The ‘Parent Voice’

parent voiceWho 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.

2 Responses

  1. sophie
    | Reply

    You forgot the “softly touchy feely voice”! “Come on darling that’s not how we behave now is it darling – put the cat down – i don’t think it’s enjoying being picked up by it’s neck darling, come on sweetie the cat is going a bit floppy now sweetie, it’s not our cat darling, put it down…..oh i think the cat’s having a sleep now darling.”
    I think alot of these voices fall under the “look at how i am parenting my child” heading. I think we’re so aware of being “judged” by others on our parenting skills that we adopt these voices to show others we’re “in control”. I am currently working on talking to my child how i would like to be spoken too, and trying not to care what other people think and trying not to judge others (hard though when you’re seeing a cat being strangled (true story!!) Sx

    • Stephanie Davies-Arai
      | Reply

      Lovely story Sophie..! And good point, maybe we put on a ‘parent voice’ like a uniform when we want to be seen as a professional at this job… it takes confidence to just be human when you feel the eyes of the world are watching and judging…

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