When sarcasm doesn’t serve us

The other day on Pinterest I saw a toddler’s t-shirt proclaiming, “I am why we can’t have nice things.”  As a mom of ten, I’ve experienced enough kid-related breakage to laugh and nod and appreciate the morsel of truth in the shirt. But when I got to thinking about the attitude behind the shirt, I didn’t love it so much.

In our case, having ten kids was part choice, part lavishly undeserved gift from God.  Yes, our large family drains our budget in a way that doesn’t leave much money for extras.  I’d love a new kitchen floor some day, but we have other priorities right now.  I could feel miffed that my wished-for wood floor hasn’t yet rolled up to my front door on a flatbed from the lumber yard.  Or I can remember how blessed we are to be allowed to live this life of great privilege, ripped vinyl and all.

How about a different t-shirt on that cute little kid? “I’m the reason Mom and Dad are thankful.”  Just a few words, bringing the heart and mind back in line with truth, back to the reason we pull ourselves out of bed each morning, ready to do battle with another day.  These kids of ours are worth much sacrifice.  Now there’s truth worth celebrating.


  1. Amen! So many of those shirts bother me. Our children are such treasures.

  2. Agreed! I also hate the tshirts that have some sort of sarcastic remark about the child being bratty or spoiled or whatever. Why would we want to proudly proclaim to the world that our child who can’t even read her own tshirt yet is “spoiled” or a “brat”? Seems like you are setting your child up with a pretty negative view from the beginning, as well as (which you already said) looking at them like a problem to be managed instead of a human blessing to be loved. I just think God doesn’t see our children the way these snarky tshirts do, and I don’t think we should either.

  3. completely agree! I was going through some outgrown clothes of my daughters that we received as hand me down and I actually felt a bit guilty putting in a couple shirts with “princess” and shopping references, which I never let her wear because I hated the entitlement they insinuated. Sarcasm so easily rolls off the tongue, but it is like a weedy vine in our home and I need to really work on not allowing it. I recoil when I hear it sometimes from kids – we will say “seriously” in a joking manner, but then I think wow, what if my kids say that to an adult outside our home? I love how you turned that sarcastic remark around – yes, we should all be thankful for the gifts of our children. New furniture and such can just wait! Although, I know I’m guilty of coming home from the grocery store and remarking wow, if you guys didn’t eat we’d be at Disney! 🙂

  4. grammy2six says:

    Amen!!! Words are powerful…’nuff said.

  5. Stuff is just stuff – but children are a gift from God! I have no children and rejoice when I read of loved and cared for gifts from God! Sarcasm is not a good thing
    1 Peter 3:8 (Msg paraphrase)
    Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.

  6. I just found your blog a couple of days ago (but I’ve had your cookbook for a long time–just never looked for your blog!) I had to comment because I’ve seen this shirt come up on Pinterest and have felt similarly. I see all kinds of things on children’s shirts that bother me, frankly, whether online or in person, but this one in particular really irritated me. I guess I’m not sure why you’d put your child in a shirt that says something mean and hurtful. Would you actually say it to your child? If not, then why force him or her to walk around all day wearing that?

  7. Very true! And what a change of perspective the reader of the shirt would feel if it was about being thankful? I like it. These would be really fun to make and have kids wear on thanksgiving. A subtle little reminder for extended family that, yes, in fact We Do Want A House Full Of Lovely Children…

  8. Have seen many t-shirts with printing that irritates me with this one high on my irritation radar. Like you, Mary as a mother of ten I count each and every one of my children a blessing and this one not acceptable clothing for them and the ones that sport ‘spoiled’ or ‘trade my sister/brother for something’ those kind really irritate me also.
    Agree with the poster that never allowed her child to wear the ‘princess’ ones either.
    Talking about t-shirts be careful of the breast cancer awareness ones that are sporting ‘racy’ sayings to bring awareness to the issue. Many schools are not allowing them to be worn on school property or at school events for very good reason.

  9. I agree! Children are a gift and it is so frustrating to me when parents make them feel like they are a burden. Whether it’s through passive sarcasm on a t-shirt or mentioned verbally, it’s just plain wrong in my opinion. And we wonder why our kids grow up feeling “not good enough” for mom and dad- we unknowingly do it to them sometimes.

  10. Thank you for saying this! I used to think I was being overly sensitive when I saw these types of shirts. Over the years, I have realized more and more that words are powerful, and predictive. Especially for moms and dads-we must speak Truth over our children.

  11. Heather Wawa says:

    As my husband is currently required to take a class at a “Christian” college, brainwashing it’s students into believing that it’s irresponsible to have more than one or two children to pollute the earth, I cherish this blog post of yours.

    At first glance, the t-shirt brings a chuckle but I agree, it’s the wrong message we want to send. We are indeed thankful for our SIX children and will look to the Lord for the number of children He chooses to give us.

    A T-shirt with the thankful message on it would be a great baby shower gift!

  12. Sue from Buffalo says:

    I’ve had a problem with children’s clothes for years. I stopped a long time ago from buying/allowing them to wear clothes that said “brat” or “princess” or even “angel.” It’s not right to throw negatives at the kids nor is it a good idea (in my opinion) to throw so many accolades at the kids that they never develop humility. Just my opinion.

