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5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kid

Updated on December 11, 2017
Meisjunk profile image

Jennifer is a writer, editor, feminist, and Potterhead. She also loves her cat and studying cat behavior.


We get it. Parenting is hard. The hardest. You will forever find new trials where advice fails you. Where you're searching deep inside you for the right answer. And sometimes you don't get there, and you have to then deal with the possibility that you've made a mistake.

And we get that! But from adults not yet parents, we agree that THESE are things that should never come out of your mouth.

Parenting... | Source

1. "I Don't Care."

Trust me, your children listen. They won't believe you had it harder yet all the while being safer than them when you were their age. They won't believe you know best. But! This will be the first (maybe even the ONLY) thing they believe if it comes out of your mouth.

Then you'll be facing the fact that they may not accept your apology. They may never believe that you care ever again.

And then they will stop talking to you about EVERYTHING, from how they feel at the moment to why the socks are in the middle of the floor to what matters most to them in their lives.

Just don't say it.


#2. "I Know What's Best For You."

--or any variation of the phrase. If you feel the need to say it, just stop. Chances are, they are trying to tell you what they feel is best for them RIGHT NOW, and you are talking over them.

It is your job as a parent to listen as equally as you give advice and guidance, not your child's job to just do as they're told.

Listening--and ONLY listening--will enable you to guide in a way your child reaches for rather than pushes away. And let's be honest, you think you know what's best (and chances are you do!), but you could still learn something, and in the process you could reach your kid that much easier. Listen.

Let me know! =)

How many of these did YOUR parents say to you?

See results

#3. "Because I Said So."

You know who sets rules without looking up what rules the society might need? Without listening to what the society might want? Imperial rulers.

These are the rulers who think everyone has a place, and nobody can do anything other than what is assigned to their place, and every place is below them and inconsequential anyway.

You don't want to be that "it doesn't matter to them anyway" parent, do you? Good. So when your kid asks why about something, answer thoughtfully. Let them know if you need more time to give them a good answer. Be honest if you've just never thought about it before!

Another thing you can do is ask for feedback. This is so important in your child learning/knowing that you care about them, what they think, and about how well they are doing.

Who knows? You may even learn a new way of doing something, or learn about an idea that's been running around your kid's head.

And if not, then at the very least, they know and understand that you're willing to take the time for them.


#4. "While You Are Under My Roof."

This is an ultimatum. To anyone, that deserves an "I'm getting out of here!" thought. Because at the end of every ultimatum, there is an "or else." What are the consequences? Probably worse for your kid than you think, whether you have it planned or not.

This is also just another way of saying, "I'm not listening to you. I'm keeping how it was because that's easiest and I'm not willing to learn."

Would you ever be okay with someone speaking to you that way? Of course not. It's designed to make you feel like a crunchy beetle on the bottom of someone's boot. Please don't do this to your kid.

If you're so against what they want, try to figure out why you're so against it, and then talk to them about why they want it so bad. Chances are, they're old enough to explain back, and then you're both closer to coming to a middle ground, or at the very least understanding each other.

Mandy pointing at me in an angry way! (She was only pretending though).
Mandy pointing at me in an angry way! (She was only pretending though). | Source

#5. "I'm busy; let's talk about this later."

This isn't a "never" say, but more an "only say if" phrase. There are two instances you would want to let yourself say this, and only two:

  1. You're extremely angry and want to calm down first so as to handle the situation appropriately, sans anger-influenced words.
  2. You mean it when you say you'll talk about it later. This is a promise, whether you want to think of it that way or not. The kid sees this as a promise. Don't break it.

If you say this phrase because you just don't want to listen at the moment, your child will realize this. If you never make the time to keep this promise to talk about it, you'll lose their trust about EVER dealing with a situation. Worse, they'll see you as one who avoids EVERYTHING! (We all know we hyperbolized our existences as teens.)

Make the time.

R U Listening Presents: How To Listen To Your Teenager

It's Clear! A Summary

The signs are clear: just listen to your kids! We know that it will take more than this. And each kid wants a different thing heard, and each kid decides whether they say something straight out or if they are hesitant and beat around the bush.

But they want to talk! They want you to listen!

  1. Take the time you need with your kid.
  2. LISTEN to your kid.
  3. Avoid ultimatums.
  4. LISTEN.

Keep with these basics, and I think you'll be surprised how much more they'll be willing to come to you.

© 2014 Jennifer Kessner


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    • Marcy Bialeschki profile image

      Marcy Bialeschki 

      4 months ago from Cerro Gordo, IL

      Very insightful...and so true. I am a school counselor and the things I hear coming from parents' mouths are shocking. I love how you bring these transgressions to light. And yes, parenting is hard, but it also a commitment you have to honor. Well done!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      A beautiful look at everyday humanity, so very colourfully outlined and softly stated. Love that person in your life is what you have really said, and it strikes at the heart of nations. Loved the read and the pen writing it, voted up, up and more up!!!!

