I stumbled across this link to a website one of my Facebook friends posted on her page. It’s a list titled 25 Simple (But Powerful) Parenting Phrases.
I read the first few phrases such as Thank you, Please, I’m sorry and You look sad/angry/frustrated and had a pretty good chuckle to myself. Sometimes I find things funny and don’t really know why.
These are short phrases that are presumably meant to be uttered by the adult to a child in lieu of lecturing, correcting or engaging the child in a power struggle.
Really? I can’t lecture, correct or engage my child in a power struggle? How will they know who’s the boss?
This is all news to me, but I understand that parenting strategies change with each generation. We are currently in a “let’s raise a bunch of unable to support themselves because we’ve coddled the crap out of them phase,” so this sort of list is not uncommon.
From the website:
Here are 25 simple phrases that may have a huge impact on your children.
- Thank you!
- I’m sorry
- You look sad/angry/frustrated
- That must have hurt
- Thank you for sharing your thoughts/feelings with me
- How can I help?
- What do you need from me right now?
- It sounds like you could use a hug
- Tell me more…
- Wow! How exciting!
- What do you think?
- Which would you choose?
- Do you have any ideas?
- How would you solve this problem?
- Let’s take a deep breath together
- Let’s start over
- Let’s talk about this when we’re calm
- I appreciate your helpfulness/cheerfulness/thoughtfulness
- That shows responsibility/creativity/courage
- You worked hard to earn/achieve/complete…
- Great progress!
- I love spending time with you!
- You are so special!
- Nothing you do or say will stop me from loving you
Now here is her list (in bold) of phrases that may (her words so I guess they may not too) have an impact on your children and what immediately comes to my mind upon reading them:
Thank you! – No shit. Of course you should say thank you when a child does something thank you-worthy like bringing you a beer from the fridge or says “sit down dad, let me put those dishes away so you can watch the game.” We should be saying thank you to anybody who does us a solid, child or adult; it’s called common courtesy, not brilliant parenting.
Please… – Basically the same as thank you, but if you’re using it timidly where more force is called for, you might find yourself in a pickle. For example, if little Timmy Terror is dangling your only set of car keys over the open toilet bowl and waiting for you to acknowledge him, then your saying “Timmy, please give mommy her keys back” in a calm, neutral voice will probably cost you a buttload of money in locksmith fees. A firm, startling “DON’T YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, G$ er TIMMY OR MOMMY IS GONNA BEAT YOUR LITTLE BUTT!” is much more likely to cause the boy to reconsider doing what he knows full well he’s about to do.
I’m sorry – Sorry for what? Sorry I brought you into this world? Sorry your father is not around or is a deadbeat? Sorry your 5 year old ass didn’t get a $600 iPad like you wanted for Christmas? You’re the parent. You have nothing to be sorry about until they’re older and it’s become obvious to them via expensive therapy that you are the one who ruined their life. Until they’re in therapy though, you needn’t be sorry for trying to get them to that point as best you know how.
You look sad/angry/frustrated – No shit, mom, you just yelled at me or told me no I can’t have Skittles and ice cream for dinner. If your kids never look sad/angry/frustrated then you’re not parenting correctly.
That must have hurt – WTF? You mean that ass beating that dad just gave me for almost putting your keys in the shitter and throwing a tantrum when you said I couldn’t have Skittles and ice cream for dinner? Yeah, that did hurt like hell and I probably look sad/angry/frustrated because of it. It worked though, because I will think twice next time! Geez mom, I thought you were just going to say please again and let me flush those keys.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts/feelings with me – Yes, thank you kids, for sharing thoughts like “daddy, you look pretty fat today” or “I wish I had a better bicycle than this near new one I already own” or “I wish we could go on a European Disney cruise instead of just going to a lame beachfront property in Alafreakin’bama as a family as usual.” Hey kids, keep your thoughts to yourself!
How can I help? – You can help by not being such an enabler. Sip your wine while your kids try to figure it out for themselves for a change. They’ll “Thank you” later in life.
What do you need from me right now? – You’re not a vending machine or ATM, you’re a person with your own wants and needs and you have seniority. Make sure you don’t need anything from them, like that beer from the garage fridge, and then you can ask if they need anything. You won’t get anything in return for giving them whatever it is they say they need, most likely, so what’s the point? They’re mostly spoiled anyway; they don’t NEED anything but a swift kick in the ass from time to time.
It sounds like you could use a hug – Yeah, that’s what your teen daughter wants to hear after she just got done telling you that her much older, high school dropout boyfriend just told her he never wanted to see her again upon her telling him she was pregnant.
Tell me more… “Uh, can you give me some money for an abortion and not tell dad?!! Geez, mom, are you drunk again?”
Wow! How exciting! “There’s no need to prematurely inflate their ego by telling them that their drawing of a giraffe that actually looks like a Parkinson’s patient drew a half-circle is exciting. If it sucks as a giraffe, tell them it’s not a very good giraffe, but it’s a pretty good Parkinson’s patient circle drawing.
What do you think? – They are kids, do you really care what they think? They think The Wiggles and Maisy and TeleTubbies and Justin Beiber are entertaining because they are stupid kids. Unlike the stupid adults you have to work with though, you don’t have to ask your kids what they think. Just tell them to do what you say.
Which would you choose? – If you let your kids choose things, you’ll be seen in public with kids wearing snow boots and water wings in July and missing church on Sunday because they chose to go to Chuck E Cheese instead. Your middle schooler will be wearing shorts when it’s 20 degrees below zero. You’re the parent, you fuckin’ choose! Unless it’s their birthday, then they can choose some things.
Do you have any ideas? – Yes, of course they do, but 98% of them are stupid and the other 2% involve candy or swing sets.
How would you solve this problem? Hey mom, my head’s stuck between the neighbor’s fence posts and they just let their pit bulls outside to pee. Can you please just get me out of here and I promise we can discuss my inadequate problem solving skills later?!!
Let’s take a deep breath together – You shouldn’t be doing bong hits with your children lady, this is just not right.
Let’s start over – Once they’re into the third trimester of pregnancy, it’s too late to start over. Post birth abortions are almost always labeled homicides.
Let’s talk about this when we’re calm – you can be honest with your kids and just tell them you don’t want to deal with their bullshit right now because the DVR is full and you don’t want to miss seeing which of your favorite Downton Abbey characters will be killed off this week.
I appreciate your helpfulness/cheerfulness/thoughtfulness – Yeah, let’s thank them for not being total douches. They’re supposed to be helpful or thoughtful to you. If they’re not, and you have to stroke their egos when they actually are, then you’re already well on your way to raising screwed up kids.
That shows responsibility/creativity/courage – “Unlike usual, Timmy, when you’re an irresponsible/dull/sissy.”
You worked hard to earn/achieve/complete… – I’m actually good with telling somebody they did a good job, so this one is a keeper.
Great progress! – What does this even mean? Great progress? Hurry up and do what we said so we can put you to bed. Mommy and daddy haven’t touched each other intimately in four months!
I love spending time with you! – I know this shocks you since there’s often a lot of yelling and screaming and door slamming, and I wouldn’t have chosen you were we allowed to pick our own kids, but since you came from my uterus, I have to say I love spending time with you.
You are so special! – Yeah, tell him this while he’s rolling around in a pile of dog excrement after having jumped off the short bus from school. Everybody’s special nowadays. Peanut allergy? Special. Can’t read even though you’re in the sixth grade? Special. Ate all four of your McNuggets before throwing a huge temper tantrum in a crowded dining room because you didn’t like the toy in the Happy Meal? Special.
Nothing you do or say will stop me from loving you – Crapping their pants or peeing in bed when they’re 9 years old is one thing, but if your kid grows up to be a serial killer, you don’t want to be the one on the news saying “well, I kicked him out of the house because he had a terrible drug problem, he used to steal my appliances and wouldn’t ever say please or thank you. I’m sorry about the 24 dead college aged girls, but I still love him.” Some kids grow up to be awful human beings. You don’t have to love them just because you birthed them. You will have to accept the fact that their awfulness is probably mostly your doing though.
I’m sure that I’m not nearly as intelligent as the author of this blog. She is a marriage and family therapist, so presumably, she gets paid a lot of money to do the same thing that bartenders all over the world do for pocket change plus tips, namely, listen to people gripe about their husbands, wives, kids, dog, favorite sports team, etc. while nodding and never really fixing anybody’s problems.
She also earns money as a parent coach.
What is a parent coach, you ask?
From the website:
What is Parent Coaching?
As a parent coach, I walk with you through the struggles and challenges of raising children. We work together to create individualized solutions that will work for your kids and in your family.
Parent coaching is a relationship focused on helping you feel less stressed and more confident as a parent. It also strives to build strong, respectful relationships between each parent and each child.
What? This sounds like stuff the other parent should be doing!! If not another parent, then liquor can fill that void.
Do you really need to pay somebody to tell you that raising kids is hard? Hey, the sky is blue, too!
If you’re raising kids who are just awful, look at that guy across the table from you sucking down Bud Light Lime and Snyder’s pretzels. Is he awful? If yes, then there you go!
It’s called genetics people. All the positivity in the world can’t fix the fact that sometimes, your kids just suck. You can’t live in the same house with another person all the time and not have conflict. Just because the other person is your kid instead of your friend or boyfriend or husband doesn’t change this fact.
You don’t coddle your husband and ask him if he needs a hug when he pisses you off, you bust his balls over and over until he resents you and turns to drinking to cope.
Treat the kids the same way. Later in life, they’ll appreciate that you treated them like an adult.