Parents Say the Darndest Things
We all know that kids say the darnedest things; but parents do too. Have you ever really listened to parents? Have you ever listened to yourself? Sometimes we make ridiculous comments…comments that are really nonsense. Check out these statements, statements I have heard really good, loving parents say to their children in the midst of frustration. I remember saying many of them myself.
- “We don’t yell in this house!” I yelled this one up the stairs, trying to say it loud enough to be heard over my kids…go figure. Do we yell…or don’t we?
- “Close the door. Were you raised in a barn?” Really…you don’t know the answer to that one? I know the answer to that question before I ask it. After all, I raised my children in my home.
- “You better wipe that smile off your face before I do it for you!” That statement is a sure sign that, in spite of my anger, the whole situation is actually kind of humorous. Rather than smile and laugh about it, I try to recoup my sense of dignity with a nonsensical statement.
- “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” What? If my child is crying maybe they already have something to cry about. Remember, they are still thinking like a kid, not an adult. What seems like a simple thing to an adult can feel overwhelming to a child.
- “Don’t get smart with me.” Now that is a smart statement. We encourage our children to attend school, acquire knowledge, and utilize that knowledge in everyday life…except when it comes to explaining to us the reasons for their disagreement.
- “I can turn this car around….” Wait a second. We just spent a week packing suitcases for vacation and half a day packing it into a car. We have spent a small fortune on reservations for a nice family vacation. Are we really going to turn the car around? Let’s be real.
- “You better wipe that smirk off your face before it freezes that way.” Well, maybe this one carries some truth. As I journey through my fifties I do see my face taking on the shape and wrinkles of my most common facial expressions; but the warning is a little too distant to mean much to a child.
- “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Probably not. But, if they were stopping for ice cream after school, I might do that…even without permission. If our children made an extreme statement like this one, we would probably tell them statement #5.
You may be wondering why I even bring these statements up. First, I have made statements like this…and found them ineffective, useless, and nonsensical. So, I hope you don’t mind if I use this moment to offer my confession and ask your absolution. Second, I want to offer five sayings to help us avoid making useless statements in the future.
- “Think before you speak” (one of those useful statements my parents told me). What do we want our children to learn? What do we want to teach them? Let’s make sure that what we say and how we say it will actually teach them the lessons we want them to learn.
- “You get more flies with honey than vinegar” (hmm…maybe our parents had more useful sayings than I originally thought). Our children will listen better and learn more quickly when we speak to them with respect…when we honor their intelligence and common sense.
- “Say what you mean and mean what you say” (like Horton, the famous elephant on Whoville) and “Don’t make idle threats.” Children learn very quickly whether we mean what we say or not. If they learn we are simply “making an idle threat,” they will not respond. Let your word be true. Only say what you mean. Only threaten consequences you are willing to enforce. Our children will learn to listen and respond better as a result.
- “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.” Sometimes kids are just being kids. A teen is going to struggle with peer pressure (so do adults) and a preschooler is likely to cry about things we consider silly. Although these issues seem less important to us, they are significant issues to a child of that age.
- Sometimes “all you need is love” (thank you Beatles). Our children often don’t need a quippy response or a sarcastic remark; they need a little love and compassion. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the most loving response is one of discipline. But, discipline offered in an attitude of love goes a lot further than discipline offered with an angry or sarcastic remark. And, sometimes our children need a hug more than a silly remark…so refer back to #1 and respond appropriately.