“You need to settle down.” 

I overheard a man (perhaps a husband) say that to (I presume) his wife.

Oh boy… fightin’ words.

I passed this unwise soul as I was going for a run.  I heard him deliver his one-two-punch into his cell phone as I cut through the parking lot.

He didn’t just say one of the top twelve phrases that guarantee a fight, he packed two into one breath for the double whammy. “You need to…”(BAM!) “settle down” (Pow!)

I really wanted to stop, pull him aside, and give him a little advice.

But…I didn’t.

I chose to mind my own business and keep running. I’m guessing the conversation escalated. (This would be an educated guess because I have been on the giving and receiving end of these top twelve phrases and… they don’t go over very well.)  

Here the top twelve high powered phrases that hit hard; words I need to keep out of my vocabulary (unless my goal is to climb into the ring). 

1. You need to
2. You should have
3. You ought to
4. Why didn’t you
5. I told you so
6. I told you to
7. Settle down
8. Just relax
9. Chill out
10. Grow up
11. You always
12. You never

These words move us to our separate corners in either the parent-child or in the husband and wife relationship.

Shaming, stating absolutes, or condescension adds fuel to the conflict. The issue escalates to personal attacks rather than deescalates to problem-solving mode.

This goes against what we really want for our relationships. Most of us want harmony. We want unity. We want to be on the same side of the ropes as our spouse. The same team with our kids.

Our kids and spouse are not the enemy.

Let’s not assign sinister motives to the other. Instead…let’s  assume the best in each other. 

Let’s not tear each other down. Instead…let’s encourage each other.

Let’s avoid sarcasm and put-downs. Instead…let’s be kind.

Rather than speaking the top twelve— let’s stick to seeking a solution. With kids, substitute shaming for training.  Move away from, “I told you so…” (no matter how tempting) and turn the moment into a learning opportunity.  Ask, “How will you handle this differently next time?”

In the case of the spouse, rather than hitting below the belt with a coulda, shoulda, woulda…quiet is called for. He or she already knows what and why something went south.

When the other person becomes highly volatile, instead of suggesting he or she take it down a notch, reflect, “I can see you are upset.” Then ask, “How can I help?”

I want respect, love, and kindness to reign in my home. So I must do my part and speak with respect, love, and kindness.

“Show proper respect to everyone.” 1 Peter 2:17


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Lori meets parents where they are with her warmth, humor, and transparency and takes them where they want to go with her straight-forward, faith-filled approach. Lori is a licensed
parent-family educator, co-founder of 1C13P (1 Corinthians 13 Parenting), a ministry and resource for parents, co-author of 3 parenting books (with her first solo book, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home, to be published spring of 2017), lead mentor mom at Moms Together, and a national speaker. A perfect day in Lori’s world starts with a hike with Tom, her husband, their four kids (plus one daughter-in-love), and the family labradoodle. It concludes with a movie, a box of milk duds, and buttered popcorn. The family home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
To connect with Lori for parent consulting and training or to schedule her to speak at an upcoming event go to www.loriwildenberg.com and click on the contact tab. For more information about 1C13P head over to www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com . The books Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love can be found over at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite bookstore.