2009-09-03 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

Some parental phrases never die
When I was a kid I remember saying I never wanted to sound like my mom and dad. I always wanted to be the “cool” parent who wouldn’t lecture my kids and use the same tired old phrases my parents had used on me.

Gary Gould — Managing Editor      Gary Gould — Managing Editor My parents had an arsenal of sayings — words of wisdom that, despite my youthful oath never to repeat with my own kids — I find myself using now. Of course many of these sayings are just hollow threats, but they often serve the purpose of keeping order.

Here’s a few:

“I’ll turn this car around right now!” The folks used this one, though I can’t say I’ve ever used it verbatim. If I have somewhere I need to be, rowdy kids aren’t going to stop me from getting there.

Mom and dad made it very clear that if I made them detour from their intended destination because of misbehavior, I was going to be in a whole heap of trouble. So I never tested it.

“I’ll give you something to cry about!” I remember crying over something stupid as a kid and having this thought posed to me by my father. I’m already crying, apparently over something you don’t find any validity in, and you are instead going to give me a better reason to cry? Oh, that doesn’t sound real good. Not one I’d try with my own kids, but back in the day it served its purpose.

“Because, I said so.” I use this one a lot. Six-year-olds tend to question decisions made by adults on a regular basis, and I’ve been told you should not explain yourself to a child, so this is a suitable retort. It makes its point and offers absolutely no explanation as to why.

“Do as I say, not as I do.” This one is funny. I don’t use it, but mom and dad did — or at least variations of this phrase. Dad used to smoke and he would relate the dangers of smoking to me — all while puffing on his cigarette. “Eat your dinner. There are millions of starving children in China who would love to have that food.”

Getting my kids to eat is hard. They would almost

gladly give their food to starving children anywhere, although I think the standard of living is better these days in China than they were when I was a kid. Maybe North Korea is a better substitute.

“As long as you’re living under my roof you’ll live by my rules!” This is a good one. Make the kid think they’ll be homeless if they don’t follow the rules. As I kid I usually followed the rules, so that one didn’t get used on me much, if at all.

But seeing how teenagers are sometimes, I can see where it might have been useful.

Today there are kids who actually sue their parents so they can be emancipated and therefore don’t have to follow their parents’ rules. It was nice of the system to create that little factor for all the parents who are just trying to raise good kids.

Of course, when you think about it, the system has pretty much taken the teeth out of all these old sayings. Now I know what mom and dad meant when they said “What I wouldn’t give for the good old days!”

Or maybe it was “Spare the rod and spoil the child”?

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