4 Moms on noise

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The question that sparked this week’s topic:

While I am accustomed to the noise that my children produce (which I don’t
consider excessive), my family often makes comments about it and
seems annoyed by them after a short period of time. How do you deal with
your children’s noise, especially when company is over?

When it comes to noise levels, I am trapped between two worlds.  I come from a very soft-spoken family.  If we have something to say, we wait our turn and say it softly.  If we have nothing to say, we enjoy each other’s company in complete silence.  Yes, it makes for awkward phone calls but it’s relaxing, friendly and peaceful in real life.

I married a man who is descended from a long line of preachers on one side, and talkers on the other.  My husband is a well-balanced individual, but his siblings got his mom’s chatty gene and his dad’s lungs.  It’s fun and crazy and I love them all dearly, but I would NEVER use the word peaceful when his family is on the premises.

My kids?  Like curly hair, dark skin and detached ear lobes, NOISY is a dominant gene.  They have their quiet moments, but most of my children really enjoy a little chaos and some excessive decibel levels in their daily lives in a way that my sibs and I didn’t, even as children.  Coghlans bring life wherever they go, and it turns out life is loud.

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Like the questioner above, I suspect my own side of the family doesn’t always love us for our lungs.  What could I do about it?  What should I do about it?

I tried for many years to keep a tight rein on the noise level in our house, but ultimately I realized that I was not just fighting the gene pool.  I was pushing against my husband’s personality and heritage.  He does not enjoy chaos, but he instigated much of the noise I was trying to control.  I was creating two distinct sets of behavior for our children when it came to noise: Dad is Home VS. Dad is Gone.  This is doable, but harder on everyone involved and was frustrating me since I felt constantly undermined.

Finally, I let go.  I decided to let my husband lead the noise level in our home.  Surprisingly, I quickly found out that he was not oblivious to the noise level.  His tolerance we only a little higher than mine.  When I let him set the standard, it really wasn’t too far outside my comfort zone.  A little, but not bad.  I adapted.  Now we were on the same page.

Now what about the family and friends who shared my own sensibilities?

Because of my struggle and our children’s divided heritage, they are aware that some people are less tolerant of high noise levels.  We have tried to teach them not to just shut up, but to evaluate and adapt to the situation.  This is partly a matter of courtesy.  It is also a skill that seems to increase with maturity, one that comes more easily to some than to others.  I know that we are sometimes very loud, but we try to limit it to times when we are around other loud people.  Whether we are in our home or not, if I suspect the noise level is bothering anyone else besides myself, I am quick to correct and our children are generally responsive – because we have trained them this way and also because in spite of how they sound, they do actually have that recessive QUIET gene hidden somewhere in their DNA.

It’s a simplistic answer, and I know that it’s more easily said than done, but that’s often the truth in life.  I know how I want to handle the situation, and so I do my best at it, knowing that my best won’t always be a great job.  Sometimes our noise level will annoy or offend.  Sometimes it will be because our noise is excessive, and sometimes it will be because somebody else has unreasonable expectations or a migraine.  Either way, we do our best to love our children and the quieter people around us at the same time, while trying to make it easy for them to love us.

How would you answer this question?  See what questions the other moms have to say about noise levels today:

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Comments

  1. I was a noisy child, I loved noise. Funny how God chose to build our family by placing a child in our home with audio processing issues. Once I finally believed “Yes loud noises are actually the reasons she is crying out in pain.” I got her molded earplugs from the ENT they helped tremendously. My whole attitude on noise is sooo different now. I can’t stand any screeching indoors, for me it meant, I’m now in for 4 hours of fear induced behavior :-/ *sigh* So it’s why we said goodbye before the party was over. How can we explain we’re not offended or have high expectations?? I know her ears are unreasonable, so we’re just leaving before she melts into a crying puddle. For years we were that weird family… she has come a long way and her noise tolerance is far greater, but I actually found I now love the quiet home it has created, It’s so peaceful. :-)

  2. When my two oldest were small I really had no tolerance for noise at all. I was raised in a home with no tolerance for noise. It did not make for a peaceful home with all of my nagging. They were prone to extreme chaos and out of control behavior but I was also overly sensitive. When my son was born and as he grew into a rather noisy boy I realized my expectations were unreasonable. I had to adapt. I still get onto them when they are over the top noisy or trying to create complete chaos but a lot more noise is tolerated now. I loved what you said about teaching them to adapt to the situation. I’ve tried to do that as well so that the kids don’t annoy people when we’re in public or in other peoples homes. Sometimes though they just have to let it out!

  3. Very good post.

    Two things that caught my attention in particular. The first was that you decided to let your husband lead the noise level. We have 15 children ninteen years and down and it can get real loud mostly when dad is home. I get very worked up over it. I nag him and add to the volume myself. Not very peaceful. I can not figure out if it is the actual noise that bothers me or because I want to be the ‘boss’ and in control when dad is home. Does that makes sense?

    The second point was what you said in your reply in one of the comments “if they will obey my whisper, they will obey my shout… and they should obey both….because it should have everything to do with consistent training rather than voice volume.”

    Great thinkg for me to think about!!

    Warmly,
    Tina

    • Tina, the comment you quoted wasn’t mine, but they were wise words! People used to comment on the fact that I don’t yell at my kids and my reply was, “I yell in a whisper. When I drop my voice, my kids know I mean it.” Of course they should obey no matter what voice I use, but they usually know by the voice whether a subject is up for discussion or to just obey.

  4. It’s kinda funny…when you around the general noise that kids make day in and day out, you stop hearing it… at least I do… I can literally turn it off in my head, unless it’s reeaallly loud, or someone is screaming cause they are hurt…. In the course of the day, I often am sort of in a dream world as I do different boring jobs, putting laundry away, etc. and I will be carrying on a conversation with myself and not even hear the commotion of kiddos. Then hubby will be like, “HEY! Can we please use INDOOR voices?” And I look up like, “what? huh?” Don’t get me wrong. I like peace and quiet, but i also know that my four boys, who are very energetic and don’t get to run around outside as much as I would like (we live in town on a busy street, and I don’t just let them outside whenever), and they need to blow off steam sometimes… so it gets noisy and mom turns off her ears…

    • one thing I will bring up that someone brought up to me is the fact that while every parent does need to speak sternly to their kids from time to time, if we only expect obedience when we raise our voices, we are teaching them (in essence), that we only mean business when we yell or talk loudly, and that normal speaking volume isn’t really worth obeying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very easy to lapse into, and heaven knows I still raise my voice more than I should, but I saw the person’s point about it, and it’s true that if they will obey my whisper, they will obey my shout… and they should obey both….because it should have everything to do with consistent training rather than voice volume.

  5. This post is so timely. My husband and I are facing this issue too. We (and our kids) are a lot louder than my family, and it makes them uncomfortable. When my husband uses the “Dad voice” my mother thinks he’s screaming at our children, but in reality it’s the same volume and intensity that is used at home. Our home is larger and sound doesn’t carry, so we HAVE to be loud, and she doesn’t understand that.
    Right now we aren’t even welcome in my parents’ home because my mother is trying to put her foot down about how we raise, discipline, and speak to our children – we’re having none of it and it’s become a battle of wills: “my house” vs “our children.”
    Noise can certainly be a polarizing issue.

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