Power of Silence: How it can empower your life

Power of Silence: How it can empower your life

A parent’s life is never silent. Let’s face it. Pretty much from the get go, we have a bawling infant, a tiny form in swaddling clothes that demands every ounce of your attention. If you treasure silence and value it above all else, your best bet would be to not have kids. Power of silence? What does that even mean? How can silence be empowering?

Silence? Let’s just kiss that goodbye, shall we?

This doesn’t change much as they grow older. Toddler phases are notorious for bringing out the ‘yelling mom/dad’ in each of us.

Don’t touch that!

Get off that swing now!

Stop throwing things at your sister!

I’m not even going to pretend that I haven’t done it. And this for a kid who has largely kept out of mischief. What can I say? I had a terrible temper. (Confession: I still have one. I just know how to manage it marginally better now).

But over the years, especially after I took up the yelling-less challenge, the concept of communication with a child took on a Β more agreeable hue. Softer voices made for a better home. Lesser yelling meant more time talking, laughing, moving forward one step at a time.

As of today, my yell-free counter in my sidebar here on the blog reads ‘737 days’. That’s 737 days straight of not raising my voice. It wasn’t easy. I fell off the wagon, multiple times. But I climbed back on, determined that this wasn’t going to get the better of me.

However, while I had virtually stopped yelling, I still continued to have these emotional arguments with my tween. You could put it down to adolescent angst, of course, but this piece had me thinking otherwise:

Don’t blame genetics for daughter’s sassy demeanour. It’s more nurture than nature.

Kids grow, evolve, blossom when you give them one of the greatest gifts of all: undivided attention. And how do you do that, when you are so desperately trying to drive home a point, not letting them get a word in, edge-wise?

Things came to a head a few days ago when I was passionately imploring her to study for her exams. She tossed her head carelessly and said, ‘I’ll do it soon.’ On the one hand, I had this growing urge to firmly sit her down in a chair and give her a good talking-to. On the other hand, I wanted to throw up my hands in despair and walk out of the room, fuming. As you can tell, both options wouldn’t have worked.

That’s when I stepped back.

I fell silent. As tempting as it was to lecture and get my point heard, I began to look at this from another perspective, difficult as it was to do. I asked myself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ In this case, she’d not do well in her exams if she didn’t study well. Right?

For someone who’s been largely self-driven that can be a very big ‘what-if’. But I had to let go. This wasn’t my life. It was hers. Sure, she’d fall, maybe fail even, but it’s important that I let her learn.

And so, a strange, almost disquieting peace descended upon the home. I stopped telling her to study. Instead, I sat and watched her go about her day, sometimes playing, sometimes singing and occasionally studying. Consciously, I had to fight the urge to say, ‘Stop playing and go study’, multiple times through the day. But I did it and kept myself in check.

At the end of the day, possibly rattled by the complete lack of lecturing from me, she approached me timidly and asked, ‘Is everything okay? You seem very quiet today.’

Looking at her earnest face, I replied, ‘We’ll talk about it in the morning. It’s late and you should sleep.’ Hugging me a bit longer than usual, she drifted off into dreamland.

That night I reflected on how much better I had felt, without having to hover incessantly at her elbow. For all my talk about letting go (that I do often on the blog), I’d fallen prey to the number one mistake that we commit: micro-manage our kids’ lives.

Next morning, the first thing she did after brushing her teeth was corner me and ask, ‘Okay tell me! Why were you quiet? What happened? Did you argue with Appa?’

Partly amused by her insistence and partly touched by her concern, I sat her down by me and said, ‘I realised I was talking too much. When I do that, you tend to tune me out. It’s not your fault, really. If I am always talking, I am not listening either. So, silence was my way of helping myself and helping you too.’

She nodded sagely and waited for me to go on. That’s the first change I noticed. Ordinarily, she’d interrupt me multiple times before I finished a single sentence. Yet, here she was, waiting, even hanging on my words.

‘So, now the ball is in your court. You know you have exams coming up. It’s a factΒ that hard work will help you. You’re aware that you need to put in the effort. The question is, can you do it without me telling you every ten minutes?’

Eyes shining, she hugged me and replied, ‘You’re right, Amma. I don’t know why I don’t do it. What do you think?’

‘Well, I guess because it’s boring or not as entertaining as a game of basketball with your friends. What if you made it interesting?’

‘Can I do that? I don’t know how. It all seems boring and tiring.’

We then had a detailed discussion on how to make studying and learning more fun. I’ll talk about it in my next post. Perhaps those tips may help a young learner at home.

And just like that, a dialogue had occurred. Coming out of silence, a deep, meaningful conversation had ensued between a mother and her adolescent child.Β Bonus? They learn that they can tell you anything. And I do mean, anything.

Silence may not be easy to cultivate, especially if you are the kind who loves the sound of your voice. But, the power that it has, in helping bridge the gap between you and your child, is incredible.

Power of Silence: How it can empower you as a parent

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*Featured image: Shutterstock

Linking up with Tweens, Teens and Beyond LinkyΒ 

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34 thoughts on “Power of Silence: How it can empower your life

  1. I cannot even begin to imagine myself in that space Shailaja. You are so very patient. 737 days of no yelling is beyond believable. With exams close by we’re a crazy household. I’m not sure between the two of them if they’d even notice if I’d go quiet.
    Obsessivemom recently posted Walks and conversationsMy Profile

    1. Levels of Zen are mythical things reserved for the evolved πŸ˜‰ Me, I am human. I lose my temper, I apologise, I pick up the pieces. We all do.

