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6 Words That are Off-Limits for Our Son

Many of you comment on the videos featuring our son on the Mommy Talk Show Facebook page or here on the show through YouTube, that A.J. is so comfortable on-camera. He was an early talker. Having two parents who work in the television industry likely played a role.

We’re also proud to say we’re strict parents. We have firm rules and a clear vision of what’s best for our son. In fact, there are few words that are off-limits in our house and they’re not even “curse words.”  By off-limits I mean, when our son says them he’s instantly corrected and guided to a better word choice.

A.J. is not punished for saying them, but we make it crystal clear that there are better words he could choose to express himself. At first, I thought about sharing this to support parents who have firm rules, but I had to delve even deeper into what it’s like raising a young Black man in this world.

(University of Wakanda Class of 2032 Available on etsy: http://bit.ly/UniversityofWakanda)

6 Off-Limits Words for Our Son

1. Huh

2. Uh Huh

3. Nope

4. Yup

5. Yeah

6. What?

These words may not seem terrible by your standards and that’s perfectly OK. We are raising our son very similar to the “old school” way our parents raised us.

That’s why the sixth word, “What?” probably annoys me the most. Even if I misunderstand what you said to me, I’d never just say “What?” It sounds so short and rude.

A better follow-up question for something you misunderstood is “What did you say?” or “What did I miss?” or even “I’m sorry. Can you say that again?”

RELATED TOPIC: The Foolproof Way I Settle Our Son’s Playground Disputes.

Comment below: What are your off-limits words or actions for your children? Are you the rules enforcer in your family?

We reinforce respect to our son daily, by showing it to him and demanding it for ourselves. We do our best to surround him with people who also speak respectfully. We even quit an organized activity last year because it wasn’t as organized as we wanted and although its goal was to teach respect, we didn’t feel like it was reinforced at our regular meetings.

If A.J. wasn’t a respectful child or as he grows into his tween years (which tend to be rebellious), we will limit his extra activities and fun like when he missed a day of school in 2017 to be an extra in the Goosebumps 2 Movie.

RELATED TOPIC: What’s the Atlanta Connection to the Goosebumps 2 Movie 

On a deeper, scarier level –  I know that although A.J. is considered cute and innocent now, there will be a time when people will cross to the other side of the street when he walks by, clutch their wallets and generally fear him because he’s Big and Black. If you’re new here, you may have missed my story He’s Cute at 4, But Will You Call Him a Criminal When He’s 14.

Our son having a respectful persona, carrying himself in a respectful way could potentially be the difference between life and death for him.

We talk openly about discipline, how families do it differently from ours, and what are the costs/benefits of having certain rules for your family.  During a conversation when he was 8 years old, A.J. already recognized that many of his White friends don’t have as many rules as he does. That they misbehave and may not have any consequences for it.

If I had my way, I’d change the state of race in the United States so that our son and all Black boys could be viewed as valuable instead of violent. It’s one of many reasons we teach him to say “Excuse me?” instead of “What?” to reinforce that he gives respect and deserves respect in return.


About Joyce Brewer

Creator & Host of Mommy Talk Show. Emmy award-winning TV journalist.Wife & Mommy; Mom Blogger; Social Media Coach; Long Island, New York transplant living in Atlanta, GA. Follow Joyce on Twitter @MommyTalkShow Author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring interviews with mompreneurs who created businesses using their skills & backgrounds.

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29 comments

  1. This is a really interesting read. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about making words like these off-limits. I always think of curse words when I think of off limits words. Great post!

  2. I’m not a parent so I definitely have no personal experience to share in that regard. But I do think it’s important to establish rules and boundaries and focus on good communication and respect. That’s how I was raised anyway. Thank you for sharing this insight with us!

  3. I loved reading your straight forward article on raising your child. As an educator, I value your “off limits” words. Mine was, “I’m bored.”

  4. Lovely going through. It reminded me of my father who was never too strict but had very early, for all of us brother & sisters, made us aware of some words & gestures which were a strict no no.

  5. It’s good to know that there are parents doing this. However, I don’t really judge others for as long as they teach their children to be kind to others.

  6. I found this post very sweet! You are such a thoughtful mother. I personally think that it all comes from the media- like songs, movies and such. They mostly depict that a certain race people are typically like this and typically like that. I strongly believe that everyone must be respected irrespective of their caste. 😊

  7. Annemarie LeBlanc

    I agree with the word, “what?” I get annoyed when my kids respond to my questions with another question. Your son is lucky to have you for a mom! You are raising him well.

  8. I dislike when my girls say yup to me I’m like excuse me missy lol

  9. I don’t limit what words my kids say, aside from vulgar words. But we all need to do what’s best for our kids.

  10. My son was becoming besties with a child in his class and we had to stop it quick (at least outside of school). That child’s lack of boundaries at home were leading him down a bad path. It’s sad to see it but I have to think about what is best for my son. Hurrah for good boundaries.

  11. It’s great that he’s going to be so eloquent as he grows up. And if he chooses to speak a different way (like his peers) at least he’ll be aware of the proper way to speak.

  12. I agree so much. after having my own kids, I totally understand why my mom had words that were off limits.

  13. I’m with you on what. It almost always comes with a side of attitude. I’m bringing back yes ma’am too. My mom never made me say it, but I just think it’s so nice to hear.

  14. Blair villanueva

    This is cool, I remember my parents doesnt like these words too. Instead of uh huh of yeah, better say YES. Teaching kids the right way will help them to be a better adult in the future.

  15. I love learning about the other methods of parenting. There are a few of these words I don’t like our kids to stay either.

  16. First, where did you get that cute t-shirt? Second, I grew up knowing not to utter those words. My grandma would get a switch so fast. So my daughter is raised the same way -minus the switch – to not say those words.

  17. Ooh, you just took me back to my childhood with my dad who was old school and from the south. I still don’t allow my kids to say what.

  18. I have the exact same rules for daughter. I homeschool her so I’ve very firm about the way she expresses herself verbally.

  19. One thing that I will never forget growing up is the look my father would give me when I said “yeah” he would correct me quick! Thanks for the post very refreshing.

  20. such a great post, and reminded me of things that my parents would discourage me from saying when i was growing up too haha. i feel old now!

  21. I don’t have any kids, but I hate what as well. It is a little cringe and rude when people say it. Very similar to when I hear people say move instead of excuse me.

  22. Raising a son definitely comes with a unique set of obligations for black parents. I always pray a special prayer for our boys.

  23. I guess I am old school because the same goes for my kids. Also I was raised the same way. They also aren’t allowed to shrug their shoulders.

  24. Boy this post brings back memories! My Grandmother and Mom would never allow us to say those 6 word either. ESPECIALLY “What?”. Omg, saying that last word could get you maimed. LOL! I love that you and the hubby are strict parents. It’s such a relief to other people who come into contact with your well behaved kids.

  25. I hear you. My kids are now grown ups, and the only language we discouraged in our household was swear words.

  26. Great parenting! My mom would get on me for yelling WHAT at her from down the stairs and still until this day I don’t tell her what!

  27. I absolutely love this. I remember getting an “excuse me” or a look when saying “what?”

  28. Our son isn’t talking yet but I’m with you on these no-no words. We are old school too!

  29. As the mother of a 6-year-old boy, I found this post particularly enlightening. My husband and I have put more onus on positive words and affirmations, constantly reiterating that he can do ‘anything that he sets his mind to.’ Now that he’s in school, we may need to establish forbidden words…one that immediately comes to mind is ‘stupid.’ No one is stupid in our household.

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