Who invented the ‘parent voice’? Who was the first parent who decided on the range of voices we can use with our children, but never use on anyone else? I understand the sing-song voice everyone uses with babies and infants, and I absolutely get why that particular tone of voice is hard-wired into us, and has obviously been genetically selected for over hundreds of thousands of years. It’s because it makes everyone happy.
Who decided, though, that we have to keep up a relentlessly jolly tone right through childhood? And who came up with the following range of voices as the most effective in making children more likely to behave well..?
Variations of the Parent Voice
The Heavy with Disapproval voice (for use before they’ve done anything wrong)
The Slightly Patronising Exaggerated Interest voice (whenever they tell you anything)
The Sad and Disappointed voice (when they’ve done anything you don’t like)
The Excessively Polite Pleading voice (when you want them to do something)
The Sarcastic You-are-an-Idiot voice (when they do something wrong)
The teacher voice (when you’re patiently explaining something they already know)
The sugary-sweet voice (when you’re really angry with them but you’re in public)
The hesitant apologetic voice (when you’re asking them to do something you have absolutely no expectation of them doing)
I think we can do much better than that. I find the Buzz Lightyear voice a good one when I want children to listen. The Mary Poppins is always a good standby (occasionally updated to the Nanny McPhee) when I want them to do something NOW.
But mostly I find that a normal voice works just fine, the kind of voice I would use with anyone else.
This week’s blog was delivered to you in a Slightly Vaguely Bemused tone of voice.