Three Fabulously Flawed Phrases….and How to Avoid Them

Let’s admit it, as parents we have a tendency to say things to our kids out of frustration, anger or habit that we shouldn’t. In this blog post I’d like to focus on what I call “flawed phrases” because in addition to being hurtful to our kids, they aren’t accurate; they are flawed from the get-go!

“Why Can’t You….?”

“Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

“Why can’t you figure this out on your own?”

“Why can’t you focus like the other kids on the team?”


“You Never….”

“You never do your chores properly.”

“You never listen to instructions.”

“You never treat your little brother well.”


“You Always…”

“You always leave a mess.”

“You always run late.”

“You always make excuses.”


Why are these phrases flawed? Lots of reasons….here are three:

-They aren’t true. Almost nobody “Always” or “Never” does anything!

-They compare and condemn.

-They tear down rather than build up.


How to avoid the habit of flawed phrases:

First, ask God to help! Scripture has a LOT to say about the words we use, and God’s wisdom about our choice of words is especially profound for parents. The words from the lips of a parent are incredibly impactful and have a lasting impact. Do a study on the various passages in scripture dealing with what comes out of our mouth and run it through the filter of “what is this passage saying to me as a parent?” Need help getting started? Here are two great verses:

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.” – Proverbs 18:4

Second, practice the art of the pause. When you find yourself in the middle of a heated conversation, or you are frustrated or angry….hit pause before proceeding! Take a beat. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it! I know you don’t want to say something hurtful, condemning or untrue to your child but when we are in the heat of the moment things get said that normally wouldn’t had we simply taken a second or two to pause before proceeding!

Parenting is tough. And one of the toughest parts about it is taming our tongues. When you get it wrong, it’s okay to circle back around with your child and apologize for saying something you shouldn’t. In fact, “I’m Sorry” might be two of the most powerful words a parent can say.