Don’t Cross the Line

Tony’s mom has had it. She’s tired of waiting for him to empty the dishwasher.

“I’m tired of this,” she yells. “Get in there and take care of your job, and do it this minute! And I mean it this time!”

In Tony’s mind she has crossed the line between him feeling some control over the situation to him having no control. Typical kids, at this point, will try to regain control, and when they do, it’s not a pretty situation.

“Yeah, you can forget it,” he screams. “You can’t tell me what to do. I’m not your slave!”

Here Mom used fighting words as she tried to take total control. Tony retaliated by escalating the fight.


We create thinking words when we tell others what we are going to do. We create fighting words when we tell others what they are going to do.

After learning the difference between fighting words and thinking words at her Love and Logic class, Mom tried a different approach.

“Tony, I’ll be driving you to your soccer game when you’ve got the carpet vacuumed.”

“I’ll do it later, Mom. I’ve got to get my equipment ready.”

“No problem, Tony.”

“What do you mean, no problem?”

Mom turned and walked away.

When she reported the results, she said, “A few minutes later I heard the vacuum running. I didn’t recognize it because that was the first time I ever heard it from a distance. It was at that point I knew my life was changing for the better.”