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The Most Devastating Words You Can Say as Mom

A moms four most devastating words

I was listening to the radio a while back, and the three grown men who were hosting began a dialogue about punishments they were given as a child. The list was vast. They laughed through their comparisons of infractions they accomplished and the penalties they were awarded: grounding, car keys taken away, dad’s belt was among them. Then one of these gentlemen paused and said, “I’ll tell you the worst—it’s when my mom said, ‘I’m disappointed in you.’ That one was horrible.”

The moaning and commiserating began. “That’s the truth; there’s nothing worse. It makes you feel awful,” one said. “Yeah, my mom said that and I remembered it for days. There is nothing worse than disappointing your mom,” replied another.

Now, these were grown men who make their living talking on the airwaves—cajoling, ridiculing, looking at life events and editorializing as if their opinions mattered. Yet the one thing they all agreed on was it killed them when they were told they had let their mom down.

Good to know, moms! You sometimes wonder if what you think matters; if your opinion of your kids means a thing. When we take a moment as adults to recount the punishments we remember, often the biggest impact in our lives was the simple sadness we saw in our parent’s eyes. The times when they believed we could have done better. No grounding, no sitting in the corner, no removal of a cell phone, computer, or TV can make this kind of impact on our children.

There is nothing worse than disappointing your mom.

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Children really do want the approval of their mom. They want to think they make her proud. Even if they act as if it doesn’t matter, knowing they have disappointed their mom makes their heart sober, and their sadness is real. If you could go beyond the bedroom door that they closed behind them, you would see that to be true.

So moms, use your words of disapproval sparingly. Save them for the times when a child really has disappointed you. Then, let them know you know they can do better and that you expect them to be better. It’s the punishment that will make the most impact. The one they will remember.


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Darlene, President of The Grit and Grace Project, is crazy enough to jump in the deep end then realize she may not have a clue where she’s landed. She has spent her adult life juggling careers in the music business, been an author, a video producer, and also cared for her family ... some days drowning, other days believing she’s capable of synchronized swimming.

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