Out of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

Posted on Feb 15, 2013 at 8:55 AM in Parenting


A friend who is a counselor once told me you shouldn’t ask your kids, “What’s wrong with you?” when you are frustrated with them because, really, they don’t know what’s wrong with them. And furthermore, that thought—not a constructive one whatsoever—can lodge in their young minds in damaging ways.

So I never said that phrase again. In fact, I keep my lips shut tight when running late or dealing with babyish behavior or cleaning up spilled milk. I’m pretty much perfect now.

Uh, no. Back to reality.

I have still uttered that phrase, even though I don’t appreciate the message it conveys. I’ve said far worse. Time and time again I’ve said far worse. And, after my flash of anger has died down, it grieves me. My kid isn’t fully grown and we, her parents, are the chief role models responsible for raising her in a right fashion. It’s remarkable to me how I can be responding to her lack of self-control with my own lack of self-control. Not wise, to say the least.

It is in this vein of self-confession that I’m wondering what catch phrases we should banish from our collective parental mouths.

Here’s the latest to make me absolutely crazy:

My kiddo picked it up from another 2nd grader and it is high on my list of punishable phrases right now. Liv says she’ll ask this classmate if he knows where her pencil or eraser is and he’ll come out with the quip, “Don’t know, don’t care.” (Now before all judgement reigns down on him, please know being asked to locate yet another missing item by my daughter might test the patience of Mother Teresa.) I understand that “don’t know, don’t care” rolls off the lips in an easy-breezy fashion, but man alive, it’s downright rude. I’m not a giant WWJD bracelet wearer, but seriously, can you imagine Jesus saying, “Don’t know, don’t care”?

Me: Jesus, I pray that you would help me find that important paperwork for our taxes.
Jesus: Don’t know, don’t care.

Me: Jesus, will you watch over my daughter at school today?
Jesus: Don’t know, don’t care.

Me: Jesus, I am so worried about getting all this work done.
Jesus: Don’t know, don’t care.

Clearly it’s not something Jesus would say. It’s not something I should say. It’s not something my 8 year old daughter should say. What else should we watch for? What other phrases have popped out of your kids’ mouths and surprised you? What phrases do you toss around that you’d like to stop saying? What phrases might you need to tweak to make less objectionable as you parent?


  1. Chris Gordon Feb 15, 2013 11:43 AM

    My personal favorite, “You’re making me crazy.” So helpful, I’m sure. Time to ditch it.

  2. Rebecca Feb 16, 2013 11:22 AM

    Ditto, Chris! I reserve the right to pull it out on rare occasions though. ;)

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