I heard a man say, recently, that if you were a prince or princess, one of the things you would be taught from a young age is never to raise your voice. The idea being that, as royalty, you are the one in charge, so people must listen to you. Consequently, if you raise your voice you are admitting that you are no longer the one with authority.
Hearing this threw me back in time to a journey I took. It began when my children were quite young. Another mother was trying to explain to a friend of mine that she never had to yell at her children and that, in fact, when she really wanted their attention she lowered her voice rather than raising it. My friend later told me, “I can’t stop yelling at my kids; that’s the only time they listen to me!” I laughed and nodded, understanding what she meant, but at the same time wondering.
As my sons grew, I too became a yeller. As my friend had said earlier, in my house, I had to raise my voice to be heard. But I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the way yelling at my kids made me feel. I didn’t like how angry I got when they wouldn’t listen. I didn’t like the yelling matches that took place in our home. Then I went to visit a friend.
I spent more than a week with her family and several days into my visit I realized I was seeing a wonderful thing. She had three children that were every bit as active and vocal as my two. She was writing a book on a deadline, so she was under plenty of outside stress. She never raised her voice.
No matter what the situation, no matter how angry she may have felt inside, she never once raised her voice in my presence. Instead, she spoke to her children as a calm, rational adult. Rather than letting situations and other people’s actions provoke her, she stayed in charge. While at her house I made the conscious decision to stop yelling. If she could handle her active three without yelling then I could handle my two. And I was right.
I clearly remember the first time it happened. Well, I clearly remember the end of the incident anyway. My oldest was angry about something and attempting to make his feelings known in the loudest voice possible. Fighting my instincts, I calmly looking at him and said something along the lines of, “I am not going to yell at you and I am not going to listen to you yell at me, so either lower your voice now or come back later when you can.”
It worked pretty much like throwing cold water in his face. The shock stopped him at first and then, when he realized I was serious, he calmed himself down so that he could speak without raising his voice. Because he was calmer, he was more rational. Because I was calm, I was rational. We had our talk and both walked away satisfied. Or, since I was seated at my desk, he walked away and I, as soon as he was gone, started jumping up and down inside. It really had worked!
I’m not perfect, of course, and there have been times when I lost it and yelled at my kids, but for the most part I continued as I had begun and saw the fruit of my efforts. For one thing, there is a direct relationship (for me, at least) between yelling and anger; it’s not so much a case of the angrier I get the more I yell as it is a case of the more I yell the angrier I get. Too, when you require someone, be it yourself or your child, to stop yelling, that person must first calm themselves down; this is always a step in the right direction.
Yes, the day I first lowered my voice was a day of revelation for me. No longer was I reacting; I was acting. No longer was I some powerless peon to be yelled at; I was the mother, the one in charge.
So, if you truly want to rule and reign in life as the Bible tells us to, start out by ruling and reigning over the fleshly part of you that wants to yell. Be the one in charge. Be the king or queen. Lower your voice.