    • The Ghostwriter profile image

      Peter Yexley 

      5 years ago from UK

      The irony is that my parents said most of these to me!

    • Sadi Ranson profile image

      Sadi Ranson/Sarah Ranson 

      5 years ago from America

      There is so much that parents ought not say to a child, I don't know where to begin, but you made a great start and I applaud you for taking the first step and giving solid, practical advice to parents and guardians. Thanks for this...

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 

      5 years ago

      Thank you for a great hub. I agree with you and have voted it up.

    • savvydating profile image


      5 years ago

      Long sory short, if you don't respect your children, they're not going to respect you--and one day they'll be teenagers, and it won't be pretty. I wish more prents understood this simple truth about respectfulness. That being said, I did use the "Because I said so" approach once in a rare blue moon. Well, in my defense I didn't use it habitually. (Lol)

      Voting up & useful.

    • bigj1969 profile image

      John Marshall 

      5 years ago from glasgow

      Hi great hub.all very true,I have five girls and I'm still making mistakes.deep down kids know we love them,even if we don't always show it.

    • Hezekiah profile image


      5 years ago from Japan

      They do tend to have a negative effects, however some of these things you tend to say out of anger and not really mean it.

      Nice article though.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a bit ironic.

      Someone who is what, 18? Not yet a parent giving parental advice.

      While I do see the "common sense" factor in most of the statements it is also based of assumptions, exceptions and personal opinions.

      While this would not trouble me at all if it was not exclaimed as "5 things parents should never" whilst still giving way to exceptions to these "facts".

      You have already touched upon the problem itself.

      Never is truth this general and final as children are not, they are unique.

      And claiming you know the outcome, when clearly you do not, just comes of as ignorant.

      If you want to grow as a writer please base your writing on facts with sources.

      When basing it of you own personal opinion just be honest about it.

      Do not play pretend, that is for children and games, not potentially aspiring writers of what is claiming to be a factual article.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You forgot 'you were an accident'

    • Cofee Mommy profile image

      Natalia M Aeschliman 

      5 years ago

      This is so true! As a parent myself, I agree with all of these. Very well written!!

    • Brendan Spaar profile image

      Brendan Spaar 

      5 years ago from Alpharetta, GA

      My mother always hated when she was growing up being told #3, Because I Said So. My sister & I never wanted to hear her say "Maybe". We always said maybe means no.

    • missmarsh profile image

      Loralie Lyndon 

      5 years ago from USA

      I actually agree to all these and unfortunately...I have said a few. As a parent to 2 school age children (amazingly wonderful kiddos I might add!) I'm definitely guilty of saying one or two of these a time or so. Great advice! Take the time to listen to children. It will make a world of difference in how they feel and how they react to others in life. Wonderful job! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Bishop55 profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I think this is a great hub. Agree 100% about time and listening. Only thing I can't agree on is the "under my roof thing" sorry, it is my roof, and when they have their own they can run it how they want. No one will run my house except me and my husband. And it's ok if the kids don't like it. The goal is to get them independent. I want them to always know they have a "home" but that doesn't change the rules. And I don't want my son living with me when he's 40. I want him to be independent, hopefully married and having the life he wants. :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Excellent hub - you can never start too early deciding what kind of parent you want to be and acting on it! Congrats on Hub of the Day, and Voted Up!

    • bluebird profile image


      5 years ago

      Appreciate this hub very much and glad it got Hub of the Day. Congrats on a good subject and a job well done!

    • Craan profile image

      Sheila Craan 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Listening to your children is the most important trait to be an effective parent! You must demonstrate you care about what your children care about. And make sure they feel the love, love, and the more love you have for them in their individual hearts.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      5 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I'd add "shut up" to this list. It's a declaration of "I don't care" and "your voice is meaningless" plus perhaps a bit of "you're not quite a person" thrown in. My own mom always said "be quiet please," exactly like she saw us as people and treated us as she liked to be treated. And she got that quiet immediately and whenever she asked because we knew she didn't say it without reason or to be mean. We knew that about everything she asked of us.

      I've discovered that even small children will behave well if you explain why what they are doing is harmful or hurtful in terms they can understand. They don't want to be thought of as careless, nasty little jerks any more than any other people do. They don't like hurting and upsetting people unless there's something seriously wrong going on with them.

      Yelling and stubbornly refusing to explain why just makes you seem like a nasty, frightening, and unpredictable person your child can't understand or trust.

