45 Things Your Mum Said To You Whilst Growing Up

Sayings are like memories. They are passed down through generations. They are little snippets of wisdom… small mantras that mean a lot. Some are used to reprimand, some are sarcastic questions and some are meant as encouragements. Growing up, you would often hear these phrases being uttered by your parents. Then, one day, you find that you’re using them yourself…perhaps on your own children.

No one really knows the origins of these common sayings and phrases, but they seemed to be ingrained in our minds, having heard them thousands of times over. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how many of these you remember your parents saying to you…


45. “Because I said so”

Credit: Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

You have to do it, because I said so. That seemed to be enough of an excuse for most parents to get you to do as you were told.

44. “Just you wait and see”

A mild threat, telling you to wait and see either the consequences of your actions or perhaps meant as an answer to wanting to know what was for tea.

43. “Ask your dad”

This was the mother handing over responsibility to the father. If he said yes, then it is likely you were ok to do what you were going to do.

42. “No pudding unless you finish your dinner”

Most children want to skip dinner and head straight for the pudding. Parents were not going to let this happen.

41. “If someone asked you to jump off a cliff, would you?”

A common saying, very much like ‘if someone told you to stick your head in a fire.’ Basically, don’t do something stupid because someone else is.

40. “I’ve told you a thousand times”

When parents are sick of repeating themselves, they often utter this: “I’ve told you a thousand times…” This meant they weren’t telling you again.

39. “Say pardon, not what”

‘What?’ is a rude way of asking ‘Excuse me?’ …but we all seem to do it anyway.

38. “It’s thank you, not cheers. I didn’t buy you a drink!”

I mean, no one seems to mind nowadays if you say either cheers or thank you. Either way, you are showing gratitude, and that is all that matters.

37. “What did your last slave die of?”

One that is heard in many households. If you so much as dare to ask your parents to make you a drink or do something for you, this is more than likely what they would respond with.

36. “You’ll take someone’s eye out with that”

If you happened to be playing with something long and pointy and waving it about everywhere, you would usually get the warning that you were going to poke someone’s eye out with it.

35. “It’ll all end in tears”

Something that is said if you and your siblings were play-fighting. The parents had the better sense that someone would perhaps go a little too far, not take it as playing anymore and that it would all end in tears.

34. “‘I want’ never gets”

If you dared ever asked for something by saying ‘I want,’ you were sure to be cast down with ‘I want never gets.’ Perhaps you were better off saying ‘please may I have,’ a much more polite way of asking for something.

33. “Close the door, you weren’t born in a barn”

If you left a door open, seconds later you would hear your father shouting ‘close that door, were you born in a barn?’ Someone out there was born in a barn, and they have every right to go ‘yes’ and move on. I would very much like to meet this person.

32. “Don’t sit that close to the TV, you’ll get square eyes”

This is actually a myth that many believe to be true. Sitting too close to the TV will not permanently damage your eyesight. Yes it will cause eyestrain, and this is unpleasant, but it has no lasting effects. So the next time someone tells you this, tell them it simply isn’t true.

31. “There is no such word as ‘can’t'”

‘I can’t do it,’ is said by many children, whether they’re learning to ride a bike, to swim or if they’re engaging in some other strenuous activity in which they feel they can’t do it. And what do the parents say to encourage their little ones? ‘There’s no such thing as can’t.’

30. “Who is ‘she’? The cat’s mother”

Don’t ever refer to someone as ‘she’ because you are sure to get this response back. We’re not sure why ‘she’ is the cat’s mother, but it must have started somewhere.

29. “Carrots make you see in the dark”

This was a way of getting the young ones to eat up all the vegetables on their plate, especially of the orange variety. Why they thought the possibility of being able to see in the dark would exactly appeal to children is anyone’s guess, but it seems to have done the trick.

28. “If you eat your crusts, you’ll get curly hair”

I mean, this sounds like a threat, doesn’t it? Is curly hair supposed to be something we want? My father used to say if I ate my crusts, I would get a hairy chest. Again… is a hairy chest something we particularly want? I think I’ll just leave those crusts alone.

27. “Don’t make that face. If the wind changes, you’ll stay like that”

Another mild threat that if you were pulling faces, your face would stay like that if the wind changed. Why we believed that the wind had anything to do with how our faces looked, I’ll never know… but it seemed to work.

26. “Do as I say, not as I do”

This was one for if your child said ‘but you do it, so why can’t I?’ The natural response is ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ This was likely to cover their own backs when they were perhaps caught doing something they would otherwise reprimand their children for.

25. “Back in my day…”

‘Back in my day…’ this was often said if you were complaining about something trivial, or complaining about something that your parents had a lot harder when they were younger. ‘Oh no I don’t have signal, I’m not going to cope.’ ‘Back in my day we didn’t have mobiles.’ Classic.

24. “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”

Everyone wants that money tree at the back of their garden, but alas, it doesn’t exist. Many kids tried to get around it by saying ‘well it kind of does, because money is made out of paper.’ With these new plastic notes, they can’t get away with this excuse anymore.

