10 phrases you should never say to your parents, according to psychology

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Navigating the relationship with your parents can be a tricky business.

It’s a delicate balancing act of respect and honesty, where certain things can easily tip the scales in the wrong direction.

Psychology offers us some valuable insights into what we should and shouldn’t say to our parents. Understanding these principles can help us maintain a healthy relationship with them.

In this article, we’re going to dive into some phrases you should absolutely avoid when talking to your parents, according to psychology.

So let’s get right into it, and start making our conversations with our parents even better.

1) “You don’t understand…”

One phrase that can create a chasm in your relationship with your parents is, “You don’t understand…”

Psychology tells us that communication is key to healthy relationships. But telling someone they don’t understand, especially your parents, can close the door to any meaningful conversation.

It’s essentially telling them that they can’t comprehend your situation or feelings, which can feel dismissive and hurtful.

Legendary psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!”

So instead of saying “You don’t understand…”, try expressing your feelings and asking for their insight. This opens up a dialogue and fosters mutual understanding.

Remember, it’s not about winning an argument; it’s about maintaining a healthy relationship with your parents.

2) “I hate you!”

We’ve all been guilty of this one, especially during our teenage years. “I hate you!” is a phrase that I regret ever saying to my parents.

In the heat of an argument, it’s easy for emotions to take over, leading us to say things we don’t mean. I remember a specific incident during my high school years. Frustrated and overwhelmed with the pressure of exams, I lashed out at my parents with these words. The hurt in their eyes is something I’ll never forget.

Renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

This quote resonated with me deeply. Following that incident, I realized the impact of my words and made a conscious effort to express my feelings more constructively.

So, if you’re frustrated or angry, try expressing why you’re feeling that way instead of resorting to hurtful words. It might not be easy in the moment, but it’s crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship with your parents.

3) “You always…” or “You never…”

These absolute phrases can be incredibly damaging in any relationship, but particularly with your parents.

Using “always” or “never” puts them on the defensive and shuts down any chance of productive conversation. It’s a form of blame that doesn’t offer any room for understanding or change.

I learned this the hard way when I told my dad, “You never listen to me.” Instead of opening up a dialogue, it just led to more conflict.

Famed psychologist Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

This powerful quote made me realize that instead of accusing my parents with absolute terms, I could express how their actions made me feel. So saying something like, “I feel unheard when I’m talking and you don’t seem to listen,” can be more effective and less confrontational.

Avoiding these absolute phrases can help maintain open communication with your parents and foster better understanding.

4) “I don’t need your advice”

This one is a tough pill to swallow. We’ve all been in situations where we feel capable of handling things on our own and believe our parents’ advice is unnecessary or even outdated.

I recall a time when I was planning to buy my first car. My mom offered some advice, but I brushed it off, saying, “I don’t need your advice.” I later realized that her years of experience could have saved me from some rookie mistakes.

Parents usually offer advice out of love and concern for our well-being. Listening to them doesn’t mean you have to follow their advice blindly, but acknowledging it can go a long way in nurturing your relationship with them.

So next time your parents offer some advice, instead of rejecting it outright, consider saying, “I appreciate your advice. I’ll think it over.” It shows respect for their experience while maintaining your independence.

5) “It’s my life”

While it’s true that we have autonomy over our own lives, this phrase can come off as dismissive and disrespectful, especially when spoken to our parents.

There was a time when I used this very phrase during a disagreement about my career choice. I thought it was the perfect argument-ender. But all it did was cause hurt and create distance.

Esteemed psychologist Viktor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”

This made me see that even though it is indeed my life, how I communicate this fact to my parents matters significantly. Instead of dismissing their concerns, I could acknowledge them while asserting my own decisions respectfully.

So, instead of bluntly saying “It’s my life”, consider expressing your gratitude for their concern and reassure them of your ability to make responsible choices. 

It might seem counterintuitive, but this approach could lead to more understanding and less conflict in your relationship with your parents.

6) “Why can’t you be like other parents?”

Comparing your parents to others is a surefire way to hurt their feelings. It’s essentially telling them that they are not good enough, which can be extremely damaging.

I remember once saying this to my parents during a heated argument about my curfew. I thought comparing them to my friend’s more lenient parents would make them change their minds. But all it did was create more tension.

Famous psychologist Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning emphasizes that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. But this doesn’t mean that we should expect our parents to imitate others.

Instead of comparing our parents to others, we should acknowledge their unique parenting style and appreciate them for who they are. 

If there’s something you wish was different, express it in a respectful manner without making comparisons. 

For instance, you could say, “I understand your concern about my curfew, but could we discuss a possible compromise?”

Remember, effective communication is key in maintaining a healthy relationship with your parents.

7) “You’re so annoying”

“Annoying” is a harsh word to use, especially when addressing your parents. When I once blurted this out to my mom, the hurt in her eyes was palpable.

This phrase can be deeply insulting, as it undermines their intentions and efforts even when they’re trying to do their best for you.

Instead of labeling your parents as “annoying”, try to understand them better. Express calmly why certain actions bother you and suggest alternatives. 

This way, not only do you avoid hurting their feelings, but you also pave the way for a better relationship.

8) “You’re a terrible parent”

This is one of the most hurtful things you can say to your parents. It’s an attack on their identity and the love and care they’ve put into raising you.

Renowned psychologist Erik Erikson said, “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”

His words remind us of the importance of fostering positive relationships with our parents. It’s crucial to express our feelings and disagreements without resorting to personal attacks.

Instead of making such harsh judgments, opt for open conversations about specific issues. Something like, “I felt hurt when you did that, can we talk about it?” is more likely to lead to understanding and resolution.

9) “It’s all your fault”

Blaming your parents for everything that goes wrong in your life might feel cathartic in the moment, but it can seriously damage your relationship with them.

I once found myself blaming my parents for a failed relationship, thinking it was their overprotectiveness that led to the breakup. But this was a counterproductive mindset that didn’t help me grow or address the real issues.

Blaming others, including our parents, doesn’t solve problems. Instead, it prevents us from learning valuable lessons and making necessary changes.

So instead of blaming your parents, try to communicate openly about your feelings and concerns. It’s more fruitful to discuss specific issues rather than resorting to blame. This approach not only fosters understanding but also encourages personal growth.

10) “I wish I was never born”

This is perhaps one of the most hurtful phrases you can say to your parents. I remember uttering this in a moment of overwhelming frustration when I was younger, and the look on my parents’ faces still haunts me.

It’s a phrase that cuts deeply, making your parents question their efforts and love towards you.

We often utter such phrases when we’re overwhelmed, not realizing the gravity of our words.

Next time you find yourself in a heated moment, take a deep breath and step back. Try to express your feelings in a less harmful way, such as, “I’m really upset right now and need some space.” Remember, it’s okay to take a break from a conversation if it’s becoming too intense.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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