Y .

  • Melissa

    Pretty much what everyone else said: You have no idea how badly I needed to hear that someone else has done this. And my little one is only three. It’s been a week of parenting lows, where I think I am not fit for this work. But like you said, “Not the kind of yell you tell your friends about.” So you suffer alone with the pain of this parenting business…until you write something like this. Thank you. No advice to be shared, only a knowing nod and a, “Yeah, me, too.”

  • Anne

    “Some kids sleep. Some don’t. Some are built for school. Some aren’t. Some fit some don’t some listen some don’t some write some build some are like nothing that makes sense and some are just “right” in this world.”

    I just had to explain this to a mom in my youngest daughters class when she was all huffy puffy about my daughter wanting to have an evening in with a couple of good friends watching scary movies and gorge on popcorn, instead of going to the class Halloween party. She was berating me/her for not wanting to be part of the class “spirit” and such. She has 5 kids, and she does not know how every kid is different and likes different things!?

    I have two daughters that are so much not alike, and I can’t follow my OWN parenting advice that I use on one, on the other!

  • Natasha Batsford

    Holy crap thank you for mentioning Matt Walsh, I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t “get it” with that man!

    And also yes, hands up to the frequent failing parent shame, and to repairing my relationship with my children by being honest and apologising. I wonder if my parents had done that when I was young whether I might feel differently about them now

  • Jill

    You and Dave Grohl are my favorite people I don’t know. Congrats on making the list.

  • Nicole

    God damn, I am so glad for all the other women here who can commiserate. To know I’m not a terrible mother, just a human one is relieving in the face of handling my post partum depression and accompanying rage (what a pair).

    I’m not one to meditate, but my mom found this the other day and it’s my new favorite thing…


Leave a Comment

Comment policy: Try not to be a dick.