*Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to Lori Wildenberg. She is a mom to 4 kids and speaks all over the country empowering parents to discipline, love and raise their kids.
“Mommy’s using the mad voice.” Or “Mom is in a bad mood. Look out.” Have you heard your kids discussing your tone among one another? I have. The little ones tend to think they did something wrong and the bigger kids run for cover. Often I’m not angry- I just sound like I am.
My children are my best indicator of how I am delivering a comment or directive.
When speaking to my family I can get sloppy. Here’s the thing, I actually can control my voice. If I increase my awareness, my phrasing will change. Funny how I’m aware of my inflections when I answer my phone or talk with a friend. I’m careful not to communicate a potentially negative message. Why am I so obtuse when speaking to my children? Carelessness, I think.
Truth be told, maybe I take my family relationships for granted.
Words themselves don’t carry a lot of weight in terms of communication. You may already know the statistics. Actual words only covey 10% of the message. While nonverbal is a whopping 55% and tone comes in second at 35%. I wonder how many misunderstandings have been caused by tone-related situations. When pressed for time I can go into business-like mode; giving a short, crisp response to an inquiry. The efficiency I hope to gain is slowed down by the need to explain, reaffirm, and ask for forgiveness. “No, I’m not mad at you. Just in a hurry. I didn’t mean to sound angry. Please forgive me.”
When my teens or young adults speak to me with an edgy sound, I totally notice it. In fact, I can become quite offended if their words are couched in a disrespectful attitude.
If I want respect to be shown in my home, it must begin with me.
No excuses, even if I am in a cranky mood, I must readjust and overcome the crabbiness. After all, I expect no less of my kids.
I have a confession, there have been times I have tried to turn it around, “Don’t be so sensitive. I’m not angry just in a hurry.” I must take my lumps. No one or nothing is making me sound irritated.
My tone is my fault.
It is much better to self-check my delivery rather than to have help. Things can go badly if the words chill or relax come out of one of my kid’s (or husband’s) mouth. (Okay…they really should know better than to go there!)
I have a responsibility to speak respectfully and lovingly if I want my kids to do the same.
The way in which things are stated will set the dialogue pattern for the next response and for the direction of the conversation. Would I prefer not to stir up anger? YES! Am I able say what I need to say without sounding grumpy? UMMMM…..yes.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Lori Wildenberg, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, is a licensed parent-family educator, speaker, and certified teacher. She co-authored EMPOWERED PARENTS: Putting Faith First and is a regular co-columnist for Parenting Prose seen in MARRIAGE Magazine. Mostly, she’s a mom of four and wife of thirty years. www.loriwildenberg.com or www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com