Do Not Sass Talk Your Mother (She is a master in the art of public humiliation.)

Do Not Sass Talk Your Mother

Dear 12-Year-Old Son of Mine,

It is my job to recognize “teachable moments” in your life. Sometimes, I miss the mark. Today, I knocked it out of the ballpark.

The next time you consider rolling your eyes and smart talking the mother who carried you for nine months and pushed out all 11 pounds and 8 ounces of you, remember this:

Remember that I love you.

Remember that I have held your hand while a doctor stitched you up.

Remember that I have cheered for you at 8,932 sporting events.

Remember that I read Goodnight Moon to you 461 times…everyday for six months.

Remember that I pretended not to notice when you fed your Brussels sprouts to the dog.

Remember that I gave you the last ice cream bar.

Remember today.

Today—the day that you eye rolled so hard that your eyeballs almost fell out of your head and the tone in your voice was worse than the words you spoke. I recognized the “duh” tone from my own teenage voice.

I was so taken aback by your behavior that for once, I was speechless.

You had friends in the car and I prayed for guidance.

Should I deal with this in front of his friends or wait until we are alone? Please, don’t let me kill my child in front of his friends.

Just as I was praying for answers, I received a sign.

Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” came on the radio.

Cranking the radio as loud as I could stand, I began to sing. Louder and louder, I sang.

I swayed in my seat. I sang the wrong words. I showed you and your friends my awesome “white girl overbite” move.

I pretended not to notice your horrified face. I waved my hands in the air and sang, “I got to take a little slime. A little slime to make things grosser!”

As I dropped you and your friends off, I called you to my window. I smiled my biggest smile, winked at you and said, “Don’t ever talk to me like that, again.”

I wish you could have known your great grandmother. She had many southern phrases that still play in my head. Today, I heard her say, “That will fix your little red wagon.”

So…what did you learn today? Never underestimate your mother. Never sass talk your mother. And never roll your eyes at your mother—especially in front of your friends.

Do Not Sass Talk Your Mother (She is a master in the art of public humiliation.) Funny story for moms on how to keep sass-talking teenagers in line.


This original piece by Kerry Rossow was written exclusively for In the Powder Rooma division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC.

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Kerry Rossow is a recovering teacher who blogs about life shenanigans, house crashing and house stalking at her blog, Her mother threatens to read that blog so she writes about things like 69, dildos, and her moral shortcomings In the Powder Room. Kerry likes to talk about herself in the third person. Kerry brings shame to her family on a daily basis. Kerry is one of the hilarious co-authors of our new best-selling humor anthology “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth” and co-founder/sho-conspirator of the “That’s What She Said” show.

Keep the conversation going...



  1. says

    Kerry, you truly inspire me. My 6yo is just getting into that sass-mouth phase and while he’s just putting his tippy-toes in the water right now, I know he’ll be diving in head first very very soon. It makes me so angry to think about him speaking to me that way period, but in front of his snarky little friends? Oh hell no. Now I have a way to deal with it other than backhanding him in the back seat. EMBARRASSING the living hell out of him. YES! Thank you friend.

      • says

        I wouldn’t call it shaming– I picture a kid with a sign on them on the side of the road.. I would call that – teaching them better judgement.

        You didn’t yell, you didn’t lose your cool.. you just responded in a way that will make her understand that message.. lol

        Of course, my mom would just do that anyway.. the singing.. it could be worse.. lol

  2. says

    You’re a good woman for not dressing him down in front of his friends. I wouldn’t have been so nice. I also love that you rocked out to Foreigner. I can actually see you doing that in your car.

  3. says

    I love it! These were the times that i lived for when my kids were that age. Kid rock and cheryl crow – picture. Lol loud and proud!

    • says

      Dern tootin’! I might be old but I have no shame. My guy continues to struggle with sass talk but he now knows to keep that #$%* private!

      • Chris says

        I think you may have used the wrong conjunction there. “I might be old THEREFORE I have no shame.” LOL

  4. says

    I love this so much. I’ve been known to belt out this very song just to embarrass those who I call my friends 😉 When my daughter reaches this stage, I will definitely be using this tactic

  5. Val says

    THANK YOU!! I laughed, I cried.. Spot on! Having a 12 yr old daughter, 9 yr old son.. Who u described to a “T”, I needed to read this today!

  6. martha mcglynn says

    Love this! I have a suggestion for those just starting out (my “kids” are 24 & 27 now): start this practice of belting out your favorite tunes when they’re young & squabbling amongst themselves.That way, the THREAT is there when they get to “snarky friends” age…and they don’t KNOW if you will actually “perform”! worked like a charm for mine (I stumbled on this by accident-it was initially a defense against car screaming!)!

    • Frances says

      I agree. As parents we must lead by example, and it,s not doing to our children what they have done to us.

