If you can't say something nice...
Do you ever catch yourself spouting some worn out threat to a kid that probably should have been retired a couple of generations ago? Lisa Belkin, writing for the Huffington Post recently noted that #ThingsEveryMomSays was trending on Twitter. Some of the tweets:
"Don't talk to me like that, I'm not one of your little friends."
"My roof, my rules."
"Why? Because I said so."
"I'm so sick and tired of your attitude."
"If you are bored, go clean your room."
It's sad that kids all over the world mainly tweeted the irritable, disconnected ways that some parents use to communicate. Belkin makes a point that while moms and dads don't define themselves by these "ticked off" clichés, their children often do.
"I regularly find myself listening to harsh exchanges between parents and children out in public and think, 'Is that how you ever thought you would sound back when you decided to have children?'" writes Belkin. "And I also wonder, 'Do you even know how you sound?'"
On the other hand, parents may also be ground down by their children's relentlessly annoying behavior and lobbing in these phrases as a last resort. "If you can't say anything civil, don't say anything at all," used to pop from my mom's lips once in awhile. It sent me into inner giggles because she was usually a non-conformist and also had one of the raunchiest and least "civilized" mouths of any grown-up I knew. At the same time, this line always managed to short-circuit whatever bratty loop of behavior I was stuck in-I understood it to be time honored code for "enough is enough."
The reality is, how many loving, creative ways are there to get a kid whose room resembles a scene out of 'Hoarders' to clean up?
Not long ago, Buzzfeed collected a bunch of tweets by teens and 'tweens touching on a related topic: "Things I hate about my mom." A few:
"I hate when my mom asks me if I want some pizza. Because she knows I hate pizza."
"I HATE WHEN MY MOM WASHES MY BLANKET WITHOUT TELLING ME."
"I hate when I ask my mom for something and she says no…"
"I hate water. Thanks mom for getting me water."
It's become a cultural norm that kids will dislike their parents. While there are plenty of irresponsible, short tempered, and selfish parents out there, this prevailing stereotype--which is regularly reinforced by their peers and the media-may make it hard for young people to even be aware of their parents' nurturing and sacrifice. Parents are terminally uncool and say stupid, useless things.
Reading through the collection of "things every mom says" many other phrases come to my mind, such as "let me kiss it and make it better" and "are you hungry?" Number one on the list? That would have to be, "I love you."
Readers: do you have a resource that has helped improve your communication with your kids? Please share in the comments.