Sunday, January 17, 2010

The "Shut Up!" Post

The other day I was at the mall when I overheard a father tell his kid to "shut up!" The kid couldn't have been over 6. And yeah, he was a little chatty, but we were in line at Chick-Fil-A, who wouldn't be excited and chatty?

I was SHOCKED! What kind of father tells his kids to "shut up"! In public! I turned around and tried not to glare. His wife just stood there as if this kind of this happens all the time. I had to seriously bite my tongue.

Like the young, hot, technology-savvy, post-teenager that I am, I picked up my phone to tweet my frustration. My Twitter message said, "Just heard a father say shut up to his kid at the mall. I just about told him to shut up."

(<------ This one's for you Dad.) This normally wouldn't turn into a blog post, but my Twitter account updates my Facebook status, and I got an interesting comment from one of my "friends". She said, "Oh Lesli... wait til you have kids... it all changes. ;)" This could have multiple meanings, but at face value, I don't like the sound of it. If that's what's in store for me when I have kids. Count me out. I don't want to turn into some disrespectful monster! So I took a little poll to find out if other people think it's okay to say "shut up" to your kids. Here are some answers.

"No, but "shut your mouth" is."

"Nope. If you say it to them, they will say it back and that is BIG trouble! (but sometimes, I have to say shut your mouth too. They seem to take that more seriously. )"

"NO! Of course it isn't. There are so many other ways to communicate and exert authority without putting them down."

"Yes. But only if you tell them they're worthless and will never amount to anything at the same time."

"Under your breath, or between ground teeth - just as long as they don't hear you. It feels good sometimes...."

"Um, no. It's not ok. But look at spandex, and that just keeps happening over and over and over..."

"As a father, like others posting, I prefer to say shut up in more interesting ways, like put a cork in it, or shut your pie hole. The kids really respond to that sort of thing."

My sister put into perspective for me. She said, it's not okay to say "shut up" to your kids, but sometimes when it's your time of the month and you're hungry on fast Sunday, AND your kids are acting out, it can slip out. You just have to apologize and make sure your kids know that you made a mistake.

I cannot remember my parents EVER saying shut up to us kids growing up, even when I'm sure I said it to them as a disrespectful teenager. So thanks Mom and Dad! You were good examples.

I also don't think it's okay to say it to your spouse. But since I started my poll, Tom's found multiple occasions where the words "shut up" have been appopriate and hilarious. I guess there are exceptions to every rule.


  1. (from L.A.'s Dad) Just to explain the poster and her comment -- my "school bus driver name" to my passengers is "Mr. T" and the poster illustrates what the original Mr. T used to use in his TV episodes to silence someone he was 'dissing'. I never say it, and kids sometimes complain to me when other kids say it to them, which tells me that THEIR parents have also taught them that it's not a polite thing to say. Too bad all parents don't subscribe to that attitude.

  2. I really liked your rant! Keep em up! Oh, and I really like some of those alternatives like put a cork in it!

  3. Nice job. I really don't like that phrase. We also don't allow "stupid" or "hate" in our house. Or the kids tell on you.

  4. Hey Lesli... as the poster of the "wait til you have kids" reply, i feel obligated to weigh in here...its not that telling your kids to shut up is ok, it the understanding that you have when as a parent you hear another parent do something you cant fathom. It is great to have all these ideals on the kind of parent you will be, how you will discipline (or not) your kids, the values you will share with them, etc, etc. But then you have a family and at some point in time you realize all those ideals can be somewhat unrealistic and that NONE of us really know what we are doing, and no one is a perfect parent. And hence you develop sympathy for other moms and dads. So no, it is not that once you have a child you will feel it is ok to say shut up or that it wont still be jarring to hear a parent say it to thier child. What will change is the desire to tell that other parent to shut up. Instead you will most likely feel sympathy for both the parent and the child and issue a secert prayer in your heart that they will both start having a better day... and hope that when you goof up someone will be as sympathetic to you. Kristi

  5. That's what my sister tried to explain to me too. I guess sympathy is something I have to work on, as well as trying to be not so judgmental. Thanks for your comment. I love that you weighed in.

  6. Aaron and I have both caught ourselves saying shut up to Kate when she is screaming because we know she can't understand us...but that is a dangerous road! I agree that sometimes kids need to be told in a firm way to be "shut your mouth" works good for that because it sounds serious without the temptation to raise your voice. Sometimes I give Finn an "off" button that I push on his shoulder. He thinks being turned off like a machine is really funny and usually stays quiet for a while.