It's easy for a mom to say things without really hearing what she's saying. Please be aware of your thoughts as often as you can be,
and don't say things to your children that are spoken without real consideration. For example:
Left to his own devices...
This idiom is old and often precedes an insult. It's a recommendation for control. If someone has failed to manage and control another person, thereby "leaving him to his own devices," something vaguely evil or irritating will happen (it seems).
Fussing and Fighting
-=-My boys fuss and fight about playing video games,-=-
The phrase "fuss and fight" has probably been handed down for generations in your family. It's not the sort of heirloom to keep and use.
At each others' throats
-=-The last couple of weeks they have been at each other's throats.-=-
Probably neither even touched the other child's throat.
"The world doesn't revolve around you."
If I had a penny for every time heard "the world doesn't revolve around you" from both of my parents, I would be an independently rich woman. —Dina M.
"got the gimmes"
...as in "when the kids got the gimmes" [the parents prohibited their watching commercial TV]
When children's needs are filled and they feel love and abundance, they are less likely to "get the gimmes." Using that sort of put-down AND punishing them in addition to that, is not good partnering nor good relationship building.
"My mother brought us up with the parenting motto (loudly and regularly stated) that 'if you give them an inch they take a mile.' ...[W]e kids rarely asked for things but she would still triumphantly point at another whining child as 'proof' that her methods were correct." —Alison/almadoing
"not cater to his every whim...
no matter how much I cater to my toddler's every whim (or at least attempt to), she's still going to throw fits, right? (see "to throw fits" here)
" I am available plenty for my kids but cannot be at their beck and call." (facebook, unschooling page, 8/9/11) That's a negative way to see kids' needs, or their desire to be parented. "Beck and call" is a VERY old phrase, and has to do with servants, who were expected to be close enough for someone to beckon them over. But that phrase has only existed as part of a rejection, a put-down, for at least 100 years.
Parents SHOULD be at a child's beck and call, probably, especially when the children are younger. The difference between attachment parenting and "cry it out" methods is that attachment parents know as soon as the child needs something, and cry-it-out parents hear the call, but choose not to respond.
"I'm not a short order cook."
"That will spoil your appetite."
Ren says "The point of eating is to spoil your appetite."
I think what people meant, at one time, is "if you eat now, you won't be so hungry at mealtime that we can train you with food, like a dog. If you're not hungry, we can't threaten to withhold the rest of your dinner if you won't hold your fork right, or sit still, or chew the way we tell you to. If you eat when you want to, we aren't controlling your bodily functions as we would like to." Now people might speak the phrase without thinking all those meanings, but there is something in the statement "it will spoil your appetite" that makes "appetite" more important than the child.
"I'm not your slave."
Someone wrote:Related phrases:Unschooling doesn't mean that you are a slave to your children.Deb Lewis responded:One thing I've seen really help people move in the direction of unschooling is a deliberate and thoughtful change in the way they think about and talk about their children.
"I'm not your servant."
"Who do you think you are?"
and value of service.
"They simply expect to have everything handed to them on a silver platter..."
(letter to Joyce Fetteroll, to which she responded at the bottom of this linked page).
Joyce, to someone who said her son was Lazy.
In the past my kids have tended to expect to be waited on hand and foot.
If you use phrases like "to be waited on hand and foot," you're quoting other people. That usually means the other person's voice is in your head, shaming you. Or it means you've adopted some anti-kid attitudes without really examining them. If you're having a feeling, translate it into your own words. It's a little freaky how people can channel their parents and grandparents by going on automatic and letting those archaic phrases flow through us. Anything you haven't personally examined in the light of your current beliefs shouldn't be uttered, in my opinion. Anything I can't say in my own words hasn't really been internalized by me. As long as I'm simply quoting others, I can bypass conscious, careful thought.
"If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
If moms aren't happy helping their children find happiness, there isn't going to BE any happiness. Discussion and links are here.
"All things in moderation."
Leah Rose wrote:
I've been thinking about that saying "All things in moderation." Next time someone says it to me, I think I might just ask them: "Do you mean we should have joy in moderation? Should we have peace in moderation? Kindness in moderation? Patience in moderation? Forgiveness? Compassion? Humility?"
This was written of one-year-olds in high chairs:
"They are manipulative by nature and we need to teach them we are not their puppet."