23. “As long as you’re under my roof, you live by my rules”

It’s one that you couldn’t really get away from. You were living in your parents’ house, so you kind of had to live by their rules, no matter how much you disagreed with them. If this meant doing the odd bit of washing up, then so be it.

22. “Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about”

This was the threat of all threats (kind of.) It’s weird to think that you weren’t allowed to cry, because if so, your parents (often your father) would want to make you cry more. This happened generally if you were crying about something silly that they had caused.

21. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”

This is for the over-worriers or those that like to think ahead. The bridge represents a metaphor for a problem, but what is the point in trying to cross it before you reach it? Deal with it as and when it appears.

20. “I’ll wash your mouth out with soap”

If you swore or said something bad, you were sure to be threatened with having your mouth rinsed out by soap. If anyone has ever put soap in their mouth, you know how unpleasant this would be (come on, who hasn’t secretly had a little taste of that nice-smelling soap?)

19. “You’re not made of sugar, you won’t melt”

Complaining it’s too hot? Well, don’t, because you will be told that you’re not made out of sugar and will therefore not melt into a gelatinous puddle of sweetness. Another popular substitute for sugar in this phrase is butter.

18. “You brought this on yourself”

If you ran to them with a problem that you had caused yourself, you would often be turned away with the words ‘you brought this on yourself.’ This basically meant ‘I’m not dealing with it, sort your own problem out.’

17. “You’ll live”

If you thought something wasn’t fair or you’d received a paper cut and were moaning loudly about it, you would often hear the words ‘you’ll live.’ This was basically another, shorter way of saying ‘stop moaning.’

16. “If you want to act like a child, I’ll treat you like one”

Again, another phrase for when you were throwing a bit of a tantrum. This was the threat that if you continued to play up, especially if you were a bit older, then your parents would treat you like a kid and perhaps punish you as such.

15. “Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall”

Everyone knows the frustrating feeling of trying to talk to someone who has their head buried in their phone. They’re too absorbed in what they’re doing to either bother listening to you. This is when you will hear those immortal words ‘talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.’

14. “I’m not asking, I’m telling”

If you refused to do something if your parents had asked you to do it nicely, they would often respond with ‘I’m not asking, I’m telling.’ This was basically saying, I have tried asking you nicely, but now I’m not being nice anymore.

13. “If you had a brain, you’d be dangerous”

Something that many a son has heard from their fathers I would imagine (I certainly did.) I guess you could have used it the other way around as well.

12. “When you pay the bills, you can do whatever you want”

Along the lines of ‘if you live under my roof, you do as I say.’ If you’re paying the bills then sure, go ahead, do as you wish. Imagine winning the lottery and buying your family house and paying the bills. You could get away with not doing chores forever, and if your parents moaned…you’d know exactly what to say.

11. “You’re not going anywhere until you tidy that room”

Kids often don’t really care about the state of their bedrooms. They have more important things to do like going out or talking on their phones. Parents often pull their hair out trying to get them to tidy their room, so one threat is to keep them inside until they do it.

10. “Just wait until your father gets home”

This was the threat that your father is scarier than your mother, and was sure to punish you twice as much. If you ever did something wrong when your dad was still at work, perhaps the threat of him finding out was enough to make you grovel and apologise so he never found out.

9. “Elbows off the table!”

For some reason, it is deemed unacceptable to have your elbows on the table whilst you are eating. We’re not quite sure what elbows have done to be so offensive.

8. “You’ll understand when you’re a parent”

And if you can’t understand just why they’re saying all these things, you’ll probably hear ‘you’ll understand when you’re a parent.’

7. “I wasn’t born yesterday”

Anyone who was born yesterday is very much incapable of uttering these lines. This is usually said when someone says something obvious, or something that they didn’t think their parents would know. The classic response: “I wasn’t born yesterday.”

6. “There are people in Africa who are starving”

Don’t leave anything on your plate, because you will be guilt-tripped into thinking about those who have no food. This is a cruel one.

5. “You kids will be the death of me”

If you’re running your parents around in rings, playing up, not doing what you’re told, you will be accused of eventually being the death of them. This didn’t usually do much to deter people from carrying on anyway.

4. “Don’t burn the candle at both ends”

If you’re up late and night playing on the games console, and then up early in the morning for school, you will be told that you are burning the candle at both ends.

3. “We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you”

If you get offended because you think someone is laughing at you, they will often come back with ‘we’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you.’ Still, you weren’t convinced.

2. “Wipe that smile off your face before I do it for you”

Another threat. If you happened to be smiling and someone else’s misfortune, or were smirking when you were being told off, you would be threatened with having the smile wiped off your face.

1. “Don’t make me pull this car over”

And finally, the classic ‘don’t make me pull this car over.’ If you were playing up in the back seat, either on your own or with a sibling whilst your parent was trying to drive, then this is the response you would get. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it added fuel to the fire.