by: Monique Honaman, JD
Your: [yoor, yawr, yohr; unstressed yer] pronoun 1. one's (used to indicate that one belonging to oneself or to any person): As you go down the hill, the library is on your left.
Ever notice how when a couple is married they tend to refer to each other as “Mom” or “Dad” with their kids? If Joan asks if she can go out on Friday night, her mom might say, “I’m OK with that, but check with Dad.”
Or as John walks out the door to school, Mom says,“John, don’t forget Dad is going to take you to baseball tonight.”
Ever notice how once a couple is divorced, the pronoun “your” suddenly become so important? We hear things like,“Your dad will come get you at 5:00,” or “You need to ask your mom about that.” Why does that change? Why do we change the way we speak?
I don't like it. Never have. Never will. I think it’s rude. I’m still Mom. He’s still Dad. When talking, we clearly aren’t referring to other moms or dads where the distinction needs to be clear that we are speaking of your mom or dad. It’s not as if we tell little Johnny, “There will be a dad taking you to baseball tonight … not sure who … it could be any dad … no, actually, it will be YOUR dad.” We don’t do that. We just say, “Dad is taking you to baseball tonight.”
I think putting “your” in front of it makes it less personal to the person doing the speaking. It’s not my mom or dad, it’s yours! Yes, but then again it was never your mom or dad to begin with, but rather it was your spouse, who as time went on and you became parents together, you began to lovingly refer to as Mom or Dad as it related to your kids. Adding “your” creates a wall or a barrier.
It’s yours, not mine, not ours. It screams, “I have no part in this.” Now that “Mom” or “Dad” is no longer wife or husband, but rather ex-wife or ex-husband, the “your” gets added, in part, I believe to remove the familiarity and the relationship that you once held.
The impact, however unintended, can be hurtful, I believe. It conveys a sense of “I’m having nothing to do with that woman … she’s YOUR mom.” Or, “I don't know that man, he’s YOUR dad.” I think it can be odd for kids to hear, especially when they aren’t used to hearing parents speak that way. It creates that distance and re-emphasizes a less than familiar arrangement. It brings walls and structure to what should continue to be an informal Mom and Dad relationship. Yes, the titles of “Husband” and “Wife” changed, but the titles “Mom” and “Dad” didn’t.
Pre-divorce, if I called our home, spoke with my husband, then asked to speak with the kids, I would hear, “Sonso, mom’s on the phone. Pick up the phone in the bedroom!”
Now, post-divorce, if I call my ex-husband, and then ask to speak with my kids, I hear, “Sonso, your mom is on the phone.” Subtle, but it conveys a formality that makes it different in both message and interpretation.I try not to fall into that trap and use “your” when it’s not needed. I prefer my kids to know the familiarity still exists, that while we may not be a united husband and wife anymore, we are still a united dad and mom.
Have you thought about how YOUR speech patterns may have changed? Is it just me that this rankles? Have you ever thought about it? What other things change like this? I would love YOUR insight!
You can contact Monique atMonique@HighRoadLessTraffic.com. Visit her website at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com. Monique earned her JD and MLIR. She is the author of "The High Road Has Less Traffic," and "The High Road Has Less Traffic and a Better View." Monique is the founding partner of ISHR Group, and leader among women, having received many awards. Monique is a contributing expert at HopeAfterDivorce.org, DivorceSupportCenter.com, FamilyShare.com, CupidsPulse.com, and LAFamily.com.Follow Monique on FB at www.facebook/highroadlesstraffic and Twitter @highroadthebook.