      Making your child terrified of you might get you instant obedience but it will make them more likely to flee their home as teens and less likely to care for you without resentment when you get old.

      Any behavior that requires another person to be helpless and unable to be heard to sustain it is something you're getting away with, not something you are succeeding at.

    • Jacquelyn fuller profile image

      Jacquelyn fuller 

      5 years ago from Woonsocket, Rhode Island

      really enjoyed this although i am not a parent i can use this to encourage my niecesand nephews...

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on HOTD! Great list! I had my parents only use a couple of these on me, and the most infuriating was "Because I said so!" I vowed to never say that to my kids, and I never did.

      The down side of that, however, was that with my youngest, my attempts to explain the "whys" resulted in frequent head-butting sessions, because she would argue every point, determined to have the last word, and I, as the parent, was equally determined to have the last word.

      I never said, "I don't care," but when they would balk at doing as they were told, I would say, "I didn't ask if you wanted to; I told you to! Now go clean your room, now!" (For example.)

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • tiagodamiao profile image

      Tiago Damião 

      5 years ago from Torres Novas

      Well I don't have kids, but let me tell that I went through some things that say there. That's the reason why I want to be a different father.

      But my parents are not bad parents, simply they said things that should not have said .

    • Meisjunk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Kessner 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @georgescifo: Thanks! That was exactly my goal. I would love for all parents to think about what they say to their kids and the impacts those things have, especially if the reason you're saying them is to ignore them or blow them off. Again, thanks!

      @gmwilliams: I've always found authoritarian ways of parenting super stifling and guilt-ridden. The poor kids don't know what they're allowed to do and therefore do nothing, or they rebel to extremes with results such as someone getting hurt physically because of rash decisions, or just the feeling of alienation because of making poor decisions. I truly believe that showing your children respect, and that by letting them know their thoughts and words are valid, then and only then will your children understand how much they can rely on you and trust you. Thanks so much for your comment!

      @aesta1: When I was talking to my own mother about this article, she said the same thing! I think it's normal to learn with trial and error, and I truly hope that in the future parenting classes are seen as a social necessity. Thanks so much for your comment!

      @PegCole17: My mother said she vowed the same thing! It amazes me how much we feel oppressed and then do that same thing to our children. This is another reason why I hope that parenting classes are seen as a societal necessity in the future. While we have it ingrained in us what our parents did, we can still learn better ways. Thanks so much for the comment! I hope that all new parents can see eye openers of the difficulties of parenting and still be able to move past just doing the same as their own parents.

      @Colorfulone: That's so great! I'm happy and glad that you have that kind of relationship with your kids. That's the same I have with my mother. =) Thanks for the comment!

      @Susan Deppner: It makes me sad too, and honestly extremely uncomfortable. To abuse your kids in such ways and to get away with it in public only makes me wonder how awful that person is to their kids in private! Thanks so much for the comment; I agree that positive reinforcement and reminders are better ideas.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Such good and important advice! What makes me very sad and angry is parents who are mean to their children in public. I know it can be frustrating to shop with children in tow, but to me there is never a reason to be simply mean and hateful to your kids; berating them in public is just horrible but I see it often. Setting rules in advance for behavior while shopping then gently reminding them when necessary works so much better. Congratulations on Hub of the Day honors today!

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      5 years ago from Minnesota

      Listening and talking are the best tools we have as parents, and in any relationship for the most part. When my kids were young and at home, I said what I meant, and meant what I said, and they knew they could trust that in me. But, you know what, I can trust what they say as adults, because they do mean it.

    • Meisjunk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Kessner 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @techygran: That breaks my heart, too! To feel alienated by your family hurts. Thanks for that comment. You put it into words I didn't have!

      @MySuccess8: I agree! Listening isn't something we're taught anymore, unfortunately. I also feel that it's a skill we need to work on. Thanks for the comment, and thanks for the congrats! =D

      @PinoyMom: I agree that listening should go both ways! It's especially important for the parent since they're the adult and the care provider. Thanks for the comment! =D

      @Cloverleaffarm: It sounds like your kids knew you would listen to them! That is the base of this article. Saying any of these just to blow off your kids rather than listening to them could make them feel ignored, and that might alienate them as well. If they've grown, and you have a good relationship with them, it's because they understood you were there for them, and that I am happy about. Thanks for the comment! No need to say sorry. ;)

