November 21, 2013

lately my few blog posts stem from a need to answer many people at once, combined with my desire to organize and record my thoughts.  when i posted (on facebook) about not yelling at the midgets for a whole week,  you wanted to know how.  here’s the story:

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the first “no yelling” article i read was about 6 months ago.  i have no idea where the original article is, so i can’t direct you to it, but i can tell you what it did:  it  introduced a possibility that i had never considered.  not yelling was a completely foreign and unexplored idea for me.

as is often the case, i read the article, hmmmd about it, and then dismissed it as crazy talk.   when my kids aren’t listening, i clearly need to be louder.

through the next few months, there were several things said by people in my life who were in no way referencing the no-yelling thing, yet their remarks would recall the idea to my mind.  the idea of not yelling at my kids was starting to assert itself.

at the same time, i noticed a pattern.  here’s how it went down:

i would tell the kids to do something, and then raise the volume of my voice depending on their speed of obedience.  they would respond out of fear, there would be crying, and the stress levels of everyone climbed exponentially.  what’s more, yelling produced more yelling.  it never solved the big picture.

also at the same time, i noticed another pattern:

yell at the kids, feel out of control, experience regret, and then (here’s the kicker) rationalize it.

this is the way decisions always work for me.  i have to be pummelled from every side with conviction and proof before i’m willing to change, because i never want to be the person who makes a “life change” for 10 days.    the final conviction came about 2 weeks ago, at the royal winter fair.

i took the kids, and we were having a great time.  my expectations for a perfect day with my wonderful midgets were well on their way to being met.  and then real life struck:  we stayed too late, elliot lost his water bottle, we were all exhausted, and an epic argument exploded between myself and my boy.  it was a perfect storm, and it ended with people eyeing us askance and i yelled at my son who totally deserved it.

we marched toward the train, me constantly scolding elliot for his character flaws the entire way.  elliot crying, trying to keep up with my strides while maintaining a safe distance from my words, yelling back his retorts.  i hated myself, but i couldn’t stop; he had been so bad!

but you know what? even after we talked it out on the train and hugged and said sorry and forgave each other, i still felt like dirt.  no matter how i rationalized and excused it, i couldn’t get rid of my regret.

i could go into more detail about the wretchedness of that memory, and the feelings and words that i wish i could take back, but i won’t.  i don’t even think i have to, because i’m not alone.  if i was, there wouldn’t be blog posts popping up all over the place about how to not yell at your kids.

last week, i came across the orange rhino blog,  as the idea of not yelling had already changed from a tiny bud of a dream into a full flower of hope.  reading yet another blog where a mom had succeeded to not yell for a whole year, caused me to pluck that flower of hope and claim it as my own.

the conviction that has been growing for the last 6 months finally led to action, and i decided then to not trade one more moment of love with my children, for a moment of recklessness with my words.

that’s the why.  the how, requires less words:  God.

the orange rhino blog has some tips for how to stop.  i don’t agree with all of them.  some are great, but some are just not how i would approach the life change.  #1- she continued to yell, just not at her kids (for the first bit, anyway).  #2- she also told her kids her plan.

#1- one of the things i hate most about yelling, is the feeling of losing control.  the bible tells us to be self-controlled many times, and in proverbs (25:28) it describes a person without self-control as being “like a city broken into and left without walls.”

broken.  vulnerable.  just waiting for more.  that is what i felt, and what i don’t plan to ever go back to.

if you go looking for them, there are tons of bible verses that support not only self-control, but the power of your words (taming the tongue), and being slow to anger.  there’s no end of biblical support to help you through this.

yelling into a toilet might have helped the orange rhino lady to get past her habit, but for me, i’m cutting my ties with yelling, and not going back.

#2- i don’t have biblical backup for not telling my kids.  i have a mischievous little boy who would totally press my buttons if he knew i was trying not to show anger!   i DID tell my derek though, because i want him to keep me accountable.  i’m also not yelling at him, because if i don’t want to waste one more moment of this short life with regret, that involves all of the people i love.

i’m also telling you guys!  please ask me how it’s going.  my father-in-law taught me to be careful with what words i write down, because they can never be taken back.  i spent a long time deciding what to share, what not to share, and i realize that i’ve been very personal with this post.   i know that i’ve opened myself up to scorn from people who may not have the same struggles as i do.  i invite you to consider your own imperfections and solutions, rather than to attack me, as i clearly already see my own flaws.

i hope this not only answers the questions that many of you had, but also helps you.  each victory this week was a treasure, and the reward richer than anything i had imagined.  it’s not only my relationship with my family that is being strengthened by this decision, but my relationship with my ever-forgiving Father, as well.

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2 Responses to “”

  1. April Says:

    I like you an awfully lot. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Vanessa Says:

    what a great challenge! thanks for your vulnerability. this is totally worth trying. the Lord will reward you for you faithfulness.


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