Saying What You Mean

“Mommy, will you play with me?”
“In a minute.”

“Mommy, can we go to the park?”
“Maybe later.”

These answers often roll off my tongue without much thought behind them. But when I stop and consider what I’m really thinking, I realize it is usually not what I am saying. “In a minute” really means “Once I finish everything that I’m trying to accomplish” and “Maybe later” often means “No.” I’ve been challenged recently to slow down and begin saying what I mean to my daughter.

So instead of saying “in a minute,” I try to define for her when, like “once I finish unloading the dishwasher” or “after you take a nap.” Not only does that give her a specific time (at two, she doesn’t really understand “a minute” anyway), but it holds me accountable to actually follow through. I also am trying to use the word “maybe” only when the possibility really does exist. Even though I don’t always want to deal with her response to a negative answer, I don’t want to continue putting her off when I know we ultimately won’t be doing what she is requesting.

What helps you to remember to say what you mean?



  1. Great post. My mama always said “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” It became our family mantra. What helps me do that? My kids because they remember EVERYTHING!!! My daughter is still complaining about the blueberry muffins I said I would make, but didn’t for her birthday. That was over a month ago. They catalog everything I say and regurgitate it at the most inopportune moments. I say what I mean simply out of fear of the torture I’ll face if I don’t. πŸ™‚

  2. This is a good concept to remember because there will be a time when you ask her to do something and her answer will be “In a minute”, meaning: I’ll put it off and hope you forget.

    Or, “maybe” meaning: if I don’t choose obedience than I can get out of what I said I will do.

    The road works two ways, but nobody told me that!

    So it’s much deeper than just meaning what you say (although that’s very important!). It’s also about teaching them to honor what they say, not only by their words but by there actions.

    Great reminder, Spaghetti!

  3. spaghettipie

    M – I almost added that verse πŸ™‚
    T and K – I absolutely agree. Part of what made me realize what I was saying was the fact that she was answering me with “in a minute.” And K, I love what you say about teaching them to honor what they say, too.
    A – Ahem, yes. That line worked rather well this Sunday . . . and I DID go back after I got my coffee.
    LL – ah, good connection with writing, too!

  4. Someone told me that is why kids are CLUELESS when it comes to “time” because our “minutes” are never consistent. A ‘minute” might be an hour or 5 minutes.

  5. Pingback: Say What You Mean :

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