Not a face-to-face put-down, but an attitude of antagonism and resentment. And a sad atmosphere for that poor sweet child who is about to learn that his mother isn't very nice, nor very aware of child development.
Throwing a fit
no matter how much I cater to my toddler's every whim (or at least attempt to), she's still going to throw fits, right?
"Throw"? Throw a what where? "A fit"? Meaning what? (radical unschooling info, May 30, 2013)
"...until they start bouncing off the walls and are hyped up"
You know what causes that, right? (Well, quoting critical relatives, mostly.)
SUGAR. (So say parents; studies show parents are wrong.)
Mostly, children SHOULD be active and exuberant, but if a parent can criticize them for it AND punish/limit them by withholding sugar, the parents feel like "good parents," and when the children are sadder, and calm down, parents see that as proof of the "cause." But a dozen studies now have shown it to be false. Yet commercials, and schools, and parents continue to *insist* that children must be deprived or else they will get hyped up and bounce off the walls. Myths Too Many Parents Believe
TV, its critics say, will case a child to turn into a zombie.
So does reading a book—they sit just staring. So does going to a concert, if they're polite concertgoers. So does attending a play—if they know how to go to a play, they will sit there for two hours with only one break, staring at the lit-up stage, not moving. Maybe laughing when appropriate, but going right back to that stony stare. Movie theater, same thing. Nobody says "I'm not taking him to the movies anymore; he sits there like a zombie."
"taking the easy way out"
When do we be more direct? When do we wait it out? I may be taking the easy way out by just waiting until my son is older, but creating a potential conflict that could threaten all the good things doesn’t seem like a risk I want to take.I responded:
TAKE THE EASY WAY!!!
My grandmother (granny/maternal) had another one. A rhyming phrase meaning "serves you right":
"I want my children to finish what they start."
People Do say that without thinking of all the horrible, harmful things they don't want their children to finish. more on finishing what we start
Sometimes a mom says she's not going to resort to bribery.
It's not her phrase. It means kids should do what they're told (or asked) without any promises, reward, or negotiation.
How do places of business get people to go to work without "bribery"?
Mentioned on that same page:
"We've talked to him until we are blue in the face ..."
When you use a phrase that was used to you, or about you, or by older relatives, that shows that you're feeling embarrassed in a deep place in you, OR that you're not really thinking with your own mind about your own child.
Because "until we are blue in the face" is an idiom, and not a recent or current one, it's coming from one of the voices in your head, from your super-ego (kind of your unconscious conscience).
I am at my wits end.
Whose wits? Why do they end?
Using an idiom like that is not real thought nor real communication, usually. It's reciting something that an older relative said. It's shorthand for something. It's not thoughtful, it's reactionary and dismissive.
An idiom is a lump of words stuck together by repetition.
"I'm at my ____ end," or "I'm at my wits _____" or "I'm ___ my wits end"? No, it's a lump, an idiom, a recitation.
Taking out the calcified phrases inherited from exasperated, cranky older (usually female) relatives will leave more peace and more space for REAL thought and communication.
In a discussion about whether a mom was doing enough, someone posted:
You'll never be able to do enough.
I've brought some of my response from that day:
If a statement is not going to help someone understand unschooling better, don't post it. If a statement is something that came from others, vaguely, someone, elsewhere, in the past, and is not from the unschooling knowledge and experience of the person writing, it's not a good thing to post here.
...down their throats
As with "at each others' throats" above, no one literally crammed, forced or shoved anything down anyone else's throat. [Nor pushed, nor shovelled (I liked "shovelled").] Careful thought and speech lead to careful action. Careful speech leads to careful thought, too.
If you want to hear the following lists read by Sandra and Ren in careful imitation of the tone of voice in which they were delivered, you can hear it online at the bottom of this page: http://sandradodd.com/rentalk
Ren Allen and I did a talk at the Live and Learn Conference in St. Louis in 2005, and these are some of the things we quoted that were painful childhood memories:
PUT that down right now.Ren's:
You've got so much potential, you're just not living up to it.
Most of the phrases above are over 100 years old, but even new "truisms" can keep parents from being compassionate and from seeing their children directly.
Once someone posted on a list I was on that "raising a teenager is like nailing jello to a tree." I report the outcome of that here.
12 Old Words that Survived by Getting Fossilized in Idioms