Wow! The Things Your Parents Said in the ’60s & ’70s

White Mountain Puzzle
via White Mountain Puzzles

“When I was your age …” You can insert just about anything after that statement from “I used to walk to school” to “I already had my first job at age 12.” Oh, the things our parents said. A recent lunchroom conversation over a puzzle themed on the same topic — “Things Parents Say” —led us down a hilarious (and at times disturbing) list of words of wisdoms, threatening lines of discipline and all sorts of crazy crazy parents used to dish out.

One of our colleagues reminisced, sharing that when it was time for a family vacation, his parents packed up their eight kids into their station wagon and set out. It probably was less than an hour on the road when the kids erupted in name calling, slapping, pushing and whining in the backseat. That’s when dad’s long, strong arm popped out — and from behind he’d swing that arm blindly (he was driving, after all) trying to make contact with anyone of the kids to stop the chaos. When the kids yelled out after impact “But it wasn’t me!” That’s when this dad would say his classic line: “That’s for the time I didn’t catch you!”

What we did catch — and remember — was all the classic lines our parents really did say. Are any of these familiar lines from the 1960s or 1970s familiar to you?

Parents of the ’60s: Did You Say It or Hear It Often?

BON VOYAGE!, Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Fred MacMurray, Kevin Corcoran, Jane Wyman, 1962

Everett Collection

“Don’t make that face. If the wind changes, you’ll stay like that” – This saying, used when a kid was pouting, for some reason was somewhat believable and a good trick for parents to use to get their kids to shape up in public.

“If you eat your crust, you’ll get curly hair” – For some reason parents used to say this to get their kids to eat a food they don’t want to. This is one of the stranger sayings given the fact that I am not sure curly hair is something most kids crave.

“Wait until your father gets home!”  – You knew mom had enough of your shenanigans when she dropped the “dad” reference. And, honestly, for some that prospect of dad imposing the discipline was far scarier than mom could ever be. For some of the bread-winning dads of that era, when they arrived home their first interest was more Mad Men-style — look for a cocktail and ignore the children.

“Slam that door one more time and I’ll slam your head!” – This saying falls under the “disturbing” category without a doubt. Every kid remembers being sent to their room with tears rolling down their face and slamming the bedroom door as hard as possible to both relieve some anger and irritate their parents even more. Hearing this as a kid would pretty much ensure that door wouldn’t be slammed again… until next time.

Parents of the ’70s: Did You Say It or Hear It Often?

UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s: Portrait of young girl crying.

George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

“Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about” – One of the scarier sayings, which was usually used when that parent was the one who made you cry in the first place, either led to immediate shape-up or an even greater avalanche of tears.

“Back in my day…” – If you were ever a kid who complained about something around their parents, you have almost certainly heard this one. One effective way to get your child to stop complaining is to pull out “back in my day…” and out of pure annoyance and not needing to hear again how their parent “walked uphill both ways” to get to and from school the complaining would usually stop.

“I’ll wash your mouth out with soap” – This punishment has stood the test of time and is a saying most kids from all eras have been threatened with. If you were unfortunate enough to have your parents go through with this threat, there is a good chance you didn’t use any bad words for a while. Whether it was pump soap or an old fashion bar of soap, that taste would make you think again?

“Don’t make me get my the spoon out!” – Yes, parents were known to paddle their children’s behind when their behavior was bad. And many moms used their wooden cooking spoon to do just that. That darn wooden spoon got its workout on a lot of kids’ bottoms over the years. A few of us remember mom even breaking her spoon on a kid or two.


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May 2021

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