Thank you to my friend Katelyn from What’s Up Fagan’s for guest posting for me today while I’m busy packing and moving my family on our first of two moves this year! Oye ve! I have a very loud 5 year old and I love Katelyn’s perspecive on loud children. Do you let your kids be loud?
A few weeks ago my husband took my twin five year old girls and my two year old son out to eat at a restaurant by himself. They enjoyed some chips and salsa and a cheap dinner together, when someone came up to my husband and complimented him, saying, “You’re doing a good job. Your kids are so well behaved.”
My husband thanked him, but confided in me later that he thought it was a dumb compliment. As if “well-behaved kids” meant he was a good father. Like that was the hallmark of good parenting. My husband grew up in a household where the philosophy of “kids are seen and not heard” was enforced, so hearing this compliment wasn’t exactly a compliment to him much at all.
My husband and I don’t believe that our children need to be quiet all the time, that they have to be “well-behaved” according to societal norms or to meet the expectations of strangers in order to be good kids, or for us to be good parents. I’ve said it before, but one moment or one aspect of our parenting hardly qualifies as a “bad mom” or a “bad father.” Kids who are a little boisterous, loud, giggly, and a tad wild while out and about don’t make our kids hellions or heathens who have no rules because their parents are too lax (and therefore lousy parents). We do have rules for our children. But one of those rules is not that they can only be seen and not heard.
We value our children’s independence and their youthful exuberance for life. We welcome their thoughts, their observations, their playfulness. We let them wander from us to a certain extent, to lead and at other times to follow. We let them touch and feel things around them. We let them explore.
And we let them scream, shout, and talk loudly. When they are in their pretend imaginary world, and being chased by a dragon (which may or may not be their little brother), they scream, they run, they hide. When they see something shocking (to them), they gasp loudly and excitedly. When they want to be silly, they are really silly and chatter loudly. When they are bubbling at the seams to tell us something awesome, they are loud even when we are immediately in front of them.
Volume is part of play. Whispers are for secrets, for prayers, for bedtimes. Loud screams are for acts of force, for fears, for frights. Children freely express the great dynamics of life on a regular basis through their voice and imagination.
With three young kids, my house is often loud as we embrace such a philosophy on parenting. But, we welcome the noise, the play, the imagination. We laugh at their screams and excitability. We like knowing that our children can be heard, their voices and their thoughts unhushed.
A few times we’ve heard back from friends, who watched our kids (especially if they only had boys), for a period of time that our daughters are loud and like to scream (and my son does too, but more for attention and to imitate his sisters). After five years with my twins, I guess I don’t even notice it that much anymore, and generally just enjoy listening in our their world of pretend play.
The only times we ask them to quiet down is when someone is napping, when we need them to calm down because they are getting a little too crazy and wild, or when they scream at the top of their lungs. At that point we may just kick them outside to scream and play more freely. Because, those ear-piercing screams, the ones at the top of their lungs, are not acceptable in our home or in our car or generally, unless outside and playing. Because, it’s just a little too much, and unnecessary for playing.
My husband and I have been blessed with fantastic children who are generally well behaved in a restaurant or the grocery store or at church. But, we also let them play and be loud at other times and with certain basic limitations. Because, we know that their screams, their shouts, their loud chatter won’t last forever, and is in large part how children play, learn, and express themselves.
And we never want our children to feel like they can’t be, well, children. We embrace the spirit they bring into our home, noise and all.
Do you let your children be loud at home? outside? in public?
Katelyn Fagan is a down-to-earth, 20-something Christian (Mormon) who enjoys a simple life with her husband, twin five year daughters, two year old son, and soon to arrive baby girl. She currently lives in Texas and enjoys the heat, being active, and having fun. She shares practical tips on her blog “What’s up Fagans?” for living better as a mother, wife, penny-pincher, and homemaker, in her honest practical way. Be sure to check out her site, and then follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | and Google+.