1. “The kid at the mall…”

Any statement that begins with this quickly tapers off into dangerous territory (who cares if the kid at the mall can name all fifty states while slurping a fresh-squeezed orange juice). 

We made a goal: stop comparing complete strangers to our own flesh and blood for sport, as if it’s motivating us to parent better. 

2. “I did it last time.” 

​You may have changed the last 20 diapers, but your son needs a new one. 

When you change it, don’t slam shut the diaper canister so he can hear you from downstairs. 

Sometimes luck of the draw means you’re standing there while he goes poo. 


And it’s your turn, again. 

But a dirty diaper, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t worth fighting all afternoon. 

Besides, my spouse likely changes 20 more diapers when I’m not keeping score. Closely related… #3. 

3. “I don’t think you know how hard I have been working.” 

True! Chances are I haven’t recognized all my spouse has done lately, and vice versa. 

In our family, both spouses are working very, very hard, and now that we’re in a place where we actually trust that, what we typically mean to say is, “I’m scared to ask for this, but I need help.” 

It takes courage to come out and ask for more help. 

But if we can learn to ask for it, so might our son. 

4. “You pick.” 

Loaded statement. 

Sometimes it means, “Honey Boo Boo, I’m tired and I would love for you to just pick where we should eat dinner on the way home from the hospital.” 

Other times it means, “I’m interested in what interests you – what movie did you want to rent?” 

Let’s be honest, sometimes it means, “I’m not going to say, but you better know me well enough to pick the restaurant I’m thinking of.” 

Say what you mean. 

Take the opportunity to build common ground and bridges. 

5. “That’s ########.” 

Never allowed in slang form. 


6. “I’m a Seattle Seahawks football fan.” 

My husband is a fan of American football and he hates the Seahawks. 

Sorry. I had to let him add one rule of his own to this list. 

7. Names other than a positive nickname or given name. 

I have to practice really hard at this. 

I come from a family where we rather easily assigned sassy, sarcastic names to each other. 

“You little twerp” or “What a brat!” 

After a while those names start to stick around a little too easily. 

We’ve decided our son has millions of other people in the world who could call him a name at any given moment. 

At home, he can count on us for only referring to who he is with a given name, out of respect and love. 

8. “I don’t want you to be angry.” 

Over the years, my husband has discovered everything can still be “ok” if I am angry. 

He can trust me to be responsible with my feelings, including anger. 

So if I need a little space to be angry, I can have it. 

I also carry the responsibility to be mature and healthy with my anger. 

Both of us have learned anger is ok.

And when our son gets older and can say he is angry, that’s ok, too. 

We’ll work through it. 

We’ll get there. 

We don’t have to be scared of the feeling. 

What phrases or words are ‘banned’ from your home?

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