Aug 152014 9 Responses

My Four Favorite Parental Statements

Being a parent can force you to say things you never would have expected. I often find myself yelling, “Stop yelling.” I’ve told my son, “We do not take Barbie’s clothes off and then use Barbie to hit your sister.” When my daughter was a toddler, I found myself saying, “Sweetheart, it’s not nice to ask strangers if they have a penis or vagina.” (See: No Lies/No Slang, How to Raise Healthy Kids that Make Grandparents Uncomfortable)

Parenting can cause us to say funny things, but more than anything, parenting causes us to repeat common phrases. Just as our parents said the same thing over and over to us, we often say the same thing over and over to our children.

While I’m sure there is a long list of things I say often, there are three specific sentences which are my go-to statements when I’m trying to discipline my children. I have said them so much that I’m sure my children can repeat them in their sleep. And I assure you and them that these are statements I will continue to say for as long as I have an authoritative role in their lives. (See: Parenting and Authority–Who Has the Final Say?)

Here are four statements which every child should hear:

1. “You’ve asked; I’ve answered.” I do not know who said this first, but I would happily pay them money for this line. My children don’t like it, but I love it. This is always my response to a repeated question. Instead of giving into the temptation of allowing my kids to wear me down by asking the same question, I hold strong by repeating this line. The second time I say it, my kids know they are not going to win the battle. Stop answering the same question over and over again. Simply say, “you’ve asked; I’ve answered.”

2. “Good choices lead to good consequences. Bad choices lead to bad consequences.” It’s not a law, but it is a good guiding principle. Generally speaking, good things happen when we make good choices; bad things happen when we make bad choices. While there are exceptions, I want my children to understand that making wise choices is the most likely path to happiness and satisfaction. If they make bad choices, they will eventually experience very negative consequences. (See: Why You Aren’t Getting What You Want)

3. “Are you choosing to disobey?” Obedience and disobedience are choices. One of the greatest responsibilities I have as a father is to help my children understand they control many aspects of their lives. While they may not control everything, they do control what they do and how they choose to act. When they willfully choose to disobey me, I want them not only to recognize their bad behavior but also to realize the choice they are making. If they can realize they are choosing bad behavior, it gives them the opportunity choose good choices which would result in good behavior. (See: On Throwing a Fit)

4. “Excuse Me?” It’s what I say when I do not hear something. But it’s also what I say, with a little different emphasis, if I do not like what I hear. By acting as though I didn’t hear what my child said, I give them a second chance to say what they want to say. If said in the right tone, my children understand that I heard what they said and they probably want to choose to say something different. It gives them a free chance to make a better choice without any fear of consequences. But they also know that if they do not make a better choice, consequences are likely to come.

These are not my only tools in disciplining my children, but they are my favorite four. They are fair, direct, and provide my children the opportunity to see how their actions impact their lives and others. They also empower them to make better choices and live happier lives.

Often, when I lay my pillow on the bed at night I think back to the moments in the day in which I’ve used one of these phrases and I can’t help but think, “Is my Heavenly Father asking me a similar question about some aspect in my life?” (See: A Father’s Primary Role)

What is a favorite sentence of phrase of yours as a parent?


9 Responses to My Four Favorite Parental Statements
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