I grew up in a loud house. Big voices, big personalities, all talking over each other for a chance at the floor. In my house, it was not uncommon to hear something like this in normal conversation:
“MOM, WHERE’S MY OTHER BOOT?!” – my brother, from the depths of his closet.
My mom in the kitchen, over a sizzling pan of fried potatoes, “WHERE DID YOU PUT THEM LAST?”
“IF I KNEW THAT, I WOULDN’T BE ASKING YOU WHERE MY BOOT WAS!”
Mom, not moving an inch from her skillet, “DID YOU LOOK IN THE GARAGE?”
My dad on the lawn mower, through the open kitchen window, “SEND A KID OUT HERE TO MOVE WATER HOSES!”
Mom, “KELLY! GO HELP YOUR DAD MOVE THE WATER HOSES!”
My brother, “I’M GOING OUT THERE, MOM. DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. HEY! I FOUND MY BOOT!”
Mom, “OH, GOOD! NEVER MIND, KELLY!”
My brother, trips on the dog while heading to the garage, “WILBUR! DON’T GET UNDERFOOT!!”
Dad, “HEY! SOMEONE GET OUT HERE AND MOVE THE HOSES. THERE’S A RANGER GAME TONIGHT!!”
My brother, “I KNOW, DAD. I’M COMING. NOLAN’S PITCHING!”
My other brother from the bathroom, “MOM, CAN YOU BRING ME SOME TOILET PAPER?!”
Mom, “KELLY, GET AN EXTRA ROLL OF TOILET PAPER FOR THE BATHROOM!!”
Me, from my room, “OKAY. JUST A MINUTE!! MOM, HAVE YOU SEEN MY SANDALS?”
Mom, “WHERE DID YOU TAKE THEM OFF?”
Me, “IF I KNEW THAT…”
My family yelled a lot, not really out of anger so much, although yelling matches did happen. One could argue that our house was small, so our voices carried easily. But truthfully, my family just had loud voices. In a family like mine, you didn’t wait for a quiet time to say what you wanted to say. You just started talking louder. It was nothing personal or rude – just the only way you to get everyone else to shut up.
When my husband and I started dating, he spent time around my family over the holidays. He would sit on the couch and watch the football game. He would laugh at our stories, but wouldn’t say much. He wasn’t angry, and he didn’t feel left out. “You’re family just has a bunch of loud-talkers,” he’d say. I had never really thought about it. Later, when Tyler asked me to marry him, I distinctly remember my mom saying, “We all like Tyler, but it’s just so hard to get to know him. He’s so quiet-natured.”
I remember telling this to my friends at school, and they’d all fall in the floor laughing. My husband is nothing close to quiet-natured. The consummate entertainer, Tyler tells stories, cracks jokes, performs in front of thousands without one bead of nervous perspiration, but around my family, he’s quiet. That’s how loud my family is (not bad, not unloving, not crazy – well, not all crazy). JUST LOUD!!
As my husband and I made our home together, he started pointing out my random yelling. I’d yell at him from our bedroom to the living room, and he’d say: “Can you come in here to tell me?” He pointed out my yelling even more after we had children. I would shout out, “HEY, STOP PULLING ON THE BLINDS!” I wouldn’t be yelling in anger. I was in the kitchen and didn’t want to walk the five steps into my boys’ bedroom. My husband would roll his eyes and say, “Just go in there.”
Over the years, I have learned that excessive shouting leads to added crazy at my house. I work on using my inside voice, but I’m not perfect. Recently, I began to catch my kids trying to yell at me in the house. They yell at each other, too. Where does this originate? Um, yeah. I’m continually working on ways to get my point across without raising my voice.
What are some ways to beat the yelling habit?:
1. Proximity and Physical Touch: If I go and put my hands on my children’s shoulders and bend down to look at them in the face, they are more likely to listen. I know this in my head, but it takes extra effort to stop what I’m doing, walk to the bedroom, place my hand on my son and calmly tell him to stop licking his sister.
2. Enforced Quiet Times: I require a good hour and a half in the afternoons with everyone in a room to themselves. This is time to sleep or play quietly. This daily quiet time helps keep the house less chaotic, and recharges everyone.
3. Prayer: Yelling in anger is never okay. My parents learned this over time, and my brothers and I have all learned this as adults, too. Still, I revert to old stand-bys when I am especially angry, and the angrier I get, the louder my voice gets. I have spent a lot of time over the years in prayer to help change my habits because I know yelling in anger only hurts and destroys.
4. Apology and Forgiveness: Even though I am working on quieter ways to express frustration, I still make mistakes. When I make those mistakes, I apologize to my husband or my children, and we talk through the situation.
Overall, I know words are powerful, and I must be intentional not only the words I use but also in how I project those words to my family.