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  • Jen Dunlap

Code Word "Quickly"

Updated: Jan 9

A decade ago, watching my early parenting, a mom of 9 told me I needed a "code word", a word that sounded like an ordinary word, but to which the kids knew to pay attention at key moments, like leaving a party. Her code word was "quickly". If she told the kids to get into the car "quickly" because it was time to go home, they knew there would be consequences for ignoring her.

I'll admit I haven't used the code word system much, because the kids see The Look and it's good enough, but a few years ago the code word came up when I realized my pre-teen daughter was sitting chatting a little too long with me and my friends.

Overall this is one of the sweet things in families, and something I hoped for with my kids. But sometimes I can tell that a friend needs to get real, and it won't happen with the teenager there. So I needed a way to signal to the teenager that she should do something else because what appeared to her to be a casual conversation between adults was really a preamble to something else.

We chatted about it and decided on a couple of words, normal words that I could use in a normal way, but which I don't use typically, that she would know to be a request for her tactful absence.

Later, we discussed how these same words could be used if she were ever in a situation that she wasn't comfortable with, or in trouble, and needed to save face and ask for a bailout. Hasn't happened yet, might not happen at all, but being able to tell the teen when she can stay or when she should go elsewhere has been really convenient, and she likes the bit of family conspiracy.

Does anyone else have a system like this, for tact, convenience or emergencies?


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