Outdated Phrases Your Parents Used To Say

Don't call unless someone is dead or the house is on fire ...

Back in the day, say around the 50s, kids weren’t allowed to call their parents for anything other than an emergency—and an extreme one at that. Any small stuff (like tattling on a sibling) had to be figured out on their own. Parents would reiterate that to their children by saying, don’t call unless someone is dead or the house is on fire. Today, the phrase is pretty meaningless thanks to kids having their own phones to text their parents whenever, and the parents don’t seem to mind much either as many homes preach communication as the key to a healthy family.

WATCH: The Loaded History Of "Shitfaced"

You can go to bed without dinner ...

When a child acted up around dinnertime in the 60s, their mother might threaten them by saying, you can go to be bed without dinner. And, they might actually go to bed without dinner.

This phrase dates back to the  popular children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are (1963) and was an effort to teach the child not to misbehave or else they’d go hungry. These days, dinnertime is one that parents cherish not only because of the nutritional benefits of eating a balanced meal, but because it’s a time to talk with their kids without smartphones getting in the way. So, we’re pretty sure kids aren’t going to bed without dinner much anymore . . . sorry, Max.

You're cruising for a bruising ...

The expression you’re cruising for a bruising dates back to the 50s (it was also a classic saying from the popular 70s flick, Grease). It was said to someone who was looking to start trouble. A parent might have said this to a child who was kicking the seat in the car one too many times.

Parents today don’t usually say this to their kids since rhymed threats aren’t usually taken very seriously . . . and since abuse isn’t quite as cool as grease lightning anymore.

Go outside and play ...

Years ago, kids were always outside playing. A popular saying from parents in the 50s was, go outside and play! However, these days many parents jam-pack their kids’ schedule with violin lessons, language classes, and sports (sometimes simply to compete with other parents) allowing very little time to explore the great outdoors on their own. Plus, there’s abduction, and car accidents, and paranoia to think about now … so unfortunately this phrase got lost in time.

It’s just growing pains ...

Pain in your knee or back? Well, it’s just growing pains. At least that’s what parents may have thought back in the 1800s when the phrase growing pains first came about.

But, not now. Parents are more skeptical about undetermined pains in their children. And, there are plenty of resources that go along with their fears, such as WebMD and all … seriously don’t get sucked into that rabbit hole.

I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it ...

I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it is an old-school threat parents used on kids when they were misbehaving. This meant they had the power to create you and the power to, um, destroy you?

The ancient saying was first discovered in George Farquhar’s The Constant Couple back in the 1700s and made popular in the 80s thanks to The Cosby Show. Parents today think of this phrase in a negative light (as a form of bullying), which Joel Haber discusses in his book, Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting, and Bullying for Good.

Children should be seen and not heard

The phrase, children should be seen and not heard sounds a little degrading these days but was a popular thing to say to kids in the 50s and 60s. It stems from the 15th century and was geared mainly toward young girls who were expected to be present in adult company while remaining quiet.

Many modern-day parents aren’t a fan of using this particular saying since they want their children to talk to them about anything. Instead, they opt for a less demeaning way to enforce quiet when needed. For example, “use your indoor voice” or “there’s a time to be loud and a time to be quiet” are popular ones.

Here's a quarter ... go call someone who cares

If a kid complained about something, there’s a good chance his parent might mock him by saying, here’s a quarter … go call someone who cares. Ouch.

Although we don’t know the actual origin, this was a popular expression used by parents especially in the 90s to signify that whatever the kid was saying wasn’t important (anything from protesting about eating lima beans to worrying about the bully at school). Adults might also say this to one another as an insult or a gag, but parents don’t normally use it on kids because, these days, bullying is no joke.

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