  7. TD says

    Isn’t it great how those things embarrass our kids and not us?! Guess that “I don’t care what anyone thinks” comes with age. 😉 As a substitute teacher I have had to do some pretty silly stuff to cover up mistakes or get the kids going. Things I would have never considered doing even 5 years ago.
    I have a 14 year old…and because I am a sub, I got to sub his jr. high class more than once. He told me that his friends liked when I was there because it was funny when I would harass him….lol….revenge is sweet!

  8. Mary Lou says

    You are the only other parent I know who has used this tactic. It works even when no friends are in the car. When my kids were fighting in the back seat, first I’d take the sane approach: “Keep your hands to yourselves.” If that didn’t work, they got the crazy mom treatment. I embarrassed them by opening up the car windows and singing loudly out the window. Worked every time!

  9. Michelle says

    This completely made my day! My 11 year old son has been pushing every button that he can right now. I think I’m going to have to do some searching for some “old tunes” to have ready when this occurs in the car. Between him and the 6 year old I have my work cut out for me! Thanks for this wonderful idea!

  10. says

    Oooooh, Mama! I’m pinning the ‘recipe’ for that dish, served warm and served up good. My son would have thought that was hilarious, but moms do know many ways of horribly embarrassing their children. It’s a gift! One of the few free bonuses of the teen years.

  11. says

    Kerry for the win!!! Bravo!!!! That is just awesome! It really is like our babies were abducted by aliens and replaced by these surly, moody people we have never met, isn’t it? Thank you so much, I will be tucking that one in my bags of tricks!!

  12. Eliese says

    Kerry, this is pure genius! I’m afraid, however, that my kids would simply sing along. D’oh! The perils of being odd parents right from the start! Mine are only 7 and 4, though, so perhaps a few more years will add power to the performance! In any case, keep those ideas a-comin’! I have a feeling I’m going to need them… 😉

  13. says

    This brings tears to my eyes. You are my soul sister.

    My son is entering the age of the mega eye roll.
    My mother’s words pop into my head…”roll them again and they’ll be rolling across the floor”…but I prefer a gentler and more obnoxious total lack of subtlety and embarrassment to make them think twice.

    My son thinks this kind of thing is hilarious…in private, but it is horrifying in public and he knows I’m capable of both and have no more rhythm than he does.

  14. Darcie Hall says

    Haha! That’s parenting at its finest! You get the Internet Parenting Award of the Month for that one. My mom used to do clever things like that to prove a point and lemme tell ya something…it works. Your kid is less likely to sass in front of his friends now and he will DEFINITELY remember that moment well into his mid-20’s with an accompanying blush.

  15. says

    I just whooped fist pumped so hard I almost fell out of my chair! I once told my son, “Just because you don’t actually say ‘duh” at the end of your sentence doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You will be judged accordingly.” The biggest lesson they learn is all the things they ‘say’ without ‘saying’ anything at all. Next time he does it, quote THAT song (Alison Krauss- “When you say nothing at all.”) Lots of romance and high notes. That’ll show ’em.

    All joking aside, kudos to you! Teachable moments don’t always happen over a sit down. Sometimes they are on the fly and require few words. A well placed song, a bitch brow… Perfect teaching tools!
    Nicely done!

  16. says

    Well played!

    I managed to stumble upon the ability to embarrass via song when our oldest (now 29) hit the wonder years, but I never realized its full potential to mortify them.

    They’ve all managed to make it successfully to adulthood, but I’m pretty sure I could have used this tip to fix the little red wagons of each one of my precious babies…at least once. They were fast learners, so once would have been enough. Thanks for the giggle.

  17. Chris says

    My usual threat was to get out of the car and hug each one and kiss them on the cheek in front of “God and everybody”. They knew I would do it too!!

  18. says

    I love you Kerry. Like full on girl crush. Also- Twerking is just as effective as singing. Especially when you’re a white girl with zero rhythm. Just in case you need it later.

    • says

      Oh, Delia. I’m embarrassed to admit that I tried to learn how to twerk, watching YouTube tutorials. It was not a pretty sight and I nearly broke a hip. I’ll leave the twerking to you!

  19. says

    Perfect. Just perfect.

    Reminded me of my ~best ~ parenting strategy moment too … my daughter had, in the midst of a tantrum about something or other, called me a “fat ****ing cow.” For days, I moo-ed at her every time she asked me a question.

    Can you drive me to…. mooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Can I have…. moooooooooooooooooooooooo

  20. Heather Hughet says

    I didn’t want to post this on my Facebook post since I had tagged my son, but I will share my initial threat here. Last year he was in 7th grade so it was a new experience. No hand-holding from the teachers. He was getting several zeros because on not turning in homework. Threats of no video games weren’t working. He was still “forgetting” to turn in his work. So, in frustration, I took it to a new level. I looked him in the eye and told him, “You WILL remember to turn in your homework EVERY day or I will JOIN you at school for EVERY period and see why you can’t remember! And not only will I be there, but I will be in my best hillbilly pajama attire, hair in a nasty/messy bun, toothpaste dried on my face and proudly announce to each class that I am your mother and then plant a big, wet, sloppy kiss on your cheek!” He dropped his head and whispered “Please don’t do that. I know you WILL do that so please don’t. I promise to turn in my homework.”
    Interestingly enough, there were no more zeroes that year. :) I felt I accomplished a little something that day. Don’t mess with a momma who cares more about her son’s education than she does what others think of her!

