Tuesday, November 29, 2011


A while ago, the dad of the house lost his cool with Jude.

It happens.

Jude is particularly sensitive to raised voices, and although we know it's ideal to be calm and reasonable, we don't always manage that. Daddy raised his voice, and I watched from the sidelines, wanting to step in, but torn between presenting a "united front" and jumping to my child's defense.

When my husband raises his voice, it triggers an old terror in me. Don't get me wrong; our dad never laid a hand on us; he never had to. His raised voice and steely stare were enough to convince us that there would be hell to pay if we didn't do what we were told, and NOW!

When I raise my voice, it is usually with complete exasperation.  The kids barely blink. But when my husband raises his voice, it cuts them to the quick.

It turns out, Jude doesn't need me to explain to my husband how his "mad voice" affects the kids. After the storm had subsided, Jude went to his desk to create this:

 Jude loves to draw this "not allowed" circle-with-a-line-through-it symbols. He put them to good use here, eloquently illustrating his very tall father leaning over him with a mad face. He makes it clear that this is NOT ALLOWED.
 Also not allowed: telling Jude to STOP with a mad face on.
This is the part of the picture that spoke most clearly and spurred my husband to work harder at keeping his cool: a self-portrait of the artist, his ears enlarged as if to say, "I can HEAR you and it hurts my ears (and my spirit) when you shout at me".

No parenting guru could have conveyed the message more clearly. I may take to drawing pictures to express my feelings, too, although I doubt I could capture the simplicity and eloquence of Jude's.


  1. WOW. I think it's courageous for you and homestead boy to share this. We all need a reminder of how powerful our words and actions are to our children. Good for J to be able to express himself so well. And good for both of you to be able to reflect on things and hopefully adjust and improve. You inspire me to do the same!

  2. I have been humbled more than once by my children's portrayals of me disciplining them. It has caused me to really reflect on how it doesn't matter so much how I feel I am acting, but what they see and hear when I am requesting they obey me. This is such a challenge to my mama heart towards deeper emphathy for my children.

  3. I'm adding my WOW too.
    Maybe we need to look at our (grand)children's artwork a little more carefully for clues.

  4. I really admire the fact that Jude can express himself so that his parents know what is going on inside him. It's hard for a Momma NOT to jump in, I have to watch myself on that one too. I could scream and yell like a banshee and the boys will just look at me and blink, yet if army guy so much as raises his voice they stand up and take notice.
    thanks for sharing.

  5. Bravo Jude! (and to parents who are sensitive to the communications of their children and who are raising a boy with good communication skills!)

  6. What an amazing drawing - he's so insightful! Children really are SO much smarter than adults :) I lose my cool a lot, and often will raise my voice, but it's my hubby that keeps me in check. I've actually never heard him raise his voice to our children (and maybe once to me). I don't know where he gets his cool from! I, on the other hand, have a lot of work to do with patience. I find meditation very helpful.

  7. oops, I said "our children" and we only have one....maybe I have baby fever?

  8. A few weeks ago, I was out of patience, and asked my son for the 233454th time to stop rocking on a stepstool, as it wasn't safe, which he proceeded to do again 2 seconds after I asked him to stop. I was trying not to yell and shot him a LOOK that stopped him in his tracks. His lower lip quivered and he said in a very small voice "Mommy...I don't like it when you have angry eyes."

    Oh, my heart. I picked him up, set him on the counter, apologized and told him I didn't like having angry eyes either.


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