Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Opposite of Yelling

Last night my hubby was out of town and the kids were not cutting me any behavioral slack, if you know what I mean. It didn't take long for the situation to deteriorate into a great big yellin' fiesta! By the time they were actually installed in their beds I was squelching down a big blob of fury in my heart. I guess God got tired of hearing my groans of frustration because an interesting idea came to mind.

I resolved to speak to my children today only in whispers. (This is a variation of the more annoying and usually short-lived parenting tool called “speaking to your children only like Barney the Dinosaur”.)

I’ll bet Barney would appreciate the Catholic church’s opposites game. In it there are seven opposites or "contrary virtues" to balance the seven deadly sins. The chart looks like this.






Anger, wrath/Patience



So what it means is that if you recognize that you have a problem with greed, make yourself do something generous. If you have the sloth thing going on, clean a bathroom. I would extend this list now to say, if you yell too much, make yourself whisper all day.

Another interesting theological angle is that it makes good penance. Whispering is a self-inflicted punishment of sorts that fits the "crime".

On the lighter side, I am a stay-at-home mom with a totally unused psyc degree. Experiments like "what would happen if you only spoke to your children in a whisper all day" appeal to the same side of me that hoped for twins so that for breakfast every day I could feed one twin Cheerios and the other twin shredded wheat. (I wondered how this would affect their high school ACT scores. If anyone has already done the twins/Cheerios/shredded wheat experiment please let me know.)

When you want to say something in a whisper you have to get pretty close to someone and make sure you have their attention. During our regular homeschool reading time today whispering forced us to huddle together on the couch (toothbrushing was appreciated).

All in all it did give us a yelling-free day. On the negative side, when my daughter called home to ask to be picked up she interpreted my whispering as either (a) telling her that someone had died or (b) that "the house was full of Nazis." It did give her quite a fright.

I hadn't realized how much I talk to people through closed bathroom doors (very hard in a whisper). And the killer today was kids saying "MOM!" because I had to actually get up and go to them to see what they wanted instead of just yelling "WHAAAAAAT?"

Finally, it was hard switching from whispering to my kids to using a normal voice with the outside world on the phone and on errands. But you know with the kids being homeschooled and being HOME so much . . . anything different, anything interesting is welcome and distracting from the frustrations of the day.

I am definitely adding the opposite of yelling -- whispering, to my parental toolbox of desperation. And considering all we have learned today . . . Barney would be proud.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE it! I've had that experience of having to get up and go to the person to speak when I've had laryngitis, lol.