Your Voice Matters

I would say… and we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I wanted to kind of go one layer deeper… one of the things that you are stewarding as a father is the weight of your voice. How much do your children respond to your voice? And so, that is one of the things that you are either building more strength, more equity, more respect between you and your children, where your kids are like, “Whoa, Dad’s voice really means something,” or it’s something that you’re eroding subtly. And so I want you guys to think about that and think about what are the things that erode the power of your voice and what are the things that really enhance it.

And when we talk about this in this way, it’s not for the sake of dominating your children. It’s for the sake of giving your kids are real sense of grounding and like, “Wow, I really want to learn to obey my dad. I trust my dad.” So there’s obvious things that erode your voice, things like saying, “If you do that one more time, you’re going to get in trouble,” and they do it again.

All right.

Now, if you can do that, the problem with that kind of stuff… Obviously, kind of, that’s bad training, but I would say that even the bigger, longer-term, bigger-picture problem is it erodes your voice. And one of the things that you can do, if you really want to increase the strength or the weight of your voice in the ears of your children is to play games where they respond to your voice very quickly. So there’s the traditional Simon Says game that we all played when we were kids. And you can play Dad Says and get your kids to have a little bit more of a knee-jerk reaction to “Oh, Dad says, ‘Grab that thing’ or ‘Do this.’ Well, I’m going to do that.” Sort of those kinds of games, I think, are really, really great for young children.

And this could be done as really simple, 10-minute drills. You come home, and it’s important that, when you do this, you set your kids up for success and say, “Okay, we’re going to play a game. It’s going to be fun. I’m going to tell you to do something. I want you to do it as fast as you can.” And so you play a game where your kids are really getting used to responding to your voice. You reward them. You praise them. It’s all positive. There’s no negative associated with it. It’s not about punishment or anything.

But then, at the end of that game, you kind of explain, “Look, this is the way I expect you to respond, too, when I’m asking you to obey my voice.” And so you kind of associate what you half, sort of gamified, in their response to your voice, into your normal day-to-day activity or interaction with them. But, yeah, Jeff, what have you thought about that whole topic of stewarding your voice, as a dad?

Yeah. Well, I think you nailed it, and then I’ll add a second one that I’m working on, that’s hard. But yeah, I think the game one is super fun. The kids love it, especially in the younger years. And it actually is genuinely, really fun. Like you said, only make it positive association. Do fun stuff. And it’s funny how fun it is, actually. You can kind of be silly and stupid, but it subtly creates these connections of just “I listen, when I hear Dad’s voice.”

The second one, I’ll say, that I’ve been working on is… yeah. It’s usually a spirit of laziness when I use the phrases of more warnings or “Don’t do that again.” It’s because I don’t want to get up, or I don’t want to do that, or I don’t want to enforce. So first, kind of call yourself to account on that. And then, two, I’ve learned it just sets a way better culture of gentleness and tone in the house when you don’t have to say stuff sternly or seriously. The consequence is what says it sternly or seriously.

So I’ve just noticed where… Practice saying stuff, something. Try saying a command very gently and normal and firm. But, I mean, just say it in a very normal talking voice. And then, if it doesn’t happen, just calmly administer the consequence. And it’s something about that spirit of just I calmly said it, and then I just calmly go and administer the consequence. “Okay. Well, I guess that toy just has to leave your room for the next three days.” Okay. Thanks so much. Let’s keep moving.

It does something really weird. It just does not devolve into… because it’s very easy for anger, frustration, shame, guilt, sad, all these things, to just rush into the whole dynamic. But setting the tone of just gentleness, I think, keeps a lot of those at bay. Well, of course, still, sometimes you can administer a consequence, and the kid freaks out, etc. But I’ve noticed, if I set the tone in that way, it kind of actually, still, holds it down a lot lower. So I would just say, yeah, let your consequence be kind of the firmness-

That’s right. That’s right.

… rather than your voice having to make up for that.

That’s right. Yeah. I think one thing to check is that I really believe that it’s ideal for a father never to raise his voice to his children. Now, we all get frustrated. We all do that. But if you start getting to a pattern of raising your voice to your children, and then they kind of wait until your voice gets to some fever pitch, for example, before they actually take you seriously, then that’s evidence that you’ve emptied your voice of strength. And you’ve done that by not following through on the consequences, like Jeff’s describing.

And then, of course, there’s the opposite of that, which is, sometimes, with some relationships with your dad, your dad just kind of looks a little disappointed. And you’re like, “Oh, no.” You really respond because your heart is so knitted, in a really positive way, with your dad’s heart.

And this is how I think about my relationship with God as my Father. I don’t think of Him yelling at me. I think of Him… There are verses that specifically talk about the sort of disappointment that God feels around our sin. And I think that that’s real. And I think that it’s important to… We’re not earning His love, but there is a emotional reaction that the Bible describes the Father having, as we are pleasing Him or not pleasing Him. And I think that that kind of atmosphere is really positive in a home, where there’s a sense of your kids are really aware and they really treasure that relationship.

Now that doesn’t happen right away. You’re going to have toddlers and strong-willed kids who are going to care less about disappointing you. Some kids, you’ll look disappointed and their heart will melt. That’s just their temperament. Other kids have wills of iron. So it’s important not to sort of think that kids are all the same. But even with the kids that are really tough and that take five, 10 years of relationship-building before you really win their heart and before your voice has a lot of strength in their life, this is how you get there. You don’t get there by emptying the power of your voice. You get there by continually cultivating that relationship and then making sure that your voice has weight behind it, that you’re following through with what you say, in a way that also really resonates with your child’s heart.

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