I sometimes want to tell my daughters “I told you so.”
Have you ever been there?
You see the decision your daughter is about to make. Your heart does the “mommy cringe.” The next thing you know, your mouth instinctively spouts what she needs to do.
What’s your daughter’s response? She either shoots you a look of disdain or she ignores you. If you both have not gotten into an argument at this point, what usually follows is a truce. For example, the outcome for your daughter decision just has to run its course.
Now the outcome of your daughter’s choice may be positive. It may also be negative. However, as her mom, you can’t seem to shake the feeling that things may have “gone differently” if “she’d only listened to me.” As a result, you as her mom are left with only an “I told you so” (ITYS) comment about your daughter’s current predicament.
The Effects of The “I Told You So” (ITYS) Statement
But what are the effects of the “I told you so” (ITYS) statement on your daughter in such moments?
- If you’re a mom of a toddler, saying “I told you so” reinforces your voice as the prevailing determiner of your daughter’s actions. So, instead of her learning how to venture away from you, learn the consequences of her own actions, the ITYS comment will feed a pattern of her blaming others (e.g. you) for negative outcomes in her life.
- For a mom of a tween, saying, “I told you so” will detract from her process of developing competency. She will start to question her confidence to venture out and learn about what she is/is not capable of doing on her own. Your ITYS statement will begin to breed resentment towards you and all that for which you stand.
- Moms of a teenager, an ITYS statement from you will position you as the “judge and jury” of all that your daughter will decide as she embarks on transitioning to young adulthood. That judge-and-jury stance will always shut down future communication not just on the specific topic, but also on other topics in general.
…and I don’t think most moms want any kind of shut down in communication with their daughters.
How To NOT Say “I Told You So.”
As a mom, you may want to consider…
Nixing Negative Nellys.
Who are/were the “negative Nellys” in your life? These are the people who’ve said and/or done things that made you feel defensive about choices you’ve made in the past.
Try to identify who these “negative Nellys” are. If you’ve not been able to come to terms with their impact on you, you may be “feeling some kinda way” (i.e. harboring unresolved feelings towards them, yourself, &/or the situation). Those feelings may currently be fueling how you see yourself and your daughter. In essence, you’re projecting onto her. This projecting may, in turn, be negatively impacting how you interact with your daughter.
Remember: your daughter is your daughter now; she’s not those people from your past.
Owning Your Regret.
What’s one thing you regret in your life? Identifying this regret will give you insight into what your “knee jerk” reactions are to certain situations or topics. Saying the ITYS statement may not be as much about your daughter’s decision path but also about what you wished you’d done differently in your own life before kids.
Remember: owning up to your regrets will help you to not heap guilt onto your daughter.
Taming Your Tongue.
This is a very hard thing for moms, including me, to do. However, what has helped many of my clients tame their tongue is to ask themselves, “Is my having the last word worth the price of potentially hurting my daughter and/or our relationship?”
If it is not worth the price and you are able to stop yourself before uttering the ITYS statement, kudos to you J Keep up the good work!
If this is hard for you to ask yourself the question in the moment, know that simply admitting this difficulty is a huge gift to your daughter. You are not alone. There are ways to get help.