Parental Language, Decoded


Parental Language, Decoded

We do so much for our kids because we love them to bits. We dive under them at playgrounds, let them dress us like gaudy princess bunnies while we crouch in makeshift forts, and tell them all day long how smart, funny, handsome, insightful, beautiful and awesome they are.

And, then there are the times when we’re at our wit’s end and have things we want to say, but can’t do so directly. So we say something completely different to what we’re really thinking. Something exponentially kinder than what’s dancing at the tip of our tongues.

Like these…

We Say: “We’ll see.” … We Mean: “Not likely, so quit asking.”

We Say: “No, we’re not there yet.” … We Mean: “Ask again and we’ll arrive with you tied to the roof racks.”

We Say: “Wanna play with my iPhone?” … We Mean: “If I give this to you, will you let me drink my coffee in peace?”

We Say: “Mm-hmm.” (With eye contact) … We Mean: “How long must I nod for you to go away?”

We Say:  “Mm-hmm.” (Without eye contact) … We Mean: “I’m so not listening to you.”

We Say: “Wow, really?” … We Mean: “I have no friggin’ clue what you just said.”

We Say: “Are you sure about that?” … We Mean: “You are wrong or delusional. Rethink whatever you just said or did.”

We Say:  (Silent, blatant ignoring) … We Mean: “I’m trying not to yell at you. For your own sake, stop speaking and walk away.”

We Say:  “Go ask Mommy/Daddy.” … We Mean: “Go bother somebody else.”


  1. 1

    Anna @ My Life and Kids says

    I just used this one:

    “Mm-hmm.” (Without eye contact)

    While taking the time to read this post. LOVE IT – and so so true! :)

  2. 7

    monica says

    i just used the blatant ignore. my kid got detention again and he is trying to convince me that he didn’t laugh at the teacher when she told him to stop talking. i may beat him yet today lol

    • 8

      Kim at Let Me Start By Saying says

      The blatant ignore should come with some sort of flashing warning light for our kids. Seriously.

    • 10

      Keisha says

      Mine have! After the traditional “we’ll see”, one of them says, “That means no”, followed by “so, can I?” REALLY?!? I just say “I answered you.” and ignore them when they continue.. :)

    • 11

      Kim at Let Me Start By Saying says

      My daughter’s friend told her & her brother in the car once “When your mom says “we’ll see” it means “no.” I know that because that’s what MY mom means when SHE says it”
      Smart kid.

  3. 12

    Melissa says

    I really need to start using “Wow, Really?” instead of “Oh, that’s great” when I have no idea what they said. Sometimes they tell me things like “My brother just hit me.”

  4. 14

    Mom22Tweens says

    “Sweetieface” = “You are really bugging the $%^# out of me right now, but I’m too good a parent to lose my temper over it… for now.”

  5. 16

    Jen says

    “we’ll see” and the “mhmm” without eye contact get used a lot here, but right now a great one for me is “Once i get your baby brother settled in and get done everything i need to, then we can….” lol they’ve learned that there is no such thing as everything is done, when i start listing everything i need to do they just walk away!

  6. 18

    Meredith says

    Yes, yes, yes! To all of the above. Crap, I hope they don’t figure out what I really mean when I say all of these things. Especially with the iPhone b/c I really need my coffee!

    • 19

      Kim at Let Me Start By Saying says

      The iPhone one is stellar, and pretty much will always work EVEN if they figure out our game!

    • 21

      Kim at Let Me Start By Saying says

      Yes! My 5yo has had this alien-chicken voice for years (she was a early talker) and half the stuff she says sounds like it’s from another planet. We’ve Wow/Really’d her a gazillion times.

  7. 22

    Nicole(Whole Strides) says

    This is so true. Especially, “We’ll see.” My husband and I use “We’ll see,” all of the time. My kids should really have it figured out by now. But alas, no. Well, at least not the younger one.

  8. 24

    Denise says

    I use go ask daddy all the time, but then they come back to me because he is clueless. Then I usually resort to one of the other responses. You know now that I think about it, these responses are pretty true for husbands as well as kids.

  9. 26

    Kim says

    My kids definitely know that, “we’ll see” means “no”. While “are you sure about that” means, “you’d better rethink what you just said and/or did before I throttle you.”

  10. 28

    Kathy at kissing the frog says

    We’ll see is my go-to response. One time Hubby busted me by actually telling the boys, “That means ‘no’.”

  11. 30

    Garrisu says

    My favorite is “Not right now.” Translation–No and never. My feeble attempt at preventing a meltdown from a toddler that’s just heard No.

    My preferred response to “can I have another juice box (candy, cookie, etc)?”
    “I’m not offering that right now. How about water or milk?” Another way to say no, and again for the very same reason.

  12. 32

    murphy must have had kids says

    My own mom used “we’ll see” ALL the time. I swore I would never say it but I do, on a daily basis.

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