I remember all too well of a time several years ago when I got off the phone with a friend and heard my son ask, "How come when you're on the phone you talk nice, but then when you get off the phone you don't talk nice." WHAT?!! I knew I did that (subconsciously), but kids aren't supposed to recognize those things . . . are they?!
I first heard about creating a tone in your home from reading A Joyful Mother of Children by Linda Eyre. In there she tells a story about when she was visiting with a friend from a different country (England I think). Her daughter came up to ask her something and then walked away. Her friend then asked, "Why do you let your children speak to you that way?" It dawned on Eyre that the tone they used in their family wasn't one of love or respect. I cringe when I hear mothers talking down or impatiently to their children...and yet, I KNOW I do the very same thing!
Setting the Tone in our Homes
The most important way to be sure our children speak respectfully is by us setting the example! Here are some ways we can do that:
- Just listen for a day. Tally the number of times you speak out of frustration or impatience. Try to jot down why. What were you doing at the time? Were you tired? Usually, if I don't want to be interrupted that's when I am interrupted and that's when I get frustrated.
- After listening for a day to yourself. Take a day to listen to your children. What are they doing? How are they responding to one another?
- Teach a lesson on the topic. Many times I expect things from my children that I've never even actually taught them. Yes, a lot is learned by example, but principles need to be taught. I remember one more experienced mother referring to the tone as "the language of love."
- Then, decide how you're going to change. For me, I want to work on the principle:"Cease Speaking!" I've mentioned this verse before, but it's worth mentioning again. In the scriptures we read of a father teaching his children and then he stopped talking. I'm working on "biting my tongue" when I feel the urge to "lash out"! What do you need to do to change? Smile. Breathe. Apologize every time. Maybe you could involve your kids in the change and have some code word or something to help the whole family work together on the goal (I'm really not that fun of a mom...but I think it would be great!).
"Your example will set the tone for the direction your [children] follow."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley - -