Do you remember the grade school lecture that involved a tube of toothpaste? The teacher would squeeze toothpaste out slowly but surely, and when the tube was empty would ask some smiling unsuspecting student to put the toothpaste back in the tube. As the student would sit there trying to stuff the minty paste back into the tube (which is IMPOSSIBLE by the way), the teacher would then use the experiment as a metaphor for your words. To make a long story short, once you allow words to leave your mouth, you can NEVER take them back – just like you can never put the toothpaste back inside the tube.
Apparently, many people were absent from school the day their teacher was discussing this lesson. And sadly, some of these people have made it to parenthood. How do I know? Because the truth is that parents say some of the stupidest things to their children.
- Stop Acting Like A Girl! This gem is normally said to little boys when they are acting like babies, or perceived as being a sissy. And we wonder why so many grown men have problems these days. This is wrong on so many levels. For one thing, it insinuates that there is something wrong with being a girl and magnifies the personification that girls cannot be anything but girly girls. Hopefully, parents don’t say this in the presence of their daughters because it’s bad enough to say it to their sons. It’s also wrong because it perpetuates the whole mentality that girls shouldn’t be emotional and that they have to be strong and brut in order to be accepted. No matter how you look at it, saying this to your son is wrong, wrong, wrong!
- You’re Just Like Your Father/Mother! Considering that your child shares DNA with the other parent, it isn’t so far fetched that they would be ‘just like their father/mother.’ But regardless of how you feel about your child’s other parent, you shouldn’t make your child feel bad about being like that person. If you continuously tell your child they are just like their mom or dad, who you think is a loser, you are essentially (in your child’s mind) calling them a loser too. There is nothing wrong with kids being like their parents; in fact, it’s very natural!
- This Hurts Me More than It Hurts You. This is normally said right before a parent spanks their child or punishes them. The truth is it’s a downright lie and the parent knows it. Spanking a child is a pretty hurtful thing to do. Imagine someone you love spanking you out of ‘love’ (keep your mind out of the gutter here) and then saying, it is hurting them more than it hurts you. And taking away your teen’s cell phone for a month after they ran up the bill is definitely not going to hurt you more than it does them.
- Because I Said So! Look, if you cannot explain your infallible logic you probably should think twice about saying it. Sure, this one is pretty harmless to say the least but it is a good idea in parenthood to always be prepared with an explanation that your child will remember. For instance, if you are telling your teen not to have sex and they ask why, make up something truly horrific like all their hair will fall out, rather than just saying ‘Because I Said So!’
- I brought You Into This World, I Can Take You OUT! Okay, mom and dad the murdered! This is one way to make your child think you are a psycho.
- Chocolate In the Morning Will Give You Worms. Maybe this was just my father who told me this little white lie because I wanted candy bars for breakfast rather than eggs. But it’s still a stupid thing to say.
- Do You Want a Spanking? Really? What child would want a spanking? This is a rhetorical question.
- Wait Until Your Dad/Mom Gets Home. This one just shows your child that you don’t have a backbone and that you can in no way discipline your child on your own. Plus, it makes them fearful of the other parent. And worse, why would you allow something that happened at 8am with a toddler to resurface again at 6pm when the other parent gets home. You should be way over it and moved on by then.
- If You Don’t Wear Your Seat Belt, the Cops Will Put You In Jail. Any reference parents make to putting their children in jail and making them fearful of the police is a bad idea. For one thing, get some control over your children, make them wear the seatbelt and make sure that they realize cops are their friends. One day, they might need a police officer to help them and you don’t want them to be terrified.
- Stop Crying or I Will Give You Something to Cry About.Nice. Mom and dad just became the mafia.
Of course there are a ton of other stupid things that parents say. The truth is that children don’t always hear the sarcasm or disdain in our voices, and might just take us seriously. When parents are angry, it is easy to say something that could hurt our children or others. There really is no need in parenting to bully, undermine or intimidate our children. And remember, just like the toothpaste, you cannot shove those words back in once you squeeze them out. Happy Parenting.