    • Michael Barnes says

      I did a very similar thing with my son when he was in middle school. It had to do with misbehaving and teachers calling me on the phone. Once he knew I would show up at school, I got no further calls from his teachers.

  21. says

    Oooooo…I love it!!! It’s especially nice when they are trapped in the car and they can’t get out. My children learned this the hard way one day, when they were discussing their friends and their obsession with calling one another “douche bags.” I thought I could use this as a learning opportunity for them and proceeded to describe with great accuracy what a “douche bag” actually was. I can’t even describe the groaning and begging and ear holding. It was on this day that my oldest child declared I was never again to use slang words for body parts. Of course, they find it equally embarrassing when I say vagina, so I’m not sure what word to use.
    I like creative punishments. I find that the memory of them lasts much longer!! Also, I shall be henceforth be using the word “schmoopydoodle.”

  22. Valerie says

    I find that this method proves to be really effective. If you ever need to step it up a notch pick songs that lend themselves to dance moves. I make up my own moves. … the shark, the hula, the dolphin etc. They pray for green lights when I get going.

  23. Jen says

    {slow standing clap}

    You rock.. Literally and otherwise. I, too, have done this epic parenting maneuver with a teen daughter in my car and her entourage of teenaged friends. ‘Cept I rocked out to “I like Big Butts”.


    Did it once, and didn’t have to repeat my performance. Kudos, Mom! Rock on!

  24. says

    Reading this makes me want to have kids of my own…hahaha! Yeah, can’t keep a straight face on that.

  25. wizakrmomma says

    I had a similar experience with my oldest daughter while she was in high school. The rule as a new driver, was you must text us when you reach your prediscussed destination. The leash, as it were. Yes, we live in a small town, yes one high school, yes she was well known. And yes, my own mother had embarrassed the sh*t out of me as a young girl. But, I chose the lighter side of discipline. When we didn’t get the requested text for the second time, I went after her. Didn’t matter that the destination was a volunteer sign up night at the police station. Didn’t matter how much I trusted her. We didn’t get the follow thru. So I went down there, found her, and whispered in her ear, while wearing the sweetest smile, to get herself outside, she was leaving. And I would be following her home. The calm discussion that followed was productive, in more ways than she new. Her sister has never forgotten how I didn’t hesitate! And she never forgot to text, nor did either of them ever think I wouldn’t check up! Years later, many years now, they trust us as their safety net. My mom’s voice was, “Don’t ever threaten anything you’re not willing to follow thru with”. Sound advice I’m teaching them, not just with kids, but, boyfriends, marriages, friends, family, bosses, etc. Hugs to all.

  26. says

    My 22 year old daughter has *almost* become immune to being embarrassed by me. I figure I have a few years before my 4 year olds crank up the obnoxious, visible “I’m so embarrassed by your dorkiness” behavior. I think I will use that time to perfect my lineup of obnoxious songs and behind the wheel dancing. I’m thinking Vanilla Ice and Celine Dion…I like variety. Loved reading this!!!

  27. says

    Brilliant! My kids hate it when I sing in the car, especially when they’re with friends. I will keep this tactic in mind next time I’m getting lip from the way back. I can only hope that Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” will magically play on the 80s channel when the time comes.

  28. Lise says

    Hilarious!! I found that breaking into a Zumba routine, while walking through the local grocery store or mall, is also extremely effective – even better if Muzak provides a lively Latin or hip hop beat! Now the mere twitch of a hip or shake of a shoulder results in frantic whispers of “no, no, Mom, PLEASE stop” and, of course, much better behaviour… 😉

  29. says

    OMIGOSH…that was so funny that I would have sprayed coffee out my nose if I had been drinking it when I read this. Thankfully the timing was not right for the coffee spray….especially since that burns!

    As the mother of 3 boys, I got a huge kick out of this particular blog post and only wish I had seen it about 15 to 20 years earlier when my kids were “that age”! Thanks for sharing, this was hilarious…and so perfect!!! Love your grandmother’s “fix your little red wagon”…..not too late for me to appreciate that and get some milage out of it. 😉

  30. says

    Nice! It reminds me of that episode on Modern Family where the nerdy daughter doesn’t want to be seen w/ the mother & Clair acts all nice & gives her money to go shopping at the mall w/ friends & then shouts something embarrassing out the car window while she’s standing there w/ her friends.