Turn Down the Volume

Turn Down the Volume

by Belinda Walker

My screaming was out of hand; could I change?

I was far from my idea of the perfect mom—delicate, patient and sweet. Even though I love my children and am devoted to them, you wouldn’t know it by listening to me. My mouth was always wide open and yelling at my children. I considered going to a 12-step program and introducing myself, “Hi, my name is Belinda, and I’m a screamer.”

Bad habits
My problem always began the same way. I lost my patience, then my tongue spit out words faster than the speed of light. My volume escalated—each word a higher pitch. My rant went on and on like the Energizer bunny, except I didn’t beat on a drum—I beat on little ears, sensitive hearts and young minds.
The thought of what I sounded like to my children sickened me. I was like a drill sergeant shouting each morning, “Wake up, it’s late! Hurry! Pick up your rooms! Make the beds!” When I helped them with homework, my voice screeched like nails on a chalkboard, “What do you mean you don’t get this? How many times do I have to explain?” I knew my real message was lost. “I love you and I want you to do well in life” was not conveyed.
I blamed my out-of-control behaviour on parenting solo, a stressful job, financial problems and no time to myself. But the cycle of screaming, feeling guilty and apologies continued to hurt my children.

I needed to change for the sake of my little family, but change was difficult. I read books on my self-diagnosed screaming syndrome. I tried counting to 10, then 10 again and again. I practiced slow breathing techniques, which only caused me to hyperventilate. I even videotaped myself yelling. Nothing worked.
I was miserable and questioned my ability to mother my children. I called on God for help. I didn’t know how He could fix me, but I knew that all He required was a tiny mustard seed of faith. So I got down on my knees, planted my prayer and watered it with tears.

Soon Mother’s Day arrived and my third-grader, Rebekah, gave me a card and proudly proclaimed, “I made it all by myself!” I was torn between laughing and crying as I read the words written on the front—Happy Mouther’s Day.
Happy Mouther’s Day? The misspelled greeting pierced my heart. I was filled with sorrow and memories of all the broken promises to my children.
Then, at once, the heavy burden vanished. I knew deep inside I now had the strength to stop my abusive behaviour. There was no looking back. The simple little u that translated Mother into Mouther transformed me.
My daughter laughed about the misspelled word; I relished her laughter. I knew that was no misspelling—God had intended it. I opened the card and read the rest, “Dear Mom, I love you with my whole heart and soul.” In spite of my mouth, my daughter loved me. And through a heavenly-inspired card, I was changed forever.

Belinda Walker lives with her children in Vermilion, Ohio.

A note from Belinda
Screaming is like a tornado that tears through the heart and soul of a child. It leaves an aftermath of anxiety, fear and feelings of worthlessness. A child’s only defense is to emotionally withdraw from a parent who is supposed to represent security and safety. As a result, the parent-child bond becomes weaker and the emotional health of a family diminishes. Screaming is never a solution—it wounds tender hearts and impressionable minds.
At one point in my healing process, I recalled the times God could have yelled at me, but He didn’t. “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8).

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