I did it, again. That voice I never knew I had came out and gave a short, direct command to one of my children. All the kids turned quiet and off went the child to do as asked.
Mom Voice. If you have a child who speaks in full sentences, you know what I’m talking about. That direct, commanding, clear voice that comes from the back of your throat.
It isn’t always pretty.
After this particular incident I felt a bit annoyed.
I had hosted our moms Bible Study just earlier that day. Here we are spending time in Advent talking about peace and I am breaking out intense mom voice with a child not hours later.
Practice what you preach they say.
The child completed the task and even apologized without being prompted. We hugged and laughed and moved on, but I couldn’t shake it. That feeling. That question of why.
Why couldn’t I just speak to my children like I do every other human being? Is mom voice wrong?
I thought about this for days. If I needed to apologize to my child, I wanted to do so sooner than later. While I don’t think I have this all figured out, here it is:
Mom Voice is okay.
Before you run off and call me unkind and lacking in gentleness, hear me out.
Why can’t I speak to my children like I do every other human being?
Because every other human being is not my child. Parent child relationships are deeply unique. Parenting is not like having a roommate and choosing someone whose personality you enjoy. It’s not like choosing a friend who may have the same hobbies and interests as you. Parenting doesn’t come with a lease or exit strategy. There is no choice. The children that are given to us come exactly as they are. Love overcomes the lack of choices in personality and interest, that same deep love also makes each parent passionately connected to that child.
Because every other human being is not a child. Children are just that, children. They are not adults in small bodies. They are still learning and growing. They still need guidance and care.
Most of the other people in my life are adults, they were already kids. They know about consequences and respect. They understand themselves and both the brokenness and amazingness that is human nature.
Speaking to our children exactly as I do 90% of the other people in my life doesn’t make sense. They don’t have the vocabulary or frame of reference to learn and grow and change in that way.
We have to meet our kids where they are on their own journey, not where we are on our journey.
This is where Mom Voice is okay. There’s something about that “tone” that comes out when you have exhausted all your options. It is a unique call to your child that says “Hey, this is a moment of training, guiding, testing. You are up for the challenge. I believe, I know you can do this. Go. Do. You can.”
Mom Voice, while always a bit shocking when I hear it, is a vote of confidence. At least it can be.
Here is the thing. In our flawed existence as moms sometimes we cross the line. We let mom voice get the best of us. Our vote of confidence becomes a tool of destruction.
I’ve done it. Have you…
…Ever used Mom Voice out of anger
…Ever used Mom Voice because you were just tired
…Ever used Mom Voice in a moment of impatience
…Ever combined Mom Voice with unkind words
…Ever used Mom Voice as a threat instead of a guide
Like most good things, Mom Voice does have an ugly side. Used well, it gets things done in a clarifying and appropriate fashion. Used in haste or for our own self-interest, it hurts our kids’ hearts.
While kids are not adults, they are human beings. As parents, we are the people in their lives that should be speaking kind, loving and gentle words.
In the midst of educating these future minds our vote of confidence should sound more like a strong symphony and less like a death metal concert. Our directions should be clear but gracious, strong but kind, influential but wise.
Today, I declare I am for Mom Voice.
Mom, you were given your Mom Voice for a reason. How are you going to use it?
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” The Message, Ephesians 4