November 24, 2008

Tone Check

Have you ever been around someone that speaks harshly to their children?
My first encounter was in the grocery store when I was a teenager.  I could hear a mom, on the next aisle over, spewing ugliness to her 3 year old.  It physically made me sick.  It was one of those moments in life that I thought, "I will never..."

Fast forward 20 years.  It still makes me sick to hear moms speak harshly to their children.  Now before you start thinking that I've got it all together (snicker), let me be real.  There are times that I reach the end of my rope and use a tone of voice that makes even the dog cower. 

But, how are you doing on a regular basis.  Does your tone speak love or weariness?  Do your words nurture and heal, or rebuke and break?  Of course there is a time for correcting.  Some days, more than others.  But in the quietness of the evening, after I've tucked them into bed, I need to examine my heart and voice.

1. Would I speak to strangers in this tone of voice?
2. If someone recorded my voice, and played it back for me in 20 years, would I have regrets?
3. What is my tone of voice teaching my children about parenting? 
4. Does volume and a harsh tone get the results I am wanting?  Would consistency and composure be more beneficial to all?
5. Do my children think that being a mom is a special job?  One that I rejoice in?

A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise man keeps 
himself under control.
Proverbs 29:11

Now for some reality from our household:
Over the weekend I told my daughter to clean out her closet.
This is what I found:
She cleaned it OUT. 
Out into her room.  
Wow.  I need to be more specific in my directions!

A couple of years ago, my girls came running downstairs screaming,  "Mom, mom, you're not going to believe what our brother just did!"  I took a deep breath, and went upstairs to find this on my bedroom wall:
  My gut reaction was frustration.  But I took a deep breath and told him that it made me very sad that he didn't take care of my wall.  We discussed that pencils are only for paper.  Fortunately, it was behind the door, and out of constant view. 
 But now, it is a masterpiece.  One day, when we need to repaint the room, I'll request that the part behind the door stays green.  It is a memory of a time that I will never get back.

Remember my girls' reaction to him coloring on the wall?  Well, we recently had another little masterpiece show up on the hall wall.  But this time the girls didn't come running.  In fact, they never said a word.  I just happened to find it on my own.  
This is why:

Uh-huh.  That's what you think it is.  Two perfectly practiced kiss marks that just happen to be the same height of said girls' lips.  
My hubby and I had to correct, but we sure had a good laugh about it.  

Isn't parenting fun?!


Ally0005 said...

Thank you for this reminder.

Tracey said...

What a great reminder about keeping my tone of voice in check...especially when life gets busy during the holidays! I love the art and kisses that decorate your walls..they are one of a kind!

Christy said...

This is such a great reminder.

I love the kiss marks on the wall by the way, I think it's great. It's great that you truly were able to laugh about it. I personally love all the little "marks" that have shown up in different places from my children. They are only little for such a short time and they are reminders of those days.

coco said...

I have had the same "artwork" show up in my house over the years too! I have witnessed a harsh tone being used many is so hard not to jump in and say something to them, instead I just say a little prayer for them both. I will do the same for myself when I feel like I am not handling something in the tone that I should!

Shannon said...

I always am convicted about my tone that I use with my husband sometimes.

My mom tells me that I drew a school bus on a wall one time that was as long and big as the wall. I was in serious trouble. :)

Shannon @ Silver Trappings said...

Great reminder! Thanks.

I laughed out loud at the pile that your daughter cleaned OUT of her closet. Sooo funny!


bugs and sunshine said...

You are precious! I just found your link off Nester girls. Anway, would you mind if I posted what your wrote about today? It's so encouraging and I think it would encourage some of my friends, it was a blessing for me today!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder- how true about playing it back after 20 years. (Was the playroom being a mess REALLY that important to me? I know I'll wish it was a mess b/c kids were playing in there!)

I really did 'LOL' at the kiss marks- too cute!

See you in the morning! (or will I?)


Mom said...

My precious little M. told me yesterday about "the mess", but I envisioned it IN the closet! This was hilarious! She took you so literally! And this is the one who is always so neat. Kind of good to know we all have some limitations on even our best attributes.

Lacy said...

Here is a scripture that I have been working on.......I am having a bad time with how loud my voice is and how quick I react....once again your reading vibes from me.....A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick tempered one promotes foolishness. Proverbs 14:29

Sarah said...

Thank you for your post today--those are things that I am beginning to think about as our little one will be here in March. Those are questions I need to write down and remember.

On a side note...instead of drawing on the wall...I actually tore the wallpaper off!

Pretty Organizer said...

Wow! What a great reminder. I get so sad when I hear people talk to their children in harsh tones too... but I'm not immune from doing it either.

I regret having a 2 story house because I feel like 2 story houses are yelling houses... so hard not to just call upstairs when you need a kid. Next house will be a one story!

Shilo said...

I've been thinking about this very thing the past few days. Thanks for your boldness in speaking the truth!

AJ said...

Thank you for the reminder! I needed it:)

Sandy said...

Everything you just wrote about brought back a TON of memories! Great post!

Tricia Anne said...

My skin crawls when I see/hear women yelling at their children, in the store. I just want to walk over and hug those little ones.
I love the artistic touches your home now bears! :o) Even more, I like the mindset you have with seeing those touches. Times that you will never get back...isn't that the truth.
I have an award for you on my blog. :o) Your blog has been a favorite of mine for quite some time! Thank you for prompting deep thoughts. I ponder what you say through out the day. :o)
Have a wonderful day.
Sincerely ~ Tricia Anne

Denise said...

Great Perspective! Thanks for the wonderful reminder! In the scope of life, what really matters? It could all be over tomorrow and thenk we'd be thankful for the little momentoes they left behind. If I can just remember that, we'll all be happier! ;)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunny said...

I'm not a mama (yet but hopefully it's God's will..), but I think in general about how I speak to people. I am my mother's daughter and tone is an issue. Even when we don't mean anything behind it, we can sound a bit sharp. I keep that in the forefront of my mind and always try to take a step back in softening my responses to people. This is done in exercise for one day of (hopeful) parenting. I want to lift my children up not tear them down. People are out there wanting to be loved and there's enough world to beat us all up, so if we all spoke more kindly to each other - how much better off would we all be? I'm a tryin'! Sometimes there are some people that do some crazy stuff will driving down some streets in some towns that gets on my nerves sometime. lol;) Had to throw that in there for ya!

Sandy Toes said...

Great reminder...I could share a couple of pictures very similar!
Happy Thanksgiving, New Every Morning!
-sandy toes

Lacy said...

Just wanted to stop back by and tell you that I was so convicted by your tone post...I tried so hard today and REAllY worked so hard to love my students and kids in the utmost patient way. Thanks Gretchen.xoxoxox

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Oh....too much to say on this subject with too little time. I have needed to check my tone these last few weeks. When I don't take time to "rest" in Him, it comes out at the other my life. :)
Have a blessed Thanksgiving. We're heading to Boone in a few hours. Comfort Suites if you're any where near there. ...hee hee

Suz said...

Don't paint over the kiss marks or the art work! What sweet memories they will be when the kids are grown and out on their own.
And thanks so much for the reminder of the tone.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Kirstin said...

Such great thoughts. I am regularly reminded that I need to guard my tone with my girls. And when I blow it, I need to be quick to ask forgiveness.

Amy said...

Great post! I remember my eyes tearing up in Target when I heard a woman say to her child in the most hateful way through clenched teeth, "You are getting on my nerves!!!" I would have given anything for a child at that point.

Your verse, by the way, is one that I put at the base of my steering wheel for years - a good reminder for frustrated drivers.

Amy said...

Oh, I forgot to mention, we had a lipstick on the carpet incident at Grandma and Papa's house Thanksgiving Day! All you can do is laugh sometimes (when they aren't looking, of course).