Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hush! Hush!

I can't remember where I saw it, but a few months ago, I saw a little button on someone's blog that said 'I'm taking the 365 days no shouting pledge' and it got me thinking about our family.

We have raised our boys with slightly opposing philosophies, Mr. Cleary and me. I have always hated competition, and competitive sports, whereas Hubba Hubba has always thought competition is healthy and makes us strive to be better, pushing us beyond what we would otherwise achieve.

So there have been tensions between the lads, as they all vie to be the best at this or that. Somewhere on our journey, films with terms like 'loser' have crept in. And so the boys wanna be top dog and this or that. And they fight a bit between them as they battle to win one over on each other. I fucking hate it!

And as there has been a fair amount of highly stressful crap going on intermittently this year, everyone's voices have gotten louder and louder (Perhaps partly where my love of silence has crept in recently!) The boys get pissy with each other as they get jealous about stuff.

And then a GLORIOUS thing happened. We went to circus camp. The boys learnt some amazing skills, in a NON-COMPETITIVE environment. Cosmo, the ringleader and clown extraordinaire, made a statement, for which I could have kissed him (but was way too shy!):

"I don't believe in competition. I believe everyone is talented and got something special about them. No-one is better than anyone else. Everyone is brilliant in their own way"

Woohoo! Yes. Too bloody right. Competition creates tensions, rivalry, jealousies and suffering for everyone but the winner - and sometimes everyone including the winner!

So anyway, what has this got to do with shouting? (I'm getting to that part)

Well, I turned around to Pete a while back and said I think, as a family, we are all a bit shouty. (Daddy Pete in particular - hes had more stress than any of us, so I get it.... but....) When we don't feel heard, we just crank it up. Times that by six and everyone starts talking louder and louder until we are shouting, and as a means of dealing with stress SHOUTING sucks! Ad it doesn't take the stress away it just makes it even worse. And it is tiresome communicating in such a rubbishy way. Just a habit and actually unnecessary.

So we made a pact. From now on, and for 365 days (I'm hoping to make it permanent but a year is a good start), lets not shout at each other. At all. Let's all break the habit of doing it.

And now if anyone gets a bit loud, we all gently say to them "you're shouting". And that reminder makes the person walk away, and try to deal with it differently.

You know what's. it's workings, it's really working! It's been two months since we took that pledge, and now if anyone shouts, it's rare and we all notice it as something unusual.

I am enjoying the quieter, less shouty Cleary way of living. Alf is still habitually dissolving into a shouty puddle when he gets REALLY frustrated but he'll grow out of it.

I just know he will - because we all have!

Perhaps this is another reason I am enjoying the quiet, the still, the peaceful, the wordless.

Anyway, that's enough words from me.

Shhhhh....... as you were......



  1. I saw that challenge a couple of months back too and like your household, our's with 6 members can get very loud too for all the same reasons you mention. We haven't pledged to join the no shouting but I am definitely more mindful of it.

  2. Thanks for writing this Paula. Much though I believe in all things gentle, holistic, embracing and nurturing I have sadly reverted to the behaviour my mother used to regularly exhibit when we were small. she shouted a lot and I have started turning into her ... I like the idea of a pledge. I do constantly aim to be a better more calm person than the day before but I am very aware I fall drastically short some times ... let me take a pledge now! x

  3. It's so easy to slide into communicating like this, isn't it? I found it really helped me to think 'For some families, shouting is simply not an option, ever - totally off the menu. They cope. Therefore I can too!' And when I feel like shouting now, I stop myself as if I'm looking at my menu and going hmmmm, I was going to order something shouty but there isnt anything shouty here so I am gonna choose one of the other things on the menu instead" and it really really works! X

  4. Great post and a great reminder! We didn't do shouting either, I found that shouting was all about me losing it - and nothing justifies it! I needed to look to my own behaviour and sort myself out. I grew up with a shouting father too so was determined never to make my kids feel like he made me feel!

  5. It's interesting isn't it Ross? In my case,I grew up really frustrated that my mum would not speak plainly or couldn't seem to communicate her true wishes, so would resort to sulking and emotional manipulation to achieve her goals - goals we often had to guess and second guess. And so perhaps to compensate, I have tried to speak really openly and plainly to my children, and say what I want rather than sulk or give them the silent treatment. We always have work to do to find our own inner balance and its all a learning journey....

  6. Oh oh oh, so guilty of being a shouty house. So want to change. So nervous of taking the pledge, failing and feeling even worse. It's my 14 yr old...gets me every time, need to sort my own stuff out so that patience and creative calm prevails. Wish me luck! Thanks for the post

  7. When we're really familiar with each other it is easy to push each others buttons Henrietta, don't be too hard on yourself lovely. Maybe it would help if you reframed how you look at it. Instead of thinking of yourself as bad or a failure when you slip up, it may be better to observe that you're feeling out of kilter, that shouting just *feels* crappier than not shouting. No big moral self bashing needed - in fact detach yourself from the emotion of it a little and look at it as a practical thing. You could simply say hmmm, I always feel a bit crap when we shout and it just feels better when we don't. Lets all try and shout less, just because it makes everyone feel better. No need for punishments or self reproach! Shouting doesn't make you a bad person, it is just a more frustrating way of communicating, that's all x x x

  8. oo oo oo I want to try that too!!!

  9. It's seriously nicer to have an anti-shouty hat on, when things are getting noisy!!! Before, I would just join in when the kids were shouting at each other now I sorta walk away if theyre not listening. Seems to work! X