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
  1. Bradley Reply

    I use some of the same with slightly different wording, but one of my other favorites that gives a nod to choices & consequences is “Stupid should hurt.” We have six kids and they know that if they’re doing something reckless or inappropriate (and they’ve usually been warned about it already) and the outcome is negative…don’t come crying to me.

    In June my middle son, who’s 13, went with the youth group to a water park for the day. He was trying to do handstands in the crowded wave pool while it was in full motion, got knocked down & smashed his face on the bottom of the pool resulting in a nasty gash on his face & a trip to the First Aid station. As the doctor cleaned him up he asked him, “What’s your dad going to say?” My son replied, “That stupid should hurt.”

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Bradley, I would’ve loved to see the look on that doctors face. Ha.

  2. Lindsey Kennedy Reply

    We have the exact same go to statements. I say “Asked and answered.” about fifty times a day. One of our other go-to statements is “Oh, that’s so sad.” when she’s whining or if she does something that has a negative consequence that she’s upset about. It lets her know that I’ve heard her complaint but that I’m not changing anything about it. We also sometimes use “Is that obeying or disobeying?” that we learned from one of your other blog posts. It’s worked wonders!

  3. Elyce Reply

    We use all of the above… And I’ll add…”do you have the freedom to do that?” this loaded statement implies schoolwork and chores are done… I also use it for me “I don’t have the freedom to do…”, if they are asking rudely..or to show I don’t always have the freedom for my wants when I haven’t finished my to do list.

  4. Megan Reply

    One that has really stuck with me that my dad ALWAYS told us is that “it’s not what the truth is, it’s what the truth is perceived to be.” I think this was more for our teenage years, but I still use it today. Essentially, it doesn’t matter if you were actually “doing” something or not, if you’re hanging out with those that do, others will likely perceive that about you.

    For my rambunctious 2 1/2 year old son, I find myself saying “right here, right now” often! He doesn’t want to stop playing long enough to come when I ask. I have no idea where that came from, but Daddy and I both say it a lot.

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  7. Michelle Reply

    “Your lack of planning/organization/attention to detail/etc. is not my emergency” I find myself saying this A LOT as the mother of a teenage boy.

  8. Autumn Brown Reply

    “Check yourself…” and then they reply “before I wreck myself.”

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