Parenting today is different than when our parents did it. For example, we probably talk way more about parenting than they ever did. Still, some old parenting tricks stand the test of time—here are 10 of those oft-used parent-isms that every adult seems to use around the same time their kids learn to walk.
[Author’s note: “I admit nothing.”]
Translation: “Hey, I just might give you what you want, kid, but don’t hold your breath.”
Notes: If toddlers could write self-help books, this one would be a whole chapter in the “He’s Just Not That Into You” of having parents. It’s open-ended but the result is pure emotional torment. Use this sparingly, as its effectiveness doesn’t last long.
2. “Oh, look [A DIVERSION]!”
Translation: “I want you to lose your train of thought so that I can get on with my life.”
Notes: This one doesn’t last very long—kids figure this trick out by 4.
3. “Wait until your ____ gets home!”
Translation: “You’ve exhausted me, kiddo. I’m handing this one off to a fresh reliever.”
Notes: Effective, and somewhat terrifying for the child, equating the arriving parent or caretaker with a demonic presence whose arrival is maybe a threat to their safety, although what does it say about your partner?
4. “If you love me, you’ll ___”
Translation: “Listen kid, you’re winning the parent-child war today, I’m forfeiting.”
Notes: Later in life, we’ll tell our kids that anyone who loves them would never say something like this. But, while they’re young, we can totally use it without shame, right?
5. “Let’s not and say we did.”
Translation: “Cute idea, but let’s never speak of this incident again by pretending we actually executed on it and we’re all satisfied with the results.”
Notes: In this age of peppy Pinterest mantras and positive Oprah-isms about seizing the day and living our best lives, how do we allow this one to stand? It’s the dream crusher of parent-isms.
6. “Because I said so.”
Translation: “I am a god and you will do as I wish because I said so.”
Notes: Never have four words ever carried so much overinflated weight. Kind of makes you think twice about knocking Kanye West for his oversized ego, huh?
7. “If you do that again, you’re sleeping outside.”
Translation: “My job as your parent is to protect you, until you do something I don’t like (or, more ironically, something I need to protect you from doing). Until then, the neighborhood wolves can have you.”
Notes: Mean and fairly ironic considering when the same child asks to pitch a tent and sleep overnight in the backyard, they will be met with “Maybe…” for an answer.
8. “Ask me again. Just ask… me… again. Let’s see if the answer’s different this time.”
Translation: “OK, I’m going to engage in this little battle of wills with you, kid—let’s see who breaks first.”
Notes: No, it won’t. We are just drawing this stand-off out at this point. Parents, aren’t we supposed to be the bigger people (figuratively and literally)?
9. “Someday, you’ll understand why I’m punishing you.”
Translation: “Well, I officially turned into my mother.”
Notes: No, your kids will probably never understand. Do you understand everything you’ve been told you would now that “someday” has arrived? Didn’t think so. (If you did, you wouldn’t be using this line.)
10. “I’ll give you something to cry about.”
Translation: “I’ve officially run out of good parenting ideas.”
Notes: So the child is already crying, and is thus somehow aware things have gone wrong, but you have something to make it worse? Whoa, kudos.
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