What Moms Say Versus What Kids Hear

Elizabeth Thompson

Parent-child communication can get complicated. If you’ve ever wondered what your kids hear when you speak, wonder no more. These 10 translations will serve as your handy-dandy guide to understanding what your kids aren’t understanding. Let’s break down the communication breakdown, shall we?

Moms say: “The answer is no.”

Kids hear: “You should ask me again 18 times.”

Moms say: “Please stop making that noise.”

Kids hear: “That is my favorite noise ever. I’d like to hear it 500 more times.”

Moms say: “I’m going to take a shower now.”

Kids hear: “This would be a fantastic time for you to crack open the bathroom door with your eyes squeezed shut and ask me life-or-death questions. If you time it right—and I hope you do—then I will have shampoo dripping into my eyes, and I won’t be able to hear you over the water. I will then experience the joy of poking my sudsy head out of the shower to answer your oh-so-crucial questions—questions like, ‘Why haven’t you sewn the button onto my blue shirt?’ or ‘Where is the sticker I got last summer when we visited Grandma in Florida?’ or ‘Can we please get a pet parakeet and name it Phyllis?’ ”

Moms say: “Time’s up! It’s time to turn off Minecraft.”

Kids hear:  . . . Minecraft sound effects . . .

Moms say: “I’m sorry, but that’s too expensive.”

Kids hear: “If you begin with making puppy-dog eyes, then escalate to begging, wailing, and endless repetition (367 times is the magic number), the money fairy will bibbidi-bobbidi-boo some cash into my wallet.”

Moms say: “Everybody wash your hands and come to dinner before it gets cold!”

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Kids hear: “Everybody keep doing what you’re doing for eight minutes until I repeat myself. Wait three more minutes. When you can tell I’m about to lose my religion, stop what you’re doing, but slowly. Stand up. Pause. Stretch. Then join your siblings in thundering down the hallway like a herd of stampeding elephants, trying to beat each other to the sink. Once you’ve all crowded into the bathroom, take turns shoving each other in an effort to be first at the soap. Argue and cry a little before slouching into the kitchen. At the table, it would be nice if you complain loudly about what I made for dinner, and how it is freezing cold.”

Moms say: “Please play quietly in another room while I take this business call.”

Kids hear: “I’d love some entertainment while I’m on this boring business call. If you could dance around in the doorway—ideally with Daddy’s boxers on your head, yodeling ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’—that would help me concentrate. Plus it would impress my potential client.”

Moms say: “You look nice.”

Kids hear: “I’m just saying you look nice because I’m your mom and I’m genetically obligated to say it. As your mother I am biased in your favor, which disqualifies my opinion. Everyone knows I’m clueless about what’s cool, plus I’m getting old and losing my eyesight. The only way you can feel confident about how you look and what you wear is if one of your friends compliments you.”

Moms say: “I have a headache and I’m going to take a nap for twenty minutes. Please play quietly, and only wake me if it’s an emergency.”

Kids hear: “I’m going to move my business-as-usual mothering duties into my bedroom now because I like to be super cozy in my bed while kids ask me questions. Also, ‘emergency’ includes, but is not limited to, learning that one of your siblings ate candy earlier today and you didn’t get some and it’s so not fair; a sibling’s underwear on your side of the room; a microscopic spider that might just be a bit of fluff on the wall; needing the correct spelling of the word chromosome; a field trip form that must be signed this very instant or your head will explode; and a bug bite that won’t stop itching.”

Moms say: “You drive me crazy, but please don’t grow up.”

Kids hear: “You drive me crazy, but I love you.”


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What Moms Say Versus What Kids Hear - If you’ve ever wondered what your kids hear when you speak, wonder no more. These 10 translations will serve as your handy-dandy guide to understanding what your kids aren’t understanding.

This post was written by Elizabeth Thompson exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Elizabeth Laing Thompson writes novels for teens and books for women about living life and building family God’s way. She blogs about the perils and joys of laundry slaying, tantrum taming, and giggle collecting on her author site. A mother of four, she is always tired, but it’s mostly the good kind.