      @Harishprasad: Here, here! Thank you so much for your comment. Parenting should be seen as the next step in a learning process, and it shouldn't be started when you learn of the pregnancy or, god forbid, when the baby arrives! I wish the parenting centers were a social necessity. The opportunities for parents would grow in abundance, and hopefully our future generations would be much better off. Again, thanks!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Adults not yet parents? Give it time. I'm reminded of my vows when I first left the nest where "not under my roof" prevailed. I was determined NEVER to punish my children as I had been, not to rule and require discipline like I experienced. Not to be "too busy" for the constant demands (not needs) for attention, whether for good attention or if behavior changed to require negative attention - destructive behavior and the like. Then I had a child to guide and raise and teach. It was eye opening.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Talking over them. I see myself doing all these. I think many times, it is our own fear that makes us do these things to our kids. Our success depends on how well they turn out based on social expectations rather than their own growth process so listening to them is second to listening to what others say about them or might say about them. Congrats on HOTD.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Congratulations for being selected HOTD. This article should be required reading for every parent and prospective parent. The true purpose of parenthood is for parents to see their children as individuals, nurturing, encouraging, enlightening, and respecting their unique attributes/talents. However, many parents fail to see this, viewing and treating their children as extensions of them.

      Many parents quite immaturely perceive their role as gamesmanship and upmanship. It is not unusual for parents to bully their children in order to establish the former's primacy in the household. Parenthood as it is to many parent is the unadulterated exercise of POWER over their children instead of exhibiting LOVE/CARE towards their children. Many parents abuse their children in one way or another but it is not called abuse but "parenting".

    • georgescifo profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Really thought provoking hub and useful for all the parents who want to nurture their children in the best ways. I also loved reading the hub and would implement these into my parenting skills...

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      5 years ago from New Delhi , India

      Meisjunk, first of all, congrats on HOTD, this hub rightly deserves so, and it must be read by all parents and would be parents. Out of five things, number One, three and four are such that adherence of such kind of attitude by parents makes a family life always disturbed and stifled.

      There are many training centers for so many disciplines but parenting is such an arena that no full-fledged training is imparted for honing the skills of "parenthood ".

      We all learn from our parents who had learnt from theirs and this goes on. It is high time that people realized that parenting is an art/skill that comes after a proper training of the mind and practicing of some values.

      Dear friend, you have penned a great hub that must be read by billions of people. This is such an important matter. Voted up and shared.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 

      5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Sorry, but "while they were under my roof", the rules were mine to make, and most of the time it "was because I knew what was best for them". They did things not only "because I said so", but because they respected me and my wisdom of life. They knew I wanted only what was best for them. There were many times that "I was too busy", and there is nothing wrong with being honest about it. If it is something that can wait, it waited. If not, they always knew I was there for them.

      They now choose the rules for their children, which I follow "while under their roof", "because they said so". I know that they "know what is best for their child".

    • PinoyMom profile image

      Shiela Gerona 

      5 years ago from Philippines

      Miscommunication is the result of not listening to other party - this also applies to parent-kids relationship. Effective listening is the key to a healthy relationship. Voted up.

    • mySuccess8 profile image


      5 years ago

      The art of effective listening is one important skill everyone should develop and improve at work, at home or anywhere else. At home, this is also especially vital when we want to groom our kids for success. You have successfully highlighted the top parental pitfalls we should avoid when communicating with our kids. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Excellent advice to parents-- building a relationship on mutual respect! I like your impactful header image... it reminds me that a lot of what we get in a twist about is really just "First World Issues" and not really very important, certainly not worth having a breakdown in communication with your child over. I read recently that saying "Not while you are in my house" is heard as "You are not part of this family-- this is MY house and you are just a guest." It breaks my heart when I think of parents talking to their children like this. Thanks and congratulations on HOTD for this well-written piece!

    • Meisjunk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Kessner 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you for the comment! That is a smart pastor. I hope your current relationship with your children is a great one! =)

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Excellent! I wish I had not said most of these things when my children were growing up. Dr. Tony Evans, a prominent pastor in Dallas and prolific writer just wrote a book called Kingdom Kinds. I Have not read it but heard his sermon series on it. He made on comment that struck me really hard: "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion." I pass this on to there parents. I can't go back and re-parent my kids, but I can pass on what I've learned since then.

    • Meisjunk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Kessner 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @FlourishAnyway: Being in a rush is really so harmful. I'm guilty of it; we all are. But 30 seconds! May not seem like a lot. But it counts. Listen! Thanks for the comment. =)

      @MarkTulin: Thank you! Those are also good examples. Being able to compliment your kids on whatever they're doing shows you're paying attention! Thanks so much for commenting; I hope you enjoy everything else as much! =)

    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 

      5 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Liked you list and your rationale for each one. I also thought about, "You're so smart, " or "you're so beautiful." They just might believe it. Thanks

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      listening is so important. These days we seem to place so much importance on getting your message across, saying it louder, etc. But nobody wants to stop and process what another is saying.


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