Family Motto?


Roll With It
As you think about parenting and your family, what are the phrases and/or mottoes that your parents used, that you have used or discarded or adopted? Some things over the last few years are making me think of this more and more right now, esp some extended family drama.

Growing up it was "Susan MiddleName, what did you do?" with more emphasis on each syllable as the sentence came out. I heard that a LOT, lol! I always knew it meant trouble, too!

When we were about to do something that my mother did NOT want to happen, "I'll break your arm!" usually quietly. Of course there was NO time where I EVER thought she would do it, but my mother used this on us. I can remember hearing that my grandfather (mom's dad) told my mother that this was a HORRIBLE thing to say and how could she, but then not 15 seconds later he told her HIS phrase, "I'll put knots on your head!". Which apparently made my mom crack up at him.

From my father, the family 'motto' was "Get even. First." and it's corollary "Love Thine Enemy. Drives them NUTS." He truly meant them. Which could be rather scary esp as sometimes I wondered if he would apply them to me. As an adult and a parent, I don't think he EVER dreamed that those questions could have occurred to me, esp as young as they did (first time I wondered about this that I remember, I was 4.)

I think each of my kids has a different idea of my/our phrases and mottoes. Of course the "FirstName MiddleName, what did you do?" is one they have heard over and over. Rather than threatening broken bones or knots on their heads, my kids heard "I don't THINK so!" mostly because as I looked at these little beings who were the center of my world, I couldn't bear the idea of threatening to beat them.

I know that the 2 that I am most proud of are "there are no mistakes - only customization", used esp when we were doing something that wasn't life and death and even more especially when creating something. I think I cracked up the kids a lot with that phrase. I hear it from the older kids' former classmates as something they remembered and loved. Apparently when they colored over the lines or cut something 'wrong' or whatever, most teachers were not supportive - not even the art teachers! (I can remember one who said that Wiz used too many bats on a haunted house drawing - he had 11. On a 13X20 pencil sketch! Wrong seemed to be her favorite word - for art!) I always wanted my kids, and any of their friends who I did projects with at home or in school, to feel free to express themselves around me. I did LOTS of projects and for several years did an art project every 4-5 weeks with each kids' class. I loved it. Now I hear that they not only remember those things, they loved them and took a lot away from them.

The other phrase is "Strong Smart Girl". When Jess was born, I had people gushing over how 'pretty' she was. I had the first push to put her in a pageant when she was 6 WEEKS old! While I can respect that pageants may have a place in some people's lives, I don't understand the purpose of them. Over the years we had push after push to put her in them, and the only real public praise that was consistent was that she was "pretty". She was about 2 when I decided that it wasn't the message I wanted her to get. I wanted her to focus on what she could do, how she could think and change the world rather than how she looked. Pretty is as Pretty Does didn't make sense to me as a child, so I didn't want that. Beauty is Only Skin Deep always made me wonder what was underneath, but mostly confused me as a kid. So I came up with Strong Smart Girl for my daughter. It was what I wanted to matter to HER as she became a woman. In many ways, it has worked. She certainly is a strong, smart young woman. I don't know how much of that was due to me, but I think I helped her focus her strength.

There is a phrase I am not as proud of, that I think did help my kids avoid many of my husband's more wacky ideas that would not only get them into trouble but could have even gotten them hurt. I think it is a line from the movie, "Honey I Blew Up The Baby", "Daddies are for Decoration, but Mommy Means Business". My husband truly has the wackiest, oddest, most creative but strange mind I have ever encountered, but that can have a downside too! Add in that he isn't just 'un-handy', but is downright dangerous with tools, and it can even get scary at times. His father is also dangerous with tools and used to try out 'inventions' on my husband. Things like attaching a bungee cord to a baseball so you didn't have to chathse it. As the first guinea pig, my husband knocked himself out cold. My father in law is rather famous for wanting to paint the exterior of his 2 story home himself. His plan to paint the upper areas was to pull his van around, put a piece of plywood on top of it, and then put a ladder on top of that. My sainted stepMIL had to compare the cost of a painter to the costs of the medical bills that would be needed after he fell off of his contraption to talk him out of that one. So the phrase that "Daddies are for Decoration" came up as a way to make sure the kids checked with me before they went along with my husbands more extreme plans.

I am not so proud because my husband is a wonderful father and husband, and this can sound mean or like I don't value and love him, or like I am trying to teach my kids to devalue him. So the things we pass on are not always a good thing.

What phrases did you consciously repeat, or unconsciously repeat to your kids? What would you say your family motto is? What phrases do you think the kids remembered and internalized?


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Cute post.

Over my dead body!! I still use this one. He knows I mean business when I say that. That's the only one that comes to mind!

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
When my mom got frustrated with me or one of my siblings there were time when instead of calling out the name of who was in trouble, she would call out other siblings names and sometime the dogs name before she got to mine. It used to make me laugh which added to her frustration.
One phrase she would use was "don't make me come over there"

My dad rarely showed any kind of "anger", he was very even tempered. I do remember him always telling me "keep up the good work kiddo" He continued telling me this all through my adult life until he passed away.


Roll With It
Tanya, I had to laugh at the multiple names. I often cannot call a name to mind, though I know who I want. It gets REALLY bad with my boys because they are pretty much carbon copies of each other. I find it hilarious to see how much they look alike.


My mom always said " Se la Vi " it means " Such is life " possibly in Italian.

And my absolute favorite " The sins you do two by two, you pay for one by one" Lord how true.

She was constantly calling my sister and I by each other's names, or my aunt's name as they all begin with K. But never did the middle name thing.

My dad, always said "audios" when getting off phone rather than bye. He lived in Brazil at some point in grad school. I guess that's the origin

Cool thread.


When Mom is out and boys and dad are left together....his motto is Dont be stupid...fitting for boys I suppose.

Mine is No, with a capital N..and yes, I always yell at the wrong kid, they all look identical.


Well-Known Member
My standard phrase, when Miss KT would ask me to get her something that was an illogical or impossible request, was "Yo no hablo ingles." Once she figured out what that meant, she would respond indignantly, "you do so hablo ingles!" Three years of high school Spanish, about 40 years ago, has left me with a strange and wonderful collection of phrases that I use to this day when Miss KT wants something. The other day I responded with "Los osos tiene mis zapatos." When she translated it, she did not think it funny that the bears had my shoes.