Why Do They Have To Keep Shouting?
When frustration, resentment and anger get in the way of respectful communication, many people resort to shouting to make their opinions and needs heard.
Q - I’m a college and still living at home. I say it’s home but it’s never felt like home. There’s always shouting and arguing going on between my mum and step-dad, and my older brother gets involved too. It’s so horrible and I try and keep my distance as much as I can by staying in the college library to study. I feel ignored and over-looked because I’m the quiet one in the family. I shouldn’t have to shout to be seen or heard. It’s left me feeling more nervous and timid, and scared of ever having a relationship with a man, in case it ends up like my mum and step-dad’s (my own dad died when I was very small and my step-dad quickly came on the scene). I hate it there and long for the day I can move out and get my own place. Why do they all have to keep shouting at each other all the time?
A - You are right. There shouldn't be any need to shout.
Perhaps they think it’s an effective way to make the other person hear what they say. That doesn’t mean that the other person is listening though!
In that heightened emotional state they are most likely too pre-occupied with their own next verbal outburst and getting one-up on their 'opponent'!
It would take an ‘adult’ agreement between them all to stop raising their voices and to communicate in a much more respectful and considerate way.
I doubt that you alone will be able to change their ingrained conflict pattern. There would need to be an awareness of how detrimental and futile all that shouting was for them, and what the alternatives are.
This different way of comminicating can be learnt - if they really want change and harmony in their relationship and in the household.
To an impressionable child shouting feels like a slap. It’s a form of emotional abuse. You also mention being emotionally neglected and isolated.
Shouting squashes the child’s will and replaces it with fear and self-doubt.
If you have grown up with it for years it will have left an even deeper impression upon you, and I sense this in your fear that your own relationships might turn out the same way.
There is no reason why they should… and I suspect that you for one would certainly not be one to shout at your partner!
What concerns me though is that you might attract a partner who is similar to the man who raised you – because that is what you have internalised and associated with men.
I very much hope that you make friends with calmer more respectful young men at college. Ones who have the emotional intelligence, self-awareness and restraint not to have to verbally brow-beat others to get their point across.
You will begin to feel more at ease with these ‘different’ young men and how they relate with people - even in challennging circumstances.
Promise yourself not to settle for anything less than a loving, rspectful and harmonious relationship when it comes to your own future partner.
As for the present time…you could try writing to your parents about how you are feeling. Or you could print out a social media meme image and quote about shouting and listening – and putting it up on the fridge! If only to awaken awareness and potential discussion.
If your family don’t see anything wrong in the way they communicate with one another then you can only assert your preference for things to be different.
Maybe you could have a quiet one-to-one with your mother and ask her about your birth father. Was he a shouty man too? Was your mum’s own father like that?
Approach the subject from a place of curiosity rather than blame. It may be that she then sees the disrespectful pattern that has been created – and you will better see how you can avoid repeating that pattern yourself.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
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