10.22.2008

Silence is Golden

I woke up Tuesday morning without a voice. While I don't feel particularly sick, my vocal cords refuse to be engaged, forcing me to communicate in whispers, hand signals, and exaggerated expressions. With three small children to shepherd around, the prospect of being mute was, at first, alarming. However, after 24 hours, I am startled by what this mandatory silence has taught me; about myself, my parenting, and my children. 

Since August, the children have been fighting with each other ferociously. I have been praying for several weeks to know how I may bring a better spirit into our home. I have longed for our house to be a peaceful refuge from the world, filled with a spirit of love for one another. And naturally, I have been convinced that this would happen if I could just find a way to make my children speak more lovingly to one another, fight less, and stop being so dang loud. I should have known to take a long look at myself first.

Silence has changed everything. Since communication is now an effort, I've had to be much more selective about what I 'say'. Immediately, hundreds of "Hurry up!"'s and "Be quiet"'s have been eliminated from my vocabulary. I can no longer yell at my children from another room: I have to walk up to them, make eye contact, and then speak. They in turn, have to pay attention in order to understand what I'm saying. I say much less, they listen {and obey!} much more. Amazing!

I've discovered that whispers are contagious. Receptionists, grocery checkers, and the children all unconsciously answer me in whispers. {You'd think that buying diapers was some kind of covert operation by the way we whisper over the entire transaction.} This has been invaluable when dealing with arguments between the kids. Remember the proverb, "A soft word turneth away wrath"? True. I have found that when I intervene with whispers and eye contact, my children's tone changes. They are still upset. They still fight with one another. But it doesn't escalate as far or as rapidly, and our home has been more peaceful. 

I feel humbled in the light of these revelations. For so long, I've wanted a loving home. I've always known that I am responsible to set the tone and guide my children in this, but the experiences of these last few days has taught me just how much influence I truly have. Next time my senses feel assaulted by the cacophony of our home, I pray that I remember this.

13 comments:

Marci said...

Thanks for this post! I have been thinking the past couple days about how I have been too quick to criticize and nag my 4 year old. I know she's only 4 and I need more patience, but words just come out in frustrustration before I stop to be reasonable. Your words definitely hit home with me (and that picture is adorable too)!

LisAway said...

What a wonderful lesson. It's really made me think. Especially the part about not yelling at them from the other room. Far too often I yell from one room throughout the rest of the house, "Kids, come set the table please!" or "Time to put on pajamas, guys!" Then I'm upset when I have to ask 7 times. If I would just go to them each and see what they're doing, show a little interest and then ask them to do something I think it would have a huge impact on how we relate to/feel about each other. I'm excited to work on this.

Karen said...

I never yelled until I had my second and then third child (15 months to the day apart). Now I never stop.

I know I need to take time with them in order to have time to myself - it's all just so difficult.

I end up feeling like nothing gets done. And, my house is never clean.

I am glad this is working for you - you look so happy in your photo -and beautiful!

Melissa said...

I really appreciate this post. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Hope your voice returns in time! Lots of tea with honey until then. :)

nicole said...

beautiful post!
and a wonderful reminder.

Melanie said...

agreed. I already raise my voice to my one year old to make my point. I have to quit before it becomes a habit.

Kiki said...

I love this message. You look so beautiful and peaceful with your silent self. A good reminder that we set the tone of our homes!!!

Gina Lee said...

So true! I find myself yelling at my son all day long. I'm constantly reminding myself that Christ is in every conversation and can hear me yelling. I'm sure he would appreciate more patience from me with his children.
Tomorrow, I will try talking quiet and getting down to my son's level in his little world. I will enjoy my children while they are young! I will!

moseyalong said...

You are speaking about ME. When I'm not stressed and tired from work and mothering and schedules, I'm the most patient mother in the world. But most of the time, I'm hollering from one end of the house to the other.

I'm going to institute one whisper day a week, in your honour, and see if I can't work up to four or five!

Em said...

This is really great. Thanks for sharing. Well, not great that you have no voice, but for sharing the lessons you've learned.

Ashley Eddington Hoopes said...

LOVE this post.

Eloquent and dead on.

The power of words, and the power of the tone behind the words.


Thank you.

Jen said...

SO TRUE!!!

Allison said...

This is brilliant! I will have to file this in my brain for noisy days.

P.S. - you look adorable in that pic!

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