As you can imagine, there are times when my house is loud. I mean REALLY loud. Three kids trying to get mom’s attention after school and dad’s attention when he gets home from work. Then there is me, who will yell over everyone to be heard. Harlan just shakes his head and talks quieter.
The amazing part … the kids listen to his quiet over my loud.
The battle I have picked recently is a personal one: I yell. I have always yelled. Part of that is I am the oldest of four kids, and my mom yelled. However, it was when she got really quiet that we knew we were in a lot of trouble.
My brother and sister have parenting styles that are different from mine, but there is one thing that is the same: We all yell, and we all are trying to stop.
Over time, I have found myself getting louder and louder with the kids when they do not want to listen. I recently took a look at what we were yelling about and decided there is something I can do about it.
The chores used to be assigned a little randomly. Whoever was downstairs first in the morning was the one to set the table. When the fighting and sassing started to drive me to the point of yelling, I created a chore board to keep things fair.
The chore board is a work in progress. Each child has two or three specific chores to do each day as well as some of the obvious: brush teeth, straighten out the bed and pick up clothes. Now they also know who is in charge of setting the table, drying the dishes and sweeping the dining room floor.
Oh, there are still fights and complaints that they have to do more than their fair share. When this happens, I start listing for them every single thing I do in a day for them. That quiets them down quick.
Growing up and hearing yelling didn’t scar me for life, and I don’t consider it child abuse. But these days, I hear myself yelling and think, “I wouldn’t listen to me either. I sound horrible!” It’s times like these that I look at what is an is not working and decide that I need to make a change.
Chores and yelling have been what the Steuer family has been working on to make our home a little more peaceful. I find that challenging myself to be a better person can be hard. No one wants to admit that they are not the best that they can be, but sometimes this uncomfortable feeling is necessary in order to make a change.
I have picked my battle. The kids know that mom is trying not to yell, and they are working to make my goal possible. I listened to what wasn’t being said by my kids when I yelled. That was the most powerful message I could receive.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom, whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 6-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca.