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Parenting: Our Own Tone is More Important Than What We Say

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inquiry & integration

inquiry instructions

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The presumption of these inquiries is that you are dealing with a child that is a teen or at least 10 or over.

Inquiry: Where is your tone of voice most challenged in my relationship with my child?  (When your child is misbehaving or unreachable) Inquiry: Ask, what questions can I present that will support him to think for himself? What tone do I normally have in these situations, and what tone do I want to find and maintain?

Personal Integration:  this practice can be done alone or with a friend, lover, or counselor. Take one to five minutes or longer to contemplate and answer the question. When done with another, it is essential that the listener remains neutral and encourages you by repeating this inquiry as needed to help maintain focus.  This focus on tone of voice has seemingly been missed by the majority of our psychological and spiritual text books.  It is vital as a parent to realize that we weren't taught that tone of voice is a critical determinant for our children's future health.  It is also true that our parents weren't guided to see the importance of tone of voice either.   Just ask yourself, how do you like being talked down to?   Doesn't it create a defensive reaction?  This honesty is critical in laying a foundation with your child.

Inquiry 2: What ways do I label my tone of voice that make it seem more benign than it is?  Can I muster up the integrity and humility to stay focused on the many examples of how this plays out?

Personal Integration 2:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  Each of us is unique in this way.  Some of us think we are soft when we are tough.  Others think of tough love, when it they are mean or unnecessarily aggressive.  And others think we are just telling the facts of life objectively when there is a superior moralistic tone.  Discovering the ways in which your tone is more challenging than what you recognize is essential in healing the relationship between you and your child and supporting your child's future.

Inquiry 3:  What questions would you ask to optimize the chances of your child to think for themselves?   What tone would you need to find inside yourself and express to be effective?

Personal Integration 3:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  Finding the questions that would encourage your child to think for themselves requires contemplation, maturity and sincerity.  When you stop to think about it, it is likely that you will see that your child thinking about their own moral choices, disciplines, or ways they need to develop, is the most critical determinant of their success.   The stakes are very high if you succeed or fail in supporting their independent thought process.  An important part of this inquiry is not just asking the right questions, but also having your tone be either neutral, curious, or supportive.  

Inquiry 4: As you ask questions to your child can you see the dangers of a sneaky moralistic tone sneaking in?  Do you really believe that the moralistic tone will work out?

Personal Integration 4:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  We all have a lot of ideas of how we want our children to think, act and behave.   This is natural and unavoidable.  However, laying down our moral code with a superior condescending tone can be deadly and stunting of our children's growth.  It is very subtle how a tight leading question can create resistance.  As you explore this question, speak aloud so you can hear whether you are talking in any way down to your child.   Don't deceive yourself that they "deserve" it.   Even if they deserve consequences, moralism is not the most healthy way to administer them.  If you don't believe this, keep asking yourself how well you respond when anyone talks to you that way.   In today's world teenagers are very prone to rebelling against any kind of negative authority.   Let this question help purify your capacity to talk from your heart, which can include tenderness AND strength as needed,

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Since 1972, Humanistic Spirituality founder Robert Strock has maintained a private spiritual and therapeutic counseling practice that specializes in purposeful living, relationships, spiritual psychology, and death and dying counseling. Humanistic Spirituality provides various spiritual workshops, guided mediations, and licensed marriage family therapists and licensed social work continuing education courses. Contact us to learn how we can help you find inner peace and spiritual awareness through our counseling, or our free guided meditations, videos, audios, writings, introspective guises and more. A warm welcome from the team at Humanistic Spirituality.

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