Humor Parenting

16 Parent Phrases Decoded

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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As parents, we have a vernacular all our own — things we tell our children, which we either A.) Say because we don’t know what else to do, B.) Don’t really mean but think sounds good anyway, or C.) Really, really swear to God we’re gonna do if they keep it up for one.more.second.

Here is some of that parent talk decoded:

Because I said so.


1.) Because I said you had to do that thing or not do that other thing and I’m not really sure why I said it but I’m committed now so do what I say so we can all move on to more pleasant things.

2.) I don’t really have an answer to your questions about why, but it sounds good to me anyway.

3.) Because I said so. And I’m the boss.



1.) Not gonna happen.

2.) I haven’t decided if I feel like it yet. I’ll get back to you on that.

Do it or else.


1.) I’m really, really upset about your behavior right now, and I don’t know what I’ll do if you don’t cooperate, but it’ll be bad. Maybe. Or maybe not.  I don’t know yet.

2.) You have pushed me to the edge of sanity. I’m so angry, just thinking about what I might do is prison worthy.

You have to the count of 3.


Derivative of Do it or else. See above.

You’ll be sorry.

Derivative of Do it or else and You have to the count of 3. See above.

You’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’.


Derivative of Do it or else and You have to the count of 3 and You’ll be sorry. See above.

If you think that, you’ve got another thing coming.


You be trippin’.

What did I tell you about that?


1.) I can’t remember what I told you about that but I’m sure it was poignant and I don’t want to contradict myself so I’m going to say this all stern like and hope you’ll repeat back to me what I said originally so I can file it away for later.

2.) If I have to repeat what I said about that One.More.Time, you’ll be sorry. (Also see above.)

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Do you want me to _____ (spank your butt/take away that toy/revoke your driving privileges/etc.)?


This sounds like a lot of work on my part, but it also sounds like something you wouldn’t enjoy, so I’m going to ask you this in the hopes that the mere threat will make you change your behavior so I can just keep my ass in this here chair without actually having to take action.

Go ask your mother/father.


1.) Ooh. That one’s a toughie. I don’t really want to make the wrong call here, so I’m gonna just pass the buck instead.

2.) I’m busy doing something else here and don’t have time to seriously consider your request.

3.) Buzz off.

If you’re really good, you can _____ (have an ice cream cone/stay up late/spend the night at a friend’s/etc.).


1.) I’m at the end of my rope and have run out of ways to keep you in check. Please, please, please just behave and give me a reprieve here.

2.) I fully recognize bribery is bad parenting. I don’t give a fuck, either. I’d give you a million bucks and a pony to keep you outta my friggin hair if I could.

If you don’t _____ (brush your teeth/comb your hair/clean your room/etc.), _____ (they will all rot and fall out/rats will build a nest in there/raccoons will take up residence in your closet/etc.).


I really want you to do this thing here, but the actual consequences of not doing it sound kinda boring, so I’ve hyperbolized them enough to make you actually believe the earth will implode if you don’t do this thing, effectively motivating you to choose doing this thing over imminent death. And I also don’t care that you’ll believe these consequences are true until you’re 21, either.

If you don’t quit, I’ll turn this car right around.


No, I won’t. Not a chance. I just want you to stop whatever annoying thing it is you’re doing. Now.

Money doesn’t grow on trees.


1.) In case you haven’t noticed, we be broke.

2.) You’re just going to break it on the way home anyway.

3.) I’d rather spend my money on beer.

Just a minute.


1.) I’m not really listening to your beckoning or requests, so I’m going to say this thing here to buy myself more time to ignore you.

2.) I’m not really sure what my answer to your question is, so maybe if I stall, it’ll come to me or you’ll forget about it all.

You’re in time out.


1.) Your behavior is so insufferable right now, it’s really me who needs some time away from you.

2.) I’m out of ideas, and this seems like the punishment du jour.

3.) I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, and your incessant screaming/crying/flailing is making this shit SUPER difficult on me, m’kay? So I’m gonna need you to go scream/cry/flail over there while I figure out my next move. Or not. I’m tired.

What other parent talk needs decoding?