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+.
Katie @ Clarks Condensed
The only time we don’t let Jack be loud and run around is when we are at a nice event (like a wedding reception), or church, or somewhere that it will disturb others being loud. We generally let him play and express himself wherever we are, but if he starts running around the table with his cousin at a restaurant, like he did at a recent nice dinner we went to, I draw the line. But when we are at home and a lot of public places, I don’t tell him to be quiet. He is pretty well-behaved most of the time anyways though, so it makes it easier. I’ll admit sometimes he does screech or something and I ask him to be quieter, mainly when I’m concentrating on something or stressed out!
Yes! So while I let my kids be loud and play, there are definitely rules we have in place. They can’t go schreeching during church, or running up and down the pews. We do not tolerate that at all, and take them out to the foyer where they have to sit in our lap, and not run around, or eat snacks. And we try to reign them in at other events or places too. But, generally speaking, at home, and during normal days, I don’t fret too much about the noise. 🙂
I feel like this is such a hard balance. There are some BIG expectations from others, including family on this and our loudness bothers them, but I also believe that kids should express themselves. A cry, a scream (of joy or frustration), a laugh, whatever should be an opportunity to allow kids to have those emotions. They are such a big deal to them. I was talking one time to someone that had a family member that committed suicide and she said the mother was the perfect (on the outside) mom. Not a hair out of place and very well behaved kids. Her regret was that she did not allow her children to feel enough. She did not embrace the feelings that we so often want to distract or say quit it to. She doesn’t know if that would have prevented such a horrific tragedy, but she wonders if it would have allowed more openness with her son. Of course we teach that there is a time and a place, but how we teach is so important. A gentle reminder may not quiet them, but they probably heard you in the store, church or wherever. I find it so hard to embrace the very nature of loudness from my family, even though I truly believe that when I allow them to feel and be sad or angry or frustrated or really happy or happy in a way that is screaming for attention that this is the call from my kids for mom and dad to fill some need. After briefly talking to this lady, it made me pause to think about how I handle my loud, boisterous and maybe at times obnoxious kids no matter where we are at. Inside each child is a unique and beautiful child and they need to learn to feel those emotions and express them without fear.
That is sad about that woman and her son. I do agree it is a balancing act, and there are certainly times and places where loud, more annoying behavior, is not appropriate. And it’s hard when your family expects children to be more of that “seen and not heard” philosophy (like my in-laws and your family).
We definitely let our kids be loud when appropriate. Like Katelyn, we have our limits. Ear-piercing screams are just not allowed, and there are plenty of times they need to be quiet like for naps or for settling in before bed time. Otherwise, I think children should be allowed to play in their homes, and especially outdoors—that’s when we really encourage their boisterousness and tell them they can jump and yell.
Still I do think that it’s good for kids to behave at a restaurant. I would take it as a compliment that my kids are behaving well during meal times. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad parenting if it’s the opposite, but I do think restaurant patrons simply enjoy not having to deal with loudness when they don’t have to.
I guess “You’re kids are so misbehaved. Bad job.” would be the equivalent opposite of the restaurant remark…. but, yes, there are certainly appropriate times for loudness and times for not being loud and more “behaved” like at church, school, restaurants, etc and we do expect such from our kids.