Clichés are overused because they’re just SO TRUE, right?
I think most phrases become clichés because there is an element of truth to them – an element that rings true to so many people that it becomes repeated over and over and over and over and over…
and while it can sometimes be annoying to hear them, some phrases continue to be said because they simply continue to be true.
For instance, “This too shall pass”.
It is universally true. Time will continue to march forward.
So why is it that some clichés stand the test of time and others don’t?
I know that some (though overused), will probably never die. While others, seem a little more tied to our zeitgeist… which means they eventually reach an expiration date. Evolution – we are continually learning and changing as people and a society… and most certainly as parents.
I am an ambassador for Responsibility.org and their #TalkEarly campaign. Last October at our summit in D.C. we had an interesting conversation about parenting clichés and memes that are worthy of retirement. As time marches forward, some parenting clichés are just no longer (if they were ever) true.
Mirriam-Webster has three definitions for the word cliché… and there are certainly some parenting phrases that fit these definitions:
1: a trite phrase or expression; also : the idea expressed by it
For me the phrase “Boys will be boys” fits nicely under this definition. It feels old and narrow… and the idea of unruly behavior being excused by one’s “boy-ness” is quite antiquated. Most of the parents I know expect more from their boys.
2: a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
This absolutely makes me think of the whole “Daddy is babysitting” idea. The characterization of the bumbling Dad who is trying to do something beyond his capabilities or responsibilities… well, it’s just not true for a lot of modern Dads.Dad is not 'babysitting'. Dad is Dad-ing. Click To Tweet
3: something (such as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace
For me if you replace the “menu item” part with “wine meme”, it perfectly describes the “Mommy needs wine” and “Wine > Whine” idea. Talk about commonplace…
Drinking wine has become synonymous with motherhood… and I’ve been thinking about this particular cliché a lot lately.
Years ago, I shared these wine memes quite often. Why? Well, I was certainly in the throws of early motherhood, and relaxation was as elusive as sleep was… a glass of wine became the symbol for a “break” and a “chance to relax”. However, another main reason I used to share them was because of the instant connection that came with it. When I shared something that fit into the mothers-needing-wine theme, hundreds of other mothers around the country would “like” it, comment, share it, etc. A lot of people thought it was funny, cool, and it was really just a hip way of saying, “Parenting is really hard and sometimes I feel like I can’t handle it, you know?”Perhaps it's not 'Mommy needs wine'. Perhaps it's 'Mommy needs community'. Click To Tweet
So what’s changed for me? Why don’t I share those wine memes anymore? I think it’s a myriad of things.
Maybe it’s because the internet allowed me to be exposed to the same ideas a thousand times a day… “Mommy needs wine” is now so common that it’s boring…
Maybe it’s because I don’t want to send the message to my kids that they are the reason that I drink…
Maybe it’s because I’m trying to model healthy behavior for my kids, and create a mindful difference between wants and needs. I don’t think I need alcohol in order to parent…
Or maybe the passage of time has a lot to do with it. Perhaps this memé doesn’t stand the test of time for me because as the years have passed I’ve learned different coping skills.The 'Mommy needs wine' memés no longer ring true for me. I'm ten years into motherhood now and my toolbox is much bigger than it used to be. Click To Tweet
I still enjoy wine every now and then responsibly… but it doesn’t fall under my list of needs. My kids have seen me drink a glass with dinner, and I’ve tried to be mindful about answering their questions about why it’s for grown ups and not kids…I definitely want to make sure the message I'm sending to myself and my kids is that alcohol (when appropriate) is an enjoyment, not a tool. Click To Tweet
This post is in partnership with Responsibility.org. April is Alcohol Responsibility Month, and I encourage you to visit their site for some incredible resources on talking early with your kids about alcohol.
Check out the video below for some other clichés the #TalkEarly Ambassadors feel should be retired.
How about you? Are there any parenting clichés that you feel just don’t stand the test of time?