  13. I didn’t even grin when I read that shirt! How aweful! Why would ANYONE want to put that kind of guilt on a child? I think of all the stories that I’ve heard of kids thinking it was their fault that, for example, their parents got divorced. Or girls feeling guilty that they weren’t the son the parent was hoping for, or that it was because of them that their single mother didn’t find a husband. Children have enough to deal with emotionally! We should never make a child feel they are the reason any of our dreams as parents have not been realized.

    On a similar topic, all the “does this diaper make me look fat” kind of tshirt art is also unhealthy, in my opinion. And I much prefer the Sara Crew “every girl is a princess” mentality to the bratty, entitled craziness.

  14. I wholeheartedly agree! Now, when are you going to start selling these shirts. I’ll be more than happy to buy three:-)

  15. Great post! I agree with you. Thanks for sharing.

  16. I don’t think I’ll be buying that shirt. I believe in training my children. Yes, sometimes accidents happen, but then again I don’t set out my best china where it can be played with by those who haven’t learned the word “no” and are still learning how to treat things carefully.

  17. My husband has the policy that if he wouldn’t wear it in public (or I wouldn’t let him wear it in public) our son (4 months, at the moment) isn’t allowed to wear it. While I don’t entirely agree with that, shirts like this make me a lot more sympathetic.

  18. Thank you. We are an infertile couple desperately wanting children, and it makes me so sad to see a shirt like the first on you posted (or to hear similar things coming out of parents’ mouths).

  19. Amen! I’d buy 6 of your t-shirts (not sure my teens would wear them, though! ha! ha!).

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who has a ripped vinyl kitchen floor and has passed on a new floor (though I’d really like one, too!) because other precious ones take priority! Honestly, I needed to hear that! Thanks!

  20. Stephanie says:

    I have to agree….that first shirt kind of hurts my heart. We too have adopted and we still don’t own a home or have fancy things, but there is no way that I would change one day of our journey to bring our children home or the sacrifices we have made….they are truly a gift from God!

  21. Jeri Riddick says:

    love Love LOVE this post!

  22. well said… and i agree 100%…
    when i had my daughter, i remember crying in the hospital as i was watching the rain fall outside of my window… she was all snuggled into my neck…new, sweet breath warming my skin… and i couldn’t ever fathom the depth of love until i met her…
    i see a lot of inappropriate shirts like that… sad… 🙁

  23. I agree with a lot of the points here. I see some stuff I would never let my baby wear. With this particular shirt though, I don’t interpret it the same as some of you. Maybe it’s just a southern thing, but around here whenever a kid accidentally breaks something, a nice lamp, china or the ceramic Elvis bust (just kidding) parents are known to say “See…that’s why we can’t have nice things.” I read it that way as opposed to “I’m why we can’t AFFORD nice things.” I still probably wouldn’t buy it, but that’s just the way I took it.

    • Hi Betsey, Yes, I’m sure that statement can be made with plenty of humor and absolutely zero malice, and there’s something to be said for laughing about the little mishaps in life. I want to steer clear of humor with an underlying ‘bite’ that might lack love. But I’m sure kids can tell whether we are speaking with bitterness or with fond humor. Good point.

      • I agree Mary. Kids are way more in tune with the underlying humor or bitterness than we give them credit for I’m sure. Just wanted to throw in my two cents. Keep up the good work! I love your blog!

    • I agree with you Betsey- I read the shirt and though it was referring to kids breaking things rather than not being able to afford things because of children. I would kind of like to get my 19 month old a shirt that says “Ím the reason why there are no decorations on the bottom half of the Christmas tree”. No malice 😉
      But then again Im Australian and sarcasm is a way of life here 🙂 (it can be very funny if done well, does not need to be mean)

  24. Amen, sister!! 🙂

  25. Well said! Sarcastic humor is the most biting kind, and unfortunately has become all too common in our culture now. Our kids deserve to know that they are more important than any nice “things” the world may have to offer.

  26. I totally understand what you are saying about shirts that kind of are sarcastically proclaiming their children as brats. They make me feel uncomfortable too. I have 7 children and feel so blessed but I have to say that this shirt made me laugh. Sarcasm can be biting but it can be funny too. Especially when you have a large family, a sense of humor is VITAL to manage the chaos! I am sure you would agree!

  27. I really appreciated this post. Thanks. I totally agree and it was a good reminder to me to watch what I say and to be thankful for all my little ones and the blessings that they are.

  28. I hear you. These kinds of snarky shirts (I saw one that said something about being “too pretty for homework” on a onsie…) scare me.

  29. I don’t think I would put this on my child either – I would definitely love to see the thankful shirt you described – you should make one! 🙂

  30. I totally agree with you, but my first impression of the shirt was different. I wrongly assumed that it was an adult shirt, the wearer’s acknowledgement that his or her own spending choices were the problem. I even wondered if it was a self-deprecating answer to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
    Silly me.

  31. Just wanted to say, i love your cookbook, it is well-worn. I truly felt led to comment on this t-shirt. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I’ve heard the comment said, have used it to describe myself. In my opinion, no harm done. Not everyone has the same sense of humor, Praise God for that.