When You Open Your Mouth And Your Mother's Voice Comes Out

Illustration for article titled When You Open Your Mouth And Your Mother's Voice Comes Out

A few months ago, I came home to find my dog rolling around in a pile of garbage, celebrating his destruction with the dance moves of Templeton from Charlotte's Web. The first words out of my mouth were "For Cripessake!"


I swear, perhaps too often. My default frustration lines are typically "for fuck's sake" or "are you fucking serious?" And yet my first reaction to obvious bad behavior on the part of Garbage McWoof was to open my mouth and let one of my mother's favorite phrases come flying out. Apparently, it's a fairly common phenomenon. According to the Daily Mail, "eight out of ten of today's mothers admit they use the very same cliches to discipline their children that they had to endure from their own parents." Granted, I have a dog, not a child, but the phenomenon still applied. When it came to laying down the law, I went with one of Mom's old standbys, followed by another one of Mom's old standbys: "You're skatin' on thin ice, Mister!"

Kathryn Crawford of TheBabyWebsite.com tells the Daily Mail that mothers often revert to cliched sayings because we've seen them work before: "The funny thing is that many mums will insist they are nothing like their own mothers," she says, "But the reality is that we can't help but teach our children as our parents taught us, and that means using old sayings and routines which worked for our parents." Naturally, there are learned behaviors, and instantaneous reactions that one picks up during one's own childhood. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it. (After writing that sentence, my mother's voice popped into my head again to say, "Isn't. The word is Isn't. Don't say ain't. You weren't raised in a barn.")

According to Crawford's site, the Top 20 sayings passed on from parents to children include "Wait and see," "Because I said so," "I've told you a thousand times," and "That's for me to know and you to find out." "Cripes Almighty," isn't on the list, though it certainly makes my Top 20 Momisms. Feel free to add your own parental hand-me-downs in the comments.

Are We Turning Into Our Parents? [The Baby Website]
Because I Said So: Eight Out Of Ten Mothers Admit To Repeating The Old Adages Their Parents Used On Them [DailyMail]



It's not just the words, either.

I remember my mom saying that when she turned the key in the car ignition, she saw her own mother's hand doing it exactly the same way - along with all the other little car habits. Sudden stop: right arm thrust to the right to stop child from catapulting through windshield (from pre-seat belt days, natch). Etc.

Only remembered the whole conversation when my own kid got old enough to sit in the front seat and my right arm shot out at a sudden stop, even though the seat belt was there. And yes, my hand looks exactly the same when I turn the keys.