      Thank you for believing in my posts. That, to me, means so much, no matter how many times I hear it πŸ™‚

  2. Temper and the need for silence, same pinch, Shy. I was an introvert (still am) and having to deal with two kids who obviously haven’t heard of the concept of keeping quiet drives me up the wall! Thankfully, I sometimes take a ‘maun vrat’ (laugh, if you want) and simply stop talking for my sanity.
    I have to read this yell-counter post too. Heading right there!

    1. Introvert here too. I prefer my me-time and silence is golden. Always! ‘Maun vrat’ makes complete sense. Let them slug it out πŸ˜‰ They will value you more πŸ˜€

  3. I agree with all of this. My mother used to constantly ask me to do chores and I wouldn’t do that because I wasn’t affected by this. But my father seldom spoke, but when he did…I rushed to do so!!
    Also, I am the closest to my dad. πŸ˜€ I know what I said might not have direct nexus to what you wanted to convey, but yeah!! πŸ˜€

    1. Ha ha, actually it does! That’s Gy to a tee! She worships the ground her dad walks on, irrespective of how hard he is on her. Me, I am the pushover πŸ˜‰ But it’s a learning curve and I hope I still have time to mend fences and move forward with her on this. Thanks for reading and stopping by, Red. SO glad to have you back!

  4. Oh yes, I’ve used silence very well both with the husband and the children. πŸ™‚ These days, I try not to blow up, just remove myself from the situation and go quiet. That is when the kids know that something is not right. As you’ve mentioned, silence is very powerful. About studies, you already know how difficult G is. His attention span is quite low, but this year I’ve seen him make the effort. I’ve roped in the help of elder brother to help him make a timetable. I do nudge him from time to time to go study, but I am not on his back. I realize that he is only in 5th and frankly slightly low marks will not really matter. I am giving him the time to slowly enjoy the process of studying and learning without worrying too much about exams and portions. This was a nice read, Shy. I realize how we work ourselves up and then transfer our anxiety to the child.
    Rachna recently posted Conversations with Kids on Unsavoury TopicsMy Profile

    1. Removing oneself from the situation is my go-to solution for most arguments,online and offline πŸ˜‰ After I’ve made my point, that is. You’re so blessed to have S to guide G in this. A timetable works wonders! I know G and Gy are actually the same age that way and have similar traits. And you’re right. That’s what we finally decided. Learn to enjoy the subject, whatever it is. Studying will follow.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Rachna πŸ™‚

  5. I have done this with my brother when he was in his 12th. He’s 10 years younger to me. He was in his worst teen dramatic phase, where anything and everything makes him back answer and yell. And me who’s not anything less in both made our house a warzone. Then suddenly I stopped talking. I did everything he asked for, took him wherever he said, never even once asked him to study and one week in to this, (took him a week) he asked me, what’s the problem? Why you not bothering about me?

    Silence does have a power to change people.

    1. Siblings are another thing altogether πŸ˜‰ They can really drive you up the wall. Oh and 10 years younger! You must have the patience of the Pope! You’re right. Silence works wonders.

  6. Hello Shailaja taking a peek at your blog after a long time and its really a pleasure read your blog on power of SILENCE. I think most Moms ( &wives) do have such Silence Zones in their daily routines and it definitely has its virtues. Thanks for sharing and putting across this thought beautifully.Hope writing keeps you busy with silence by your side and we can read many such posts.

  7. You are totally nailing this parenting thing. I don’t know how a child’s mind work but you always seem to find innovative and wise ways to handle your child. It must really help in creating a wonderful bond between the two of you. ❀
    Rajlakshmi recently posted Life in ProgressMy Profile

    1. Aww shucks. I can assure you I have my terrible moments as a parent. These moments are wonderful when they happen, but I wish I were always so centred and happy. I’m human πŸ™‚ But it does help in creating a bond πŸ™‚

  8. Ive often seen the power of silence at play with the hubby. I’m not a nagger by nature, but I do have my triggers. I used to get after certain things, hammer and tongs. But it’s no use, is it? They just tune us out. Once I adopted silence & patience, he slowly just came around on his own!

    Wish your daughter all the best for her exams. πŸ™‚
    Modern Gypsy recently posted Hope for the inner childMy Profile

    1. I think I am a nagger, unfortunately. Hard wired into the psyche. Have to make an effort to break out of it! And you’re so right about the tuning out. Sigh, that’s true of any relationship, I guess. When you come from a space of advice instead of empathy, your words go unheeded. Silence and patience has helped my relationship too, tremendously so.

      Thank you for everything, MG πŸ™‚

  9. 737 yell-free days. Wow! That’s pretty awesome. I liked your experience and learnings from it. It’s challenging to stay silent when you know that something needs to be told/reminded. But silence can speak volumes and can get the other person thinking too.

  10. What a great post. It is so hard to find the right balance sometimes as a parent. My eldest needed no encouragement with his studies and just got on with it whereas my youngest is easily distracted and needs reminding! However as you say the tipping point is when they learn it is about them, they need to do it for themselves without the nagging. No-one likes to be seen as a failure after all. Silence is golden. #TweensTeensBeyond.

  11. I’m nor sure if my previous comment loaded Shailaja so I’m trying again! Well done for recognising so quickly that one approach wasn’t working with your tween and trying another more successful one. I will remember the power of silence next time I am shouting! Thanks so much for joining us at #TweensTeensBeyond

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