The Real Meaning Behind 12 Popular Parenting Phrases

The Real Meaning Behind 12 Popular Parenting Phrases

Sometimes when we say one thing, we really mean another. Can you relate?


By Betsy Voreacos

Parents say the darnedest things! We have to. We’re constantly hedging our bets, covering our tracks, running interference, and trying, above all, just to keep the peace. Unfortunately, sometimes what comes out of our mouths doesn’t quite align with what we actually mean. Here are some popular parenting sayings, decoded.

What we say: I’m not fighting this battle.
What we mean: I give up.

What we say: We’ll see.
What we mean: Yes. (And they know it.)

What we say: Nobody likes a tattletale.
What we mean: Tell me more!

What we say: My son is so independent!
What we mean: My son is incorrigible.

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What we say: Because I said so.
What we mean: I have absolutely no good reason.

What we say: My daughter is a free spirit!
What we mean: She broke mine a long, long time ago.

What we say: Wait until your father gets home!
What we mean: I don’t have the energy to deal with this.

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What we say: It’s just growing pains.
What we mean: Don’t tell your teacher I sent you to school with a fever.

What we say: It’s for your own good.
What we mean: It’s for my own good.

What we say: I love how she expresses her own style!
What we mean: Are you kidding me? On picture day?

What we say: No electronics for a week.
What we mean: This won’t last a day.

What we say: You’re too young to be up past 10 p.m.
What we mean: I’m too tired to be up past 10 p.m.

What’s your favorite say-one-thing-and-mean-another parental phrase?


Betsy lives with her family a stone’s throw from New York City. An overly involved mother of three children, Betsy has always been acutely aware of her shortcomings as a parent, not to mention those of her children. She documents her life in the brutally honest Old Minivans Die Hard.

Image ©iStock.com/ByeByeTokyo


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