22 Dec
Threat Regret

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

Over a month ago I threatened my 5 kids that still live at home (I have 8 total) that unless they cleaned their rooms and the upstairs hall we would NOT get a Christmas Tree. The younger 3 girls replied ‘we don’t care—we are getting a tree at Dad’s!’

(*&$%^) !!!!

Now, I have stuck to my guns, yet am crying inside …. I need a tree!


O Tannenbaum!

Dear O,

Welcome to Threat Regret. Threat Regret occurs almost immediately after you’ve issued a threat that you know you cannot carry out or the carrying out of which will punish you more than the kids.

Every parent there has experienced Threat Regret. Even me.

Last week I told my kids that if they didn’t fold their laundry by the time I counted to three–ok, ten (thousand)–they wouldn’t be allowed to watch TV and the Good Lord in Heaven help me, I was going to cancel the trip to see their grandparents for Christmas, no matter how much I’d hate missing out on holiday air travel.

Then I had to take it back. Stupid adulthood.

I had to say things like “sometimes, mommy gets very angry and says things that she shouldn’t. What mommy should have done is taken a deep cleansing breath and thought of a better consequence for your self-centered and lazy behavior. Mommy will think of that consequence now and also will start speaking in the first person.”

Then I’d sit around pensively while the kids wondered what I was up to. (Spoiler alert: I was sitting wondering how long I had to sit around looking pensive.)

The point is, if you’re experiencing Threat Regret, admit to making a mistake. I hear it makes children see their parents as humans and not just god-like creatures.

Get the tree and enjoy it.

Or get the tree and insist that it’s yours only. Any time you see one of the kids looking at the tree and enjoying it, yell “avert eyes! avert eyes until your room and upstairs are cleansed!”

Happy Treeing!

And have the kids sweep up the needles.

Marinka, TMH

15 Responses to “Threat Regret”


Comment by TheHappyBaker.

Get a tree. Put it in your bedroom and keep the door closed. Enjoy it while stretching out luxuriously in your bed. No tree for them. Just because they don’t get one doesn’t mean you can’t.

I’m all about carrying out threats–don’t undermine your own authority. Bu get creative so it doesn’t end up a punishment for yourself.

Like the TV threat thing. Whenever I take that privilege away from my 6 year old son, I always put on old black and white movies or Gone with the Wind. I’ll invite him to watch with me (“as a special exception”) and within 5 minutes, he shuffles off to find something that involves toy trains and racecars. Then I’m left alone in peace to swoonily shake my fist at that dastardly charming Rhett Butler.


Comment by Karin.

I found that the most effective way to get them to clean is to do it for them by donating or trashing all their stuff that they leave out.

I also agree with getting a tree for your bedroom!


Comment by Darthwiggie.

I threaten to take away presents. It saves me money and doesn’t turn into an unreasonable punishment.

This year my kids have been bickering so much I’ve been ready to put them on the corner with a “free to good home” sign. They didn’t seem to care too much if I took away a present (we don’t know what it is anyway so we won’t miss it was their logic). So this year I said any naughty child would lose a present to the non-naughty child (their choice). So far they’ve been angels AND their rooms are clean.

So yeah you could get a tree to yourself but that may not be fun. I’d agree with the whole admit you were wrong thing – a Christmas tree is important to you and you want one, but tell them they didn’t get as many presents as they would have (and tell them they were all gonna get a new iPad or something). =)


Comment by Plano Mom.

Bedtimes. For my kids, it’s moving up the bedtimes, “so they can have the energy in the morning to clean their rooms.” When they’re brushing their teeth at 6 PM, it’s amazing how eager they are to stay up and clean.

StephanieG Reply:

You are brilliant. BRILLIANT.

Kathy Reply:

We move bedtime up a lot in our house too. We also made clean rooms part of their expected chores for the week. No chores mean no tickets. I mark on a chalkboard the loss of said tickets day by day.

No tickets means no dessert or video games or tv or computer. That allows plenty of time as well for keeping those rooms clean.


Comment by Plano Mom.

Oh, and I have admitted threat regret before, but only after I’ve figured out an effective replacement.


Comment by VG.

The tree in the bedroom thing is genius!
What about getting a Charlie Brown Tree, like the one from the cartoon. They sell them at Wal-Mart (what DON’T they sell?) and tell them, Here’s the tree!


Comment by Traci.

I agree with all the suggestions above, plus: coo
rdinate the punishment with their dad. That’s what we do and it works very well. It shows them that while they do have two parents and two households, there is ONE set of rules.

I'm a big ol' b with a captial B! Reply:

Traci, it’s fabulous that you and your ex are on the same page with parenting. So many kids would benefit from this! 🙂

Plano Mom Reply:

When I was growing up with divorced parents, if my father found out about a “Mom rule” AFTER the fact, he was exceptionally hard on us about the delayed punishment. And since he very rarely had to be the bad guy, he was particularly creative with his “consequences.”


Comment by mtwildflower.

I finally had to greatly reduce the number of things they could use to mess up their rooms. Boxing up toys and outgrown and non-seasonal clothes, works wonders. I suggest you do that while they are with dear old dad, along with the other stuff that’s been suggested.

I also have 8 kids with 5 at home. One punishment I use for mouthy teenagers and slamming doors….is to take the door off the hinges and lean it up against their wall….for a month.

I only had to do it once.

Cate8 Reply:

I have done that –with the door … it does work.

Kellygv Reply:

Taking a door off works like a charm!


Comment by Kellygv.

Say what you mean, mean what you say. Stick by your punishments, no matter what!! For me, when I’m trying to get something outta of them, I ask once politely. If it’s a no, I tell them ‘well you can do That Or lose all electronics for 3 months’. I make the alternative so bad, it totally freaks them out & they will usually get in line kinda-sorta quickly. Make punishment immediate & noticeable. Be creative, take away use of electrical items (popular threat known at my house as ALL electronics) -tv, curling iron, play station, phones… Hell, personalize it for each kid. 😉 most importantly, pick your battles.
My kids get away with a lot, so this is my sort-of mantra: “If you do what I say, you can do what you want”. with the obvious safety limits, of course. Lol, I also tell them this “Give me what I want and I will GO AWAY!!!!”
But totally get yourself a tree, would be super funny if you kept it in the bedroom!!

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