You know what you should do?
I found out the question, "You know what you should do?" followed by a bit of advice, is big in our family. I never knew that. My son-in-law pointed it out.
Evidently we say it - a lot. What's the big deal? you ask. Well, it turns out it can come across as demeaning, know-it-allish, and unpleasant for the recipient.
When you become a parent, your focus changes from your own happiness to your children's happiness and well-being - at least that has been my experience.
In the beginning, you tell your kids things. "No, no." "Don't touch that." "Put your shoes on so you don't get splinters." No question marks, only periods.
Later, as your kids grow, you have to start letting go. As much as it scares you, you have to let them make their own decisions. "It might get cold. Do you think you should take a sweater?" "Are you sure you want to spend all your money on that?"
It must have been in the letting go phase when we latched on to "You know what you should do?" It came from a place of love, so that it could come across with such negativity, came as a shock.
But after some reflection - I get it. No one wants to be treated like an idiot, like they can't figure out how to plant a garden, which shoes to buy or who to call to fix the garage door.
So, to my son-in-law, I promise to do my best not to ask the dreaded question. But if I fail, if those words slip out of my mouth in a weak moment-You know what you should do? Oops, strike that...You know what I hope you do? I hope you substitute them with "I want the best for you...Your happiness is important to me...I love you."